Stimulating Parking Tickets?

The mayor wants $400K for a better way to write you up.

Among the projects Mayor Greg Nickels has sought to fund with federal stimulus money is the purchase of $412,540 worth of new devices to issue parking tickets in Seattle. It’s a proposal that has some asking what hizzoner is thinking since, for one, it adds no new jobs, and two, appears to stimulate only City Hall’s ticket revenues.

At the Web site, Nickels’ ticketing-device proposal appears to have gotten a major thumbs-down. But while Nickels’ $863,709 request to hire 11 new Seattle cops got a plus-18 rating on the site, the parking-ticket plan got a thundering minus-279—a 96 percent disapproval rate. Says one commentator: “What a perfect example of Government spending; they’re taking our tax dollars to spend on devices that will enable them to take more of our money faster!”

Nickels’ request isn’t directly funded in the $787 billion federal stimulus bill. The money will be doled out project by project through federal agencies. Many of the requests are detailed in a long list compiled by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which Nickels is vice-president.

His proposed projects total $224 million, and would employ, he claims, 6,465 people. “The list was compiled a month or so ago, not knowing what the federal stimulus would look like,” says mayoral spokesperson Alex Fryer. “We included ideas grand and small…we don’t yet know if this [parking-ticket] request will be part of our official proposal.”

If it is, the money could buy the city’s parking-enforcement officers some of those new high-tech handhelds, which include not only a portable printer, a touch screen, and a downloaded history of your car’s outstanding parking tickets, but a built-in camera to take evidence photos of your poor parking skills. Sounds like just the thing to complement the city’s red-light cameras.