Parking meter lawsuit stayin' alive

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In case you missed it at the end of the day Friday: a Cook County judge has decided that a lawsuit against the city and state over terms of the parking meter lease agreement can move forward.

"We passed the first hurdle--the judge found reasonable grounds for the lawsuit," said Clint Krislov, an attorney representing the IVI-IPO in the suit. "So round one goes to the people."

The suit, filed last month, alleges that the meter deal is illegal because it uses taxpayer money to benefit a private company, delegates police power to the private firm, and restricts the City Council's ability to set parking policy in the future. Click here to read a PDF of the original complaint.

Most of the suit's charges were against the city, but it also named the offices of the Illinois comptroller and secretary of state, saying that they didn't have the right to use public funds to strip anyone of driving privileges as a result of tickets issued at privatized meters. The purpose of Friday's hearing was to determine if the plaintiffs had grounds to sue the state officials, and Judge Richard Billik answered with a yes and no: the suit could proceed, but he removed the secretary of state as a defendant because it technically wouldn't be the office to spend any of the money at issue.

Krislov says the IVI-IPO will file an amended complaint this week. The city and state have until October 26 to respond, and a hearing on the suit is scheduled for November 2.

The office of Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, which is charged with representing the state, declined to comment.

But here's an interesting twist: spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler confirmed that Madigan's office is still conducting its own investigation into the "transaction and implementation" of the meter deal even as it defends the comptroller's office in the suit.

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