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North Korean Diplomats Owe $156,000 in Parking Tickets

North Korea is overstepping a lot of boundaries these days, to put it mildly. Although an unpaid parking ticket doesn’t compare to testing hydrogen bombs in the Pacific, $156,000 in unpaid parking tickets is a serious lapse. A long list of news agencies, including fortune.com, have reported that North Korea owes New York City a pile of cash for tickets that were issued as far back as the 1990s.

They’re not the only ones risking the wrath of New York parking enforcement.

Russia reportedly owes over $104,000, Iran has run up $185,000 in fees and Syria has nearly $363,000 in unpaid tickets. If you include the North Korea parking ticket bill, that’s nearly $1 million in unpaid fines.

North Korean officials deny the accusation, but didn’t call anybody a poopyhead, jerkwad or wingnut. They say tickets are paid when they are incurred and that North Korean diplomats in the United States are aware that their parking privileges can be withdrawn if they have more than 3 unpaid tickets. Maybe there’s another reason they haven’t paid – maybe they have other plans for us?

It’s another example of the way perspective drives behavior. Parking enforcement officials in New York City say North Korean diplomats owe them $156,000; the North Korean diplomats say it’s a mistake. North Korea believes it is entitled to arm itself and has the right to test its combination fusion-type nuclear weapon and a ballistic missile; the United States thinks there are enough nuclear devices in the world and that further testing is a dangerous to all mankind. President Donald Trump thinks Kim Jong Un is a reckless “rocket man”; and Kim Jong Un thinks President Trump is a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.”

Lots of perspectives, lots of deflection – and nobody’s getting anywhere good.

Read the article here.

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LA Police Reveal 20 Percent Rate of Handicapped Fraud

Random sampling of handicap placards at the Los Angeles County Fair revealed 20 percent were fraudulent, reports dailybulletin.com. Parking enforcement officers checked 371 placards and found 71 were not legal. Officials were monitoring parking, not conducting a survey, but the data is real just the same.

“We want to make sure drivers who are parking in blue disabled parking spots are doing so legally,” according to DMV Investigations Chief Frank Alvarez. “We are constantly carrying out enforcement efforts throughout the state to deter people from breaking the law and improve access for those with limited mobility.”

It would be interesting to see this same enforcement approach carried out regularly – check placards at major events where there are high numbers of placards on display. There’s no way to police grocery store and dentist office handicap parking spaces – and people know that, so they abuse the system without fear. Carrying out large-scale enforcement at venues like sports arenas could be a good way to catch frauds and give them reason to respect the law.

While it will never cease to shock me how people justify using handicapped placards illegally, I save some of my outrage for a system that is so easy to abuse. I still get mail from Medicare for the man who previously owned my home – a man who has been dead for 25 years. He was dead for about 15 years before I bought the house, and he’s still on the mailing list for insurance and destination travel offers.

It wouldn’t surprise me if many who use handicapped placards illegally do so because those placards keep showing up in the mail. It’s a crime of opportunity. The placards are so easy to get, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to use them. Lots of people are going to be tempted by the chance to save money and have reserved parking everywhere they go.

Let’s say 10 percent of the frauds sought out handicapped parking access with the intent of abusing the system and 10 percent had a parking placard fall into their laps. They’re all scumbags, but that’s data that can be applied to reality.

Read the article here.

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Hurricane Parking

Catastrophic hurricanes have overtaken the news these last few weeks and there is no end in sight. It’s hard to comprehend the devastation. Besides the lives and homes and businesses lost, there are many peripheral losses that make the destruction complete, but aren’t listed in the headlines.

Rightly so, cars are not much of a priority when people’s lives are at risk, but later, those cars will become a huge issue. Flooded vehicles are everywhere in Houston and the surrounding areas. Some are abandoned on roadways, others are soaking in parking structures. The insurance losses on cars alone will be enormous. They’ll have to be recovered and then repaired, replaced or scrapped. People whose homes are destroyed will also be looking for new cars. And beyond that some of these damaged cars will go back on the market and cause no end of trouble for unwitting buyers.

