By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Aug 28, 2014 at 5:04 AM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

Sit down! Sit down now! Seriously! You won’t believe this!

Today’s subject is parking in the City of Milwaukee.

I’ve thought about this a lot over my life, wondering why I hate and fear the parking regulations and those parking checkers so much. But my interest was rekindled by a Facebook post from Circuit Judge Pedro Colon, a guy who I think would be a terrific mayor.

Here’s his Aug: 14 post from Facebook:

"Why would you shop in the City of Milwaukee when all you get is a parking ticket? It is not enforcement anymore is just aggressive tax collection -- it's absurd! There was literally two minutes expiration between the time it expired and when I fed it. As I fed the meter he was standing in front of me and never said anything. Came back and had a ticket. For a supposedly progressive city this is the most regressive form of tax."

So the judge is upset and I figured that somehow there has to be a better way. But first we have to figure out just how bad this is. This is where you better sit down.

Here are the 2013 numbers, according to the Department of Public Works:

Number of parking meters: About 6,500.

Number of parking checkers (riding around in jeeps): 60, working three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Revenue from parking meters: $4,749,275

Parking citations issued: 770,430

Revenue from parking citations: $21,344,212.

I want to repeat one figure: $21,344,212.

That’s as much as Aaron Rodgers makes a year. That’s about equal to the combined budgets of 15 elementary schools in Milwaukee Public Schools. It’s more than the cost to taxpayers of the huge recall election between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett.

You can buy a Honda CR-Z or a Dodge Journey or a Volkswagon Golf for less than that.
As Marcellus said in Hamlet, "Something is rotten in the State of Denmark."

I was going to try to talk to a bunch of bureaucrats about this obscene amount of money raised by handing out tickets. But I backed off when I figured nobody could actually explain it. I mean how in the world can anyone justify something like this?

As Colon points out, this whole thing does nothing to make the city seem like a welcoming place to anyone from outside the city limits. Bayshore Town Center, for example, gives out the tickets but the proceeds go to charity. And they don’t have jeeps sneaking around town jumping on us scofflaws.

When I try to figure out what kind of parking regulations we should have my head starts to hurt. Maybe we should just open up all our streets. If you get there in time you get to park. If not you have to park in a parking lot or structure. 

We could have some rules. If you live in a place with a parking space or a driveway, you can’t park on the street in front of your residence. If a business, like Walgreens, has a permit to operate, one of the conditions could be that a percentage of the spots in their parking lot have to be reserved for non-customers. I mean, how often is a Walgreens lot totally filled?

Like I say, someone smarter than me is going to have to figure this out. But I do have one suggestion.

Somebody who wants to run for mayor should run with a real simple campaign. Forget fixing education and economic development and trash pickup and all the rest of those campaign planks.

The slogan for this campaign should be "Vote Smith! No Fear Parking!"

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.