Parking Enforcers Lose Jobs Over Fake Tickets

When things go badly, it’s easy to start pointing fingers, but Lawrence Conrad, owner of Independent Security Services Atlantic Inc., is a good model for how to act when trouble arrives. According to thechronicleherald.ca, Conrad found out two of his employees were writing fake tickets to get out of work and fired them within hours. He didn’t wait to see how mad his clients would get; and he didn’t hesitate long enough to get a lawyer. He fired them and he alerted the police.

Conrad has a security company to run and wasn’t going to waste time while his reputation went down the tubes.

“I asked them, I said, ‘Why would you even bother writing tickets? What was your purpose here? The only thing you did is steal hours from me.’

“And I said, ‘Were you both truly that lazy?’ And the only comment I got from both of them, separately, was ‘We were stupid.’”

“They were taking what I call coffee breaks, extended lunch breaks.”

While the crime made no sense to Conrad, the consequences were clear. His company provides parking enforcement services and bills clients, namely, the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, for hours worked. Now those billed hours must be reimbursed and he’s prepared to make the culprits come up with the money – through the court system. Conrad’s contract with Halifax is up for review in the next few months and he is eager to prove this kind of trouble is anomalous and won’t be tolerated.

Both men, whom Conrad described as stellar employees who faithfully showed up at 7:45 a.m. every morning, worked for the company for a year and a half. They were vetted through the Justice Department, had background police checks completed and swore an oath as special constables.

The city of Halifax made Conrad aware of the high number of tickets issues to “phantom” vehicles, and once he figured out the scam, he took action. I guess it’s no surprise the owner of a security company would act so decisively, but I’m still impressed.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Parking Apps Drawing Attention to Entire Industry

Most people don’t have any idea how big the parking industry is, but the Chicago Tribune recently threw out a number: $30 billion. I would bet it’s bigger than that, but it has to be a good feeling or members of the industry to hear that kind of validation. Most people park their cars, but never think about parking as an industry like fashion or electronics. I think that’s about to change.

According to chicagotribune.com, the race to fill the needs of parkers through online parking apps is going hot and heavy. It’s getting more and more press and the players are getting more and more recognizable.

Although not all of them have disclosed funding levels, CB Insights reports that investors have poured at least $109 million into top parking apps. Look for winners to emerge in this nascent field quickly. Also, expect fierce competition for partnerships with carmakers, as apps fight one another to win valuable real estate inside the next wave of connected cars.

Digital parking applications that provide services for airports, cities and individuals are named in the article including Luxe, ParkWhiz and SpotHero. There’s even a mentiono f the apps that didn’t make it, mostly those that attempted to sell parking spots they didn’t own. The article predicts that the apps that stand the test of time will be those that offer diverse services: airport parking, as well as city parking and reservations.

Maybe the lass flashy members of the industry deserve more attention, too, but for now, this is a good start toward the world seeing parking for the giant that it is.

Read the article here.

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Residents Win Fight Against ParkAtlanta

Around 6 years ago, then Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin hired a private firm to enforce parking in her city. At the time, Atlanta had given up on its own enforcement program and needed a little of the money it was losing in ticket fees. According to altlantamagazine.com, the new enforcement team did its job well, so well that residents began to protest with vigor.

Residents went so far as to create anti-parking-enforcement clubs, bumper stickers, websites and Facebook pages. They made their displeasure known in every possible forum. Their main objection, besides the fact that they’d been given tickets in the first place, was that, from their points of view, the enforcement agency was trying to make a hefty profit on ticketing residents.

“…the discord grew voluminous enough that Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s successor, Kasim Reed, had to rewrite the contract to ensure greater accountability and transparency from the ticketing force—a renegotiation that cost the city somewhere in the neighborhood of $800,000.”

The city’s contract with its parking enforcement agency is almost up and Mayor Reed has promised residents he would not renew it. He even gave them a forum to air their grievances at a recent city council meeting.

