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Just last week someone told me a scandalous story about how Mayor Kenny and council's headlong rush to embrace paid parking reminded him of an old joke. Like a fool, I took the bait. "Which old joke is that?" I said, stifling my peeve about the slander to come but nonetheless loving a good joke.
"The one about the drunk down on all fours..."
"Hold on right there, Mister," I said. "This is a family newsmagazine. No dirty jokes."
"...on all fours," he continued winking slyly, "underneath a street light in the early hours of the morning. Cop comes along and says, 'And just what may you be doing down there?'
"Drunk looks up and says, 'Looking for my house keys, offisher.'
"Cop, being characteristically helpful - though keeping one hand firmly on his Taser just in case the drunk is carrying a concealed stapler - gets down on all fours as well and says, 'I'll help you; where'd you drop them?'
"Drunk says, 'Around the corner in front of my house.'
"The cop gives him a puzzled look, simultaneously steeling his grip on the Taser, and says, 'Then why are we looking for them here?'
"Drunk looks at him and says, 'The light's better here.'"
I looked at him with something approaching the same contempt that drunk must have felt. "That's a pretty good joke, for a clean one," I said. "But what the heck does it have to do with paid parking?"
"The drunk's looking for his keys some place he's never going to find them because it's easier looking there than it is in the dark where he dropped them."
"Yeah, I get that part. So."
"Kenny and council are pushing paid parking because it's easier than actually cutting some of their spending to get the budget deficit under control. Get it?"
I thought carefully before answering, even counting to 10 because I feared saying something I might regret. "That's despicable," I finally said. "You're impugning what can only be considered the purest of motives. Paid parking isn't about a tax grab. I demand you retract that slur and I've half a mind to insist you apologize."