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I hate parking tickets. Who doesn’t? Sometimes you take a risk and get a ticket. You deserve that ticket. Other times you think you did everything right but get a ticket anyway. These blindsiding tickets are my focus here.

When I was little and my family celebrated every 4th of July in the mountains, my friend Annie and I used to put firecrackers in cowpies. We lit them and ran like hell. Getting a blindside parking ticket is like walking into an exploding cowpie. It is the opposite of paying it forward. It is a cowpie splattering across your day courtesy of your local government.

A few weeks ago, I parked in a one hour parking zone while I lunched on pizza. As I walked back to my car, I made eye contact with the parking guy and he quickly scuttled away. As he departed, I saw the yellow envelope of a parking ticket tucked into my car door. Cowpied! I was annoyed and confused. I had been gone for less than an hour. I inspected the ticket. The only clue was, “License plate 54-62,” so I knew something was wrong with my plates, but what? I looked at my front plate. It was leaning forward slightly. Still visible to anyone in front of me but leaning forward. I assumed that was the problem and was dumbfounded.

The City of Denver has cowpied me many times. Usually, they get me with street sweeping. It would be the second Wednesday of the month and I would forget. When you hear street-sweepers in the distance, my friends, it is already too late. Street swept once, shame on me, street swept twice — more shame on me. I was dumb to not learn my lesson. But let me tell you about the ticket that really pissed me off. I went to the hospital for a clinic appointment and parked at a meter. When I came out, I got splattered by the yellow cowpie. I was irate. I knew I had paid the meter. A closer look at the meter verified this. I checked the ticket. Swept again! I walked a few cars up and sure enough, there was the street sweeping sign. I bet they rake it in at those meters with the street sweeping. Pretty low, even for them. Because nobody goes to the hospital for fun. Most are patients or are visiting patients and they have more on their minds than parking.

Back to my pizza lunch ticket. I looked up Denver City Ordinance 54-62, which says, “It shall be unlawful for any person to drive, stop, park…any vehicle that has been assigned a license plate or plates, pursuant to Colorado law, unless the license plate or plates assigned to the vehicle for the current registration year is properly attached to and displayed on the vehicle….” An internet search revealed that most people with this type of ticket were not displaying one of their plates properly, such as putting one plate in a back window.

But I had both plates on. What was up? After staring at my back plate for a while, I realized my problem. My car registration renews in December of each year. Are you one step ahead of me? So when I renewed my registration, I accidentally put my new year sticker (“13″) over my month sticker (“12″) instead of my old year sticker (“12″). But was I in violation of the ordinance? My plates did in fact display my “registration year” — just not my month.

I filed a protest and my ticket was reduced from $75 to $25. Did they see my argument or do they offer a reduced fee to everyone who bothers to protest? I paid because it was worth $25 to put the matter behind me. The larger question is, do we want our local governments dropping cowpies on us? We have made the choice to allow this. Government claims they seek only to promote public safety. The street sweeping tickets, they say, are about keeping debris off the streets. Okay, let’s call their bluff. How about an ordinance saying they can only issue street sweeping tickets when there is actual street sweeping? The streets are not swept on every street sweeping day but tickets sure are handed out on every street sweeping day.

The truth is no city government wants to admit they are using parking tickets to raise revenue. Here in Colorado, such a practice might in fact be illegal. So they claim it is all about safety. Like my registration year sticker being over my month sticker? In Denver, parking management has said there are only more tickets because there are more parking officers. So all these new parking officers magically appeared on the streets one morning? Someone decided to hire more parking officers — to get more revenue.

Every company cultivates goodwill. With blindsiding tickets the city spreads ill will. The city cowpies its citizens and ruins our days. Is the added revenue worth the damage to our view of our government?

What can you do? Complain to your mayor, city manager, city council and so forth. They can change policy and the ordinances. Or, when you contribute to their political campaigns, deduct the cost of your most frustrating parking tickets and tell them you are doing so. This will make you feel better and, if enough people do it, it will get their attention.

