Wednesday, December 14, 2022

New Leaf, New Life – Statement on a New Jail

 The Bloomingtonian published a press release from New Leaf, New Life on the new jail being planned in Monroe County.

Their comments:

  • A bigger jail is not required and will produce barriers to improving the criminal legal system.
  • Historically, whenever a criminal legal system has access to a bigger jail, it finds people to fill it.
  • Cheaper, immediately available solutions to jail overcrowding remain available by simply not incarcerating people for technical probation violations, low-level and non-violent crimes, and returning to use or substance use violations.
  • The $70M price tag for a new jail is both fiscally and socially irresponsible.

I like the comment that bigger jails find people to fill them. An instance of induced demand, clearly.

Read the full press release here:

Friday, December 09, 2022

Reporting bias against scooters

Here's what happened: On September 18, 2022, Madelyn Howard, heavily intoxicated, came cruising in her Mercedes northbound on Walnut Street at 12th Street, near Domino's Pizza, at a high rate of speed with the passenger-side wheels on the sidewalk. Two people were on the sidewalk at the time. The first managed to jump out of her way, but the second did not. Up on the sidewalk, Howard plowed into Nathaniel Stratton, 22, and he later died from his injuries.

A tragic incident, and a cautionary tale of why driving while intoxicated is a terrible crime. So why is it, that months later, the media fixates on the least important part of the incident - that is, that Stratton happened to be on an electric scooter at the time?  In story after story, reporters explain that it was an "e-scooter related death", and the city of Bloomington, apparently trying to make the streets safer for drunk drivers, banned e-scooter riding at night in response.

So here we are, two months later, and we find that scooter operating licenses are on hold, partly due to this incident, as reported in the screenshot above. I've heard that scooter operators are considering pulling out of smaller cities completely, and who can blame them with poor reporting like this? WFIU gets it completely wrong.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The High Cost of Free Black Friday Parking

On this Giving Tuesday, I heard a plug for a donation from my local public radio station, WFIU. As I was getting out my wallet to send something in, I heard an announcer say, offhandedly, "Sales may have also been helped by free parking downtown during the holiday weekend." So instead of a donation, I'm writing this note to help to set the station straight on this topic.

No, local public radio station, sales were almost definitely not helped by free parking downtown. Setting aside the attraction for drivers of cruising the streets to find that one perfect parking space, and whatever parking meter revenue was given up by the city, there's no telling how many people took advantage of the free parking to let their cars sit and take up space for several hours, blocking access for people who may have wanted to come in and shop. Retail sales depend on customers coming in and out of the stores, not people coming in and browsing for hours at a time. And anyway, people who are going to balk at spending a dollar or two on a parking space are hardly going to be the kind of free spenders that will seriously boost the sales numbers.

So overall, I'd have to say it's unfortunate that the city decided to subsidize drivers and Big Oil in this way. It's revenue that the city has lost, and left shouldering the burden for no benefit are (1) taxpayers who may happen to live downtown, (2) poor people who lack access to a vehicle at all, and (3) people who may choose to ride bicycles or take the bus downtown. Maybe for next Black Friday, the city could offer free bus transit rather than encouraging drivers to bring their personal vehicles downtown.