To describe the people who tipped Sea-TacAirport to the fact that its credit card parking machines were all f***ed up as "two honest drivers", as The Seattle Times did yesterday, is a bit overstated, don't you think? Come on, really?
What invariably happened is this: Sometime on June 26, speculates Port of Seattle spokesman Perry Cooper, two people, both of them almost certainly business travelers, contacted Sea-Tac's operations desk and explained that they had a receipt for parking at the airport, but couldn't find the charge on their credit card.
In other words, the two honest drivers were reconciling their expense accounts and wanted to make sure that their respective companies paid for their parking. Hence, the call to ask why the charge didn't appear on their monthly statement.
"The operations people passed on the information to our finance folks, and we realized there was a discrepancy there," explains Cooper.
Discrepancy is one way of saying that nearly $400,000 in parking revenue is down the rat hole and no one yet knows what the hell happened, or why it took two years to realize something was rotten in the state of Sea-Tac.
Congratulations to the 10,498 drivers who parked for free
Had it not been for the honest drivers seeking to submit to their higher-ups an honest expense report, who knows how much longer that one lucky kiosk would be paying off?
There are 14 kiosks at the airport, located outside of the garage, which account for 2.1 million parking transactions each year at Sea-Tac. One of them -- let's call her Lucky Lucy -- went badly on the blink.
Of the $395,000 lost in the credit-card machines, according to a state audit released Monday, some $350,000 in unrecorded charges that never made into Port coffers is blamed on this one bad apple, Lucky Lucy.
As a result, 10,498 motorists -- and two honest drivers -- managed to secure free parking because of the foul-up, which, remarkably, went undetected for more than 700 days. Not that this bothers us, mind you. No, we think it is plenty justified, karmic payback for living in a city that each day dreams up new ways to extort us with parking fines in a desperate lust to make its budgetary nut.
But there are two other strange ripples to this story.
First, the Port is actually going to spend up to $75,000 on a fricking forensic expert to figure out how it can avoid future screw-ups, and maybe even recover some lost loot. That's right: CSI-Sea-Tac is in the works -- which brings us to strange ripple No. 2:
Cooper told us yesterday that it is "not beyond the real of possibility" that the Port could seek repayment from the 10,498 accidental scofflaws.
You gotta be kidding, right?
"Potentially, that could happen, but that's really going to be hard to pin down [as to who those drivers were]," says Cooper.
It is also possible the machine-making vendor, Germany-based Scheidt-Bachmann, could be on the hook -- to which we say, "You think!?"
"But were not blaming Schedit-Bachmann at this point," stresses Cooper. "We're not going to throw anyone under the bus right now."
Here's our recommendation for who really deserves to be thrown under the bus:
The two honest drivers.