A Keynote, Defending, and Yes, Vegas Baby


A Keynote, Defending, and Yes, Vegas Baby

Our Keynote speaker next month at PIE is an old and dear friend of mine, someone I knew when we both were new in parking, Cindy Campbell. I first met her in person when she was running the parking operation at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in California. She was a newly appointed officer in the campus police force and learned about parking the way we all do, by doing it.

Cindy is warm, charming, and knows her stuff. She works as well one on one as she does in a room of 500. I’ve seen her do her magic in getting people to understand their personal foibles and then use them to their personal benefits. 

PIE 2022 has many offerings including over 100 companies in the exhibit hall, seminars, social events (including bowling); it will be fun, exciting, and entertaining. Plus, you will network your hearts out. But if you need one reason to take the Road to Reno this year, it’s to hear Cindy.

She is truly a gem and will help you better understand why you are the way you are.

See you next month in Reno.

We find ourselves in the center of a major controversy here in Southern California. Seems the city of Santa Monica has decided to close and demolish one of the parking structures surrounding its Third Street Promenade. Ostensibly it is planning to sell the property to developers who will build ‘affordable’ housing on the site.

This has brought local merchants out of the woodwork and caused considerable consternation, dueling consultants, law suits, injunctions, and a lot of bad blood.

It goes back to an original consulting report that basically told the city what it wanted to hear. In addition to the fact that there was plenty of parking without the garage, the ‘’lack of parking” would motivate people to use the many types of public transportation now available in the city. That includes the massively underused metro, scooters, bikes, buses, and, of course, your own two feet.

The local merchants, incensed at the loss of parking, hired their own consultants who found that over 1,000 cars a day parked in that lot (1,200 on weekends), and not only did it generate parking revenue for the city, but those parkers generated many hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales to local merchants. In addition, the study found surrounding lots full and the streets jammed.

The city basically said “up yours,” so the merchants hired a lawyer and requested an injunction to stop the closure. The city ignored the injunction and closed the lot. However, demolition is on hold ‘til the problem winds itself through the courts.

Rumors are flowing about kickbacks, payoffs, and other nefarious activities on the part of both sides. If anyone told you the parking industry was boring, they got it wrong.

I don’t really have a dog in this fight, meaning I couldn’t care less. However, this is an opportunity to learn just how much parking figures into decision making at the municipal level. The city wants to build affordable housing and also motivate people not to drive and to use available public transportation instead. Fair enough. And supposedly they held hearings and the like so all sides could be heard. If that’s the case, I wonder under what tree the merchants were sitting while all this was going on.

It is also apparent that consulting firms can find just about whatever facts are needed to sell their side of the story. My understanding is that the merchants were a bit late in coming into this fight, and their report was an eleventh-hour attempt to stop the process. That neither makes it good or bad. Also, the original report is neither good or bad.

I’m sure that if there was a ‘throw down’ in the middle of Fourth Street in Santa Monica between the two consulting firms, much might be learned and much sunlight thrown on the project.

When PhD candidates put forth their doctoral theses, they are required to ‘defend’ their work to experts in the field. Would it not be a good idea to have a similar approach with reports such as the ones received in Santa Monica?

Just Sayin’.

Last month, I was in Vegas, yes on business, and went to see Brad Garrett’s stand-up comedy at his club in the MGM Grand. It was the first comedy club I had ever visited (I know, I need to get a life) and I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew about Garrett was that he was the benign brother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” The “no one under 18 admitted” might have given me a hint.

Garrett’s comedy isn’t for everyone. He is crude, loud, and basically uses ethnic humor to get his laughs. And laughs he got. He interacted with audience members, poking fun and mocking everyone. Asians, blacks, Jews, large white women, old people, little people, men, married, singles, gays, but he took great care to include himself in his jokes. His self-deprecating humor kept the audience in stitches.

Garrett is politically left, but didn’t bring politics into the show. He understands that if you talk politics, you immediately alienate half your audience. So why do it?

I could have done with fewer “F bombs,” but you get used to it after a while. His schtick on being taken to “HR” was hilarious. His line “I’m not well enough known to be cancelled” brought a huge laugh and got me to thinking that maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to take ourselves a little less seriously and maybe, just maybe, we will survive the ‘woke’ onslaught.

The key to ethnic humor is stereotypes. And whether we like it or not, they exist. One size does not fit all, but it is generally true that men are taken with women who are, shall we say, well endowed. True or not, Asians have a reputation for not being the best drivers, black men, well – this is a family magazine. The blacks in the room were laughing at the black jokes, the Asians were rolling on the floor. Garrett didn’t single out anyone. He wasn’t hurtful. He was funny. And the audience loved it.

I looked around the room and by my take this wasn’t a bunch of rednecks. There were people of every age, every ethnic background, every social level (if you could tell that by the clothes they wore.) I didn’t see anyone horrified by the onslaught. We were laughing at the presentation, the harking back to the comedians of yesteryear. The Jews who did their comedy in the “borscht belt,” the blacks who honored their own with stories about their culture, the movies that couldn’t be made today (can you say “Blazing Saddles” and “The Producers”?)

Brad Garrett isn’t for everyone. But perhaps we can laugh at ourselves again. At least some did in one small room in Vegas. Remember, you cannot laugh with others if you cannot laugh at yourself.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
Only show results from:

Recent Articles

Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy