Nearly three hours into the latest hearing on the parking meter lease agreement, 42nd Ward alderman Brendan Reilly got right to the point: “Certainly I think everyone would have liked to have had this dialogue, this open discussion, prior to the execution of this deal.”

No one disagreed. In fact, judging from the mood of the aldermen present, it seems likely that the deal would have been constructed far differently—if not scotched altogether—if the City Council had actually vetted it first.

Seven months after the council approved it, four months after it went into effect, Chicago’s meter privatization has gone so badly and outraged so many residents that aldermen are now promising to do better next time. They’re even threatening to act like a real legislative branch as Mayor Daley pushes his latest plans to balance the city budget and fund the Olympics.