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Point of View

The NPA, Thoughts on 911, and Ladies of the Evening

By John Van Horn

I had conversations with NPAmembers at their extremely successful convention last month and I got a common

thread – good management and good service. Now let’s face it, we don’t usually put the words service and parking operators in the same sentence. But then, why not? From what I’m heard, a good bottom line and good service

and good management go hand in hand in hand. The companies that are profitable, that have stellar balance sheets, also have a reputation for good service. And from good management comes good service. I heard of a lack of something else—a reliance on technolo-

gy. Is it important? Yes. Do operators use the cutting edge stuff? Of course. But without good people and good management, all the technology in the world is useless. These operators know that. Asecond theme I’m hearing is that the public sector is reach-

ing out to the private for help. Let’s face it, universities, cities and hospitals need money. Parking is a revenue source. It’s strange, but it’s not the parking managers that are reaching out, but the finance directors and the chief administrators. I’m told that more and more professional parking management compa- nies are being asked for advice by cities and universities on profit maximization. Not just raising rates, but watching expenses, streamlining opera- tions and the like. There is a reason parking

about strong women, who broke barri- ers when there were really barriers to be broken. I learned about heroes during war and peace, about men and women who gave their lives for those around them. I was in my 50s when 911 occurred, and for some reason, I

felt ambivalent about what people did on that day: the first responders, the people who ran to give blood, the people who opened their homes to those who were trapped in cities due to the grounding of airplanes. That was just what Americans did. We do what we have to do because we are Americans. Americans give more to charity that all the rest of the world

combined. When there is a disaster, we are the first to show up, and the last to leave. When we are needed we are there. And then we go home. As one general said when asked what America wanted from France after the end ofWorldWar II, he responded “just enough land to bury our dead.” People who were born before 1945 aren’t confused about 911.

Now our teachers can’t figure out how to teach our kids about 911. That’s like saying you can’t teach about America.

operators drool when they see slip shod municipal operations. They want to get the politics out and put the bottom line back in. But in doing so, ensure that service and support is set at the max- imum. It can happen. These folks are looking for business, and the public sector isn’t that far away.

*** Long deadlines mean that sometimes our thoughts can’t be

timely. Consider this about the recent 10th anniversary of 911: There was a long article today in the LA Times about how dif-

ficult it is for teachers to “teach” about 911. They just don’t have the information, or the time. After all they are only given half an hour, one day a year to talk about it and they have to cover so many other subjects. Garbage. It seems to me that when I was in school, every

word out of the mouths of my teachers taught me about America. I was taught about pride, about successes, failures, the good and the bad. I proudly said the Pledge of Allegiance every day in grammar school, and sang the Star Spangled Banner at every football game, hand on heart, looking at the flag. Funny, even though my dad was too old to go into the military during WWII, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t serve. I was taught that that was what you do. I learned about the evils of slavery, about the wonders of the constitution and the sacrifices of the men who wrote it. I learned


We know why it happened.We know we have to be vigilant.We know we had become compla- cent. We know we missed the signs and we paid a horrible price.We also know we mustn’t pay it again. We learned about tragedy,

and honor, and respect in gram- mar school and high school. It was so instilled in us that no col- lege professor could shake it out. There was no revisionist history.

We understood that some of the things that we, as a country, did weren’t right, but then we also knew we weren’t there and didn’t have to make decisions ‘on the spot.’We didn’t excuse our excess- es; we just accepted them as life and learned from them. Now our teachers can’t figure out how to teach our kids

about 911. That’s like saying you can’t teach about America. And yep, that’s it. Teachers born after 1945 spent their time in college learning that America is not the greatest country on the planet. They focused on the bad and never considered the good. Their professors revise history and spent time “affixing blame,” and removing pride. 911 isn’t about sacrifice, or heroics. It’s about doing what

Americans do. Whether they rush into burning buildings, yell “let’s roll”, or set off in an unarmed jet to take down a plane before it can kill thousands, they did it without a second thought. I’m not at all surprised. 911 was a warning.We heeded it and have prevented other

attacks. Of that we can be proud.We do what has to be done. If only we could figure out a way to show our teachers how to tell that to students. Duty, Honor, Country. Maybe a definition of those three

words is a place to start. Continued on Page 8

Parking Today

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