Category Archives: Parking Meters

Hot Air

Meter Melee: Meh

Talk about Bloomington’s downtown parking meters has largely died down as we approach the one-year anniversary of their installation.

The City Council and Mayor Mark Kruzan approved the meters last spring and workers set them in concrete in August. Blowback was swift and angry. Flyers showing pictures of Kruzan and the six council members who voted for the meters were plastered up all over town and warned that they’d suffer mightily come the 2015 election.

Now, it’s a good bet Kruzan et al will have to worry more about some other hot button issue next year as they run to keep their jobs. It’s doubtful, of course, that the meters will be uprooted any time soon, considering they’ve funneled bushels of cash into city coffers. Indianapolis Business Journal reported in March that meter revenue had passed the magic million-buck mark.

Coins

Meters Mean Money

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is about to release results of a survey it conducted about downtown parking. The survey collected impressions from shoppers, downtown employees, and business owners. Bean counters from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and the Center for Survey Research are even now massaging the numbers. The CofC may release results of the survey this month.

We’ll see. Some biz owners downtown wonder if the CofC might contemplate canvassing the assorted restaurants and shops to determine if and how much their revenues have dropped off since the meters went on-line. The whisperers have it that any number of downtown businesses have suffered a 25 percent drop off.

The Herald Times in October ran a three part-series on the meters, leading off with the report that they were a “bust” for downtown businesses. That first story, though, offered up only anecdotal evidence that shops and restaurants around the square were suffering.

A minus-25 percent sales comp could be a death sentence for a small business owner. That is, if the figures being bandied about are true. It’d behoove the Chamber to dig up some more dependable figures. Someone has to ask business owners what their numbers were both before and after meters. If the 25 percent thing is an exaggeration, jangled nerves could be calmed and potential new businesses would be more prone to open up shop around the Square.

On the other hand if the CofC chooses not to find out and release those comps, it might be because the rumors are all too true.

Karr Talk

The next entry in our Big Talk online/print/radio interview series has been committed to zeroes and ones. I sat down with local author Julia Karr on Friday. We spoke for about an hour and I learned, among other things, that a squadron of police officers once rifled through her apartment in a fruitless search for a huge, hairy, scary spider.

Karr

Julia Karr

Karr has written the Young Adult dystopic future novels XVI and Truth. A third book in the series is even now taking shape in her fertile imagination.

Expect to hear the eight-minute Karr feature on WFHB’s Daily Local News sometime later this month. The full interview will run about the same time in The Ryder magazine. And stay tuned here for exact running dates and times as well as links to both.

Absolutely Fap-ulous

You go, girl!

The numbers geniuses at FiveThirtyEight reported last week that Indiana University Kinsey Institute researchers have found that women are not keeping up with men in the vital masturbation race.

Men, Kinsey’s National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior tells us, masturbate far more frequently than do women, natch. I mean, golly, it’s there, right? Anyway, a significant majority of women in this holy land engage in America’s pastime within the range of Not-in-the-past-year to A-few-times-per-month-to-weekly whereas a preponderance of my brethren do it in the range of A-few-times-per-month-to-weekly to >4-times-per-week.

Happy Woman

Happiness Is….

And here’s a fascinating factoid: One respondent swore he kept an Google spreadsheet to record all his ballgames. No word on whether or not any woman is so meticulous in recording each and every scratch of her itch.

As an added bonus, FiveThirtyEight reveals that there are 519 euphemisms for male masturbation. In the interest of equal time, I found that there are at least more than 370 such verbal codes for female self-play. Women, it’s time to catch up.

Happy strumming!

Your Daily Hot Air

Silly Stuff

Recently, I took a couple of those silly BuzzFeed quizzes that supposedly tell you all about yourself. One was What Career Should You Actually Have? and the other was How Much of an Asshole Are You?

The conclusions? I should have been a professor and I am not an asshole at all.

From "The Nutty Professor"

Who, Me?

Jeez, what a load of horseshit!

