A Penny for Your Thoughts

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A Penny for Your Thoughts

Technology is a demanding entity. I have an iPhone G4 that works just fine, but is considered an actual relic in some circles. I went to MacMall to buy a new case for it, and the saleswoman scoffed, rolled her eyes and laughed hysterically until I walked out the door. (Just the first two things are true). They had absolutely nothing for a phone as old as mine – no chargers or accessories, just an attitude. My iPad is showing a similar lack of longevity. After only two years it inexplicably won’t connect to my Wi-fi and the battery is shot, so it needs a trip to the iPad service unit for some rewiring and a massage.

On the other end of the high-tech spectrum are the penny parking meters in Sycamore, Illinois. These meters are old in a way an iPhone can never be. The Daily-Chronicle.com reports that the meters are so out of date the city can’t find parts to repair them. Nobody makes penny meters anymore. That’s no surprise. The real question is why Sycamore is spending time and money keeping up meters that can’t possibly pay for themselves.

“No one has the timers that we need,” said Giovanni Serra, parking enforcement officer who also repairs the meters. “As far as screws and stuff go, we got all that. As far as timers go, we have a big problem.”

He said the city hasn’t had to replace a timer in at least eight years, when they were about $30. The city would even accept entire penny parking meters to harvest working timers, Serra said. During comprehensive planning last year, community members rallied behind keeping the old-school penny parking meters instead of modern digital parking meters – and the penny parking meters stayed.

“What we heard from the community is they appreciate that the penny parking meters add to the quaint, small downtown feel,” City Manager Brian Gregory said.

It’s pure sentimentality that’s keeping penny meters on the streets of Sycamore when half the people in our country think pennies should be eliminated from our list of coin and currency. I can respect that. I don’t know where the town is going to get the parts it needs, but I have a jar full of pennies on my desk that could pay for parking in Sycamore for about 100 years.

Read the rest of the article here.

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John Van Horn

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