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It's funny.  Laugh. Businesses Apple

Canadian Bureaucrats Don't "Think Different" 427

Posted by kdawson
from the sense-of-design dept.
owlgorithm writes "Apple's new store in Montreal has three parking meters on the street in front of it. The city is in the middle of a campaign to reduce downtown parking. In Apple's ever-conscientious attempt to improve design, they offered to reimburse the city for the parking meters and their revenue if the city would remove them. Answer: Non — because 'We've never done it before, so we can't.'"
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Canadian Bureaucrats Don't "Think Different"

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:37PM (#20563005) Homepage Journal

    SlAshDot Guffaw Dept.

    You know it's a Slow newsday when "We've never done it before, so we can't." by Montreal burros constitutes news because it includes Apple.

    Certainly they can't be ... nooooo ... can't be ... they're suggesting they've never accepted money to change the way something is done or not done? What next, Gérald Tremblay caught on camera stating he's giving up his Treo?

    Next up: Microsoft's Power bill - 10,000 PC's running at the same time, is Redmond driving global warming?

    • Not really a quote (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant DOT j DOT ... AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:15PM (#20563547) Homepage Journal
      TFA is an editorial, not an article. It is the opinion of the Montreal Gazette. No bureaucrat ever said "We've never done if before, so we can't." The quote was made up to make a point in the editorial. It's not real.

      If you want to read the real article, go to the source [cyberpresse.ca] (sorry, it is en francais. Run it through the Babelfish [yahoo.com] if you are desperate.)

      I don't disagree that the city is being a bit obstinate, but I can see why they wouldn't want to change streetfronts on Apple's request. If they do it for them, they'll have to do it for every other downtown storefront. Besides, and I am not exaggerating, the $35,000 Apple is promising probably wouldn't even cover the cost of tasking a union city crew to remove the meters, rebuild the sidewalk and put the meters someplace else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170) *

        Besides, and I am not exaggerating, the $35,000 Apple is promising probably wouldn't even cover the cost of tasking a union city crew to remove the meters, rebuild the sidewalk and put the meters someplace else.

        There's the matter of cars taking up the spots all day, unless it's posted Car Park limit 1 Hour, also having a parking warden come along and chalk tyres and monitor vehicles where the old meter was simply expired or not. (Though were I live they keep a limit of two hours on a vehicle in the same

      • by zakezuke (229119) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:26PM (#20564439)

        Besides, and I am not exaggerating, the $35,000 Apple is promising probably wouldn't even cover the cost of tasking a union city crew to remove the meters, rebuild the sidewalk and put the meters someplace else.
        I never thought I could make $35,000 in my pickup truck and having a parallel parking malfunction.

        Not that I don't doubt your estimates, i'm sure a union city crew may cost $35,000 to remove the meters and repair the sidewalk. But based on observation they can be uprooted with enough force.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fred_A (10934)

        I don't disagree that the city is being a bit obstinate, but I can see why they wouldn't want to change streetfronts on Apple's request. If they do it for them, they'll have to do it for every other downtown storefront.

        I don't see anyone being obstinate in this. What does strike me as being completely out of this world is Apple thinking that a handfull of money can reshape public space the way they want it (oh and could we have the sidewalks in brushed metal please). It's a city, not a trade show.
        If they don't like the cars and sidewalks and whatnots, they can go buy an empty field somewhere and build there.

        I'm actually surprised the city officials took the time to respond to lunatic requests such as this. Apple marketin

    • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:56PM (#20564073) Homepage Journal

      they're suggesting they've never accepted money to change the way something is done or not done?
      No. As I Canadian citizen, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the only thing that's ever done in Canadian politics to change things, is to figure out a new way to tax something.
  • by QMalcolm (1094433) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:38PM (#20563011)
    The meters are there to reduce the number of parked cars, not for revenue. Apple is offering money, not a solution to overcrowded streets.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by boobavon (857902)
      If you can't park there at all, that does reduce downtown parking, right?
    • So, a corporation is offering to pay money to change the law. Hmmm. I guess it's only a by-law, nothing wrong with that, is there?

