Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Watch Out For THE SUCK, Part Three
So after I wrote that column called "Towing is not the answer," I started to wonder if maybe my idea about "scan tags" on cars to warn of impending tows had already been tried in any context?
I mean, you know, one gets on "The Internets" and finds stuff. I once wrote a column about the high-tech parking meters in San Francisco that take PLASTIC, for crying out loud, instead of just coins. (The meters in Minneapolis are so lame and awful, only capable of understanding quarters like a child who hasn't learned about money, and can't be trusted with a dime...he might swallow it...but, oh, let him play with the quarter, or he will cry)
(No, oops, HE SWALLOWED IT!!!!!)
Here is that column about the high tech parking meters:
Has Minneapolis done this, yet? Nope. But I do believe good ol' Cam Gordon was at least looking at the issue, but he's just one guy so, ha ha, "good luck with that."
And then, you know, another time I wrote a column suggesting bike theft on campus could be reduced by pulling high tech bike stings exactly like some OTHER cities had done. (Citing a precedent, so important, but the question is what gets a city to try something FIRST?)
The bikes were kind of like the "bait cars" some cities use to deter auto theft. Here is THAT column.
Has this been done, yet? Not to my knowledge. But I believe good ol' Cam Gordon was at least looking at the issue. I'm not being sarcastic, here. He is just one man, and the only Green on the whole council, so it's not like he can move stuff forward at will.
Anyway, back to towing. My research did turn up a company dealing with "non-consent towing issues," (I picked up the lingo in the course of my researching the column) but they had a different, fascinating focus. ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS WAS ENTITIES NOT SHARING INFORMATION. Not just jurisdictions (Minneapolis versus St. Paul, for example) but also entities within the same jurisdiction like the police and Public Works.
All this time I thought it was the cops who were involved in towing from the beginning to the end of the "towing life cycle" (more lingo I picked up) but, in the City of Minneapolis, Public Works is running the impound lot. WHO KNEW?!!!
The company in Texas told me about Minneapolis Councilman Gary Schiff's plan to cap "non-consent towing fees," which was quite a recent proposal and, I thought, a damn good idea. (Though it doesn't go far enough)
So my search for ideas about towing anywhere in the world led me right back to Minneapolis. A complete circle. I began to feel the hand of fate working in this. In fact, in March of 2007, while chasing around after my snatched vehicle, I literally said to God, "If there is some purpose in why I am suffering right now, I would be really grateful if You would reveal it."
I figured it was just a matter of getting more staffing at the impound lot. Getting the map working on the impound lot website. Maybe for such small things as that, my suffering was part of a Grander Plan. But just in the past few weeks, while reading John W. Kingdon in one of my classes at "The Hump," I began to realize non-consent towing issues were the classic example of a CONDITION which consciousness-raising can transform into a PROBLEM in need of a SOLUTION.
Non-consent towing is not like the weather, the weather which creates so-called "snow emergencies" in Minneapolis. Non-consent towing to GOD KNOWS WHERE, for GOD KNOWS HOW LONG, for GOD KNOWS HOW MUCH is a problem. There are a bunch of solutions at hand, and maybe more which need to be invented, but "my identity is all tangled up in my wheels" and these casual, brutal assaults on my means of mobility have simply become intolerable.
I'm not alone in my thinking and I hope this blog will give individuals an opportunity to share stories and images, so the world can begin to change, so we can move out of The Suck and into Towing Utopia.