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To Censor or Not?

We had a bit of a set to here at PT world headquarters when I asked one of our staff to take down a social media post. It had subtly denigrated a former staffer. There was a complaint, I reacted. In hindsight I was wrong.

Censorship is anathema to a free country. Likewise its not appropriate to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, assuming there is no fire. However today the boffins who run social media have taken it on themselves to censor most anything with which they don’t agree. Yikes.

After some thought, I have come to consider this as a most cowardly approach. Rather than publish something and then let those who disagree have a chance at it, it seems that its better to not allow those thoughts to see the light of day.

Since beginning PT, I have written over four thousand posts on my blog. I doubt if I have gotten 100 responses that disagree with me. I’m certain there are more than 100 people out there that disagree, but few have the courage of a Tony Jordan, or Don Shoup, or Clyde Wilson to disagree or put their ideas out for review.

My mistake was not making this incident a learning experience, but simply censoring and asking that the piece be removed. A good editor or leader would have had the author review the piece and see how it could be adjusted to get the point across without the acrimony accompanying it. Trust me, that can be a challenge.

One of the things that made Johnny Carson so popular was that when he made fun of people, there was no anger or jealousy just below the surface. It was in fun and full or laughs. That is a skill to which we all could aspire.

Freedom is hard. We must protect it. But at the same time we need to take the feelings of others into account. Its difficult to write when angry. We need to learn how to communicate and filter that anger. At the same time, we need to be careful not to censor.

JVH

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70% of our Revenue Comes from Citations

Over on the IPMI member forum there is an interesting question posed. “What is the percentage breakdown between onstreet meter revenues and citation collections. The response was anywhere from 50/50 to 60/40 to as high as 30/70. That is, 30 percent of the revenues were from meters, 70 percent from citations. Wow!

There was also a long response about the abuse that PEOs take from the general public. To wit:

We have had them hit by vehicles, spit on, and one scofflaw picked up the enforcement bicycle and threw it into the street just in time for a car to hit it.  The treatment of our officers was so bad, as there seemed to be an incident occurring almost daily.  The officers had de-escalation training, and they removed themselves from the situation whenever it was possible.  Unfortunately, there were times that OPD had to be called for back-up.

With that said, we have been experiencing a sharp increase in the aggressiveness of these interactions recently, including an incident where a foreign substance was thrown on one of our officers.  While we are proud of the fact that we put an emphasis on de-escalation training and avoiding potential issues many situations present themselves abruptly and without warning which makes them unavoidable.

Historically, these types of aggressive interactions have been extremely isolated, but with the tension and anxiety levels continuing to rise, we are working on revising our training materials and procedures to focus on enhancing our officer safety in the field.

I’m no expert. But don’t we get what we dish out? If 70 percent, or even 50 percent of our revenue was from citations, are we asking ourselves just what are we doing wrong? What could we change in our approach to move the needle and get those numbers more in line.

I know that many enforcement operations run like mini police forces. Goals are set. PEOs must write a certain number of tickets per hour, day, week. In some cases, the enforcement units have simply given up and mail the tickets to the vehicle owner. That way there is no interaction between PEOs and the public.

I strongly recommend you read the piece by Julie Dixon’s group in the upcoming edition of Parking Today. Here’s just a hint:

Consider if the language is clear to anyone not familiar with the area. The value of a proactive education and outreach campaign should also not be overlooked, and this may include marketing materials, press releases, online information, and public meetings. The more our customers understand the regulations, the more compliance we achieve. In a perfect world, we would not issue any parking citations because everyone would comply. However, this is not the reality, and we need to invest in and train our parking enforcement personnel to become effective customer service representatives of the parking program.

JVH

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The $50 Steak

I’m not talking about a steak served in a restaurant with a baked potato, creamed spinach, warm sour dough bread, a Caesar salad to start, and chocolate cake to finish it up. I’m talking about a steak in the butcher’s case, 1.25 pounds of cow called Spencer. You then have to take it home and BBQ.

OK, it was for a special occasion, so I sucked it up and bought the steak. On the way home, I stopped at Pavilions and picked up some veggies and chocolate cake and happened to glance into the meat department. There was what looked pretty much like the equivalent piece of meat for $20.