Atlanta’s fussy residents might have a point that they were ticketed unfairly, charged too much, not allowed to resolve ticketing issues, and generally preyed upon by a heartless, money grubbing parking enforcement agency, but it might be they had just got used to the parking free-for-all in their city and didn’t want to follow rules or face consequences. It’s hard to say as an outsider.

Now Atlanta can go back to enforcing its own parking or hire another contractor. Hopefully, people will be happy with one of those solutions.

Read the article here.

 

 

 

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Boston Pushes App with Free Parking Bonus

The city of Boston has announced that smartphone users who download the ParkBoston app with receive two hours of free metered parking this holiday season. The parking bonus is offered as an incentive to purchase the app.

No doubt, Boston city leaders are hoping to increase their numbers, and saw the busy shopping days of Christmas as a great time to get more users.

“ParkBoston is a customer service enhancement that allows people to pay by smart phone to park in metered spaces on all local City of Boston streets,” said Boston Transportation Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca.  “We are pleased that we were able to just recently complete the full implementation of the project to provide this innovative amenity to Boston’s residents and visitors during this busy time of year.”

Everywhere I go, I can get something free or discounted for downloading an app. A taco shop where I eat frequently will give me a free taco; my dentist will give me a chance to win an Amazon.com gift certificate. I haven’t downloaded either app. The reason is that the taco is a one-time thing. After I eat my free taco, I’ll just have an app I don’t use and need to delete. And a chance to win a gift card isn’t enough of a reason for me to visit the app store, either.

I think it’s a great idea to give people a reason to download your app, but once they do, the real benefit has to be obvious and practical. The app itself must be easy to use and truly helpful. That’s the only way to keep people from enjoying their prize and deleting the app the next day.

I’d be curious to see what the retention rates are for this type of promotion. Maybe a staggered reward system would keep people attached to their apps longer and give them a chance to see the app’s usefulness. Perhaps Boston could offer two free hours a month for the first three months? Maybe that sounds like a lot of free parking to give away, but for all the time and money they have spent on ParkBoston, it could be a worthwhile investment to get users hooked.

 

Read the press release here.

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When a law is passed, who is affected?

I have been musing for some time about who is affected. I think I have come up with a way to communicate it.

The Problem:  Why does the government, any government, at any level, run by any political party, pass laws, rules and regulations which negatively affect mostly the lower income members of our society. To wit:

  • Gasoline taxes and ‘environmental’ rules add about $1 per gallon on fuel cost in California. (Gasoline in New Orleans last week was $1.79 a gallon, in Los Angeles $2.80.) Who is affected most by this $15 a tank surcharge in California. Not the rich or upper middle class, they just pay it and press on. The lower income earners see $60 to $100 a month coming out of their pay, and they need it.
  • So called ‘sin’ taxes add substantially to the cost of wine, beer, liquor, and tobacco. The 1 percenters could care less. The poor are hit hard. And it may be the case that lower income folks smoke more and drink more that others.
  • Insurance regulations limit competition,  particularly in health insurance, and thus tend to drive up rates. The rich probably don’t even know what their insurance costs. The poor, not so much.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency and its mandates have greatly affected the production of coal, limited construction of refineries, and the like.  Where is most of the coal produced? In West Virginia, one of our poorer states. Where are the refineries, the Gulf Coast, areas of high unemployment.  Bill Gates and Elon Musk don’t care — they pay what it takes to power their enterprises.
  • And what about the XL pipeline. Canada will sell the oil to us, or to China. We don’t build the pipeline, costings 1000s of jobs, Canada shrugs and goes elsewhere with their oil. A lot of poor people who would have had jobs here in the US go wanting.
  • City governments are pressuring police to hold back on enforcement in minority neighborhoods.  If you take Baltimore as an example, the police pulled back, and murder rates in poorer neighborhoods skyrocketed. It didn’t happen in rich neighborhoods.
  • Zoning rules set parking requirements for apartments, thus driving up the construction costs of those buildings and causing higher rents. Renters are paying for parking even though they may not have vehicles. Who are hurt? Lower income families who can’t afford to live in those buildings because of high rents.

