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Point of View

Socko Boffo, Sticky-Fingered Chief, Dearborn and a Lucky Priest

John Van Horn

I can see the headlines in Daily Variety now: “Windy City and LaLa Land Park at PIE” or “Socko Boffo ‘Net Connect at Dessert Bash” or “Park Meet and Tech Connect.”
Admittedly, I am prejudiced, just a bit, but opening day of the Parking Industry Exhibition was stunning. Nearly 100 people in Los Angeles and double that in Chicago crowded darkened rooms to hear presentations by industry experts in both cities. Three originated in L.A. and four in Chicago.
There’s a picture nearby that will give you a “feel” for what happened. This was taken in Chicago – Don Shoup was speaking in Los Angeles. OK, it ain’t rocket science. What’s the benefit? Except a lot of sizzle …
The Internet interconnect enabled folks in one place to experience a live presentation in another. Dr. Shoup wasn’t available to come to Chicago; however, he could easily make his presentation in Los Angeles and be seen and heard in Chicago. A number of presenters in Chicago also could be seen and heard in L.A. Questions were asked from both venues.
“Live” is the operative word. You get the immediacy of the presenter’s voice and edge. You can react to what’s said and ask questions. Is it better than a recorded presentation? Is Broadway better than the movies?
I heard nothing but raves from the usual critics. We learned a lot, and next time it will be even better. But it was a great start.
Look for PT to bring you more and more such events in 2007 and beyond.
***
This just gets better and better. The former chief of police of the town of Skaneateles near Syracuse in New York has been charged with grand theft after it was discovered he might have taken between $3,000 and $50,000 in parking meter coins during his tenure as chief.
The theft was discovered when he retired and his successor noted a spike, a big spike, in meter revenue income. When investigators got a warrant and searched the former chief’s house, they found used meters.
They also were able to buy some on eBay. They didn’t file on the “meters on eBay” scandal, as they couldn’t decide whether the meters had been declared surplus or not.
It also seems that eight or nine years ago an alert citizen noted that it was suspicious that the chief was personally collecting the money from the meters and he reported it to the powers that be. However, since the meter money fell under the chief’s purview, the complaint was ignored.
I think the chief is not going to have a happy retirement. Now you see why if you have a garage manager who doesn’t take any vacations and never gets sick, you may have a problem.
***
In August 2005, I commented on the fact that the local merchants in West Dearborn, MI, were up in arms over the city’s plan to charge for parking in the area.
The money quote from my August discussion is this:
Let’s see – the businesses will suffer if paid parking is instituted. So you are telling me the only reason people come to these businesses is because of free parking. They are willing to pay for parking to see a Tigers game, or to visit a fancy restaurant, or when they stay overnight at the Ren Center downtown, but they won’t pay a small amount when they come to eat or shop in West Dearborn? Sorry, sports fans, it doesn’t fly.
If you want people to come to your area and shop, give them a reason to do so. Make it fun to shop there. Clean up the streets, put in new lighting and storefronts, repave and fix the sidewalks. Increase security. Put in a 12-plex cinema. Cost too much? Not if you take the money you get from parking and roll it back into the neighborhood from which it came.
Someone must have been listening – the new pay-for-parking plan just went into effect. And they are going to start enforcement in earnest shortly. They seem to be doing everything right – higher prices on-street, lower prices off-street. Monthly parking, for business employees, is substantially cheaper than parking on-street.
It’s a good beginning, and I think West Dearborn will find that many of its parking woes will go away. The only problem so far that I can see is that there is no comment as to where the money collected will go. My guess – and it’s a wild one – into the general fund.
Three-quarters of the solution is better than none at all. Good start, West Dearborn. Hope my advice last year helped a bit.
***
A priest in New York got a parking ticket while ministering to the sick at a local hospital. When word got out, people lined up to pay the cleric’s $115 fine. So many, in fact, that he now has a surplus. One person gave him $230 and told him to go out and get two more tickets.
Seems reasonable to me.

Article Abstract from October, 2006




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