Posts Tagged ‘Corruption’

It’s been an odd week in parking news, mainly because of two six figure stories on opposite ends of the spectrum. In Chicago, we finally have a resolution to the car that accrued more than $105,000 in tickets at O’Hare airport; and in Buffalo, NY we have a meter technician that was caught stealing $210,000 in quarters over 8 years. First, let’s take a look at the Windy City.

As some may recall, a car owned by Jennifer Fitzgerald of Chicago was left in the O’Hare International Airport employee parking lot for more than three years, accruing 678 tickets totaling $106,000 during that time. She filed a suit with the city, showing evidence that while the car had been in her name, it had belonged to a now-ex boyfriend for all intents and purposes. He worked at O’Hare, and was the one who abandoned the vehicle in the lot, refusing to have the car signed over to his name. With the car in an employee lot where she was not allowed to go, Fitzgerald was unable to retrieve it. On top of that, after a vehicle has been deemed abandoned for two to three months, by law the city is supposed to tow and impound the vehicle, but parking enforcement workers at O’Hare never did this. Instead, they continued to ticket the vehicle for years, not just fining it for parking violations but also for having illegally tinted windows or out of date city tags and registration. While parking enforcement denies having quotas, it’s fairly obvious that employees were ticketing this car again and again instead of towing it to boost some kind of metric that they’re evaluated on.

Yesterday, Ms. Fitzgerald’s suit was dismissed and a settlement agreed upon with the city. She would pay a total of $4500 to clear the tickets and fines, with a $1600 down payment to be made by her former boyfriend and the rest to be paid off by Fitzgerald in monthly installments of $78 for the next three years. While being less than 5% of what was owed, this seems like a fairly equitable settlement; the majority of those fines shouldn’t have been there as the vehicle should have been towed, the ex boyfriend is taking care of a big chunk of it, with the rest on Fitzgerald (who missed an earlier court date related to the tickets, thereby increasing them all exponentially). Still, the fact that it took more than three years to even notice this is alarming, and just goes to show just how lax city oversight of parking enforcement and operations usually is.

That said, Chicago is still ahead of the game compared to Buffalo, NY where city meter mechanic James Bagarozzo was sentenced to two and half years in prison for stealing more than $210,000 in quarters from city meters between 2003 and 2011. Using his position and technical skills, he rigged about 70 parking meters so that he could collect from them undetected. He would then go to the bank on his lunch hour and roll and exchange the coins. I once had to roll nearly $50 in quarters and other change, and that took hours; Jimmy Bagz (that’s what I’m calling him now) rolled more than 10,000 pounds, that’s five tons, of quarters! Jimmy Bagz had one co-conspirator, a co-worker named Lawrence Charles who helped with the scheme for five years and stole $15,000 in that period.

So how did they get caught? Well that’s the beauty of this story, one that just drives home the point I make again and again in so many of these stories: a little attention and oversight by the city’s parking management will save money and keep most parking abuses from happening. You see, Buffalo parking commissioner Kevin Helfer noticed that the digital meters in the city were making significantly more money than the old mechanical meters, which is odd. He had an investigation launched and using video surveillance they were able to discover that Jimmy Bagz had been stealing fro the old meters daily. When the FBI was called in and they confronted Jimmy Bagz, he admitted to the thefts (which are considered a federal crime). Since this debacle, the city has switched entirely to digital meters that take both credit cards and coins and are next to impossible to rob. Since making these changes and ending Jimmy Bagz’ scheme, city parking meter revenue is up $500,000 annually. With that kind of improvement, you have to wonder if there might have been others skimming off the top as well. Regardless, the city and it’s citizens are all benefitting from this wannabe Stan Smith finally being caught, and all thanks to a parking official that actually took their job seriously and paid attention to what was going on.

As of yet, there is no word on whether Kevin Helfer looks like Forrest Whitaker, but I find the story far more amusing to imagine he does.

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Last week I talked about how local governments have been putting a squeeze on the travel parking industry, citing a few examples across the country in addition to the numerous instances I have covered in this blog. This week, we’re going to examine the motivations behind this industry squeeze and how these efforts have progressed beyond individual instances and turned into an endemic that is having a chilling effect on the entire industry.