One writer at qz.com, Kristin Oakley, says she did everything she could think of to prepare for Hurricane Harvey – except move her car to higher ground. Oakley recommends finding a safe place for vehicles, especially for those who are on the outer reaches of the weather. It’s not practical for everyone to take their cars to higher ground, but if it’s possible, it should be done.

Experts estimate that 500,000 to 1 million cars were damaged by water from Harvey, most of which will be total losses. The same could happen in Florida when Irma lands as en even stronger hurricane.

Another suggestion Oakley offers is that in emergency situations unattended vehicle should be parked legally so they do not impede fire, police and rescue personnel. An emergency is often created by dire circumstances and lack of time, so cars will continue to be lost when nature gets extreme. Oakley’s point of view is after the fact, but still worthwhile.

Read the article here.

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Technology. That’s the topic of the day in the next issue of PT. Is it a good or bad thing? When I can get to London in nine hours, talk to friends in Australia on a moment’s notice, heat my oatmeal in seconds, then one might say it’s a good thing.

However when the kids spend hours texting, the skies are filled with smog, we sit in traffic for hours getting to places that took half the time yesterday, it might give one pause.

My concern is that when technology gives on one hand, it takes away on another. There is no possible way I could fix my car if it breaks down. However half a century ago, I knew enough about what went on under the hood that I could keep old Bessie running with bailing wire and duct tape.

Remember when we used to take vacuum tubes to the hardware store and test them, and replace the burned out ones and keep the radio or TV running? Try it today. Of course the TV today is solid state, will probably run 10 years without service, and has a 60 inch full color screen. So…

But do we even know how things work. Internal combustion engines aren’t particularly mysterious but if you add air conditioning, fuel injection, sensors, computerized this and that, do we consumers have a clue?

I and folks my age, are fortunate to have grown up when things were simpler, but also when more complex technology was in its infancy. The first computer I saw was when I was in college. It was housed in a room roughly 40 by 40 feet, had flashing lights, huge tape drives, and punch card readers. We would go to the school of business administration and watch through huge windows as the lights flashed and the tape ran. (Today I probably have 100 times the computing power in my smart phone than in that 40 by 40 room.)

But when we grew up with computers and integrated circuits we sort of understood how they worked. We knew that data was stored on tape or disks, that the computer was a very fast calculator that processed the data, and we were a bit in awe.

The young today take all that as ancient history. The smart phone in their hand just works. If it doesn’t you get a new one. The tiny tablet or laptop allows them to communicate with the world without a second thought.

Do math? Why. My phone can do it for me. Have the discipline to actually go to a library and research for information to be used in a report or term paper? Why – Google has it in an instant.

Chat with the clerk in a check out line – Never, there is no clerk any more. Have a filling station pump your gas or clean your windows – are you crazy?

I’m afraid the young of today are missing so much human interaction that they are changing in ways that could be frightening.

Enough of this – gotta go – have to check for the latest Tweet, be sure the web site is current, and oh yes, see if the email is back up and running.


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Moving Day

Whenever the muse leaves me, or I become frustrated or bored, I rearrange my office. It would give me a different perspective and hopefully get me past whatever block (writer’s, sales,’ management, etc) was lurking in the space around me.. The problem I have had for the past seven years is that my desk is bolted to the wall. So much for that.

This week I have an entirely new outlook. We have moved into new digs just around the corner from our old place. We are still within hailing distance of LAX. Someone asked me how I felt about moving. Initially I was rather non plussed over the entire thing. Robyn, Eric and Joyce did everything, I just griped and complained.

I have always thought that all change is good.

The move over here has not only changed my perspective, but it has also started me down a road of getting all the electronics back to the way they were. That, for a luddite like me, is no mean feat.

Email doesn’t work.  It’s the same problem you have when you check in to the Holiday Inn and the wifi doesn’t seem to let you sign in to your email account. I haven’t been able to fix it, so I’m calling in tech support. That happens Tuesday.

The phones – ah yes – a completely new phone system with different displays, buttons, and the like. Fortunately, Eric is handling the set up. I know that in a day or so I will get a call and not be able to answer it.