Meter Mad

A hot Bloomington tomato named Candy Allday found herself in Oak Park, Illinois, this past week. She stopped at a Mexican restaurant with her ever-lovin’ husband and a couple of friends late-ish one evening.

Candy Allday is used to feeding B-town parking meters until the ungodly hour of 10pm, so she began digging in her purse for quarters before entering said eatery. Lo and behold, she stopped and gasped.

“I’ve gotta take a picture of this,” she blurted. And so she did. And here it is.

Photo by Candy Allday

Candy Allday wonders if certain Bloomington City Council-folk can read.

Let’s Dance

Bloomington’s own Brynda Forgas is no longer owned by her business, The Hidden Closet. After a long stay in the Fountain Square Mall, Forgas moved her Closet to Kirkwood Avenue, right behind the Book Corner last year. Biz was no better on Kirkwood than it had been in the relatively quiet mall.

So Brynda decided to call it a retail career a couple of months ago and announced she’d be locking the door one final time as soon as the Christmas season was over. She’s never looked happier.

An old pal of hers, Paula Chambers is set to open her own shop, The Dance Circus, in Brynda’s old space Tuesday, February 4. Paula’s another Bloomington fixture. She’s the boss of the Hudsucker Posse hula hoop girl gang. She, too, is moving her digs out of Fountain Square.

Dance Circus

The Dance Circus will continue to feature scads of dancewear and shoes, hula hoops (all handmade), and plenty of other fun stuff.

Chambers hopes to get better exposure and foot traffic for her store in the new location. She’s pumped. “I’m gonna make a splash on Kirkwood,” she promises.

Go visit Paula. And spend some cash, wouldja?

… And The Blacks Were Happy Under Slavery

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave the assembled news media of the world a state of the league address last week in advance of yesterday’s Super Bowl. Then he opened the floor for questions. One intrepid reporter asked him about the Washington club’s nickname, you know the one that’s a racial slur. Goodell pulled a Vinnie Barbarino and said, essentially, Whuh?

Pushed further, he elaborated. Why, he claimed, the folks we’re slurring consider it no slur at all!

Do you believe it?

Screenshot from Bleacher Report

I sure as hell don’t.

No, Really, Let’s Dance

The Pencil Today

Nancy

The family and friends of our town’s Nancy Hiller are grieving today. No details are necessary. Only that they’ve suffered a great loss. They need peace and time to heal.

They’re awfully lucky they have someone near them as strong as Nancy. She’s been one of my heroes since I first heard of her here in Bloomington. It may be a while before I hear her cackle again at the Book Corner. Her loved ones will know time is passing, and they are healing, when they hear her laugh once more.

Hiller

To Out Or Not To Out

Let’s say there’s a United States Senator who’s gay. He doesn’t want it known because he represents a conservative state, oh, South Carolina, for instance. He feels he can lead his state and vote for its best interests and that his sexual feelings are irrelevant to that end. He also knows that should his sex life become public knowledge, he’ll be drummed out of office quicker than a pol who believes Barack Obama was born in this holy land.

This Senator is, naturally, a conservative. That’s alright in my book. Free-spending, free-thinking liberals, progressives, and borderline radicals such as the kingpin of this media empire need to be balanced off in public discourse by those who are more in favor of belt-tightening and tradition. That’s how I view a good conservative: One who watches our pennies and is prudent and cautious in terms of societal and moral change.

Scene from "It's a Joke, Son"

So, our So. Car. Sen. is a good conservative. He throws federal nickles around, to borrow football legend Mike Ditka’s reference to his boss, George Halas, like manhole covers. He calls for time to ponder legislation that upends dearly held conventions.

When a national issue affecting homosexuals arises in the Senate, our fictional legislator keeps mum. He advocates for neither side in the debate. He may even absent himself when votes on things like a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution come up. He is terribly uncomfortable when put in that position. But he feels his other work on behalf of his fellow S.C.-ers outweighs any need for him to take a stand on an issue in which he has such a profound personal interest.

Now, I would rather him come out in a press conference tomorrow morning. I would rather him shake his fist and holler that all people deserve rights and respect, no matter whom they sleep with.