So what’s the motivation behind this abuse of government power? Well money of course, though more specifically budget deficits. Parking is usually one of the only sources of revenue with a low relative overhead available to most municipalities, and these funds are frequently used to pay for special projects and budget shortfalls, as well as too infrequent infrastructure improvements to parking facilities. More often, infrastructure improvements are funded with bonds, which can come back to bite the city in the ass and all too often end up being used for unnecessary projects rather than vital improvements. With so many local governments struggling with a severe shortage of funds, they’ve been leaning even more heavily on their parking revenue, and more than a few have been willing to wield their authority to squash out any perceived competition. Because hey, why rise to the challenge of your competition when you can just change the rules so no one else can play the game?

A common way that parking authorities put the squeeze on off-site operators is through the access fees they charge to allow their shuttles onto the airport. You see, for each shuttle run to the port (air or sea) a fee is charged to the offsite parking facility. These fees typically were only a few dollars if that, but whenever budget shortfalls occur or there’s a new project that needs to be funded, raising these fees is usually one of the first things that happen. Since many offsite parking businesses operate with a low profit margin, having to rely on the quantity of their business to remain profitable. As these fees have risen, parking  businesses have had to pass that access cost onto the consumer, hence the one-time access fee of a couple dollars that’s added onto your bill at most offsite parking facilities. Not only will port authorities raise these fees to beef up their budget, they’ll also wield it as a weapon against offsite businesses, such as in Port Canaveral where they wanted to raise the fee so high that it would have instantly forced the closing of all the offsite parking businesses. In other cases, such as what’s unfolding in Nashville, they’ll selectively raise the fees on offsite parking facilities (more than tripling it in Nashville) while reducing the fees for hotel shuttles to access the port, even when those hotels are actively running an offsite parking business out of their lots as many of them do these days. It is literally robbing Peter to pay Paul, and this happens because the hotels typically hold far more sway over municipal authorities as such large economic drivers in their local economies, to say nothing of the typically incestuous relationship between hotel management and the commissions that run most air and sea ports. It’s one of the oldest forms of political corruption out there and it’s alive and well in many port and parking authorities.

Another way that municipalities have been having a chilling effect on the parking industry is through the way they’ve put a squeeze on investment, slowing or preventing the growth of parking businesses. As most of us are aware, since the recession, investment capital has been much harder to come by unless you’re already a mutli-million dollar corporation. The parking business is generally seen as a safe investment, as there is very little capital or debt needed after the initial development phase and it provides stable long term returns. While there’s nothing to be done about the general investment climate but to weather it, the real damage is being done by the uncertainty that is being created by local governments. One of the three key factors in investing in parking is how stable and sustainable the business in question is, and for travel parking businesses that means how likely it is that the business will retain ownership of their land, the ability to acquire more land down the line for expansion and growth, and how likely continued access to the air or cruise port in question will be in the short and long term. Traditionally this has been a strength for parking businesses, aw air and cruise ports don’t move often and the land around them tends to be undesirable for most other business and residential concerns, but that has changed since the recession, particularly in the past year. Whether it’s Indianapolis’s airport fighting to keep parking businesses from buying land for years on end, Port Canaveral pulling a 180 and refusing to issue permits to businesses that had already bought the land and marketed their grand opening in good faith as happened to Premier Parking, or trying to seize offsite parking businesses through eminent domain as happened to Cramer Airport Parking in Pennsylvania, these actions, particularly their ramped up frequency and aggression, has made for an uncertain and unstable investment environment. While the parking management giants continue to barrel ahead and reap ever greater profits, the industry as a whole has been suffering from this uncertainty and investment crunch, something that is borne out by 2012’s being the markedly slowest year of growth since the 2008 crash.

So what’s the remedy to this endemic corruption throughout our municipal system? Well daylight seems to be one of the best solutions. Most of these things are able to happen because no one is paying attention. I’m someone who works in and writes about the parking industry, and even I find it dull at times. And of course anyone who’s been to a city council or municipal committee meeting knows that those are typically duller than traffic court. When the Port Authority in Canaveral was declaring all-out war on the parking industry, it was the public outcry in support of the only two non-cronies on the Port Commission that stopped all their shenanigans and led to the ouster of the Port Authority’s CEO and greedy-bastard-in-chief Stan Payne. At the end of the day, it’s up to the public to take a stern look at their public servants, hold them accountable and tell them to stop being lazy and corrupt and to deal with their competition by rising to the challenge instead of trying to poison the well, because, frankly, no one else is going to do it. Surprisingly, many of these incidents happen in areas that have very active Tea Party and anti-government movements, yet none of these groups have pounced on these instances of government abuse; hopefully that will change and government watchdog groups will realize that tackling these abuses are not only good for their local economy and government, but great publicity for the need for keeping an eye on the government and the good that watchdog groups can have.

