He [Martin] admitted that he helped craft the city's boot ordinance while serving on the city of Houston Parking Commission.According to Martin, there is no conflict of interest if one helps draft an ordinance and then sets up a business to profit from the new law. What difference does it make when he resigned? He helped draft the law, and resigning before it was passed does not change that fact.
"It kind of dawned on me that there may be a business opportunity here," he said.
Martin said he stepped down from the Parking Commission before the City Council passed the law to avoid a conflict of interest.
More importantly, why is the city writing ordinances regarding what private businesses may or may not do on their own property? Government's purpose is to protect our rights, not dictate what is permissible. My question of course, is rhetorical.
When the city formed the citizen-led Public Parking Commission in 2006 it was intended to be forum to resolve parking issues, that is, protect consumers. Protecting consumers is a typical justification for badgering private companies and forcing them to act as government officials declare proper. And what has followed from this consumer "protection"? According to KHOU and KPRC, a litany of complaints: those who have paid a parking fee are still getting "booted", and even when they can prove that they have paid the parking fee, they get to pay another $25 to have the "boot" removed. KPRC's story states:
An HPD spokeswoman said that unit [the police department's Auto Dealer's Detail, which enforces the city's boot law] is constantly fielding complaints and is working to make sure private boot companies are following the law.The city has made this vehicular hostage-taking legal, and Mr. Martin was quick to realize that he could benefit. And since his customers are the parking lot owners, he could care less how many drivers he improperly "boots. At a minimum he gets $25 every time an employee immobilizes a vehicle, even if they do so with absolutely no justification.
Indications are that Martin made a conscientious effort to avoid violating the city's ethics laws--he disclosed his business idea to the city while he sat on the parking commission. But government intervention makes it impossible for anyone involved to act with complete integrity. When government forces individuals to act against their own judgment, neither the victim nor the victimizer can act in accordance with rational principles.
The fact is, city council should not be involved in this issue. If parking lot owners want to use "boots" on their property, that is between them and their customers. If they want to use "boots" with reckless abandon, they will face the consequences in civil court. But as it stands, companies like Equipark, as well as the parking lot owners, can hide behind the law, claiming that they acted with complete probity.
The city's meddling has created a political issue where none should exist. It has allowed political insiders to financially benefit under the protection of the law. It has allowed looters to become "booters".