But coming out is such a thorny proposition. I can accept someone making the apparent moral compromise that this putative Senator has made. Therefore, if someone got the idea to out him against his will, I would find that to be a dirty, rotten trick.

Fair enough?

Okay, let’s take the example of another Congressbeing, this one on the other side of the Capitol, in the House of Representatives. This legislator, too, is gay. He also keeps his sex life well under wraps. Just like our imaginary Senator, he’s afraid his constituents in his conservative district would yank him out of office in the snap of a finger if his choice of sex partners became known.

In fact, this Representative is so afraid of losing his position of power and authority that he adopts a stance that is completely contrary to his own sexual lifestyle. He loudly rails against homosexuality. He’s all in favor of a Constitutional marriage amendment. He fights against every piece of legislation intended to broaden the rights of lesbians, gays, and other sexual outlaws.

His homophobic stance actually draws more voters to him in his very conservative district. It can be said one of the reasons he remains a US Representative is his tireless work to stymie advances for the homosexual community.

What if reporters and investigators were to air evidence that this man is gay? Would they be doing him wrong?

I just flipped through my moral code book and right there on page 23 it says, plainly and clearly: “He has absolutely no room to complain. Out away!”

Fair enough?

No matter. This latter scenario may not be imaginary. Illinois 18th District Congressbeing Aaron Schock, a Republican (what else?) was essentially outed against his will this week by freelance gay reporter Itay Hod. Schock, who’s been the object of gay rumors for ages, has gone so far as to switch his Instagram account from public to private in an effort to ward off the onslaught.

From The Smoking Gun

The Faces Of Aaron Schock

I won’t say we hate hypocrisy in this great nation, considering the fact that we tolerate it every day, 24 hours a day. We not only tolerate it, we demand it. It’s truer to say we love it. Most times.

In a case like Schock’s, the rumors and evidence (if true and accurate) are sure to inflame observers of both sides of the fence. The Left will attack him because he’s closeted and a homophobe. The Right, simply because he’s gay.

Either way, Schock’s political career looks to be dead in the water. But if those asserting “proof” that he’s gay are wrong, I can only hope their careers are just as dead.

Huzzahs For Parking Meters

A coupla guys kicked my petite, sensitive, and delicate posterior yesterday via the comments section of this communications colossus.

I’d written that Bloomington’s new downtown parking meters are “universally despised.” Peter Kaczmarczyk yelled at me to “get out of [my] echo chamber.” He sez he digs metered parking because “I can now find parking when before I could not.”

Loyal opposition Minister of Truth, David Paglis of “The Region,” wagged his finger at me, writing, “What alternative source of city funding do you propose?”

I gather I should have clarified my position once again. I’m not at all against the meters. I know the city needs dough. I also know the city wants to crack down on college students monopolizing precious downtown parking spaces with their mom-and-dad-paid-for, aircraft-carrying SUVs.

In fact, I’ve written that those calling for the heads (and seats) of Mayor Kruzan and the City Council Six are acting awfully drama-queenish. Most of the outcry against the meters has been of an exaggerated, hyperbolic, the-sky-is-falling nature.

My take is the meters will contribute in only the teensiest way to an already extant metamorphosis of the courthouse square from that of a collection of quaint, independent merchants to loud, expensive watering holes, many of which likely will be financed by outsiders.

As for me living in an echo chamber, I can only say that I based my broad brush stroke pronouncement on the everyday discussions I have with customers, restaurant owners, and merchants who are very nearly unanimous in their distaste for metered parking. And, as a matter of fact, I regularly tell customers that finding parking is a hell of a lot easier around the Book Corner now.

Thanks for commenting, guys and gals.

That’s all for today. Peace, Love & Soul.

Hot Air

Winter

So, winter’s going to kick the crap out of us this weekend. Dang, mang, if only there were some way we could fight back.

Old Man Winter

I See….