Chicago is fast becoming the worst parking situation in the country. If you’ve ever had to drive anywhere in Chicago, you know it’s a nightmare of traffic congestion, constant construction and angry drivers hanging out their windows and shouting profanities at each other; now it seems the parking there is becoming just as bad. An array of factors have occurred over the past few years to make this happen, and like everything in Chicago there’s more than enough corruption and  underhandedness to go around.

Since we’re talking about corruption, there’s no better place to start than Mayor Daley’s office. Back in 2008, Mayor Richard Daley put pressure on the Chicago city council to privatize the parking authority in Chicago. The deal was forced through and voted into action in just two days, and it became rapidly apparent that between all the backroom deals and arm twisting that it took to pass it, nobody had a chance to read over the deal. It was a sweetheart deal for the company, Chicago Parking Meters LLC., giving them a 75 year lease of all the city’s parking meters and entitling them to all the profits during that time in exchange for $1.15 billion paid to the city upfront for the lease. It wasn’t too much later that the city’s inspector general reported that the city had undervalued the contract by at least $1 billion, and that wasn’t even taking into account the steep rate hikes that CPM has implemented since taking over. In addition, the contract stipulated that the city compensate CPM each year for all potential meter profits lost from construction, street repairs, festivals, and handicap placards. What that means is that anytime any parking meter wasn’t in service or someone got to park for free, the city was getting billed for every hour of it.

On top of that, CPM has raised parking rates in Chicago every year since their contract started. Chicago now holds the distinction of possessing the highest parking rates in the country thanks to all the hikes. What that means is that in addition to how much they’ve been taking out of the pockets of Chicagoans, they’ve also been billing the city more and more for “missed parking” thanks to the rate increases. After already making hundreds of millions off of the city with this deal, Mayor Rahm Emanuel had an auditing system created to verify CPM’s lost parking hours claims. Lo and behold, the audit revealed that CPM had over-charged the city by $22 million for 2012, saying the city owed $25 million for lost parking instead of the $3 million indicated by the audit. The city is still fighting with CPM over the money, and Mayor Emanuel has frequently referred to the parking deal with CPM as the worst in the city’s history.

As if trying to add insult to injury, there have been more and more stories surfacing of Chicagoans being ticketed while paying for their parking, either while they were walking to a pay station or while they were struggling with a defective meter. In most cases, no amount of attempts to contest the tickets has gotten them reversed, despite assurances from  CPM and the city that parking enforcers are instructed to check to see if the vehicle owner is on their way to or paying the meter. On the opposite end of parking enforcement cruelty, their seems to be a rogue officer at Northwestern Memorial Hospital who is fining legitimately disabled visitors and confiscating their drivers license and disabled parking placard, forcing these poor folks to suffer for weeks until they can get the violation overturned in court and their licenses and placards returned to them. So far, 17 out of 19 handicap parking violations this officer has handed out have been overturned by the courts, and yet this person is apparently still on the job.

There is one small ray of sunshine in all of this; despite being scheduled to go into effect January 1st, the latest $.75 rate hike has yet to happen. No clear explanation has been given by LAZ Parking (the parking management company hired by CPM to run their meter operation), though they have stated that the price hike will be in effect before March 1st. So enjoy the “luxury” of only paying $5.75 an hour for parking while you can Chicagoans, and let’s all hope Mayor Emanuel can get some concessions from CPM or renegotiate their contract sometime in the near future.

I’ve dedicated a fair amount of space on this blog to the parking failures of the government, but parking scandals are anything but one sided. With that in mind, I present to you the story of Jose “Jay” Nieves, entrepreneur, petty crook and one time “owner” of Premier Parking Spot in Port Canaveral, FL.

Jay Nieves, “legitimate businessman”, being confronted by WFTV Orlando Channel 9’s Jeff Deal

Premier Parking Spot used to be an off-site cruise parking business in Port Canaveral. Last spring, after hearing some rumors about Premier Parking Spot employees taking customers cars out on joyrides, local WFTV Channel 9 Orlando reporter Jeff Deal decided to investigate. With that in mind, he rented a fire-red, 480 horsepower, V-8 2012 Corvette, the kind of car that would make anyone, not just Ferris Bueller, want to take a day off and take it for a spin. And I’ll say one thing, Nieves is probably about as ballsy as Ferris Bueller.

