As a business owner, few things are worse than having the attention of the people calling themselves “government”. Dorrie Masten, a local entrepreneur and property owner, knows this as well as anyone. As the owner of multiple properties and businesses including Keene Apartments and Pedraza’s Mexican Restaurant, Masten is no stranger to Keene’s ridiculous regulations. Unlike most business owners, she isn’t afraid to speak out publicly about how the Keene government gang has made her, her employees, and her customers’ lives more difficult.
The reason most business owners don’t speak out like Masten, is likely because they are understandably afraid they’ll be targeted for retaliation by the government people. According to a video posted to her facebook page yesterday, that’s exactly what’s happened to Masten since she publicly spoke against the parking kiosk that has been installed in front of her Mexican restaurant, Pedraza’s for about 18 months. Here’s Masten’s video, cropped to widescreen with boosted audio:
For newer readers unfamiliar with the history of the parking kiosks, the city gang installed a couple as a test in 2012 and then appeared to listened to the negative feedback from frustrated motorists and actually removed the kiosks they’d installed! Then-police chief Ken Meola explained to the city council at the time that despite paying former Keene police officer Fred Parsells to stand at a kiosk for eight hours a day to help people learn how to use it, the chief had found the following:
– Numerous mechanical difficulties have arisen with the machines and they continue to present.
– The public is finding the technology difficult to operate.
– The technology is not conducive to customers of the downtown businesses.
– Downtown merchants have reported constant complaints about the new kiosks and have reported down-turns in business as a result.
Although a 90 day trial period was requested, it appears that the trial period already undertaken is sufficient to indicate this technology will not work at this time within the City of Keene and that it will not produce the benefits originally believed.
Consequently, we will be suspending the trial period, removing the pay-by-space machines, and re-installing the coin operated parking meters.
After pulling them in 2012, five years later they put them back. Now downtown businesses like Pedraza’s are hurting and customers are frustrated. Masten this year requested the council consider removing the kiosk and for a moment it looked promising as the committee that heard her request voted 4-1 to remove it, though likely replacing it with coin-operated meters. However, rather than have that proposal voted on by the full council, mayor Kendall Lane reportedly somehow sent the proposal to a different committee, who returned with a 4-1 vote to instead continue and possibly expand kiosk use in Central Square! This decision in spite of a petition signed by dozens of downtown business owners opposing the kiosks, presented by Masten and business consultant Jared Goodell.
That’s not all. In Keene, the city gang demands local business owners beg for permission and pay tribute to the gang in order to allow them to put tables outdoors on the sidewalk area. Each year, Masten dutifully pays the bribe and jumps through the paperwork hoops. However this year she was informed by email that her application for the sidewalk permit is “pending”. As a result, she’s unable to acquire her outdoor liquor permit from the state liquor criminals.Plus, according to a video streamed live on Masten’s facebook yesterday, one of the Keene parking enforcers, Jane Vigneau took to facebook while on-the-clock to attack Masten. Vigneau was supposedly admonished by her superiors in the city gang, but hasn’t likely suffered any real consequence. Vigneau, for newer readers of the blog, is one of the parking enforcers who lied to support the city’s failed lawsuit against the “Robin Hooders” who were saving thousands of motorists from parking tickets in downtown Keene back in 2012 and 2013.
More to come as the full city council is expected to meet this week, but as of the time of this writing hasn’t published an agenda. The best course of action, which surely business owners and customers alike would support yet no one has likely proposed, is to remove the parking meters and kiosks entirely from Central Square and the rest of downtown. The worn-out excuses the city parking gang gives for their meters are that they encourage turnover and claim that businesses want that service. However, the city’s own actions prove their argument is false. First, they don’t enforce the meters on the week before Christmas – the biggest shopping week of the year! If there were anytime when “turnover” is important, it’s that week. On the contrary, the week prior to Christmas is great without the parking enforcers prowling the streets. People can shop without worrying if their meter is about to expire. If only we could have the other 51 weeks per year be like that. Also, to further prove it’s really all about generating revenue, the city gang enforces the meters during the slow hours too, when plenty of spaces are available on-street.
When I spoke with her today, Masten was dismayed with the city government gang ignoring the pleas of the business owners. The reality of the situation is the city is a criminal organization that does whatever benefits “the City”, meaning the people in the gang – not the people subjected to their rule. We’ve seen example after example of how it works, with the BEARCAT situation being one of the most flagrant.
Will any signficant changes be made to the Keene city council in this year’s upcoming municipal election? Don’t get your hopes up, but stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.