My smartphone seems to work just fine, but of course it doesn’t’ pair with the new wifi. Tech support is coming (different from email) so we will see what happens then.

I have already completely rearranged the furniture in my office from the way it was placed when I walked in the new place. Sigh. I was told that that was the way it was originally designed, but I didn’t like it and told them no, change it. A conversation I swear I never had.

I asked if this new place was going to make us any money and was told that if being more efficient, having employees that wanted to come to work, and having a staff that was warm in the winter, cool in the summer, having a restroom that worked meant anything, then yes, we should seem a few bucks on the bottom line. Time will tell.

Our new address islisted in an earlier blog. You are welcome to drop by. Its not perfect yet, but we are receiving.

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Empty Threats in Iowa

A printing error on unpaid parking ticket notices recently struck fear in the hearts of residents of Muscatine, Iowa. According to muscatinejournal.com, the notices informed drivers that their cars were going to be impounded if they did not pay their parking fines. The recipients questioned the validity and legality of these notices and were happy to be informed of the mistake.

When residents who received notices said they did not have multiple outstanding parking violations, Muscatine Finance Director Nancy Lueck said the city realized there was an error on the form. Lueck said the notices should inform residents they have a delinquent or unpaid ticket, not that impoundment is possible.

I don’t think impoundment is an unfair punishment for people who don’t pay their tickets. Maybe Muscatine should have just gone with the mistake and made it policy? It’s a lot of work impounding vehicles, so the city, which denies vehicle registration to scofflaws, is instead apologizing and reprinting their notices.

A few lessons learned:

1. People need to pay their tickets, because finding out your car is going to get towed is scary – whether the threat is real or not.

2. Cities might consider scaring people with misprinted notices more often. I bet those tickets got paid, even though the form was invalid.

3. Proofread your forms. It’s uncomfortable explaining mistakes to the media. It’s also a waste of money to print boxes and boxes of anything with incorrect information.

Read the article here.

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Moving Day for Parking Today Media

Tomorrow is Moving Day for PT Media. We have leased new digs around the corner from our current location. Its pretty hectic around here so don’t expect quick responses from us for the next few days.  We have no clue how the internet and phone hookup will go. Currently we are packing up:

Eric is getting us ready.

Our new address is

5777 West Century Boulevard

Suite 650

Los Angeles, Ca 90066

Phones and email should remain the same.

We have been here since February 1, 2010.  Seems like only yesterday.  We will miss our neighbors, but according to fitbit we are only moving about 740 steps.

LAX (who is negiotiating to buy/steal our existing building) motivated us, however we felt it was time to upgrade a bit. I’ll post pictures when we get most of the stuff put away.

You are all invited to our housewarming party, probably in November.


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Yikes! Half of those buying cars would buy a fully autonomous vehicle

Park News Editor Astrid has a screaming headline that should give the industry pause. A survey shows that 53% of buyers would buy a fully autonomous vehicle. There is one minor problem, of course. There is no such thing today, tomorrow, or even in the next decade, as a “fully autonomous vehicle.”

For those with short memories, I will review the bidding. A fully autonomous vehicle (fav) is one that can drive itself, in any weather, any road conditions, and on any street or highway at any speed. I call this the George Jetson vehicle.

However, headline aside, if you drill down into the referenced article you find some interesting facts.  70% of those surveyed like driving their own vehicle. I feel like saying “I rest my case.” IF nearly three quarters of drivers like driving, then where is the motivation to actually buy an fav, assuming one will be available to purchase.

You might also note from the article, nearly the same percentage say they don’t really trust a fav and wouldn’t feel safe in one. Gee, I guess if people base their experience on the internet, their smart phone, and scanners at the supermarket, they understand that computers can go wrong, and you really don’t want that to happen at 75 miles an hour.

Granted that even with the error factor being much less than a human error factor, one still has to get their mind around putting their safety in the hands of a machine.

I might also note that most people said that they would prefer to buy a Tesla, as a fav, buy a factor of five to 1 over the legacy car companies. I wonder if this has anything to do with Elon Musk’s self aggrandizement, and not with the fact that Tesla hasn’t produced anything close to an fav.