You see, Deals outfitted the car with a GPS tracking device and hidden cameras, and then had a couple that was taking a cruise drop it off at Premier Parking Spot. The car was there for all of six hours before the gps tracking device started reporting that the car was on the move. Following the GPS signal, WFTV film crew recorded Nieves taking the corvette on a joyride with another employee, peeling out on dirt roads and posing for pictures in front of it. Nieves left it at his home overnight, then later used to run errands, at one point even loading the Corvette with lumber and letting a dog run around in the car. Although the car had been left at his parking facility, technically what he did was car theft (WFTV decided not to press charges, as the whole point had been to expose Nieves and inform the public).

After a couple days of this, Deal confronted Nieves outside of his business, where they had just watched him drive up in the Corvette and then leave it out front with the top down and one of the doors open for 20 minutes before coming out again. It was at this point that Deal confronted Nieves, showing him video they had of Nieves driving the car all over town. Not only did Nieves deny any joyriding, he denied the car was a customers, even after being told that there was a GPS tracking device in the car and seeing the video! Like I said, if nothing else Nieves is certainly ballsy. When you watch the ease with which he tells such a bald-faced lie, you have to wonder how this guy hasn’t already run for congress.

And surprisingly, this was the tame part of the story. You see, the next day it was reported by the Sheriff’s office (who had received calls from angry customers) that Nieves had closed up his business and disappeared overnight. Customers who were arriving back from their cruises that day waited for more than an hour for a shuttle to come before finally taking a cab to Premier Parking Spot. When they got there, they found the lot devoid of any employees, the keys to all the cars just left hanging in the doors of all the cars!

It was later discovered that Nieves had a long history of driving violations, domestic violence, and had even been busted in 1991 for smuggling a kilo of cocaine into the country. On top of all of that, it turns out that he hadn’t had a business license for Premier Parking Spot, apparently operating it off the books the whole time. This makes you wonder whose job it is to keep track of these things and making sure career criminals aren’t just setting up whatever kind of illegal business they want; lord knows the last thing Florida and the parking industry needs is more shady businessman of questionable ethics.

Since this all went down last spring, another, reputable parking operator has moved into the space and built a new facility there. Ironically, it was Premier Parking USA that bought the lot, an operator with facilities throughout Florida and the east coast. One has to wonder if they knew the history of the lot they bought and the name of it’s former occupant. With any luck, they’ll be able to overcome any justifiable prejudice cruise goers may have against the name; but just in case, I suggest they not joyride any of their cars, especially any shiny new Corvettes.

A big kudos goes to Jeff Deal and the WFTV News Team in Orlando for bringing this story to the light. You can see the full report they did below. Although these types of incidents are the exception to the rule, better to be safe than sorry, so always check to make sure you’re parking with a reputable company and take a look at their online reviews before you park.

Finally, I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season and a happy new year!

A banner promoting Dunder-Mifflin, the fiction...

A banner promoting Dunder-Mifflin, the fictional paper company on NBC’s “The Office” hangs outside city hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scranton, PA doesn’t have many claims to fame; if someone has heard of it it’s because they’re a comedy fan and know that this is the home of “The Office” and Vice President Joe Biden. Lately though, Scranton has been in the news thanks to the furor generated around the Scranton Parking Authority and how it’s mismanagement set off a chain reaction that has bankrupt the city and destroyed it’s credit rating. It seems unbelievable that a mismanaged parking authority could put an entire city in economic jeopardy, but as you’ll see not only is it possible, it’s a situation that almost ANY city could find itself in when no one is paying attention.

Although Scranton’s financial crisis is more recent, the foundation for it, like the recession that currently grips the whole country, was laid years ago quietly and surreptitiously. Like many city authorities, the Scranton Parking Authority has the ability to issue bonds on projects such as new parking structures, and these bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the city (and it’s taxpayers). Even during the worst of the nationwide financial crisis, bond investment has remained strong, so bonds have continued to be a preferred option for paying for city projects. The idea is that the bond helps pay for the initial costs of a project like a parking garage, and then once the new structure is completed payments are made on a regular basis to the bond. So long as the project is something that will turn a profit, the bond gets paid off and the city is left with a shiny parking structure or sports arena or whatever.

