The parking meter lawsuit guy makes a run for comptroller | Bleader

The parking meter lawsuit guy makes a run for comptroller


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Chicago’s parking meter lease agreement has quietly had an impact on the primaries this year.

People who work at the firms that made millions of bucks on the deal have given generously to a range of political candidates, as Ben Joravsky and I reported in this week’s issue. Among them are gubernatorial candidates from both parties, who if elected could weigh a proposal to privatize the state tollway system; Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who last year said she was investigating the city’s deal; the state Democratic Party, headed by Lisa’s pop, house speaker Michael Madigan; and a number of other Chicago-based pols who’ve courageously remained silent about the meter sell-off.

But two of the fiercest critics of the deal are also up for election.

Clint Krislov
  • Clint Krislov

The first, of course, is Democratic Senate candidate David Hoffman, the former Chicago inspector general who condemned the deal in a scathing report last year.

The other is running in one of those slightly-down-the-ballot contests that most voters don’t know much about—and don’t always care about, either. Attorney Clint Krislov, who sued the city and state over the deal on behalf of the IVI-IPO, is running for state comptroller. That’s the office that cuts the state’s checks and monitors its receipts and payments.

His opponents, David Miller and Raja Krishnamoorthi, are better known and better funded. “They’re certainly both good guys,” Krislov says. And I’m pretty sure they’re both going to beat Krislov.

I don’t endorse candidates—who cares how I'm going to vote?—and I’m not endorsing Krislov. If you want to know more about all of the candidates, click here.

That said, I do admire people who undertake long-shot campaigns and causes just because they want to shake shit up.

I got Krislov on the phone and wondered why he’s doing this, especially considering he has experience at losing, having waged underdog bids for attorney general and U.S. Senate in the 1990s. He asked if he could call me back because he was finishing a brief in the ongoing meter suit.

When he did, I asked him again. He responded with a ten-minute monologue about state law on pension taxation.

It’s about as hot and sexy a topic as it sounds, but it's also important. The long and the short of Krislov’s spiel is that Illinois doesn’t tax pensions, even for people (including some public employees) making lots of money off them, and he says the public coffers are out about a billion bucks a year as a result. “They should be taxed at some level, whether it’s $40,000 or $50,000 or higher,” he says. “We can discuss that, but we really need someone who pushes the taxpayers’ agenda, and I don’t mean a tea party candidate.”

I started to mutter something, but Krislov was excitedly off to his other proposals, such as bringing in an accountant “whose job is just to analyze all state contracts and identify those with a higher than normal potential for irregularity.”

It sounds too easy, and perhaps it is. “But maybe you could at least find enough of them to deter people from doing bad stuff,” he says. “Maybe you could create a culture of honesty or at least enforcement.”

I think he’s suggesting one hasn't always existed in Illinois.

Anyway, Krislov has financed his campaign with lots contributions from … himself, totaling more than $30,000.

He hasn't been able to afford TV ads and the primary for comptroller hasn't necessarily aroused the electorate. But Krislov says his primary goal is to promote his fair-tax and anti-corruption ideas—though he also thinks he has a shot of being elected.

“Yes, I’m in it to win it,” he says. “Am I in it to bankrupt myself and my family? That’s probably not a good idea.”

How strangely rational.

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