Here’s your word of the day:

Pareidolia

Pareidolia

Human beings have a hard wired need to envision faces, animals, or anything, really, in otherwise shapeless forms. Anthropologists have speculated that this might have to do with the need to keep the early, proto-human kiddies near the cave or the tree limb at night when hungry carnivores were on the roam.

See, those brats who were more prone to see faces, even imagined ones, in the shadows of night would tend to stay closer to home and, subsequently grow up to reproduce. The kids whose imaginations were less than lively might tend to traipse around while everyone else was asleep and thus become a tasty snack for a hungry cat.

Sabre-toothed Cat

So, when you see bunny rabbits or the face of your Uncle Phil in the clouds on a breezy summer afternoon, know that you’re prob. not going to get swallowed whole any time soon.

¡Viva La Revolución!

The parking meters that our noble city leaders had installed downtown in July are not at all controversial.

Parking Meters

Photo: Chris Howell/Herald Times

That is, they are universally despised, save for the mayor and the six city council members who voted for them. Flyers have been circulated calling for, if not their heads, the seats of the elected officials responsible for their installation. Some say Mayor Mark Kruzan may not even run for reelection in 2015 because of the hue and cry he’s been hearing outside his City Hall windows since the summer.

Some are being driven to open rebellion or, more accurately, stupid acts of vandalism. To wit: Many of the meters have been sprayed painted, thus obscuring their readouts and making them effectively unusable. Not only that, a few hot-blooded insurrectionists are jamming materials like tape and wood into the meters’ coin slots.

I’m certain once NSA spies and Wall Street banksters get wind of this popular uprising, they will promptly fold their tents and declare that The People have won.

Off With Their Heads!

Speaking of The People winning, it was whispered into my ear recently that the WFHB Board of Directors actually voted on naming Cleveland Dietz as the station’s new general manager in open session last month.

Yup. After several Board members shrieked in November that they’d never, ever, ever disclose whom they voted for when the august body tabbed Kevin Culbertson as GM earlier in the fall (and, to refresh your memory, Culbertson’s appointment was shouted down by the Vox Populi), the BoD did a dramatic turnaround for the Dietz vote.

The Board noodled in closed session during its December meeting, wondering what to do next to find a captain for the drifting ship. Much of the talk centered on starting the excruciating, six-month national search process all over again. That is, until interim general manager Dietz, who had run the station since July and wasn’t even one of the three finalists presented to the Board by the GM search committee, piped up and said Hey, what about me?

According to knowledgeable sources, Board members looked at each other, shrugged, and said, Why not?

So, it was off to open session, sometime near midnight, to tab Dietz. And the mice in the City Hall walls cheered lustily.

Dancing Mice

Your Daily Hot Air

Peace

Yesterday was the anniversary of the end of World War II.

V-J Day

I just happen to be reading the first book in historian Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, An Army at Dawn. It tells the story of Murrica’s first WWII ground action, the invasion of North Africa, nearly a year after entering the war at the invitation of Japan and Germany (Italy was handling the catering.) Imagine, it took just shy of twelve months for American soldiers to see action after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Oh sure, there’d been some monumental sea clashes, including Midway, during that time, but as for huge numbers of US Army men facing off against the enemy, it wasn’t until November 8, 1942 that Operation TORCH, the Algeria-Morocco landings, commenced. Throughout that year, Russia and the American military brass lobbied hard for an immediate Western Europe invasion. President Roosevelt and the British nixed that idea for fear a premature Allied D-Day would be crushed and, subsequently, the war might drag on for a decade or two.

Apparently, FDR and Churchill were right. The Russians (at a cost of some 20 million human beings) wore down the Nazis on the Eastern Front so that when the D-Date actually arrived in June, 1944, Germany was sufficiently softened up for the taking.

Anyway, Emperor Hirohito announced on August 15, 1945, three months after the Nazis had given up the ghost, that Japan was finished fighting. It wasn’t of course; sporadic violence took place here and there between the Japanese and the Americans and Russians. You know people.