Problems arise when the bond payments can’t be met though. Because the bonds are backed by the city, the city is then on the hook to make the bond payments with taxpayer money. And usually, such as in the case of the Scranton Parking Authority’s bonds, these bonds were issued without any kind of outside oversight or voter approval, even though it’s the voters being put on the hook. And the SPA issued a number of these over the years to build parking structures when the ones they had weren’t even filling up. Now according to rumors from some members of the Scranton City Council, these structures were built not because of a need by the city, but to facilitate political cronyism by giving contracts to a local construction company. Considering that a quick look at the past ten years of financial reports for the SPA shows that most of the new parking structures were built after revenue had already plateaued and that each of these structures made the SPA progressively more financially unstable, that charge probably isn’t too far off the mark.

Despite warnings of financial insolvency in the SPA’s annual financial audit, little seems to have been done to right the ship, and by last June the SPA found itself on the hook for a more than $3 million dollars in loans that the city council didn’t even know about and a bond payment that they couldn’t make. It was at this point that the SPA came to the council about making the bond payment. And rather than making the payment, and despite the warnings of Mayor Doherty, the council decided that now was the time they were going to put their feet down and take a stand for austerity by refusing to make the bond payment. By defaulting on the payment, they effectively destroyed the full faith and credit of the city of Scranton. Suddenly, the city found itself no longer having access to the credit market. This proved devastating.

The city was already suffering from having more indebtedness than revenue, and without access to credit markets, they couldn’t receive the credit needed to cover the city’s expenses. By July, the city had $5 in it’s bank account and had had to reduce all city workers’ wages to minimum wage; to put that in perspective, the city of Scranton found itself with same level of fiscal solvency as your average hungover college student in line at Taco Bell. SPA employees found themselves furloughed and not getting paid, and are now negotiating with the city to try and get their back pay and contemplating suing for their wages. The courts appointed a receiver to take over the SPA, and a parking management company, Central Parking, was hired to take over running the parking business.

Needless to say, things were grim. Since hitting rock bottom in July, the city has been struggling to recover. Employee wages have normalized again, and the city has gotten court permission to pursue a nearly $10 million loan to cover their costs. It’s still unclear whether SPA employees will be paid their back pay, or if they will have to sue the city for months of unpaid wages. Scranton is by no means out of the woods, as they are still racking up more costs than revenue for the operation of the city. Scranton’s way forward is unclear, but for the rest of us this city provides a cautionary tale that we can all learn from.

First, we learned that apparently after leaving Dunder-Mifflin, Michael Scott became the head of the Scranton Parking Authority (or was at least consulting on how to run it). But more importantly, we learned that an unchecked mandate and a lack of oversight wreaks havoc, whether it’s on Wall Street or a city like Scranton. Whether looking at Scranton or Port Everglades (as in my last post), it seems like when you take an otherwise sound business person and put them in charge of taxpayer dollars, all business and common sense goes out the window. Taxpayer’s are not an unlimited source of money, they are investors expecting a return, whether in social or financial gain. Especially in light of the recent election, this illustrates just how big an impact those smaller, local issues can have on a community, and why it’s important to pay attention and stay engaged. Because otherwise all it takes is a parking authority, a school board, a commission, or some other small piece of local government that through ignorance and recklessness tugs on the yarn of city government and unravels the whole thing.

First off, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. As much as I’ve been enjoying seeing family and living off of leftovers the past few days, it’s high time I finished regaling you all with the saga of Port Canaveral and how the local parking industry was nearly wiped out by a corrupt Port Authority.

Thankfully, two of the Commission members (Mr. Weinberg and Mr. Allender yet again) and a coalition of private operators raised the alarm and got organized, and were able to put enough pressure on the Port Authority to re-examine it’s new policies and rescind them. A special parking committee was made to examine parking option for the Port and make recommendations for it going into the future. Though Mr. Payne’s cronies on the Commission originally wanted to have it setup without any representation from a single private parking service, our two level-headed commissioners once again stepped in and got Todd Oakley, the man behind Cruise Parking of Port Canaveral, on this new committee to look after the interests of small businesses and parking operators.

