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Archive for Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Parking department employees need thick skin, people skills

September 6, 2006

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They're jeered, taunted and sometimes flipped the bird. One was struck by a car.

For the students who police parking spaces for Kansas University's parking and transit department, writing tickets to unappreciative drivers can be a thankless job.

"The first instinct is always to say that I'm evil or I'm selling out," student and veteran ticket-writer Alan Bloomquist said. "You never like the ticket-writer."

The department has issued nearly 70,000 parking tickets in the last year - many to the dismay of students such as Brian Kelly. The KU junior received three parking tickets last semester.

"I was pretty furious," he said. "It seems like they have nothing better to do but sit there and wait for someone to park and run up to their car real quick and throw a ticket on it."

Conflict may not happen every day, but it comes with the parking-ticket business.

Dave Moore, field manager for parking and transit, said the department asks potential hires how they would handle run-ins with disgruntled drivers and helps by offering advice on how to deal with potentially heated situations.

Alan Bloomquist, Kansas University senior, tickets a vehicle without a parking pass on Memorial Drive on the KU campus. Bloomquist works part-time for KU's parking and transit department and was patrolling for parking violators Tuesday.

Alan Bloomquist, Kansas University senior, tickets a vehicle without a parking pass on Memorial Drive on the KU campus. Bloomquist works part-time for KU's parking and transit department and was patrolling for parking violators Tuesday.

Run-ins come with the job, he said, and ticket writers have their share of stories. He recalled one ticket writer who was knocked over when a driver backed into him. And he recalled another situation in which a KU employee argued with a ticket writer, even though the ticket was for someone else's car.

"People are people," he said. "You just have to deal with them in certain ways sometimes."

KU student Erica Price racked up eight tickets in one unfortunate year. She tried to fight them, but to no avail.

She was particularly perturbed to get to her car as the ticket writer finished one ticket - too late to erase her mistake.

"When they see you come back and they still give you the ticket, it makes me mad," she said.

So whose skin is thick enough for this line of work?

"I want someone who works well with people," Moore said.

Moore said Bloomquist is a good employee because he works well with people.

Bloomquist, a native of Washington state, took the job three years ago to help pay for school. It was the first job he interviewed for on campus, and he's stayed ever since. He said he likes the outdoors and the people.

With his electronic ticket machine dangling around his neck, Bloomquist walked the campus Tuesday, eyeing vehicles for their tags.

Bloomquist said he takes his job and the occasional name calling or negative comment in stride.

"I'm just a third party," he said. "I have the parking department on one end and the person who's getting the ticket on the other end."

KU has three major zones: red, blue and yellow. Drivers are permitted to park in areas depending on their status.

The rules seem simple to Bloomquist, but many drivers don't understand, he said.

"I don't think many people think about it," he said. "I'd say most of the tickets you write are people that just don't care."

He has his own way for dealing with angry motorists.

"I find the best way is to just walk away from people," he said. "They either have to leave or follow me, and I've never had anyone follow me."

Comments

plumberscrack 7 years, 7 months ago

mistygreen writes:

"As for people getting shot for less than a parking ticket, we then I'm glad that I don't live where that happens, because I have never heard of anything like that happening around here."

Where do you live mistygreen, Oz or munchkin land?? Just this year, a person was shot and killed in the downtown Lawrence for no reason at all.

WAKE UP FROM YOUR DREAM WORLD!

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Sean Livingstone 7 years, 7 months ago

FYI, parking illegally in a lot is similar to trespassing, it's a crime if people like to set a rule that way. You don't park in your neighbor's lot, though they are not the "law". KU students have all the luxury in the world to PARK THEIR CARS on campus which is usually not allowed in many campuses around the country. Come on! Live without cars! Get up earlier... I used to attend a college that doesn't allow students to park in campus.