    • The meters are there to reduce the number of parked cars, not for revenue. Apple is offering money, not a solution to overcrowded streets.

      I don't know what planet you live on, but most cities in the world where there are cars use parking meters to fill up their coffers. Cities that want to discourage car usage downtown either reduce the number of parking spaces, improve public transportation, use some kind of fee system to drive downtown (e.g London) or close off some street to cars, purely and simply.
      • by Lars T. (470328)

        The meters are there to reduce the number of parked cars, not for revenue. Apple is offering money, not a solution to overcrowded streets.

        I don't know what planet you live on, but most cities in the world where there are cars use parking meters to fill up their coffers. Cities that want to discourage car usage downtown either reduce the number of parking spaces, improve public transportation, use some kind of fee system to drive downtown (e.g London) or close off some street to cars, purely and simply.

        Exactly - if you want to get the cars off your street, you don't want to do anything that forces them to drive around endlessly trying to find a parking spot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Parking meters are not intended to make much by way of direct revenue. It's the fines for not paying or exceeding the time which produces the bigger income.
    • i.e. A few cheap employees from nearby stores decide to use those spots as their daily parking spots.
    • Seriously, unless the meter prices are great enough that parking spaces go unused, then they aren't reducing any traffic. This begs the question (i'm sorry begs-the-question purists) but why would they want people to purchase Apple products from USA Apple online, instead of facilitating and promoting their own local economy?
    • by travdaddy (527149)
      The meters are there to reduce the number of parked cars, not for revenue. Apple is offering money, not a solution to overcrowded streets.

      Yeah, I don't get it either. "Since you're trying to reduce the number of parked cars, how about we help you by offering free parking!" ?!?!?!
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by vux984 (928602)
        Yeah, I don't get it either. "Since you're trying to reduce the number of parked cars, how about we help you by offering free parking!"

        They suggested the strip be turned into a no parking zone instead, and offered them 3 years worth of revenue for the meters to do it.

        That ought to reduce the number of parked cars, non?
    • from the article:
      "The idea of parking meters, besides revenue, is to keep people from parking on the street all day. The borough could do that simply by making the three-car stretch into a No Parking zone. The city is, after all, trying to reduce the number of parking spots downtown."

      Sounds like the solution was in the article and the city isn't doing it just because they've never done it before. Sounds lame to me, since, again from the article, "The city would be spared maintenance and collection costs"
  • kdawson spam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Traxxas (20074) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:39PM (#20563037)
    And this is a story how? Why should a city remove meters because the business is Apple. If Apple doesn't want to deal with the meters they shouldn't have put the store there.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:41PM (#20563061) Homepage Journal
    problem solved
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by somersault (912633)
      I like your thinking boy, you're hired!
    • I don't know about Montreal, but here in my city it's illegal to put more money in the meter after the initial feeding. I doubt that it's ever enforced here, but if Montreal had such a law and Apple pissed them off, you can bet that they'd enforce it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Secrity (742221)
      Feeding meters like that is illegal in many areas.
      • Not sure of the type of meter, but all I've seen will let you put in more than one quarter at a time. So have someone feed it a day's worth of quarters every morning.
        • by Leto-II (1509)

          Not sure of the type of meter, but all I've seen will let you put in more than one quarter at a time. So have someone feed it a day's worth of quarters every morning.
          They usually have a limit on the amount you can put in at once. Well, you can put in more but it will only register a certain amount. This is to avoid someone doing exactly what you propose.
        • by Secrity (742221)
          Most street parking meters have a maximum length of time that you can put on the meter. It is frequently illegal to park longer than the maximum time that the meter allows.
    • by KJE (640748)
      Montrealer (and Mac Jerk) here,

      even though I don't quite understand the comment of feeding the meters, wouldn't people just park for free anyways?, THERE ARE NO METERS!

      They installed these [8d.com] all over downtown a couple of years ago, to much complaining all around.

      You go to a station and pay for your spot number, so if a new person comes to your spot after you paid for 2 hours and left after 5 minutes, they can't know how long has already been paid, so they pay again!

