Monday, June 26, 2006

Don't "Pass" Me By ...

In Sunday's State Journal-Register, Sarah Antonacci had a piece entitled Meters Don't Expire For Some.

You should read it for yourself, but the basic idea is that there are passes that allow people to park at downtown meters for free for an unlimited amount of time.

The head of nearly every department in Springfield city government has one. So do city aldermen, the head of the Springfield Mass Transit District, Illinois Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Mike Madigan, leaders of other state agencies, the head of Contact Ministries, 50 federal employees, 31 state employees, 18 county employees and 133 city employees.

All in all, about 250 people have been granted free "obstruction permits," which allow them to park at meters for unlimited amounts of time.

What has everybody's panties in a twist is the fact that Tim Davlin's brother has one. They claim the pass issued to his brother was actually used by different people in the law office of Livingston, Mueller, O'Brien and Davlin to do business at the city. If you believe the mayor's office, all of the permits are only used for city business.

However, when you read the comments under the article, you'll find a lot of people working downtown who see the abuse of these parking passes every single day. They claim to have seen city officials, or their vehicles, parking at a meter and going into a restaurant, bar or even the museum for hours on end.

What bothers me most is a comment that said:

"These "special" higher-ups have more responsibility than plain old you and I. What they do affects masses of people. They are responsible for ensuring we have a city to dwell in. If we don't trust them, then we elect another. Bottom line is, they are not like you and me, going to work and plugging the meters. We should make sure these small things are taken care of for them so they can attend to the big things."

When we start believing our local officials "aren't like you and me," we are in a shitload of trouble. I hate to bust their bubbles ... but they are like you and me. Just like you and me. Do you park in a city parking ramp? Do you have to pay for parking? Of course you do ... and why shouldn't they?

My bottom line is this ... I don't shop or eat downtown because it's nearly impossible to find a parking spot. I also go way out of my way to even drive downtown if at all possible because of the vehicles double parked and blocking the lanes. Doesn't this type of patronage cause hardship on the small, downtown businesses? I guess I'm just surprised they aren't raising more of a stink.

If city officials weren't parking downtown for hours ... would it be easier to find parking? Just wondering ... cause if it were ... I might actually go try Weinerdog.

I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow
And that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow
This place is cruel no where could be much colder
If we don't change the world will soon be over
Living just enough, stop giving just enough for the city

Stevie Wonder - Living For the City


  1. college one11:59 PM

    Now that I work downtown, I experience first hand the parking down there. If you get there in the morning, it's not that bad. After awhile, all the workers down there get into a kind of parking habit and park in the same area. SOmetimes when we drive in, we have to park on the 5th floor, sometimes the 3rd, but its never a big deal. On the weekends, when I have to park on the streets (why not, its free :P) I've never noticed a problem parking, but that might be because I get there early enough that its all workers, no shoppers or tourists.

    Other times though, when I'm not working, I just need to go downtown for something, that's when I notice the problem. There has been times where I've driven for 15 minutes trying to find a parking spot that I'll only need to use for 10 minutes.

    I'm not really upset that people have these passes. Rather, its something else that gets me.

    A job is basically a service to someone. Whether you are telling people to shut their traps while they watch a movie, fixing peoples computers, or making sure people get paid for watching kids, its all helping someone. In exchange for this help, you get paid. If you're in a good job, you get lots of money, if you're like me, you're getting paid one cent less than minimum wage per hour. But I digress.

    It makes NO SENSE to me that you should have to pay for anything for your job. YOU are doing them a service. THEY pay you. So then why is part of your paycheck going back to them (ignore the taxes issue for now.)

    I should not have to pay to get to work. I don't think anyone should have to pay to get to work. While I like my job, I know that I'm an oddity. I'm sure people don't want to be paying to go to something they dread going to.

    It costs 50 dollars a month for a parking garage pass. Maybe that's not a lot to some people, but to me, a poor, broke, college student, that's worth half a textbook. Or 20 bosco sticks.

    So anyhoo. I think, they should either build an underground hidden parking lot that would be free, but only people that work downtown could use, or, the parking garages are only for downtown workers (especially on convention days. there's times when state employees have to walk several blocks to get to work because all the convention workers have taken everything and just leave their cars there for that week), or parking should be free for employees.

    I personally like the hidden spot. THis way, workers don't pay for parking, and they're guaranteed a good spot. Plus, business owners would like it, cause then there would be parking downtown for customers, which is a lot of the reason why I don't go down there. And heck, the city people would like it, cause rather than parking way out in the middle of nowhere, non-workers would be able to park in front of the stores and fill the parking meters with money, rather than those spots being used for free.

    Wow... this turned out to be a LOT longer than I thought. Guess I have a lot of pent up anger :P

    ~college one

  2. People have been debating that issue for years. A lot of employers make you buy your uniform, force you to pay union dues, or any number of craptacular excuses that take away from your bottom line.

    I'm not sure they could create a hidden parking area downtown ... unless someone could find us a Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place here in Springfield.

    But the bottom line is that you're right ... there needs to be easily available parking for city and state employees that work downtown.

    If you pay for a parking pass, you should at least be assigned a spot so that you're guaranteed a place no matter what convention is in town.

    When I used to work downtown (back in the says when the Earth was cooling and dinosaurs were the dominant species ...) I had to pay $25 a month to park in a lot 3 blocks from my office.

    It sucked so bad in the winter ... or in the rain ... or in the heat of July and August ... um ... come to think of it, it pretty much sucked all the time.

    In the end ... I'm just waiting for transporters.