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compmd 7 years, 7 months ago

A few years back someone broke into my car and stole my permit. I filed a police report, showed the damage to my car, etc. When I went to the parking department, they demanded immediate payment in full of a new permit. Why? Because too many people had lost their permits, claimed them stolen, and filed false police reports indicating theft. I told the interim parking director at the time that that was tantamount to accusing me of committing a crime (filing a false police report) and that she'd from my lawyer. I was swamped with classes, I couldn't afford to buy another permit, especially with the damage to my car at the time. So, the tickets began. After numerous legal threats to the parking department, pointing out loopholes in their regulations (which they will boast are sanctioned by state law) and losing a vote to give me a replacement permit at the former $5 cost by the parking commission (5-4 vote, chairman breaking the tie) they settled with me for about $45, which included a new permit, and a few tickets I had been issued. The next year they rewrote their regulations and changed the stolen permit fee to be equal to the remaining fraction of a semester, which I still think is ludicrous and is essentially accusing the victim of a crime of lying about the crime.

It helped that I had a license plate collection. I have a whole bunch of license plates with tick marks on the back denoting the number of KU parking department tickets it has been issued. :)

Man, venting about the parking department sure feels good.

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EasilyAmused 7 years, 7 months ago

For the person who thinks that parking tickets are always paid by "mommy and daddy," I couldn't disagree more. My sister and I both attended KU. My sister accummulated a number of tickets in her five years of attendance. She paid them. She just believed that attending class/tests were worth more than the ticket. Don't overgeneralize.

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Tychoman 7 years, 7 months ago

Lawrence sorry I wasn't clear I meant that it sucks when the Parking Dept. raises lot fees, not the students.

Dude just because they issue 70,000 tickets doesn't mean everybody pays. Haha.

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Laura Watkins 7 years, 7 months ago

I think something that people tend to forget when they get into fights with parking ticket writers is that the rules apply to everyone; these workers are not seeking out your car in particular in order to make your life a living hell-- they're just doing their jobs. Everyone gets a ticket at one point or another if they park in the wrong spot.

I will say that my car was towed last semester because of excessive fine ($135 and NO I didn't get mad at the ticketer who had my car towed). I hadn't purchased a permit because I couldn't afford it but after paying the tickets, $50 towing fee plus the towing company's expenses...well let's just say I decided to suck it up and buy a permit this year. And when I say that I bought the permit, I mean that I, not my mommy or daddy, bought the permit.

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jayhawks71 7 years, 7 months ago

I had to chuckle at the comment about how "don't they have anything better to do..." Well, when your job is to ticket people for parking illegally... then no, you really don't have anything better to do.

Doesn't that judge have anything better to do than to adjudicate legal disputes? Doesn't that plumber have anything better to do than fix faulty plumbing? Doesn't that doctor have anything better to do than deal with patients?(yes, play golf).

Humorous

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sarahkatheryn 7 years, 7 months ago

There are a lot of circumstances where one pays the buck an hour for parking and say a class runs long, or you have to stop by the Prof's office afterward, or you miss the bus across campus and you have to run, or you run by the library to pick something up, or you get caught on campus when the weather is bad and you don't want to walk in the snow/ice/rain/sleet/lightning -- all of these situations could make you 5-10 minutes late - it doesn't matter .. you're still out 20 bucks.

Plus there were tons of times I decided to take a meeting with a Prof or a study group meet up i knew would run long and accepted the ticket

I honestly wonder what would happen if the University allowed a 30 minute lag time before they write a ticket. I bet it would cut down on half of the tickets they write. It isn't like on Mass Street where you only have a few blocks to walk, no steps, its not uphill, and sticking around isn't important to a class/grade/crutial info etc... and even if it is - its only $2 so it isn't as bad.

I think people need to be responsible and accountable for their tickets and for illegal parking - but my frustration always came when I paid $5 for parking - and then was a couple of minutes late (10 or 15) because of one of the things above and then I had to pay $20 on top of it.

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redbird 7 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like someone missed his nap!!!!!!!!!!

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Harry_Manback 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh yes, I might add that the reason why fines were increased is to pay off the debt that KU incurred by making the Union parking garage. It was something like a couple million to build. Oh, and KU is also taking away the parking lots near the football fields next year to make way for more practice fields...glad I won't be there for the fun parking situation!

