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Letters to the Editor

In looking through the World and Nation section of Tuesday's Tech, we were surprised to discover that not only is Sharon Stone a homewrecker ["Sharon Stone Is Homewrecker, Fiance's Estranged Wife Says," April 6], but that this is an issue of national (and Institute) concern. Maybe you should consider a section titled "Tabloid Headlines You May Have Missed." Surely even another update on the Waco siege would be more newsworthy. We hope that this letter will help to alleviate the apparent shortage of material available for filling column inches.

Erika Schutte '95

Cora Dancy '93

Jeanne Thienprasit '95

Melissa Hayes '96

Cambridge Parking Part of Secret Plot

To those of us who live, work, or park in Cambridge, it appears that the parking bureau is operating one step above legitimized corruption. As a model city acting under the guise of protecting the environment and adhering to the Clean Air Act, the City of Cambridge imposes parking "restrictions" to reduce air pollution by reducing the number of cars driving into and out of its boundaries.

But what if these "restrictions" increase air pollution while raising revenue? Last Wednesday MIT heard the city's proposals for Zone 2, the area surrounding MIT. It was surprising to learn that these proposals were drafted without consultation with the MIT community, a community heeding well to environmental standards by using only 4,500 parking spaces for a population of scientists, staff, and students exceeding 18,000.

Basically, the city is calling for putting time meters wherever there is unrestricted parking and where no residential parking is needed. Imposing time restrictions where there are currently none means that there will be five or ten cars a day pulling in and out whereas now there is only one. This doesn't reduce air pollution. Using the Clean Air Act as political leverage to impose these "restrictions" makes a mockery of this legislation.

Maybe the principal motivation for these "restrictions" isn't clean air at all. Maybe the underlying motivation is raising revenue. According to Cambridge's assistant director of traffic and parking, the parking clerk raised $6 million last year on parking tickets. A number that he should know well, but which my calculations indicate could be a lot higher.

It has been my perception that things have been getting out of hand. Tickets are being issued more and more irresponsibly and without consequence or accountability on the part of the parking clerk. This past winter I received two tickets for storing my vehicle on Amherst Street, which was highly unlikely since I drive to and from my home in Chelsea every day. What's more, I had to go through a protracted and very stressful series of arguments with officials in the clerk's office before turning to the mayor's office to get them dismissed. In the parking clerk's characteristic fashion, verbal responses to tickets are ignored and written responses are not acknowledged. Is this the "improved service" that the city claims its $6 million is being spent on? If you are going to contest a ticket by going to the clerk's office to see the (only) hearing officer, go when the line isn't too long and the hearing officer is not too busy, at lunch, and is in a compatible mood. (Also make sure you put extra quarters in the meter.) With all these in your favor, Cambridge's archaic system for contesting parking violations may work for you.

Why does haphazard ticketing exist in the first place? Because no one who works during the day has the time or patience to deal with the tense atmosphere of the parking clerk's incompetent bureaucracy, and the parking clerk knows this. The clerk is capitalizing on the seeds of inefficiency it has sown and on the MBTA's sporadic bus service to raise revenue through rampant ticketing rather than "improving services." If the clerk's office could improve services as well as it issues tickets and collects fees, Cambridge would be a lot more responsible, fair, and responsive to its inhabitants. Cambridge parking is imposing "restrictions" because they're having a field day raising revenue and putting up meters wherever they think they can make a buck, or a million.

Kurt A. Levens G