I’m branching out to get more views so a cross-posting of this commentary will be available on my new Yahoo! Contributor Network page.

In case of a zombie apocalypse, your #1 goal: get away from the zombies. Create a safe zone, a home base. Short-term survival. Once you collect all the survivors you must assess your new society’s resources. What skills do the people in your group bring to the table? Do you have a doctor? A general? A builder? Do you have supplies? Do you have access to more supplies? How long can you hold out? Then you worry about long-term survival because you cannot hold off the zombie horde forever.

You need a cure, a way to stop the zombie infection so no more zombies are created and eventually all the zombies can be eliminated. So if you have any surviving scientists you get them to work on a vaccine. What if you don’t have any scientists? Or the scientists you have fail? Or, more likely, the scientists you have take steps toward a vaccine but don’t find one. Then what?

You look to the next generation. You create scientists. You get all the children together in your safe zone and educate them. If you knew which kid was going to find the cure, you could focus your resources on educating him or her. But you do not. So you must educate ALL the children. Because you never know which brain is going to find the cure, or take the key step toward the cure. In your post-apocalyptic society you cannot afford to waste any resources.

In our pre-apocalyptic society, we cannot afford to waste any resources either. Because you never know which brain is going to cure cancer, or provide the critical breakthrough that leads to a cure. For that matter, nobody knows which brain will be the next Willa Cather or Raphael or Mozart — or King, Patton or Lincoln.

Every society rests on the blood, sweat and tears — and brains — of millions of its ancestors. Nobody knows which brains will provide the crucial innovations in a thousand fields. So if we don’t make it a priority to educate all children, we are wasting our country’s greatest resource, our brains. Not only that but uneducated brains are far more dangerous than zombies.

It would be terrific if every parent made the education of their children their top priority. That would be the most efficient way to run education. But not every parent does, so the rest of us must. This is why it is not enough to worry only about educating your kids. It is in the best interests of YOUR kids to educate ALL kids. And this is why education is not just an issue for parents. Education is an issue for everyone who lives in this society. We will all benefit from the cures, breakthroughs, great works of art and courageous acts of leadership, or we can spend our lives dodging the zombie-minds we chose to create.

I’m branching out to get more views so a cross-posting of this commentary will be available on my new Yahoo! Contributor Network page.

In 1969, when he was 34 years old (ten years younger than I am now–what exactly have I been doing with my life?), my father ran for School Board as one half of the Benton-Pascoe ticket. He strongly believed in giving a quality education to ALL children, not just his own. Benton-Pascoe ran in favor of integrating the schools but Denver was not ready for integration and they lost. This was the press release issued on announcement day, March 8, 1969:

Monte Pascoe, a 34-year-old Denver attorney, announced Saturday he is a candidate for the Denver Board of Education.

“We must provide quality education for our children,” Pascoe said. “To achieve this goal we must be certain our teachers are adequately trained and compensated, our facilities are in good condition and properly equipped, and our curriculum is designed to meet today’s needs.”

“We must also be certain our children have the opportunity to learn with each other, regardless of racial or ethnic background. The divisions in our community and in our country result, in part, because we isolate ourselves from one another. In the past public schools provided a way for all citizens to communicate with each other. If they do so again, our children will receive quality education.

“I am pleased Ed Benton has agreed to seek re-election. For eight years Ed has spear-headed the community’s struggle for quality education for all children and I would like to join in that effort.”

Pascoe attended Park Hill Elementary, Smiley Junior High and East High Schools. He is a former East High All-American football player. He was awarded a scholarship to Dartmouth College where he received the Barrett Cup, given each year to “an outstanding senior.”

After his graduation from Stanford Law School in 1960 he returned to Denver to practice law. He is a director and secretary of Junior Achievement and an elder at Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church.

Pascoe is a Democratic District Captain, and last year was Colorado co-ordinator for the Humphrey presidential campaign. He and his wife Pat, a former school teacher, have three children, 8, 6, and 4 months. The older two attend Dora Moore Elementary School.

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