Class Action, a Parking Doc, and Thinking Outside the Box


Class Action, a Parking Doc, and Thinking Outside the Box

In the March 2014 Point of View, I commented on the class action lawsuit that’s being raised against the city of Las Vegas and the fight against it by the city’s parking guru, Brandy Stanley.
Someone felt wronged that parking meters were still on when the signs said parking was free, and a lawyer saw a way to hit the industry for big bucks. 
Brandy said that the streets are well-signed, and that if people have a driver’s license, they are required to read. She also noted that when she turned off the meters, she would receive complaints from people saying that the machine rejected their money.
I would not like to be a lawyer facing Brandy in court.
It’s happening again in Los Angeles. The legal beagles are jumping up and down because the parking fines are too high — cruel and unusual punishment.
The gist is this: Jesus Pimentel parked in downtown LA and got a ticket for $65. He didn’t pay it on time, and it was bumped to $175. He didn’t pay that until he found that he couldn’t register his car until he did, so he paid it, under protest, and called a lawyer.
The mouthpiece used a number of arguments, including the fact that the ticket itself was more than the minimum wage daily rate in California, and with penalty, it was more than the average daily income of a California worker, and the LA fines and penalties are more than nearby Pasadena and Glendale charge. So naturally it’s in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and of the California’s Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Sigh …
So we are saying that fines and penalties should be based on a person’s income, and not on the crime?  How is it that Pimentel could afford a car, could afford to put expensive gas in it, could afford insurance and maintenance, but somehow couldn’t afford the parking fine … and refused to pay it until he found he couldn’t register his car until he did?
It seems to me that each municipality has the right to set its fines and penalties any way it likes. If a person doesn’t want to subject themselves to such they can:
Not park there or – and here’s a unique thought! – pay their parking fee and not overstay the time limit. If they do and get caught, pay the ticket on time.
This is a waste, much as the class action suit in Las Vegas  – a waste of time and money. It’s also a direct challenge to something we have far too little of these days: common sense.

When you reach “a certain age,” you spend more time at the doctor than you would like, and you probably have various specialists you visit regularly. If you are a man, one of these is a urologist. It’s often not the most pleasant visit, but periodic examination can save your life,
I was at mine in late February when the urologist attempted to distract me from what he was doing by asking me what I did for a living. I was about to say, “Enforcer for the mob,” just to get his attention, when I changed my mind and said: “I’m in the parking business.”
He jumped up, pulled off his glove (I wonder if they consider that they save a lot of money on gloves since they use only one), and said, “I was in the parking business, too.”
My appointment usually lasts about 10 minutes, but this one was more than 30, the last 20 with the urologist filling me in on his experiences working for Herb Citrin and Valet Parking Service in LA, while he was a student at USC. 
He told great stories of parking cars for 95 cents each at the Playboy Mansion and not being allowed to take a tip. He added that if the driver insisted, he had to refuse three times.  Then it was OK to take the tip. He said Sammy Davis Jr. shoved a $100 bill down his shirt (Sammy didn’t like to argue).
The doc-to-be then went into business for himself and parked cars on a small lot in Beverly Hills.  He noted that his biggest problem was his employees and keeping them honest. Do you know they actually parked cars without giving them tickets and kept the money?  He graduated and went into a different business.
I went on my way, healthy and happy knowing that I had at least one connection with the doctor that wasn’t uncomfortable.

If you travel a lot by air, you know that the most boring part of the flight is the safety demonstration. They say the same things over and over, and most just tune it out. Delta, however, has taken a different approach. Their video safety presentations are smart, witty, and hold your interest start to finish.
When they talk about whether you want to sit in an exit row and help with an exit door during an emergency, the video shows three men in the row, twins and a third person. When the third person says no, he is replaced by a third “twin.” Or, in a subsequent video, a weightlifter says no, and is replaced by a pretty tough grandma.
When asked to put your smaller items under the seat in front of you, one person stores a Bonsai tree. When told to put away computers, naturally it’s an original Underwood typewriter.  Then when you are asked to turn off electronic items, a robot turns itself off, and a woman clicks off her full-size “boombox.”  Of course, at Christmas time, Santa and his elves were everywhere.
One of the most famous people in the older Delta videos was the flight attendant who warned about smoking, particularly in the restrooms. She moved into the new one, and waves her accusing finger at a pipe smoker in the next row. When Delta tells you that the nearest exit might be behind you, the entire plane turns and looks back, just as a poor man comes out of the restroom.
But the biggest laugh came at the end of one video when the pilot, who had just thanked us for flying Delta, turned around and discovers a parking ticket on the plane’s windshield.
Obviously, the folks at Delta are thinking outside the box.
Flying is painful enough without having to sit through the FAA-required video safety demonstration for the 100th time. Way to go, Delta.
Now if you could just get Atlanta to be weather-free 365 days a year, you would really have something.


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