For years, the WTAP newsroom has had an unofficial relationship of sorts with a small, unhappy group of people in southern California.
The group consists of people who failed to heed parking regulations in the city of Pico Rivera, California. On any given day, the WTAP newsroom employees receive calls on our toll free number from angry residents and visitors of Pico Rivera, wanting to know why they received a parking ticket. Sometimes the callers - already annoyed because they received a ticket - become even more exasperated when they realize that they've called the wrong number to dispute their citation.
Turns out, the callers are all trying to reach the Pico Rivera Citation Information Hotline. That number is (888) 300-9827. Instead, in their upset state of mind, they're calling WTAP's news tip hotline, which is (800) 300-9827. Since most of us have received parking tickets at one time or another, members of the news department who answer the incoming calls are always good at providing the upset individuals with the correct number to call.
According to the official City of Pico Rivera website, its parking enforcement division issues about 1,600 citations per month, which generates a little over $800,000 dollars in revenue per year. That's a little over 50 citations each day, which works out to about $40 dollars per ticket. With the WTAP newsroom handling an average of three calls per day, I figure we're indirectly responsible for providing Pico Rivera with about $44,000 in annual revenue per year.
Now, despite our newsroom employees' free assistance, a January 31st article on the Whittier (CA) Daily News website, Pico Rivera is currently considering the need to hike some of its 141 fees to raise an extra $650,000 in revenue per year.
This gives me an idea.
To City Manager Chuck Fuentes and Mayor Gracie Gallegos: Rather than angering your fine citizens by further raising fees, please consider completely outsourcing your Citation Information Hotline to WTAP's newsroom! The infrastructure already is in place and your cost will be substantially less per year. You scratch our backs and and we'll scratch yours.
On second thought, nix that idea. While we have people on staff who can speak French, German, Clevelandese, Akronese and Yinzer, we have few people on staff who speak Spanish very well (which is why we can't help your angry ticketed callers when they demand a Spanish-speaking operator).
A better idea is to consider outsourcing your Citation Information Hotline and ALL OTHER routine tasks Pico Rivera handles via telephone and e-mail to the fine citizens of Parkersburg!
We're friendly, we're hard workers and have good work ethics. Heck, it wasn't too long ago that even our state slogan was "Open for Business!" Parkersburg already has several call centers in the area, and according to the 2000 U.S. Census, we have 269 people within our city limits who are fluent in both English and Spanish.
This also is a great opportunity to discuss increasing awareness between our two cities.
Madam Mayor: You're chairperson of Pico Rivera's Sister City Committee. Councilman David Armenta serves on the committee, too. I bet our city would love to become a sister city with Pico Rivera, especially if you outsource some of your services. Plus, one of your other council members, Councilman Ron Beilke, would find a huge market for his Pico Rivera Weinerschnitzel restaurant franchise if he simply changed "Weinerschnitzel" to "hot dog" before he opened up shop here.
It's a match made in Heaven!
Please let me know what you think of this idea by e-mailing me at Operation Pico Rivera. If you would, also let me know when the next Pico Rivera City Council meeting is, as the next meetings dates of January 13th and January 27th on your city's homepage are now outdated (we have a number of website designers here in the Parkersburg area who can help you with that, too!).
While I can't guarantee that I'll be able to attend your next City Council meeting to pitch this idea in person, I'll see what I can work out.