Nov 30, 200912:00 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Errol Laborde: Further Proof That New Orleans’ Parking Control Office Is Out of Control
If I were mayor, I would call the heads of the parking control division into my office today and angrily tell them that the purpose of their agency is not to act as a fundraiser for the city and certainly not to entrap or harass citizens but simply to enforce legitimate parking concerns.
At issue is the stunt that the agency pulled on Thanksgiving when it sent its troops out in force to ticket vehicles parked on the Marconi neutral ground. The vehicles were driven by participants in the annual Turkey Day race, which is a fundraiser for the Spina Bifida Foundation.
According to some reports, police, in the past, had directed runners to park on the median. But if there was a change of heart, there should have at least been “No Parking” signs posted. (That the agency saw the race as an easy opportunity for an ambush was made evident, as reported by Jarvis DeBerry in the Times-Picayune, by the fact that the tickets that were issued had been preprinted with the violation information.)
And if runners had not parked in the median, where could they have parked? How about in the nearby neighborhoods where residents would have complained about their streets being congested? Maybe the message that the city wants to send is that parks should not be used for recreation if people need to use vehicles to get there.
As mayor, I would tell the department heads, if indeed I had not decided to fire them, that they need to enforce the laws with common sense and compassion and not as vultures like they do during Carnival. During that season, they know that many vehicles, out of necessity, are going to be parked closer to the curb than they should but that those vehicles will likely leave after the parades, so no harm is done.
And while I am at it, I would ask if anyone in the office knows how many parking spots are reserved for law enforcement officials in the vicinity of the courthouses and in the French Quarter. Are that many spaces needed all the time, especially after the courthouses are closed?
Next I would instruct the city attorney to get all the tickets rescinded. I would tell the agency to issue a public apology to the public and to the Spina Bifida Foundation whose fundraising potential from staging a similar race next year is no doubt damaged. I would apologize too for the meanness and vengeance of the people under my charge. “New Orleans is a better place than some of the people who work for it,” I would tell the good people of the city. “Don’t be discouraged by a few people who have lost control.”
As mayor, I would be saddened that such an incident is a stain on my administration, and I would hope that for the sake of the city and for ordinary decency the next mayor never allows a city agency to turn against citizens who are trying to do good.
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival - Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e- mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 895-2266.
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