Point of View

The NPA, Thoughts on 911, and Ladies of the Evening

November, 2011

By John Van Horn

I had conversations with NPA members at their extremely successful convention last month and I got a common thread Ė good management and good service. Now letís face it, we donít usually put the words service and parking operators in the same sentence. But then, why not?
From what Iím heard, a good bottom line and good service and good management go hand in hand in hand. The companies that are profitable, that have stellar balance sheets, also have a reputation for good service. And from good management comes good service.
I heard of a lack of something else ó a reliance on technology. Is it important? Yes. Do operators use the cutting edge stuff? Of course. But without good people and good management, all the technology in the world is useless. These operators know that.
A second theme Iím hearing is that the public sector is reaching out to the private for help. Letís face it, universities, cities and hospitals need money. Parking is a revenue source. Itís strange, but itís not the parking managers that are reaching out, but the finance directors and the chief administrators. Iím told that more and more professional parking management companies are being asked for advice by cities and universities on profit maximization. Not just raising rates, but watching expenses, streamlining operations and the like.
There is a reason parking operators drool when they see slip shod municipal operations. They want to get the politics out and put the bottom line back in. But in doing so, ensure that service and support is set at the maximum. It can happen. These folks are looking for business, and the public sector isnít that far away.
Long deadlines mean that sometimes our thoughts canít be timely. Consider this about the recent 10th anniversary of 911:
There was a long article today in the LA Times about how difficult it is for teachers to ďteachĒ about 911. They just donít have the information, or the time. After all they are only given half an hour, one day a year to talk about it and they have to cover so many other subjects.
Garbage. It seems to me that when I was in school, every word out of the mouths of my teachers taught me about America. I was taught about pride, about successes, failures, the good and the bad. I proudly said the Pledge of Allegiance every day in grammar school, and sang the Star Spangled Banner at every football game, hand on heart, looking at the flag. Funny, even though my dad was too old to go into the military during WWII, it never occurred to me that I wouldnít serve. I was taught that that was what you do.
I learned about the evils of slavery, about the wonders of the constitution and the sacrifices of the men who wrote it. I learned about strong women, who broke barriers when there were really barriers to be broken. I learned about heroes during war and peace, about men and women who gave their lives for those around them.
I was in my 50s when 911 occurred, and for some reason, I felt ambivalent about what people did on that day: the first responders, the people who ran to give blood, the people who opened their homes to those who were trapped in cities due to the grounding of airplanes. That was just what Americans did. We do what we have to do because we are Americans.
Americans give more to charity that all the rest of the world combined. When there is a disaster, we are the first to show up, and the last to leave. When we are needed we are there. And then we go home. As one general said when asked what America wanted from France after the end of World War II, he responded ďjust enough land to bury our dead.Ē
People who were born before 1945 arenít confused about 911. We know why it happened. We know we have to be vigilant. We know we had become complacent. We know we missed the signs and we paid a horrible price. We also know we mustnít pay it again.
We learned about tragedy, and honor, and respect in grammar school and high school. It was so instilled in us that no college professor could shake it out. There was no revisionist history. We understood that some of the things that we, as a country, did werenít right, but then we also knew we werenít there and didnít have to make decisions Ďon the spot.í We didnít excuse our excesses; we just accepted them as life and learned from them.
Now our teachers canít figure out how to teach our kids about 911. Thatís like saying you canít teach about America. And yep, thatís it. Teachers born after 1945 spent their time in college learning that America is not the greatest country on the planet. They focused on the bad and never considered the good. Their professors revise history and spent time ďaffixing blame,Ē and removing pride.
911 isnít about sacrifice, or heroics. Itís about doing what Americans do. Whether they rush into burning buildings, yell ďletís rollĒ, or set off in an unarmed jet to take down a plane before it can kill thousands, they did it without a second thought. Iím not at all surprised.
911 was a warning. We heeded it and have prevented other attacks. Of that we can be proud. We do what has to be done. If only we could figure out a way to show our teachers how to tell that to students.
Duty, Honor, Country. Maybe a definition of those three words is a place to start.
A correspondent is trying to catch up with Parking Todayís Facebook page. Wanda and Co. talked about this subject weeks ago. But we donít hold backÖ
From anonymous:
New prostitution parking meters in Bonn, Germany give a whole new meaning to Pay and Display. Prostitution is legal in Germany but city officials were finding it difficult collecting taxes from the ďstreetwalkersĒ. The estimated 200 prostitutes must now pay for a night pass equivalent to around $9 in order to work the streets from 8 pm to 6 am. City officials expect to generate about $288,000 in new revenue off this initiative. I am hoping they apply one aspect of the Shoup Model to ensure that the revenue is put back into improving the streets and other downtown areas of Bonn.
A friend of mine made a great point about this new strategy Ė ďIf revenue is truly the goal, attach it to something useful. If they want to prostitute, charge them a similar fee to be tested and licensed. That way the City of Bonn gets revenue, the girls are documented and healthy, and their clients can be more confident that they wonít catch a disease. Everyone wins!Ē
My blogging buddy was afraid to give his name, but you can blame me. Donít make it illegal, tax itÖ