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Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who headed the parking enforcement subcommittee, is slightly more optimistic about the progress that's been made, saying he thinks PARKatlanta's operation is working now like it should have worked from the get-go. "If the city had been better prepared and more deliberate about turning its operation over in the initial stages," Bond says, "I think people would have felt differently about parking enforcement." Asked if he foresees the contract with PARKatlanta being renewed in 2016, Bond says he doesn't think people are calling for their heads anymore, "but who knows what the next five years will bring?" On the last leg of our route — the area around Grady Memorial Hospital — Thomas writes only one ticket. She does, however, give directions a couple of times, calls in a broken parking meter to her dispatcher, and patiently helps a man figure out how to use a multispace meter. In garbled speech, he asks if it's OK if he sells ice cream out of his parked van. Thomas says, sure, as long as he pays the meter. (I'm actually not sure that it is OK, but I suppose it's nice that she's a champion of Atlanta's burgeoning street food culture.)
It's after lunchtime, she hasn't had a break yet and it's getting hot, but Thomas says she's fine. "You think you'll keep doing this for a while?" I ask, mostly making small talk at this point for lack of spitting, knife-wielding parking violators.
"Yeah," she says, "I like it. I like helping people."
Bless her heart.
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