Going Private: How privatization and social enterprise can help the city's double bottom line

In the waning days of the Daley administration, the former mayor incurred the wrath of union leaders when he floated the possibility of outsourcing the city's curbside recycling initiative without first consulting labor. It was Richard M. Daley, everyone remembers, who struck the deal to sell Midway Airport that ultimately collapsed for lack of financing and inked the controversial lease that privatized Chicago's parking meters and continues to anger the city's drivers. And it was he who pushed for the privatization of the Taste of Chicago festival until the plan was scrapped when the sole bidder proposed a politically unacceptable admission fee.

By no means are privatization missteps unique to Chicago. Yet the empirical evidence is strong: When a privatization strategy is carefully implemented and managed with discipline, safeguards and adequate controls, it works successfully for just about any municipal function other than policymaking, the courts and public-safety services.

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