I could go on  but you get the idea.

A solution? Perhaps when a new tax, law, or regulation, an “impact study” would have to be done to see just who is affected and by how much. Maybe if lawmakers knew that a particular tax cost low income families so much a year, they might think twice.

Naw, probably not…

JVH

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The Electric Car — Am I going Schizo?

I visited GreenTech Automotive last month.  Here are a few musings after that trip:

“Coming to work at GreenTech Automotive is a life changing event.” Senior Director of Operations Steven Richardson is proud of his new factory and his staff. His brand new factory began turning out all electric enforcement vehicles in the fall of 2015. “We are proud of the community and the community is proud of us,” he adds about Tunica, MS, home of the assembly plant.

GreenTech located in this northern Mississippi area, just 45 minutes south of Memphis, TN. The former cotton growing area is dotted with factories. A former Toyota senior manager, Richardson sees locating in Tunica as “coming home.”

“We hire local people who work to build the finest electric enforcement vehicle on the market. These folks have tremendous pride in their product and their factory.”
The “MyCar” a fully enclosed electric vehicle that can carry two people and has a top speed of 35 mph, is rated for 65 miles between charging. “It”s a perfect vehicle for parking enforcement,” says sales manager Kevin Ruddy, who took his first drive in a “MyCar” while PT was visiting the Tunica facility. “This vehicle really says “wow.”

“We employ local managers and empower them to make decisions on their own,” says Richardson. The company”s daily management meeting reflects this approach.

The managers meet on the assembly area floor and review “where we are” in each of their disciplines. At a recent meeting the warehouse manager expressed concerns about storing components in containers outside the air conditioned warehouse. “I’ll have to ensure that those items we place outside can take the high heat that occurs inside the steel containers.” She said. “I”ll begin research and coordination with the suppliers.”

Another manager expressed concern that the final assembled vehicle was two kilos over weight. “We will have to engineer five pounds out of the vehicle,” he said. “The design engineers attending the meeting made note.

The MyCar was originally designed by the renowned European automobile designer Georgetto Guigiaro and immediately won the European Green Fleet award.

According to Richardson, GreenTech Automotive collaborated with American racecar maker Panoz Automotive, British sports car maker Lotus engineering, and a team of former Porsche engineers to deliver a world class fleet vehicle.

Based on vehicle usage and electricity rates, recharging the MyCar averages $1.40 per charge and can be charged via any 110/220 AC volt wall outlet, using the industry standard J1772 connector.The MyCar includes amenities like heating, air conditioning, and power windows.

Richardson noted that the facility in Tunica was in “boot camp.” The employees were setting up assembly systems and becoming familiar with the operation of the plant. At full complement, over 200 people will be working at the facility.

“We have moved a state of the art assembly facility into the delta region of Mississippi. We did so because we knew that there was a talented pool of employees who could turn out quality products. Not only are we proud of our staff, but they are proud of Greentech and want to be a part of the electric car.

Then he let me drive one. Its purpose built. It feels like a regular car, because it is. Its fun and easy to drive. It fits the needs of an operation where a standard vehicle is overkill.

Look into electric for your operation. It might just do the job.

JVH

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The Turkey is in the Oven

At our house, the job of cooking the turkey is mine. I also make the stuffing. Mine is a rather “kitchen sink” stuffing with sausage, apples, celery, mushrooms (cooked in wine), raisins, pickle relish, chopped onion, all in a bread crumb base.  I add a lot of seasoning, but don’t keep track so that remains a secret.  Usually the amount depends on the amount of adult beverage consumed.

I add maple syrup and soy sauce to the mix when I’m mixing it all together.

