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Rolly: Do Salt Lake City's solar parking meters have a black hole?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker's environmental protection initiatives might be wonderful ideas, but some have glitches.

Richelle Charles works at the Oyster Bar on Market Street downtown and, like everyone else, is getting used to the new solar powered parking enforcement system on the street. Drivers put payment in the environmentally friendly parking kiosk, which is supposed to cover every stall on the street.

She says she put in enough money for two hours on Jan. 17, punched in her number and went to work, only to be told shortly after by a fellow employee that she was getting a parking ticket. She confronted the parking enforcement officer, and was told that his hand-held device recorded that her stall was not paid for. When she produced her receipt, he acquiesced and told her he would take care of it, driving off with both the ticket and the receipt.

Two weeks later, she received in the mail a notice from the city that she was delinquent on the parking ticket and now owed a $55 fine.

She contested the ticket at the city's Justice Court, but when the hearing officer asked if she had the receipt, she said the parking enforcement officer took it.

Tough luck for her. Without the receipt, she was told she had to pay, but the fine was reduced to the original price: $15.

Ben Roberts, of Salt Lake City Parking Enforcement, said he would have liked to have helped Charles, but without the receipt, there wasn't much he could do.

"As with any new high-tech system, there will be glitches," he said. "And we're working through them."

The hand-held device used by enforcement officers can access a central computer system that carries information from the kiosk indicating which stalls have been paid. Obviously, the system isn't perfect.

Hail to the leader • You probably know about the fictional posters plastered throughout Oceania that honor Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984. And you probably know about the actual bigger-than-life posters that honored Chairman Mao in China.

But did you know about the posters glaring at state government workers proclaiming the greatness of Gov. Gary Herbert?

Two state employees tell me that at the State Office Building, in the restricted areas occupied only by ID wearing government employees, there are at least 10 three-feet-by-four-feet posters mounted on foam board on the walls, printed with the governor's picture and his "four cornerstones of Utah," highlighted in his State of the State speech, in which he proclaimed he would not let the federal government tell us what to do (but we would still take the fed's money).

They are on every floor of the State Office Building and, employees tell me, they look like campaign posters. But only authorized state employees get to see them.

Dueling government overreaches • Legislative leaders have said they don't want to pass a statewide law that would protect gays and lesbians against housing and employment discrimination because that would usurp the powers of local governments to govern their cities with their own ordinances. They point out that 14 local jurisdictions have such anti-discrimination ordinances.

But like the gift that keeps on giving, the Legislature keeps acting in ways that expose a certain hypocrisy.

I've already pointed out pending bills that would usurp local governments' ability to limit the types of billboards allowed on their streets and handcuff local enforcement of open-carry gun ordinances.

Now, Rep. Wayne Harper has proposed a bill to overturn Salt Lake City's anti-idling ordinance.

I can't wait for the next bill to be debated that would usurp a city from enforcing its own local ordinance.

prolly@sltrib.com

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