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How Do You Run a City Without Taxes? I've Got Just the Ticket -- Two, As a Matter of Fact.

All of the candidates for mayor say the city's falling apart but we can't raise taxes. If both of these things are true, something's got to give, and I think I know what it will be. Me.

First, I'm downtown in the Allen courts building covering a case about a fight our mayor had with his wife. I look up and see my meter is about to run out. I can't go out there and plug it, because the mayor is still on the stand, and it's too good to miss.

I get out there just as the meter is going to violation, and there he is already, the ticket man. Bang! Thirty-five bucks. My fault completely. But how could he be right there the instant the flag went up?

The very next day, I'm on my way to work, and I forgot something, so I wheel around, go back and park in front of my house with the car facing the wrong way, passenger side against the curb, for two seconds. Two seconds! I run in the house, grab my deal, run back out, and oh my God! There he is again! The ticket man! Forty-five bucks! I wrong-way parked for two seconds, and he got me right between the eyes. Again.

He had to be parked in the alley with binoculars, waiting for someone on the block to commit an offense. Hey. I walked into it. I did it. It's my fault.

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I even know why they're out here stalking us like guys with pellet guns hunting for pigeons. They need the money. The city is starving for money. Obviously they're going to jack up every fee they can and go out and write every ticket they can. I guess I should admire them for it. It's better than just giving up on government and roping off the potholes permanently.

But I liked it better back in the day, back when the margins were a little better, when you could park in front of your own house in the wrong direction and maybe even get away with it for five or 10 minutes.

Eventually are they just going to assign officers to each of us? Have them follow us around all day harvesting infractions? Littering. Rolling stop. Public obscenity. Jaywalking. Personal air pollution.

So what are my choices? I pay more taxes. I give up indoor plumbing, motorized transport and the rule of law. Or we go with the door-to-door, 24/7, total enforcement of everything regime. I'll say this for them. They've got me doing the math.

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