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Ignacio De La Fuente's Big Mistake

Peggy Stinnett explains it well here:

WHEN the slick, full-color mailer arrived with City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente's photo, I thought, "Oh, the latest political mailer."
In his campaign for mayor, he has been sending us these cheery cards for several months telling of his "accomplishments."

But this one was different. It promised something that made my heart leap with joy. He declared unequivocally he wants to remove all parking meters in the city.

Not so fast, I thought, being a cautious sort. Can this be true? I read on to learn De La Fuente wants to replace the meters with a "new system." Now moving from cautious to suspicious, I thought, "Now, what is the new system?"

What's really strange about this mailer? It's not his idea; it's one the city staff has been working on for some time. In fact, the city has been testingnew meters on 12th Street for several months.

Later I learned the city wants to replace existing meters with multimeters that would cover five spaces.

They'll be bigger and better able to make money for the city. They will cost $8,000 to $10,000 each and replace 7,700 meters on city streets.

It's certainly true that many people who use the parking meters don't like them, but it isn't because they're broken.

People believe it's unfair to give them parking tickets when the meter is broken. Also, it might be illegal to fine people when the meter person has no idea whether that car has been in the parking space for three minutes or two hours because they do not chalk the tires or monitor the space.

There's also that mean, insulting message on every meter that says, "Parking citations will be issued on meters, BROKEN OR NOT." Gosh, that's an ugly way to begin a shopping excursion in Oakland.

Then I read the details in a news release widely distributed by De La Fuente to Oakland leaders and media people.

He explains the plan. The city would install a new meter system "that builds on the success of other cities."

It seems what he really wants to do is stymie parking meter users from getting anything free — even five or 10 minutes of time — from a malfunctioning parking meter.

Actually, many heavy users of parking meters have found the broken meters don't cause the "frustration"

De La Fuente seems to think we feel.
Some people happen to consider themselves lucky to get a broken meter.

This is the only way you can get a couple of free minutes from our greedy city. I say greedy without hesitation because Oakland never has enough money. There's always some wily plan to get our last nickel and dime.

I freely admit to feeling good when I catch a meter that's broken when I only have a five-minute errand. I know a nickel won't cover the time, and a dime seems a lot just to pick up clothes at the cleaner.

Maybe I got this bad attitude after seeing how some businesses rate getting three to five minutes of free parking and Oakland police claim a few more parking spots, even though they can always park in a red zone.

My cleaner has tried repeatedly to get a three- to five-minute zone in front of her place, but no luck. I guess she doesn't know the right people in City Hall.

De La Fuente's misleading message sent by mailer to people sure backfired as a smart political strategy. How gullible does he think people are?

So now we know the real reason the city and De La Fuente want to replace the existing meters: to get more money out of our pockets.

Why didn't he say so in the slick postcard he mailed to us? Well, you can answer that yourself.

Come on, Mr. Council President. These are people who will vote in the 2006 mayor's race. That mailer was a dumb political move if its purpose was to make you look like Mr. Good Guy.

Instead of raising our hopes that parking meters would disappear because the taxpayers are already paying more than their share to support the city's marginal competence, De La Fuente wants us to support a plan that will cost us more to park in Oakland.

Does knowing this end anybody's parking meter frustrations?
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