Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Parking Meter Barons Hope Pittsburgh is the new Portland -- in a Bad Way

Yup. Every contract.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority's award of a $7 million contract to a Florida-based firm in April elicited surprise, disappointment and questions from rivals in the highly competitive parking meter business, according to documents the authority provided in response to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Right-to-Know request. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

So what? The losers are complaining.

Years of allegations and complaints from city staff and competing contractors that Portland's parking manager was accepting bribes while steering multimillion-dollar city contracts to a Florida parking meter supplier culminated Wednesday in a federal raid on the manager's Portland office and home. (The Oregonian, Maxine Bernstein; and Much More and Background)

Uuhhhh -- it could be that Cale's business competitors are just fishing around for a wished-for legal knock-out blow against a rival that finds itself on the ropes because of one overly-aggressive executive. Failing that, the competitors may hope that another spate of ugly headlines will keep Cale uncompetitive a bit longer.

Cale Parking Systems USA, the entity that expressed interest in the Pittsburgh project last fall, was an independently owned distributor of metering devices manufactured by Cale Access of Stockholm, Sweden. In December, after Cale Parking Systems USA was tied to a federal corruption investigation in Oregon, Cale Access purchased that company's assets and created Cale America to take over distribution. (back to Smydo)

Got to wonder why they couldn't just call the new company "Schmegeggi's Parking." Does anybody know if "independently owned" literally has to mean "has nothing to do with"? If Cale Parking Systems USA was giving bribes to municipal officials apparently as part of their business model, does that mean stepdad Cale Access necessarily did not know about it, or was not part of the same corporate culture? By purchasing that company's "assets", could that mean "people"? By replacing the "management", could that just have been shuffling fresh names on a chart to replace tainted ones?

Yet the Pittsburgh process began two months after the raid in Portland. That means either the whole industry has a perniciously corrupt culture (and by "whole industry" I might mean either "parking" or "municipalities"), and/or Cale Gang are phenomenally arrogant slow-learners, or else this really is a desperate fishing expedition by the folks who failed to win our contract.

Was our Parking Authority caught flat-footed by the entirety of this? Sounds like.

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