SIMPLE IDEAS - like love, brotherhood, equality and honor - explain themselves. So do simple solutions.
The agency everyone loves to hate, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, has started a massive PR campaign, backed by actual improvements, some of which can be attributed to "press pressure" (and the biggest "presser" is my colleague Ronnie Polaneczky).
Others in the media, including myself, also have catalogued PPA's sins - including poor service, bad attitudes and ridiculous tickets written by some enforcement officers.
Many of us have done stories on tickets written for cars in violation - such as covering a crosswalk, too close to a hydrant or in a bus zone - that owners claim were not in violation.
Simple solution: For a small one-time cost, give every enforcement officer an iPhone. Write the ticket, photograph the car for proof of the violation, upload to a central data bank that can be viewed by hearing officers and the motorist. That simple idea should reduce bad ticket-writing and false claims of innocence.
Insiders getting a boost over the fence at the expense of outsiders - and taxpayers - has a history dating back to the Roman Empire, at least.
Money polluting politics is a valid complaint of the Occupiers. But what can we do about it?
I can't say that this idea would pass constitutional scrutiny, but with the U.S. Supreme Court giving corporations human rights, anything is possible:
Any person or business contributing to the election campaign of a city politician will be barred from getting city contracts as long as that elected official is in office.
People or businesses that support a candidate would still be free to contribute. That would prove their sincerity, because there would be no financial payoff.
Conversely, anyone who wants to do business with the city could, minus political contributions. Call it the no-payoff plan.
This might reduce politicians' war chests. Would that be a bad thing? Other than TV-station general managers, would any of us miss the bombardment of fact-mangling attack ads?
One teeny problem: The no-payoff plan would have to be enacted by the politicians themselves.
Probably not, because they are blind to the benefit of not being obligated to Wall Street or Walnut Street.
My plan is free to any elected entity that wants it.
We have a problem with victim intimidation and witnesses changing their stories, or developing amnesia after being interviewed by police and/or the D.A.
Simple solution: Videotape every interview with witnesses, victims and defendants. Every one, starting now.
If the witness clams, run the tape for the jury.
The simple idea to reward good Philadelphia schoolchildren, which I proposed in September 2008, has taken root. The mayor's office reports that during the third quarter of 2011, 565 tickets for the Mayor's Box were distributed to children, who attended Wachovia Center, Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, the Mann Center and Dell events.
Better to give tickets to good kids than to political hacks and financial supporters, although some of them still get tickets. That will continue until my second suggestion above is enacted.
But good kids are being rewarded and that's the important thing.
Do you have any simple, low- or no-cost ideas? Email them in.
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