      The city has already hiked the prices a

    • This isn't about free parking. (If it were, they'd be talking about more than 3 meters!) This is about Apple not wanting its pretty, high-tech store sullied by the proximity of ugly, low-tech parking meters. Typical Apple. First because they care so much about looking kewl (their packaging has more fancy "design" vibe than most products). Second because they're willing to spend a lot of money to get that kewlness: they're notorious for buying off (at great expense) people who own the code names they want to
  • by netsavior (627338) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:43PM (#20563095)
    he could also stand there looking all sullen and geek chic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's been done in Santa Cruz California. Where, it turns out, it is a crime to feed a meter unless it is your car parked there. Check out this story about the famous Mr Twister [benricelaw.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The solution is to stop worrying about parking meters.

    Instead, go out and get pissed at the bars on Rue Crescent and Rue Bishop, and then close out the evening leering at peelers in one (or several) of Montreal's legendary tittie bars.

    C'mon Apple, think outside the box a little.
    • by sjf (3790)
      Erm, "peelers" ? Why would you go to a tittie bar to leer at policemen [historic-uk.com] ?

      Remember, this is slashdot, so there's no such thing as a rhetorical question.

  • This is news? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mundocani (99058) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:46PM (#20563135)
    This is not news. This is not funny. This is not even mildly interesting. Check the Firehose again editors -- there must be a few tidbits in there that don't go against your personal beliefs and would make better stories to put up front than this lame pos.
  • Bad quote... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WiglyWorm (1139035) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:46PM (#20563147) Homepage
    The quote "We've never done it before, so we can't." isn't attributed to anyone in the article, I highly doubt it was ever said. Sounds to me like the writer injecting some op-ed in to this supposed news piece. Should it really be cited on /.'s front page in a way that makes it sound like that was an actual reason given?
  • Reimbursement comes in many forms. Apple could just designate someone to feed these three meters on a regular schedule, so that their customers don't have to.
  • by Erris (531066) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:48PM (#20563171) Homepage Journal

    Now that it's published, they had better hope they never get their way. Bill Gates will pay someone to park some nasty clunker right in front and do various offensive and repulsive things. If you don't believe me, just look at the posts around here.


  • Deleted a superfluous word in title for you. I live here in Canada, (once lived in Montreal) and I am certainly not surprised.

  • Retarded Story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:54PM (#20563267) Homepage Journal
    That "news" story isn't quoting Montreal bureaucrats. It's putting words in their mouths to make a (stupid) point. All the writer knows is that the city refused - they don't actually know why, and there's no sign they actually asked anyone.

    Parking meters, as the writer did note, are designed not to collect a little revenue, but to keep parking turning over quickly so more people can share fewer parking spots. "No Parking" signs don't replace them where they're needed (like in front of stores like Apple's) because parking is appropriate there, just not unlimited.

    This is a stupid story by a stupid writer. Published by a stupid Slashdot editor.
  • According to the people in charge of the meters in my city, the money taken in by the meters just about covers the costs of collecting it and maintaining the meters. The real net revenue to the city comes from the fines for parking at an expired meter. So Apple's reimbursement would have to include the fines that would be collected, and maybe the bureaucrats don't want to admit that their meters are just a means of creating fineable offenses.
  • Hrm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JacobO (41895) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:03PM (#20563393)
    I'm not sure you should judge Canadians by the actions of the Québécois. They are distinct, after all, and should be laughed at as a separate group.
  • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:14PM (#20563533) Homepage Journal
    I can hear it now:

    "When you join government, you get st00pid!"

    "Bureaucrats can't see past their own red taped noses!"

