Make “Count My Vote” count; also Parking, schmarking.
—by John deJong
Parking downtown? Chances are, that’ll cost you
Parking meter revenues in Salt Lake City are down. City leaders are dismayed that this cash cow has run dry.
I’ve never understood why the good citizens of Salt Lake City should have to pay to park on their own streets, or why the very retail customers we are trying to attract should be charged to park while they are patronizing our retail establishments. The suburban malls offer free parking. The urban malls give generous parking vouchers and Salt Lake City tries to make a buck off of on-street parking.
It would be one thing if the revenues from parking meters were actually paying for roads and street-side parking stalls, but they’re not. Currently the revenue goes to buying SLC’s wonderful new system and paying the parking enforcement adjudicators and administrators and hearing officers and cashiers.
If I had a suspicious mind, I would think someone was trying to drive shoppers off the streets of Salt Lake City into the malls and those inconvenient parking structures.
People with jobs in downtown SLC should be provided with parking by their employers, or be given free mass transit passes, so they don’t become a burden to on-street parking.
There has to be a better way of deterring parking scofflaws than punishing the very people we want patronizing our downtown businesses. SLC should go to a system of issuing warning tickets, which would only result in a fine if someone received five of them in a certain amount of time.
If I were in the legislature I’d run a bill to restrict parking enforcement adjudicators to ticketing only on blocks that have more than 80% of the stalls filled. None of this getting a ticket with two other stalls on the block filled.
And what’s with the draconian late payment schedule? It’s not the SLC Anti-Procrastination Bureau. I have personally paid more in late fines than I have in actual fines and I know I’m not the only one. I’m not proud of that, and I understand that all those guards and hearing officers and cashiers need to be paid. But, what if payment were required in 30 days instead of 10? Thirty days is standard in just about every other monetary transaction we engage in. Why not parking tickets? They know where I live and the license plate number of my get-away vehicle. Are they afraid I’m going to move out of town without paying my parking ticket? Or do they need the extra revenue to make up for all the tax rebates the Redevelopment Agency has given to poor starving developers?
Make “Count My Vote” Count
The principle driving Utah’s “Count My Vote” efforts to mandate primary elections is simple: The political party primary selection system in Utah should be open to every voter, not just Tea-partisan delegates, nor just the party faithful. Experience has taught us that well organized efforts can steam-roll conventions. The party caucus victories of tea-baggers Senator Mike Lee and Representative Chris Stewart have given mainstream Republicans a fright.
Any Republican candidate on the ballot has a excellent chance of gaining the office they are running for. In Utah, the Republican party primary, however “democratic” or “undemocratic” it is, is essentially the election.
It’s interesting to watch the jockeying. Centrist Republicans like Mike Leavitt and Mitt Romney have embraced it. Protect Our Neigborhood Elections, an astroturf-roots organization, has launched a campaign against Count My Vote, claiming that steam-rolling conventions is the American way. Governor Herbert has expressed reservations with interfering with the initiative process.
State Senator Curt Bramble (R.-Provo) has been trying to muddy the works by running a bill to tweak the current system. Hoping to short circuit the changes in the Count My vote initiative.
It’s not the first time Bramble has pre-empted a citizens’ initiative with ill-intentioned legislative hijinks. In the 1990s, an initiative to mandate term limits was derailed by a bill Bramble passsed. Then, just as term limits were set to kick in, the legislature repealed the law. Utah still doesn’t have term limits and Bramble is now in his fourth term in the Utah State Senate.
We may need to encourage Governor Herbert to veto Bramble’s bill if it is passed.
To sign the Count My Vote petition: countmyvoteutah.org