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Harry_Manback 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and I know people will complain, so I will say, yes I have to pay all my own tickets and also fines are $20 now, they've increased the fines. Many times the lots are full, you're about to be late to class, and there's no other option, but to park illegally. Or you can park in the garages, which cost $1 an hour. I don't understand how come city tickets are only $2, but KU's are $20? It seems kind of like they're extorting students. You can appeal the tickets, but you have to pay a fee to do so, which is pretty much discouraging anyone from doing so. You're going to lose anyway, so why pay them more $$ and take time out from your life just to hear, "take the bus next time..."

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Harry_Manback 7 years, 7 months ago

A lot of the KU parking dept. employees are real a-holes. I've had a meter expired by 1 minute and gotten a ticket. ($20) Some of them are okay wil erasing them, but others aren't. It just depends on who you get.

My boyfriend once had about $600 in tickets during the course of 1 semester (towing fees included). By the time I graduate this spring I'll probably have paid close to 1/2 semester's tuition worth of tickets. When tuition keeps rising, and there are no improvements to the campus conditions this is a problem.

I just think it's ridiculous that when I went to JCCC there was always somewhere to park, but at KU there never is. I pay $5 a day to park at KU, and then walk 1/2 a mile. The bus does not stop by where I live, so this isn't an option. God, I HATE the parking dept!

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adky 7 years, 7 months ago

This really amounts to making money for KU. They make the rules, many of which are just crazy, and then employ people to enforce them. Like the poor elderly woman this summer I saw visiting the Spencer museum. She parked her car mistakenly in the red part of the lot, rather than the yellow (both were almost empty). The parking enforcer waited until she had started climbing up the stairs to the museum before pulling up to her car and ticketing it. The woman struggled back down, discussed the ticket and then moved her car 20 feet to the yellow part of the lot. She got to keep the ticket.

Who was this serving except KU's bottom line? The job is creeping towards the immoral.

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Wilbur_Nether 7 years, 7 months ago

I have seen people yell at parking personnel, throw rocks at them, I even had a friend who wrote tickets as a student and whose car was vandalized for about $3K in damage. (The graffiti clearly identified him as a Parking Student Employee. mightyquin wrote that "I know there are not enough spaces on campus for everyone but I believe most people are parking illegally because they are too lazy to walk...." The statement is, like so many, partially true. Campus actually has plenty of parking spaces. theDudeAbides works from the same misconception, that more permits are sold than spaces. I read a consultant's report (which I got under KORA) that noted KU actually uses its capacity poorly, given that some people need park only for mornings, others only for afternoons, some on M-W-F, others only for T-R.... The report continued to conclude that although the capacity of the system is more than adequate for the demand, but users tolerate meter fees and fines more than walking. Another thing I learned from this consultant's survey (who knew this sort of study would be interesting?) was that the parking services are entirely self-funded. No State or University money goes to it. So those parking garages--are paid for by fees. The expense of resurfacing surface lots, repairing lot potholes, and so forth all have to be made internally by the fees, fines, and the like. No fees and fines, no nice pavement or covered garage. The solutions to all our parking problems are, unfortunately, pretty limited and none of them involve parking next to the front door, or the side door, of our buildings. They are also, though, equally easy to achieve. 1st, we give ourselves some extra time. Pulling into the O-Zone south of the tennis courts at 11:20 in the morning for a 11:30 class in Marvin won't get us there on time. Arriving at 10:40 when the kids who got out of class at 10:30 are pulling out of their spots will greatly increase the chances of getting a space. We may even get a "good" space. 2nd, we tolerate spaces that are out of the way and walk the extra 1-2 blocks. Its good for us, anyway.

There is a parking court, run by the KU Law students. Parking Services says that up to half of all appealed tickets are dismissed by the court.

Hmmm. I remember now when I was on campus there was a professor who was Parking Board Chair. I seem to remember a UDK article about some spat he had with the Director of Parking, Don Kearns, about whether he had the authority to grant parking privileges to whomever he saw fit. I think the quote in the UDK was something like "Don, I am parking policy on this campus." That was, well, decades ago...but as I recall the story, the chair didn't win that argument. Seems like everyone who works at or attends KU has some parking story to tell.

