Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Watch Out For THE SUCK, Part One

Why I am driven to take on the entire "non-consent towing" and impound lot system of this nation, starting with Minneapolis, Part One.

I had a horrible towing and impound lot experience in March of 2007, but I am one of the luckiest citizens in the Twin Cities. Yes, lucky because I am a weekly columnist for the Minnesota Daily, and I have the luxury of airing my issues in a public forum.

Here is my horrible towing experience, as described in "Fear and loathing at the impound lot."

Tomorrow it will be one year since the publication of that column. And what has changed about the way Minneapolis kicks its citizens around, especially college students? Nothing. NOTHING CHANGES and that is what bugs me.

A lot of stuff doesn't get into my columns because of length and interest considerations, so a few salient details always get the heave-ho.

For example, I am convinced it was my phone call to Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon (Green Party, baby) which put extra city workers on the task of answering phones for the impound lot, phones that were just ignored while hundreds--who knows, could it be thousands?--of citizens desperately tried to locate their missing vehicles during the So-Called Snow Emergency.

How can something so routine as SNOW IN MINNESOTA become an "emergency" which requires the suspension of civil liberties as though we were under martial law, and private vehicles had to be seized? See, this is the thinking I want to question, to refute with this blog.

Anyway, I can't prove it, I can't take credit, and Cam Gordon so much embodies the spirit of a public servant he sometimes won't take credit even for things he accomplishes...but I like to think it was Cam who got us those extra phone-answering elves.

Another systemic problem during that snow emergency of March, 2007: the map on the city's website showing the location of the impound lot didn't load, wasn't visible on the website. And it wasn't just my computer. Cam Gordon checked it, as well, and noted the same problem. Cam got that fixed. Of course, I suspect it wasn't a recent thing...that website was probably like that for weeks, months, until somebody like me cared enough to gripe.

Oh, trust me, I'm the person who cares enough to gripe. When there isn't toilet paper at the fast food place, I'm the one who makes sure the next person will be able to...well, to have toilet paper, OK? Every day of my life is like that: is there a systemic problem, here? Who to approach? If there is a conundrum to the problem, let us ask: how can it be solved for the common good? Whether it is toilet paper or an effort that lasts years to obtain public records about alleged police misconduct in Seattle, I'm Your Man.

Somebody has to be Your Man, or you'll never have toilet paper at Burger King for the rest of your flippin' life.

Heck, this is why I work on a Masters of Public Admin at the Humphrey Institute. I look at the skyline of Minneapolis and I am almost moved to tears. My city. My civilization. May it grow, may it improve, may I play a helpful role even if I have to clear a rain gutter with my bare hands to keep a street from flooding.

Yeah, watch out for THE SUCK. I know.

For the record, if anybody is going to try this at home, when you are trying to clear a filthy, clogged gutter during a out for THE SUCK.

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