 Now what could have fueled this craziness and abuse of a public institution by Mr. Payne? Well, you could ask him, but I doubt he’d be very forthcoming. Luckily, he’s given us some hints. You see, everyone at the Port Authority (besides the Commission members) gets a bonus based on how profitable the Port was over the past year. Up until a recently passed Florida state law, this only went to people in management roles. It now applies to all Port Authority staff, but while low tier staff were looking at a couple hundred dollars, management bonuses were in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, up to 20% of their base salary. For 2012, the Port had $300,000 of taxpayer money earmarked for these bonuses, bonuses that were going to go to people for trying to stamp out local businesses. As if this left any doubt that the bonuses were a big motivating factor in this debacle, the Commission voted at the end of September to get rid of the bonuses because of the negative effect they were having on the Port Authority (thanks again to our two small business heroes on the Commission).

 Given the recent debacle that occurred when Mr. Payne had the Commission approve an updated severance package for him that included an illegal two-year severance pay (but who can blame him for not knowing that, his legal background only consists of law and economics degrees, being commissioner of the Florida Ports Financing Commission, and his past 23 years of work before his job as CEO being Legal Counsel, Director of Law and Administration and Director of Legal services for private corporation and the Virginia Port Authority), and then had the Port Authority pick up the $67,000 tab for legal fees to sort out his “mistake”, I think it seems pretty obvious that Mr. Payne’s primary concern with the Port Canaveral Port Authority is how much money is it making for HIM, not the taxpayer.

 Thankfully, it seems that the voice of reason has returned to the Port Commission; but for how long? While I doubt that Mr. Payne has much time left in his role as CEO, one has to remember that he was appointed by the Port Commission, which is made up of publicly elected members. So take the time to look into your local government and who in it may have the power to affect your business, because otherwise you may be finding yourself being run out of business by someone you elected.

There must be something in the water down at Port Canaveral, or at least in the water that Port Authority CEO Stan Payne has been drinking. Over the past year, Mr. Payne has seemingly declared war on private sector parking operators at his Port, going so over the line that multiple members of the Port Commission have tried to get him to step down due to his egregious use of the Port Authority’s authority.

It began back in January, when Mr. Payne and his staff released what can only be described as an attack video on their website aimed slandering offsite parking services, saying that if you park at one rather than the port you will wait for hours, have your car damaged and broken into and your vacation ruined. The video is poorly done, the acting terrible, and their portrayal of offsite lots hilarious if you didn’t know they were being serious. While there are always some bad apples in any business, for the vast majority of parking facilities their claims just aren’t true. But hey, if you’re trying to get people to pay $34/day more for a parking space, I guess honesty is not going to be your ally. Not only did Mr. Payne come up with this video, he had it made and posted on the Port Authority’s website without bringing it to the Port Commission. Not only was there a furor from the commission, but the video was widely mocked and criticized by the local media as well. And all of this for the low, low cost of $18,000 of tax payer money to slander local businesses!

And as ridiculous as that is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Back at the beginning of the summer, Mr. Payne had an independent consultant brought in to do a presentation on their parking services and how they could improve them. At a recent meeting before that, the Commission had discussed numerous mostly in-house changes and improvements the Port Authority could make to improve parking revenue and traveler satisfaction, so this seemed reasonable, even if the commission was subjected to a surprise presentation by this consultant. Rather than talking about further in-house improvements that could be made, the consultant dedicated their entire presentation to painting a scary and completely untrue assessment of the “threat” presented by off-site parking facilities, and recommended various ways that the Port Authority could use it’s power to force them out of business. The Commission was then immediately called upon to vote on enacting these ideas, with no period of review or outside opinions. Despite the protests of two of the five Commission members (Mr. Weinberg and Mr. Allender), the Commission passed these new ordinances, including a moratorium on new port parking permits for any businesses and a $50 per trip fee for any offsite parking shuttle wanting to access the port. These policies would essentially kill the entire offsite parking business in Port Canaveral in one fell swoop, destroying multiple local businesses and putting dozens if not hundreds of people out of work.

And what was the reasoning for all of this? Profits. The consultant presented the offsite facilities as a clear and present danger to the Port Authority’s revenue stream. Now while that may seem like a reasonable concern (even if the response was unreasonable), it was not. The Port Authority had been making record profits. Going into the third quarter of 2012, they already had made more than $4 million more than the Port authority had made for the entirety of FY 2011. On their $20-$40/day parking, the Port made a 97% profit. The only thing they were in danger of was having to make too many deposits at the bank.

The story doesn’t end there either. Next week, I’ll talk about how the destruction of the local parking industry in Port Canaveral was narrowly averted and delve deeper into Stan Payne’s attempts to use the parking authority for his own gain.