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fcraig 7 years, 7 months ago

All this amounts to is, 1. Don't park where you are not supposed to. 2. Put enough money in the meter and check on it from time to time. If you know you are going to be longer than what is the full limit on the meter, park else where. All the parking tickets I recieved was because of ME.

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imagold 7 years, 7 months ago

theDudeAbides: I really doubt that the parking department guidelines are "laws". No, I don't think your a bad person for obeying the laws, but you may want to re-evaluate what is a law and what is rule/guideline. Unless you've never chewed gum in class, talked during a movie, sneezed without covering you mouth...

I've never received a ticket for chewing gum in class, for talking during a movie or for sneezing without covering my mouth. Those items fall under being polite. As soon as they become ticketable offenses, I'll completely stop. Until then, I'll continue to obey the laws, follow the rules and guidelines and practice common courtesies. That's just the kind of hairpin I am.

By the way, you are correct. The parking department does not call them laws. They are called "rules and regulations" and can be found at: http://www.parking.ku.edu/regs07.shtml

if anyone is interested or needs a refresher course.

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reginafliangie 7 years, 7 months ago

You know why they get repeat offenders? Cause Mommy and Daddy are gonna pay it. Not the actual offender. What do they care? The car is probably registered to the parents as well. No skin off the students back. They know mommy and daddy will bail them out. Why learn a lesson?? I totally agree with mistygreen. Park legally and you won't have this problem. I bet if any of the "complainers" had their own Private stall and somebody used it they would be all over it giving tickets to the person using "their" spot. Works both ways.

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moderator 7 years, 7 months ago

I think the question that needs to be asked is what is KU doing to expand on campus parking? The park and ride system works for some, but not so well for others. I know money is tight, however another 1,000 parking spaces in a garage or new lot would go a long way. It is no fun walking 30 mins to a 50 min class then 30 min back. If you live at the wrong spot on the bus route the trip to campus is short, but the trip home is quite long.

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waw78grad 7 years, 7 months ago

I worked as a ticket writer back in the mid-70s - it was the same then - too many cars, too little time, too little space, too little patience and courtesy. a full professor told me I would be more honorably employed as a prostitute (cleaned up a bit for publication). I gave him the ticket anyway.

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mistygreen 7 years, 7 months ago

imagold:Now, tell me why when someone believes laws are made to be followed (imagine that!), does someone feel the need to ridicule them and ask them "how's the air up there?" Does a respect for the law make me a bad person? No. It's the ones that think "the laws aren't made for me" or who boast about having received numerous tickets while a student at KU who should be ridiculed.

Thank you imagold. I am not trying to give the impression that I am uppity, or better than anyone else. I have a son that attends K-State and he also has the same parking issues that they have on campus. He was "caught" once, and that was enough for him.

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theDudeAbides 7 years, 7 months ago

Eride - They do ticket people for not parking within the space - Been there done that. Unfortunately for me, it was a chain reaction of about 10 cars mis-parking. With limited space I followed suit - OOPS -$20!

Imagold - I really doubt that the parking department guidelines are "laws". No, I don't think your a bad person for obeying the laws, but you may want to re-evaluate what is a law and what is rule/guideline. Unless you've never chewed gum in class, talked during a movie, sneezed without covering you mouth...

The permits are not based on how much you are willing to pay, but on what level you are in the institution. If you are an undergrad, in most cases you are only issued a Yellow Permit, that allows (example- don't qoute me)500 cars to look for 400 spaces. Many times these "law breakers" do not have an option of parking in a space that they supposedly paid for with their yellow permit. Many times, instead of driving around the lot for 30 minutes, students park in the metered spots and pay again. But guess what, if your class runs long or you are held up for another reason - BAM! Another ticket.

Like I said, I have never became angry with the parking attendants, but it can cause frustration when you pay for a parking permit (you can't find a space with that permit so you park in a meter); pay for the meter (time runs over); then pay for a ticket.

If the parking department is really pulling in 70,000 tickets a year, don't you think a new lot/garage would be a possibility???