    It's not confined to just government, folks. Business has it's fair share of inefficiency and stupidity. My favorite example of this was when I had a long contract at a Fortune 500 company away from home. They paid for an apartment for me to live in, but I saw no reason why I should expense my meals, even though it was allowed. My reasoning was, "I'm going to eat whether I'm here or at home. Why should they pay for it." This saved the company a few thousand dollars over six months. At one point, though, I wanted to expense something odd: boarding my cat for the weekend while I traveled. My reasoning was, "I have no friends here who would take care of the cat, unlike at home, so the company should pay." The refused, saying it wasn't justifiable, even though it was only $50 or so. After that I expensed all of my meals. :)

    To add insult to injury, the entire 3 year long project I was involved in was shelved and started over soon after that, wasting around $60 million. This wasn't the first (or last) time I saw a business waste millions of dollars. I think of these things any time a libertarian says, "Business can do things more efficiently!"
    • To add insult to injury, the entire 3 year long project I was involved in was shelved and started over soon after that, wasting around $60 million. This wasn't the first (or last) time I saw a business waste millions of dollars. I think of these things any time a libertarian says, "Business can do things more efficiently!

      Sure they can. The government is in the business of burning money and businesses do it much more efficiently. Look at enron or woldcom, it burned hundreds of twice as fast as most governmen
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:34PM (#20563815)
      I think of these things any time a libertarian says, "Business can do things more efficiently!"

      In defense of libertarians: the nice thing about business is that they go out of business (i.e. bankruptcy) whereas governments are much harder to get rid off once they are entrenched into an inefficient position (i.e. governments cannot go bankrupt, at lest not in the traditional sense that the entity is dissolved). Businesses come and go and that is fine as the market weeds out the less efficient players, but governments are always there and can be very difficult to remove or replace once they get into a spending program funded by taxes and backed up by police power to collect.
      • by ardent99 (1087547) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:58PM (#20564101)
        My sense is just the opposite: that the biggest and longest lived companies waste the most, not the least (AT&T, IBM, Raytheon, etc). Less efficient businesses do not go out of business, rather, entrenched businesses have the luxury of being less efficient. Bigger (usually as a result of having succeeded over a longer period of time), longer-lived companies usually have lower profit margins than smaller ones, and make it up in volume. Their momentum (experience, contracts, brand name, lobbying efforts, diversification) is what keeps them going, not their efficiency.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Damek (515688)
        Not really. There are a fair amount of 100-year-old and older businesses in the world that aren't going anywhere anytime soon, many of them defacto governments in their own right, at least on par with some of the world's smaller governments. (or religions, for that matter). And those are just exactly the ones that can waste millions of dollars and not care.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:19PM (#20563603)
    It is ironic that they very objectives that municipalities set for programs of Smart Growth [wikipedia.org] very often result in precisely the opposite effects, increasing or exacerbating the undesirable elements that they seek to control. For example, in Portland Oregon they have filled in left turn pockets with planter boxes, installed "speed tables" and other "traffic calming" obstacle courses (if you were in a hurry would you be happy about having to slow down to navigate an obstacle course in your vehicle? Would that make you calmer once you exited the course or would you romp on the gas in anger and frustration to make up for lost time as you entered the freeway or the main traffic corridor?), removed parking spaces, provided too few parking spaces, and done many other misguided things in pursuit of the goal of "getting people out of their cars". After 15+ years what has been the result of these policies? Snarled traffic, increased traffic, traffic idling in slow speed stop and go driving, increased smog from more vehicles operating in the most inefficient speed and rpm range for the internal combustion engine. Basically every problem that they hopped to solve with their "Smart Growth" has in fact been made worse or even created new problems (i.e. dramatically increased smog) on top of the old ones. Portland is *worse* off because of Smart Growth and it would have been better off if they simply done nothing or at least abstained from some of the more no sense recommendations of the "Smart Growth" activists and consultants.

    It all boils down to basic economics. People will do what they want and live how they want and you cannot tell them, "The elite smart growth planners are going to tell you what it is that you *really* want (i.e. less parking) and then enforce it upon you against your will." That type of centrally planned, command and control economic or social policy has not worked and will never work. It is the height of hubris and arrogance to presume that you can change other people's lives and preferences through mandates, laws, and enforcement actions. If people cannot work within the system then they find ways around it and the economic results of the workarounds are often *highly* suboptimal resulting in a Dead Weight Loss [wikipedia.org] to the economy.
    • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:56PM (#20564817)
      After 15+ years what has been the result of these policies? Snarled traffic, increased traffic, traffic idling in slow speed stop and go driving, increased smog from more vehicles operating in the most inefficient speed and rpm range for the internal combustion engine.

