During the early days of the American West, buffalo were so plentiful that it was said hunters could merely ride by, fire into the herd and be sure to kill at least one. Of course with the slaughter being so easy the hunters didn’t stop, they kept on shooting just because they could. The hunters gleefully added hides to their collection without ever thinking about what they had done to the buffalo herd, or to social decency.
It is a bit of a stretch, we know, but each year at Carnival time we equate the buffalo hunters with the city’s Department of Public Works Parking Division, where the ticket writers are gathering their ammunition for the easy hunting that the season provides.
According to Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide, last Carnival season 31,245 tickets were written in New Orleans.
Some were no doubt justified violations such as blocking driveways or parking on a parade route, but no doubt many were trophies in the hunt. The department knows well where drivers are most vulnerable and how to take advantage of them. The law that prohibits parking 20 feet from a corner is a favorite. Parking on medians is inconsistently enforced but is also a favorite target during Carnival. What is wrong with parking in a passenger zone in front of facility, such as a church, where a modicum of common sense, and locked doors, would make it obvious that there’s no activity on a weeknight?
Ticket writers are known to lurk in areas where they can move quickly as soon as parade-goers leave an automobile.
Somewhere the agency has confused its priorities. Obviously Carnival parades are going to cause parking problems but the agency should be willing to cut slack when it can, instead of using Carnival as an opportunity. (Has anyone noticed how many unused parking spots, particularly in the French Quarter and in the vicinity of the courthouses, are reserved for law enforcement officers?)
What of the parade-goer with a family and a ladder to tote who, in the interest of his family’s safety, parks 15 feet from a corner rather than a half-mile away. A reasonable government office would acknowledge that the situation is temporary and will last until the parade passes, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to write a ticket.
Anyone who thinks that the Parking Division is being unfairly maligned and is, after all, just doing its job, should remember the office’s disgraceful behavior last Thanksgiving during the charity run sponsored as by the Spina Bifida Foundation. In what was a well-rehearsed maneuver, ticket writers invaded the Marconi Drive median ticketing the vehicles of runners who in the past had been allowed to park there. A more benevolent public office would have merely posted signs advising runners that parking wasn’t allowed. The situation was such an embarrassment that the foundation and the sponsoring track club paid the parking tickets. Funds that might have gone to charity were diverted by a public agency.
We urge the city’s Parking Division to show some passion and charity this Carnival. Greedy hunters made buffalo scarce; parade goers are being driven away from the city by a thoughtless agency.
There is greater valor in being fair than in collecting hides.