Sunday, October 31, 2010



A year or so ago a large carton was delivered to my wife's lab first thing in the morning. It was something they ordered. I asked Helen yesterday whether she could remember what it was, and she couldn't. It doesn't matter.

Someone coming in to work a little later saw the carton on the floor and asked, "You got a body in there?". Ha ha.

A little later someone else came in to work and said, "What, is there a body in there?".

And someone sighed and said, "Jersey!".

Right. A friend helps you move ; a good friend helps you move a body. That one probably originated in New Jersey. I first heard it from Tom and Ray on Car Talk, but it doesn't sound like a Cambridge, Massachusetts, joke.

Last weekend Helen and I went to see The Soprano State with my brother and his wife. He's in it. Oops, let's make this clear : he's in it because he's been reporting on the Meadowlands saga for The Record, and you can see him commenting on the Xanadu shopping mall project and the Encap golf course and housing project. He's not one of the persons of interest that the movie is about.

The movie got mixed reviews. It might be because it's a combination of factual reports on dozens of corruption cases and a lounge comedian commenting on them. Maybe some viewers don't know what to make of that. Is it funny?

The four of us laughed. I don't know what else you can do.

Most of all it's about the arrogance of public officials, people who start out well and then get to a point where they think laws don't apply to them and they can do anything they want.

I thought I saw something fishy locally two or three years ago. This is pretty small compared to what's in the movie, but I was sure I was onto something.

In South Orange, near the railway station, there's a nameless street running from Third Street to the New Waterlands Park. Commuters park along one side of it. Near Third Street there was one sign on that side that said "no parking", and no others.

Here's what I saw every morning as I walked down Third Street, on my way to the station.

I would see a South Orange Parking Authority car at the curb at the "no parking" sign. Its engine was running, with an agent at the driver's seat. He must have been there for a couple of hours each day. Drivers pulled up behind him to form eventually a long line of cars parked along that side of the street.

The driver of the Parking Authority car always had the window cracked open, in summer heat or winter cold, clear or rain or snow. He needed to, because after each driver parked and then walked past the Parking Authority car, they slipped something to him. I saw this several times.

I wondered if the town got a cut.

I walked up the little street one afternoon and I could see that each car had a card displayed in the windshield. So maybe it was permit parking. I couldn't tell for sure because at that time the South Orange Parking Authority had no information online about where permit parking was, and the sign at the curb did not say anything about "permit parking". It just said "no parking".

Besides, what were they giving this man? If it was permit parking, all he needed to do was come by around 9 or 10 in the morning and look at all the cars to see whether they had permits displayed. Why did he need to be there burning fuel for a few hours every morning?

And let's not blame it only on the one man. What did his supervisor think he was doing for a couple of hours every morning?

Update. The Parking Authority now has a map online and it shows the nameless road as "Resident Commuter Permit Parking". And their car no longer appears there at the head of the line.

So I can't give you the Big Exposé I once wanted to do.


1 comment:

  1. Was it cash they were slipping to the agent, or a copy of the permit?