This year I made the stuffing yesterday so I am putting cold stuffing in a cold turkey.  We let the turkey thaw for five days and there was still a big chunk of ice inside.  Means an extra hour or so cooking.

We are sharing Thanksgiving with next door neighbors here in our place in Temecula. Its great – they have kids and grand kids and they are making all the rest of the dinner — so we can go and relax.

Andy and Co are with Karen’s parents at one of her sisters in Utah (We usually move Thanksgiving to Saturday so we can spend it with them but this year geography got in the way. JT and Francine and Ash are in Washington celebrating in their home.

Some advice for around the Thanksgiving table:

  • No politics. I know they are a little off base with their political beliefs, but I love them anyway. I’m not going to change them, they aren’t going to change me. So be it.
  • You know that uncle or sister in law that you can’t stand? Give a little and talk to him or her about someone who is no longer with you. Maybe you could make a new friend.
  • Football is good — Argue about the game. No one ever lost a friend over football — at least I don’t think they did.
  • Take a walk after dinner.  The tryptophan will kick in after the turkey, but a nice walk on a crisp evening will help settle your stomach.
  • You are going to eat nearly 5000 calories today. Its ok — just don’t eat much tomorrow

And most of all, be thankful. We are blessed. We have worked hard for what we have. We couldn’t have done it without grit and perseverance, but we also couldn’t have done it without all the people along the way. Don’t forget them.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

JVH and the Parking Today Media team

 

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Give Thanks for Canadians

In the post below I noted that Canadian Thanksgiving was not up to American Thanksgiving. In doing so, I offended, I understand, millions of Canadians world wide. This is strange, since my wife is Canadian and I have many dear friends north of the 49th parallel and have actually been in Canada on the second Monday in October which means it shares the date with Columbus day and Indigenous people’s day. It didn’t seem as big a deal to me as Thanksgiving in the US.

However, I have been wrong before and yield to those who have written to me explaining the origins of Canadian Thanksgiving (earlier and more European than American) and that those in Canada have much to be thankful for, thank you very much.

So this year I will be eating crow rather than turkey, in solidarity with my Canadian friends and relative.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian and American

JVH

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Time to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is the truly American Holiday.  They don’t celebrate it in Europe, its a downmarket holiday in Canada, and Asia  — nada.

Why? It seems to me that we are blessed. Hard work, perseverance, a culture that says ‘yes,’ and a unerring desire to help others have made America what she is and will be.  We have become that ‘shining city on the hill.’

The rest of the year we work hard and build our homes and businesses, but on this day we rest, and give thanks for the results of that labor.

As hard as some try to tear us down, we work to shore America up. By understanding and fixing the mistakes we have made, we have become a place that the troubled masses seek.

So we give thanks this week. Thanks for the strength needed to maintain our abundance. Thanks for those who have put a hand out along the way. Thanks for wonderful employees and faithful customers and readers. Thanks for a supportive God and for the moral fiber that keeps us strong.

From all of us at Parking Today Media

Happy Thanksgiving 2015.

LLAP

 

 

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Meter Failure Hits Harrisburg in the Pocket

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania meter parking is free today because all of the city’s 170 meters are suffering from a glitch that prints the wrong date on receipts. Standard Parking, which operates the city’s meters, reported “global meter failure” occurred late Sunday night. According to pennlive.com, the technology problem has been fixed online, but the work on the ground will take some time to complete.

Parking officials are only writing residential tickets on Monday because every individual meter needs to be rebooted, said John Gass, an official with Trimont, the company that manages the parking system for the city.

It takes about 10 minutes to reboot a meter, the article says, so that’s around 28 man hours on the street. I don’t know how much the city will lose in revenues, but I’m sure it’s more than a few dollars.

It’s not a perfect world, at least, that’s what I tell myself when things that are out of my control start get annoying. The city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania might need a few comforting words when it tallies up the cost of a day without tickets.

On the bright side, what’s bad for the city’s bottom line is a happy little bonus for parkers.

Read the article here.

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