I had lunch the other day with a VP at a major technology company in silicon valley. He is in charge of their connected car/autonomous vehicle project. Since we were sitting in ground zero for high tech and most of the cars in the parking lot were electric and a large number were Teslas, I posited that perhaps he and like companies in the area were looking out their windows when they made decisions on just how popular such vehciles were.  There is a whole lot of country out there, from the Sierras to the Appalachians,  I told him, where people aren’t really sure about such technology.

He responded to me in a way that made me feel like an errant child being corrected by a parent. “Now John, its coming, the technology is almost there, it can’t be stopped.” Chasened, I thought about writing a letter to President Clinton and telling her how much I was looking forward to the vehicular automation that was coming. No wait…

To summarize — nearly three quarters of drivers say they like driving themselves, 70 percent say they won’t feel safe in a fav, 50 percent of those surveyed say they won’t buy one, and of course the killer — they don’t exist.

It seems to me that we should be talking about connected vehicles and how they will affect our business, and not worrying about fully autonomous vehicles.  Just Sayin…


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RV Parking a Hassle for Everyone

It’s tough to find parking anywhere when you drive an RV. Renting space in a campground puts you in close proximity to a lot of people who don’t seem to need sleep; parking on an empty road or in a commercial parking lot is awkward, to say the least; and parking anywhere residential is a gamble because you don’t know what the rules are from town to town. Besides that, the neighbors don’t like it.
Some towns allow RV parking, others don’t, some require permits and limit length of stay. Even when there are rules in place, it’s complicated.
In Long Beach, CA, city council members are voting on new rules that allow RV owners to park for 72 hours at a time if they have a permit obtained by a person who lives on the street, reports scpr.org. The rules come after residents and law enforcement grew tired of dealing with RVs parking for long periods of time and sometimes abandoned.

It isn’t just vacationers parking RVs on residential streets, the city says there are many homeless people living in RVs. The new rules would make life harder for the homeless, so Long Beach officials are working on alternative parking locations.

Long Beach officials counted 1,863 homeless in a census conducted in January. Of the 686 who were not living in some sort of shelter, roughly 7 percent were living in their vehicles, according to the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services. There were also a number of people who appeared to be living in RVs, but did not identify themselves as homeless and were not included in the count.

RVs can be eye sores, and I have neighbors who don’t think they should be parked anywhere on our street – including driveways. That seems harsh, but I know I would see it differently if there was a 45- foot Class-A RV parked 4 yards from my house blocking all sunlight.

I’m completely against long-term RV parking on residential streets – except for when my family visits me and they need a place to stay, of course. If they can’t park on my street they have to get a hotel, or worse, stay at my house.

Read the article here.

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UK Drivers Avoid Pay-By-Phone Meters

In the UK, leaders at the Automobile Association say drivers are determinedly avoiding pay-by-phone stations. A survey of 16,000 of its members revealed 7 out of 10 would rather look for another place to park than pay by phone. According to BBC.com, members of local governments say pay-by-phone is easy to use and popular with drivers, but the AA disagrees.

Drivers dislike several aspects of pay-by-phone including the actual payment by phone, according to the report, as well as fees involved in the transaction and having to interact with automated service representatives.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Not only can it be a struggle to find a space but now, when you do find one, you may be required to talk to an automated system to pay the charge – not ideal if you have an appointment or just want to get in and get out quickly.

The AA suggests that pay-by-phone discriminates against older drivers and drivers with lower incomes – those who do not have cell phones or do not feel comfortable using them to pay for parking, or who cannot afford additional parking fees.

While the AA criticizes the widespread installation of pay-by-phone meters and kiosks, others have called into question the timing of the group’s study, which was made public on the same day the organization introduced a card payment system for small businesses.

Maybe more of the AA’s members are from a generation that is slow to adopt cell phone payment options and the group has an obligation to represent their interests, but those numbers are staggering. If I were building pay-by-phone meters, I’d look into that data even if it is somewhat skewed.

Read the article here.

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