I was petrified as I put the meat on the grill. Would I over or undercook? Fortunately, it turned out perfect and Robyn and I being small eaters, it was enough for the two of us. But then I got to thinking, who actually regularly paid that kind of money for basically exactly the same thing as could be bought at Pavilions or Costco for a third the price? And Why?

If you pay extra for a similar good or service, and it brings you enjoyment, then so be it. I have a friend to pays first class to go to Dubai. She loves Dubai and greatly enjoys all the fun and the rest of it that she experiences there. It brings her great pleasure.

However I also have a friend who drives only the most expensive cars he can buy. If it is made in Germany, Italy, or in a factory in England, he is there. But why? Frankly it’s so he can show everyone just how worldly he is and that he can afford an Aston Martin, Bentley, Maybach, or Ferrari.  He gets little pleasure from owning the high end vehicle, he gets pleasure from knowing that everyone who sees him now, he thinks, has greater respect for him.

There are many examples but one is at the top of the list. Ever heard if Balenciaga? It’s a high end women’s fashion nameplate. They have just come out with an $1800 trash bag look alike. It’s looks like a Hefty bag you take out to the curb an place in your trash can. You can use it to carry your ‘stuff’. I think this was a way for the folks at Balenciaga to test the power they have over their customers. It seems to be working as some folks are actually paying nearly two grand for this little item.

It is certainly possible that some people do get personal pleasure wearing or carrying something with a name (Cartier, Balenciaga, Prada, Hermes, YSL, Patek Phillipe, Versace, Armani, Chanel, and the rest). It is true that most have a built-in craft that give it a reason for expense. And if that’s the reason you buy it, good for you.

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Have you sat down and looked within? Do you really understand your motivations? Do you buy the $50 steak because it’s really better, or because you will have bragging rights?

Perhaps its time we all looked within. It’s not a bad thing.

JVH

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A Parking App that…

I like to read mystery stories.  I just pick out ones that look fairly interesting from Amazon and download them to my kindle.  This weekend I was reading a novel called “Devine’s Providence.” by Stephen Reney. It’s the story about a former police detective who has opened a private investigation business in Providence, Rhode Island.

He becomes entangled in a case that involves the police, the city, and a developer. Murder and mayhem ensues. I was reading along when suddenly, I find that the key to the mystery is an app that allows folks to find and pay for their parking. (The developer had been buying up and closing parking facilities throughout the city, thus making the parking more expensive.) I should have seen that coming.

The story goes deeper than that. It seems that the whole idea is for the app to collect as much information on each person using it as possible (and if you wanted to park in Providence, you would have to use it) and then…

It will collect Phone numbers, credit cards, shopping history, banking info – it’ll all be on the app. It’s being made to track everyone’s location, browsing habits, it can even listen in on phone calls if they decide they want to.

Why would they want to?

Temple’s bundling up all of the stuff he gathers and selling it to the highest bidder…

Is any of this sounding vaguely familiar?

The investigation leads to a huge server farm that they shut down by… You have to read the book to find out. However the app wasn’t limited to Providence. The goal was to get it working in all major cities.

Is this a case of fiction being stranger than truth, or the other way around?

JVH

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The New Normal, Bah Humbug

I’m hearing daily about “the new normal.” Consultants and so called Thought Leaders are constantly telling us that we are in a ‘new normal.’ Society, both social and professional have changed to the point that we must embrace the new ways things are done. This is a result of the pandemic, technology, and frankly, the desires of the great unwashed. I want to work from home, I want to communicate over Zoom, I want to be left alone. It’s the “new normal.”

We are told that sports are no longer competitive, but that everyone should be a winner. We are told that one may select one’s sex, and change it at will. We are told that the “M” and “W” on restrooms mean nothing. It’s the ‘new normal.’

Small children, ages 3 to 8, are exposed to sexual grooming, and given no time to be kids. Their innocence is being taken away. It’s the “new normal.” Police are the enemy, their budgets are cut, they receive no support from their city governments. It’s the “new normal.”