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Eride 7 years, 7 months ago

I wish they would start ticketing all the tards who can't figure out how to park WITHIN their parking space. One car should not take two spaces!

As for the ticket writers, I think they need to be armed with tasers... ;)

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mightyquin 7 years, 7 months ago

I know there are not enough spces on campus for everyone but I believe most people are parking illegally because they are too lazy to walk from the proper lot they are allowed to park in. What I find amazing is that they have issued over 70,000 tickets in the last year. That must mean that there are some students here who are repeat offenders and I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. Like someone posted earlier, get you but out of bed earlier so you can find a legal place to park, or maybe you should ride the bus.

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imagold 7 years, 7 months ago

Anyone that buys a parking permit understands where they are to park. It's spelled out by price and in detailed instructions. Those that choose to park in the wrong lot deserve a ticket. And the fine ought to be more than $20.00 so they'll think about it the next time. Take away their parking permit after the second ticket.

Not only are they parking in the wrong lot, but you should see how they park. Backwards in spots that you can't pull through. East in a west facing parallel spot. Tires hanging over the curb. Back ends of trucks and SUVs sticking out in traffic in short parking slots. Angled in parallel spots. And this is not just students. It's a mess. The parking department needs more ticket-writers out there and a few buckets of paint to mark parallel lines.

Now, tell me why when someone believes laws are made to be followed (imagine that!), does someone feel the need to ridicule them and ask them "how's the air up there?" Does a respect for the law make me a bad person? No. It's the ones that think "the laws aren't made for me" or who boast about having received numerous tickets while a student at KU who should be ridiculed.

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TheDecider 7 years, 7 months ago

Meter maids eat their young. It's a fact.

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lawrencian 7 years, 7 months ago

Tychoman, do you really think the parking department students have anything to do with the prices going up...?

A few of you should try parking at other universities of a comparable size, and see how much further you'd be walking!

(oh, and the meter tickets I've gotten were only $10 -- where were you parking, Dude?)

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Tychoman 7 years, 7 months ago

It sucks getting a ticket, but you know what? You wouldn't have gotten one if you parked legally in the first place. Sure, give these people a hard time because they're taking the initiative to pay for college and doing their job.

But I'm noticing the potential for a joke, though. "I'm just doing my job, I vas only following orders, I vas never a memba of ze nazi party!" Hahahahaha. But seriously, I'm on the side of the parking department students (except when they raise parking fees over and over again).

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theDudeAbides 7 years, 7 months ago

Wow Mistygreen, how's the air way up there?? Get off your high horse!

Trust me, I recieved many a parking ticket while attending KU. Never did it make me furious, but it does tick you off. Most students recieve these tickets because they either: a) Parked in a metered spot, and something took longer than expected while on campus - $20/hr (Yes they will come back every hour and give you another one - Trust me) b) Did not feel that they could afford the $100+ parking pass for the worst parking lots.

Never have I seen anyone yell at these employees, but I have definitely heard some grumblings...

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mistygreen 7 years, 7 months ago

I suppose in your world, the laws that are created are merely suggestions? If people push the legal limit, and break the law, then they should suffer the consequences of their actions. It's call being responsible. If I break the law, illegally park and I get a ticket, then shame on me. Why do people always think they are above the law? As for people getting shot for less than a parking ticket, we then I'm glad that I don't live where that happens, because I have never heard of anything like that happening around here.

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plumberscrack 7 years, 7 months ago

Obviously, you haven't been out in the real world if you have to ask "Why would they need to have thick skin". People have been shot or killed for less than this!

In your world, I guess ALL the criminals who break the law just head down to the police station and ask to be locked up because they know they have done wrong.

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mistygreen 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm confused? You park illegally, you get a ticket. Why would they need to have "thick skin" if everyone would follow the rules? There is a reason for these ticket writers, and it's called, illegal parking. You should get a ticket even if only for a few moments. If you get back to your car and they are there, too dog gone bad. You used that space illegally. Get over it! If there is not enough parking spaces, get your butt out of bed or leave in enough time to find a parking space. Sometimes life's lessons are tough. Welcome to the real world.

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