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Parking Meter Protest Planned For City Hall

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Protesters march in front of Ald. John Pope's office back in June

There have been a few protests on the far southeast side of the city, and a petition drive out of the northside.

But surprisingly enough, despite the public hue and cry over the parking meter lease deal, there have been no parking meter protests at City Hall.

That changes at this Wednesday's City Council meeting, when an anti-meter protest march will take place at 11:30 AM at City Hall

The protest is jointly organized by the People's Parking Meter Campaign an offshoot of ANSWER Chicago, South Chicago's Centro Communitario Juan Diego (CCJD) and anti-Olympics group, No Games Chicago. All three groups that have been highly critical of Chicago's parking meter lease deal which was signed in December, 2008.

"We want to bring it right to Mayor Daley's face," says Marta Perea, Family Literacy Coordinator for CCJD of the City Hall protest.

The People's Parking Meter Campaign, recently began a petition drive to promote rescinding the parking meter lease deal, roll back meter price increases, and place a moratorium on adding any new pay boxes to the city's parking meter system. According to ANSWER Chicago's John Beacham, utilizing a "couple dozen volunteers," the group has collected over 2000 petition signatures.

"We want to make as big of an impression as possible, not only on the City Council, but on the people of Chicago," says Beacham on his goals for Wednesday's protest. "We're expecting anywhere from 100 to a few hundred, which would be a large turnout on a weekday at 11:30 AM."

"I think it's good other people from the city are starting to make their voices be heard," said Robert Garcia from the CCJD. "The parking meters impact everyone in Chicago. Whether you're wealthy or poor or where you are form in the city--it effects everyone."

Centro Communitario Juan Diego, located in the South Chicago neighborhood, has staged three anti-meter protests in their southeast side neighborhood including one in front of 10th Ward Alderman Pope's offices, another in front of the South Chicago Chamber of Commerce and their most recent protest march outside of Ald. Pope's home.

The group also is actively engaged in an ongoing, around the clock, parking meter vigil outside their center, to keep the new lessees of Chicago's parking meter system, LAZ Parking/Chicago Parking Meter, LLC from installing new parking meter pay boxes along south Commercial Ave.

So far, the group thinks their sit in has successfully deterred the new meters from being installed on their block. The sit in began over a month ago, and thus far, no Pay & Display units have gone in.

"They haven't done anything yet," said Perea. "I've noticed a lot of unity in the community. A lot of cops, bus drivers, taxi drivers are supporting us."

The third organization involved is No Game Chicago, in which their main focus is helping scuttle Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. But group co-founder Bob Quellos believes the issues are linked.

"We see the connection between what's going on with the parking meters and the Olympics," explains Quellos. "We've been going around the city attending the the neighborhood meetings the city has been putting on to sell Chicago's Olympics bid, and this issue (meters) always comes up. If that (meter lease deal) has been such a boondoggle, how are you going to handle something the size of the Olympics?"

Protest organizers are estimating a turnout to be between 100-200 , with a minimum of two buses already scheduled to be transport protesters to the event.

"It's good to see democracy in action," said 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack who voted against the lease deal. "The city gave this asset away for quick cash, it was one of our city's greatest assets and has really made things a mess for residents and businesses. People have a right to be angry. And they shouldn't back down just because they think this thing is a done deal."

Beacham is encouraging anyone opposed to the parking meter lease deal, including City Council members, to join the protest at City Hall.

"Anybody who wants oppose the parking meter rate hikes in the city or in the park district, or is opposed to the meter lease deal, is welcome to join in," says Beacham. "All the aldermen's constituents are against the lease deal. We're not opposed to having any of the aldermen joining the campaign."

Garcia too wants to encourage people to join the protest on their lunch break. "The more people that are there, the stronger our combined voices will be," Garcia says. "It's one thing to complain about something, it's another to stand up against it."

The protest will take place in front of City Hall, 121 N. La Salle St. at 11:30 AM.

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