Gasoline prices are twice what they were a year ago. Inflation had taken hold in every aspects of our lives. Homelessness is rampant, crime is on the increase. It’s the “new normal.”

We just have to accept the “new normal” and nod our heads. At least that’s what our Thought Leaders tell us. But I wonder.

How many times have you heard coworkers tell you how they hate ‘Zoom’ meetings. How many conversations have you had when people tell you how much they miss the business and social life of actually going to the office. How many companies are actually beginning to require their employees to show up.

Is not the illogic of being able to select one’s sex, particularly at a very early age, becoming obvious. Having actual males competing with females in sports is not working out. Doesn’t simply thinking about the issue show one how crazy it is?

Shouldn’t children be allowed to be kids without involving them conversations long before they are able to handle it. Does that make sense.

The cops aren’t perfect, but they are on the front line, and give their lives daily to protect us. Don’t you think they need some support?

“The New Normal” makes no sense. I think what it means is that its time to give up.  Just retreat into our homes, and accept whatever comes. So be it.

I just can’t buy that. Change is always going to happen, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that its for the good. Take my advice. Look out your window. See what’s really happening. Make up your mind. For yourself. Just because someone said something at a college, or in silicon valley, or in front of the city council doesn’t make it good or right.

Have the courage to think for yourself.

JVH

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JVH is Right, again – aah, The Law of Unintended Consequences

I sometimes wonder if I’m just moving down the wrong path. Then something like the spending bill that has recently passed congress comes along and voila, I’m proven right again. It does make one feel a tad better.

Look, I’m all for electric vehicles. If you want one, buy one. More power to you. Just don’t ask me to pay for it.  That being said, let’s review the bidding:

The bill that recently passed congress extends the $7500 rebate for EV’s. So I end up subsidizing your EV. But wait – it turns out that if the parts in the EV, read that battery, comes from a country that we don’t get along with, read that China, no rebate. 77 percent of all batteries come from China. The idea is to motivate auto manufacturers to source batteries here in the US. The manufacturers say they can’t do that, and even if they could, that it will take years to create manufacturing here.

The problem is that the raw materials that goes into batteries, lithium, nickel, and cobalt, are by their nature very messy to dig out of the earth. They make oil drilling look like an operating room. So in the NIMBY fashion, the Greens are adamantly opposed to sourcing these metals here in the US. It’s ok to ruin countries in Africa and South America, you know, ‘over there’ but not here in the good old US of A.

Let’s don’t even get into the issue of the power grid, or the fact that 88% of the power on that grid is from non renewable sources. As Fox Business Host Charles Payne noted the other day:

Then Payne emphasized, “Here’s the crazy thing. We just have to look to Europe. France and Germany. Their electricity rates will be 1000% higher this winter. One-thousand-percent higher than the average price for the last ten years.”

Payne reiterated that there are significant costs to the green energy “transition” that politicians, who have almost no idea how energy is generated, tout. “All this is a money transfer. We’re transferring money to the richest Americans out there. Progressives who voted for Joe Biden. That is all this is.”

Whenever the government is involved, problems arise. This new law basically does nothing for the environment, causes problems for automakers, and will increase the battery costs and increase non environmental extraction of metals from the earth in countries that don’t particularly care about keeping such activities environmentally pure.

I wonder if we had just left well enough alone, the free market would have enabled the EV companies. If they weren’t able to get funding from private sources, maybe the technology wasn’t there yet or the tech would have moved more slowly, allowing the support system to keep up with it.

Is this new law a classic example of Unintended Consequences? I think so.

I’m going to ask my green friend down the street who owns a Tesla and a monster gas guzzling Jeep why he replaced his Chevy Tahoe with another gas guzzler. I’ll keep you posted.

JVH

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Las Vegas is Booming

An article in the Wall Street Journal today noted that the numbers in Las Vegas are at an all time high. This includes visitors, gaming, hotel guests, just about everything. This can be nothing but good news for business. People are traveling and spending money. Even in the heat of a Las Vegas summer.

The average hotel room in sin city has increased from just over $100 per night to nearly $200 and that’s not slowing down visitors at all. Pent up demand is exploding all over southern Nevada.