MacArthur/Hirohito

Douglas MacArthur & Hirohito In September, 1945

That’s 68 years ago, for the mathematically challenged among you (and, believe me, I’m not being superior here; I had to use my laptop calculator to figure it out). So, nearly three quarters of a century has passed since humankind’s most cardinal sin finally was stopped. The US was drafting 18 year olds in 1945 so, conceivably, the youngest kid who saw action in Okinawa would be 86 years old today (again with the calculator). Suffice it to say there aren’t all that many souls left to whom the words Dirty Jap weren’t always a forbidden ethnic slur.

Still, many people in the corner of the world that was ravaged by Imperial Japan find themselves getting a little testy when the subject comes up. The Pew Research Center yesterday released results of a poll that shows significant percentages of folks in places like Korea and Indonesia want Japan to apologize even more than it already has. Remember, Japan is now ruled by the sons and grandsons and even great-grandsons of the bellicose ultra-nationalists who’d pushed that country into war. No matter, scads of people want some dramatic mea culpa-ing.

Here are results of the Pew poll:

Pew/Japan Atone

If I was Japan, I’d say, Sure, man, Great Gramps was a jerk. I can’t believe he was such an asshole. And, trust me, we’d never do crazy crap like that again. C’mon over for a visit. We’ll give you some discounts at restaurants and really posh hotels if you’d lost your Great Gramps or Grandma when my ancestors were having their psychotic spell.

In fact, I’d stage a daily atonement ritual in Tokyo, complete with the flags of victim nations and honored guests from those lands, just to show bygones can be bygones.

I mean, how can it hurt?

Just the way we Murricans couldn’t do anybody any harm by staging daily atonement rituals in Washington, DC for slavery and the Native American holocaust. Sometimes all people want is a simple acknowledgment that you’ve treated them like dirt.

All Bloomington, Some Of The Time

Fish/Dome

◗ Meters. Made.

We’re five days into the Great Parking Meter Era here in B-town. Most of the nearly 1500 meters scheduled to be installed in the central business district this summer were activated Monday.

The city says it’s raking in $5000 a day already. And this is without the expanded crew of ticket-writers actually writing parking tickets just yet. All those Day-Glo yellow-green-vested scribblers you’ve seen darting between parked cars are only writing out warning citations until the end of next week.

Courthouse Square business owners, who’d feared the collapse of Western Civilization once the meters went online, are fairly surprised to find that their busy-ness so far hasn’t fallen off.

Go to WFHB’s podcast of its Thursday, August 15, 2013, newscast for my story on downtown businesses and the new meters.

◗ Evacuate Bloomington!

I ran into good old Will Murphy at the East Side Kroger Wednesday night. The former General Manager at our town’s WFHB and Ft. Wayne’s NPR station, is now the Operations czar at Bloomington’s NPR outlet, WFIU.

As such, poor old Will Murphy has established himself as an acclaimed town baddie. I told him I’ve been hearing he is Hitler. He said he’s heard he is Satan. In any case, he’s Public Enemy Numbers 1 through ten, inclusive, here.

Why? Simple. Murphy cancelled the station’s live Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday afternoons last month. The news turned local opera lovers into, well, opera singers. The moaning and gnashing of teeth could be heard all the way in the uppermost office suites of the WFIU World Headquarters Tower.

Godzilla

Will Murphy Destroying Bloomington’s Cultural Institutions

With this town being the locale of one of the country’s more renowned music schools, things like opera mean a lot to certain segments of the citizenry. So much so that anybody who dares to mess with radio listener habits does so at his own peril.

Janis Starcs, a big mover and shaker on WFIU’s Community Advisory Board, came into the Book Corner the other day carrying a violin case. I told him I didn’t know he played the violin; he said he didn’t. So I asked what was in the case. “None of your business,” Starcs replied in a clipped tone. Speaking of clips, Starcs also wore a handsome pair of bandoliers, filled with shiny cartridges, natch.

Will Murphy

Marked Man

“Where ya headed?” I asked.

“To the Advisory Board meeting,” he said.

Next thing you know, WFIU’s men-behing-the-curtain are hanging plain old Will Murphy out to dry at the behest of the Adv. Bd. The Met cancellation has been reversed.