      Frankly, my friend, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about if you're so pampered as to think that Portland traffic is ever "snarled."

      Try driving in Atlanta for a couple of years before complaining about traffic. Portland is paradise in comparison; I tell you this from experience. You don't know what snarled or stop and go driving are like until it takes you 45 minutes to go 10 miles on a 8- to 10-lane interstate every damned day.

      I've been shocked by the total lack of aggression in drivers here. They usually drive at or below the speed limit (like the law requires) instead of tailgating and trying to run off the road anyone doing less than 10-15 over the speed limit like they do in Atlanta. People here are also a LOT friendlier about letting people over to merge. As much pooh-poohing as you do of traffic calming devices, I seriously suggest that you live in an area that doesn't have them before dismissing the idea that traffic engineering can modify the behaviors of drivers.

      There is a VERY marked difference in aggression between Portland and Atlanta, and I suspect that difference in how traffic is engineered here has something to do with it.
  • If only... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Cyanide300 (1148903)
    "Non -- because 'We've never done it before, so we can't.'"

    If only they had taken that attitude when they were first offered the chance to breathe.
  • I call bullshit. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:33PM (#20563789)
    "We've never done it before, so we can't."

    There is no source for the quote in TFA, and TFA is the only article I can find on the subject with the quote. I believe this is what we call "hyperbole."

    Now why wouldn't the city want to play ball? As TFA and the summary say, the entire point of the parking meters is to reduce downtown parking to begin with; it's not about the revenue, it's about the traffic (always a problem in major metropolitan centers built well before the invention of the automobile). If anything, we should be applauding the local government here for not taking the money and instead sticking by their original intent. All too many such governments would have taken the money and turned the other way.

    If anybody is failing to "think different," it's Apple themselves, who are trying to take the tried-and-true easy way out of essentially bribing a government to get their way. Something different would be to find a way to encourage all those hipster Apple fans to come to their store by, say, public transportation (save gas, ease traffic congestion, etc.).

    Would the story have the same "Boo government, yay capitalists!" slant if we were talking about a Sony store?
  • by semiotec (948062) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:38PM (#20563871)
    If the city officials allow Apple to do this, then they must allow other companies to do this as well. So, imagine if a significant number of companies pay for this "privilege", and the number of street-parking slots is reduced by 50% (or whatever fraction you deem to be significant), can you see the problem this would cause?

    Stupid article and stupid writer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cadallin (863437)
      Yes, Cities would have to plan their zoning intelligently! The Horrors! Or, even worse, ban automobiles inside the city limits and install a robust public transportation system. YE Gods! IT would be the beginning of the end.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:50PM (#20564021)
    It would be nice if they could demonstrate that other cities have accepted such an offer - keep in mind that the Gazette is Montréal's leading English language, right-leaning paper. The sense that they are also delivering a slight poke to the French spoken city officials is unmistakable.
  • by Jeremy_Bee (1064620) on Wednesday September 12, 2007 @12:15AM (#20567495)
    As a Canadian I find this article and half the comments about it kind of offensive.

    In the first place this is Quebec, which is ... well let's just say it is "unique" and quite different from the rest of Canada so you are tarring all of Canada with a brush that should be meant only for a small minority. It's also offensively implies that "Canada is doing something wrong here" or that we are unimaginative, backward etc. when in fact the reverse is the case.

    The fact that a company could not bribe a municipal government to go against it's own bylaws and provide special treatment to a high-end retail establishment is something to celebrate, not berate.

    I am a big Apple fan, but this is really a kind of outrageous request. If this kind of stuff is common in the United States, well then I feel sorry for you. Horay for any government that is above the petty manipulations of the business community I say.

    Lastly, as others have mentioned, how much more of a boring non-story could there be?

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