This, along with full airplanes and crowds at other destination locations tells us that despite Covid, Monkeypox, and pessimistic reports on the economy, people are traveling, spending money, and looking at a pandemic in the rear view mirror.

From my point of view, this means that the pessimism we have seen over the past nearly three years is waning and optimism is winning out. But what about parking.

I don’t know about you, but the garage under my office is nearing capacity each day. I’m running into people in the elevator, most with smiles on their faces. What with the positive attitudes we saw at PIE and the IMPI, employment numbers, and the like, it seems we can look to a positive fourth quarter and 2023 to come.

Welcome back, America. We missed you.

JVH

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A Truly “BOFFO” IPMI

The reviews are in and they are ‘boffo’. The IPMI convention in New Orleans was a grand success. Although I wasn’t in attendance, I’m overwhelmed with positive reports. Not that the parties and seminars weren’t  ‘super fantastic.’ I’m sure they met the IPMI’s usual standards. I’m hearing something a tad different.

Reports coming in are reflecting an attitude that permeated the event. People were engaged, they were happy to be there. They had kicked covid under the bus and were just excited to be around their peers and having discussions they missed for the past nearly three years.

It is nothing but good. Positive attitudes reflect success. Not only success for exhibitors but success for those running parking organizations nationwide. People came away from the IPMI with a refreshing outlook on parking life. There is no higher praise.

We here at PT wish Shawn Conrad and his crew only the best.

JVH

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Mobility Hat Trick

I have been confused with the term “mobility.” It seems that our organizations, parking departments, and transportation sections have added the term “mobility” to their name. But just what does it mean?

My friend Tim Maloney over at Flash does a fantastic job at promoting his cause on twitter and I find most of his tweets up to snuff. I am confused, however, by his latest. He directs us toward his “Mobility recap” which is a list of links to articles ostensibly about ‘mobility.’ Fair enough.

However when one goes down the list, one finds that 12 out of the 16 links deal with EVs. Although I understand Tim’s regard for EVs and their success, I’m trying to understand just how this relates to mobility. Are we saying that a car (or bus) that is powered by electricity gets one from place to place (mobility) better than a traditional ICE vehicle?

I wonder if we are losing our focus here?

Do we really REALLY know just what mobility is or means. Have we succumbed to a buzzword? If mobility is a way to get people from point A to point B then are we discussing that, or are the topics concerning the inner workings of this mode or that.

The question it seems to me is that are we actually trying to get people conveniently from point A to B or are we discussing alternative ways to power the vehicles we are expecting to perform this mobility magic.

It seems to me that we have a ‘hat trick’ (look it up) working here. We are, I think, trying to do too many things at once. Change the populace’s way of transportation, change the way that the transportation actually works, and in doing so, change the way our entire infrastructure works.  These are admirable goals, but in attempting to change them all at once, are we pushing the envelope just too much? And do we end up with many untenable solutions rather than one good one.

JVH

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“Leave me alone, I’m talking to my dog today.”

That sentence is emblazoned on my tee shirt. And I wear it proudly.

Why would I want to talk to my dog? Dogs seem to love you unconditionally. No matter what you say to them, they are happy to listen, offer no comments, and in the end you might get a nice kiss or a wag of the tail.

They hold your space. There is no condescension, no frowns or kindly smiles, just quiet listening. What’s wrong with that. Why are we required to comment when someone opens their heart to us? Why can’t people just let the words be.

Is there an expectation that when we talk that someone must respond? Sure, if you want a response a nice “what do you think?” can elicit it. But even if you ask, do you really want a response? Sometimes isn’t it enough just to get it ‘off your chest.’ Doesn’t forming thoughts into words help you find your way and come to conclusions without outside input.

I have never visited a psychiatrist but from what I have heard, 99% of the conversation is from the patient. The doctor usually simply turns questions around and asks what the patient thinks about what they just said. Isn’t that basically the same as no response at all. Sure the doc sometimes offer a hint, but the real solutions come from within.

Time to change my shirt. The new one says “Live Recklessly, Park Wisely.” Are these words to live by? I’ll ask the dog.

JVH

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