Now, the opera lovers and opera singers of B-town’ll have to dig deep for the dough that Murphy’d hoped his schedule change would generate in the coming years. We’ll see.

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Of course I’ve got lawyers. They are like nuclear weapons. I’ve got ’em because everyone else has. But as soon as you use them, they screw everything up.” — Danny DeVito

UNFORGIVEN?

How long should a man who commits a random dismemberment murder be locked away from society?

Robert Lee will be coming back to town this week, according to a story today in the Herald Times.

Lee in 1986 killed a young woman named Ellie Marks in her home, cut her up, and stuffed the body parts into Hefty bags, which he buried in soil mere yards away. Lee, who had a lengthy police record, kept a notebook in his home with instructions on how to kill, dismember, and dispose of a young woman.

The Shanty Where Ellen Marks Lived And Was Murdered

Judge Kenneth Todd sentenced Lee to 60 years (the max non-death penalty sentence for the crime at the time) after a two-week trial. The crime was described as “barbaric.” At Lee’s sentencing hearing Todd said, “Atrocities were committed.”

Go here for more information on the crime. It’s a video done up in a Hallowe’en motif, so it takes away from the gravity of the whole thing, but it’s informative nonetheless.

Lee behaved well in prison and earned some college degrees, both of which merited sentence reduction. After 25 years in stir, Lee will be sprung from Pendleton Thursday. He’ll live for a while at the Backstreet Mission until he finds a permanent home.

He’ll be walking the streets by this time next weekend.

Can we ever forget? Can he?

TO METER OR NOT TO METER

Bloomingtom, like every other municipality in this holy land — big, small, and in-between, needs dough. One way to rake in some of the quarters city budgeteers crave is to install parking meters, which our town is considering for the entire downtown area.

A Few Tens Of Millions Of These Ought To Do It

Here’s a precis of the situation, sent to the Electron Pencil by a city official familiar with the proposal.

“The current system is a 2-hour limit on free parking that is monitored (and ticketed) by City parking enforcement staff. The new proposal is to place meters everywhere to replace the two-hour free parking spots, allegedly to solve the problems of the “two-hour shuffle” when downtown employees have to move their cars every two hours or be ticketed.

“Patron/customer turnover is needed for vibrant downtown commerce, and so they (city staff) want to incentivize more use of the downtown parking garages, which they claim are underutilized.

Coming Soon To A Parking Spot Near You?

“They also want to de-incentivize car usage in the downtown encouraging more to walk, bike and take public transportation. Noble goals, but not always practical for folks with physical limitations and creaky bones…, families with children, and people who need to shop conveniently and/or transport goods. I’m fine with the current two-hour limit on parking as it also prevents long term parking — [e.g.] students in the downtown rentals who are looking for spots to warehouse their cars at the expense of the downtown turnover.

“I believe the downtown merchants have not been properly informed or surveyed about what their needs actually are in improving the foot traffic and patron support for their businesses. I also am mindful of all residents who come downtown to transact business at the Courthouse and Justice Building, not all are of independent means. Also, downtown employees in low-paying service jobs will be negatively impacted with fewer choices for free or reasonably priced parking options.

Courthouse Square Eateries May Be Affected

“These meters could also extend into the evening hours, having an impact on the arts district and dining establishments. Those in Public Works currently supporting the idea say it isn’t about generating revenue, but about ‘changing behaviors.'”

Big Mike’s Wisdom alert: City big shots and drones always claim the installation of parking meters has nothing to do with the generation of revenue. It’s like the country that throws huge amounts of resources into its nuclear “research” program. Oh, god forbid, it protests, we have no intention of building a nuclear weapon.

And the next thing you know, seismographs all over the planet are recording that country’s initial nuclear test.

Aw, We Just Had Some Enriched Uranium Lying Around….

TEMPUS, MY FRIENDS, FUGIT

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HERE’S A RELIGIOUS LEADER I CAN LIKE

From I Fucking Love Science

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