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Stricter Parking Enforcement In Houston—Real Story Behind Solar Powered Meters

The City of Houston is going to step up enforcement at Downtown parking meters. The city is going enforce the limit of two hours at a meter even if you’ve paid the $6 all day Downtown Hopper rate. Parking enforcement officers will be tracking cars with handheld devices. They’ll plug your license plate number in and see how long you hang around. Even if you have paid for more time, you will get a ticket after two hours.

It is now also illegal for someone else to put money in your meter. I could write a check to pay your income tax bill or your electricity bill (I won’t though.) , but I can’t put 50 cents in your parking meter.

I’m not a reflexive basher of city services, but here’s the thing—THE METERS SO OFTEN DO NOT WORK. (That was my first all caps sentence in two and a half years of writing this blog.)

Our Houston parking meters are solar-powered meters. Yet often they don’t function even when the sun is shining. Here is a post I made last July about the solar-powered meters not working on a sunny 95 degree day.

Since then I’ve had a number of instances where I could not use the meters because they were not working. I go downtown between one to three times a week.

Maybe six weeks ago, I called a city councilmember’s office to complain. In the week after Christmas, I had a morning where I had to go to five meters (moving my car twice in the process) to find one that worked.

In my view, it’s clear the sunbeams the meters are collecting are being diverted to some kind of new and terrible solar weapon such as you see below.  This is the only possible answer as to why Houston councilmembers Sue Lovell and James Rodriguez would talk in the newspaper about stricter parking enforcement, without talking about how the meters, time and time again, do not work.  

Maybe the more people who try to use the meters without success, the more destructive energy the meters collect. It could be that beyond sunlight, the meters are also sapping human energy given off in incidents of extreme frustration trying to get the meters to work.   

Well, it’s one thing if Ms. Lovell and Mr. Rodriguez are the henchpeople of our military industrial complex (Assuming what you see below is a weapon of American or even Earth origin). That does not by definition get in the way of my finding a place to park. I  just wish that they would find a plan that would allow people to come to Downtown Houston and use a parking meter without such hassle.  

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Support Any Energy Policy That Wins Votes For Obama

So-called Energy Independence has been a topic of political debate for many years.

( Wind power has a long history. Maybe Mr. Obama should push for wind power.)

The following is from the 1976 Republican National Convention platform—

“One fact should now be clear: We must reduce sharply our dependence on other nations and strive to achieve energy independence at the earliest possible date. We cannot allow the economic destiny and international policy of the United States to be dictated by the sovereign powers that control major portions of the world’s petroleum supplies.”

Sure.

Dick Cheney, who was Chief of Staff for the nominee of that convention, Gerald Ford, says conservation is a “personal virtue.” John McCain mocks the idea of energy conservation.

These people were not serious 30 years ago and they are not serious today.

( Mr. Obama could show respect for rural America by backing an energy plan that makes greater use of animals.)  

The following is from the 1976 Democratic National Convention platform—

The huge reserves of oil, gas, and coal on federal territory, including the outer continental shelf, belong to all the people. The Republicans have pursued leasing policies which give the public treasury the least benefit and that energy industry the most benefit from these public resources. Consistent with environmentally sound practices, new leasing procedures must be adopted to correct these policies….” 

This debate may well go on for years to come.

Given all these years of empty talk, I don’t believe either party will seriously address this problem until forced to do so by events. Despite high gas prices in recent years and the fact that oil profits have helped fund terrorists, the public is not ready yet to talk about solutions that will either cost money at the pump, or that will involve scaling back our lives.

Mr. McCain’s view that mocking Mr. Obama’s reasonable suggestion that correct tire pressure makes a difference in fuel efficiency is a good campaign tactic, suggests a public not looking for real progress on energy independence.  

And falling, for the moment at least, for the quick-fix false promise of offshore drilling, again shows a public not serious about the issue.

If Mr. Obama wants to talk about more domestic drilling—fine. If gas prices go down for a few months, the issue will recede. If gas prices stay high, he’d likely have to bend in any case if elected President. It’s not worth giving Senator McCain an issue.

What either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will do as President will be dictated by unforeseen events and the composition of Congress after the election. Just tell people what they want to hear on this one and maybe—against the odds—we can move on to an a issue where a more helpful discussion is possible.

Though don’t bet on that either.

(How about solar power satellite arrays serviced by fleets of yet to be built spaceships? If Mr. Obama can sell this idea I would be in agreement.)

August 20, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Solar Powered Parking Meter Does Not Work On Sunny 95 Degree Day

Today I had an errand to run in Downtown Houston. I parked on the street and walked up to the solar powered parking meter. I hit the button on the meter that makes the screen come on. But the screen did not come on. Without the screen, you can’t pay the meter.

( Above is picture of a solar powered Houston parking meter. You can see that this meter is well-protected from possible public abuse. My question is who is protecting the public from the meters?)

Today is a 95 degree mostly sunny day In Houston. If there is any day a solar parking meter should work, it is today.

There was a man standing behind me also waiting to use this meter. He worked for a courier service and was delivering a letter. I told him the meter did not work.

The courier walked around the corner to another meter. The meters give you a little slip of paper when you pay. You get the paper and put it on your dashboard. It does not matter what meter you use as long as you have the slip.

The courier put money in the other meter, since in this case the screen did light up, but after paying he got no paper. It was out of paper.

I’ll be honest with you—I was in a bit of a hurry and after all this I did not pay any meter. I did though call Houston’s 311 number for municipal services and repairs.  Hopefully this is being fixed today. 

I’m not by any means a reflexive basher of city services. But I don’t understand why simple stuff like this is allowed to happen. It makes people frustrated with the entire city government.

Bottom line: If the city of Houston offers you on a spot a city-sponsored solar powered spaceflight to Jupiter—Don’t go. You’ll just stop moving and spend the rest of your life drifting in space.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Houston | , , , | 5 Comments