The Oligarchs of Century SquareOpinion
COLLEGE STATION, TX — (Opinion) I’ve been arguing with the people in charge of the Century Square development in College Station for two days now. Here’s a quick synopsis. The management there has a deal with a local Bryan, Texas towing company to haul away cars parked in their parking garage driven by those who the management feels they can prove parked there but did not patronize one of their tenants. At the same time, the management promotes “free parking” in order to attract patrons to shop and dine there.
My daughter, a sophomore at A&M, was caught up in their towing scheme this week. She was lured to park in their free parking garage and then went to the coffee bar at Century Square where she did what many college kids do, she purchased a $3 cup of fancy coffee and proceeded to study there for a couple hours. When she returned to where she parked the car, she learned the car — actually MY car — had been towed.
After about four hours of wrangling with the guy who runs the Century Square parking garage over the phone, he finally felt bad enough that, he said, he “called the wrecker company and told them to release my car free of charge.” He admitted the video he was relying upon for evidence had been altered.
The Social Justice Warrior in me came out. How many other Aggie families is the large property management company, Midway Companies of Houston, screwing while it threads the needle between offering convenient parking to attract patrons for its tenants and at the same time discouraging College of Engineering students from parking there and walking across the street to the Zachry building for class? That Midway’s property is across the street from the College of Engineering is important. My daughter is majoring in Allied Health, and her classes are five miles away on the west campus, nowhere near Midway’s shops. Daughter had no reason to do what Midway said she did.
Midway Companies claimed that they had my daughter on video walking across the street to attend class while she squatted my car in their parking garage. The general manager there, in a subsequent email to me after my $300 towing fee was forgiven, said she still had the goods on my daughter on video and based upon the time stamp on the receipt at the coffee bar that my daughter was guilty and the towing was justified. I have a grainy copy of the video they claim is my daughter. It is not my daughter in the video.
I cannot express the amount of helplessness I feel when facing a large corporation, with deep pockets of cash and political influence, whose management is claiming my daughter is a liar. Here, the corporation is the judge and jury over what is just, what is not just, and what is and is not truthful.
The situation illustrates the widening gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” in this country. The corporation and its agents are the all-knowing determinants of what is The Truth; I’m the peon who the corporation gets to manipulate with false marketing (park here for free, shop at our shops, it’s that simple) while it is also judge and jury about the guilt or innocence of my daughter for responding to their untruthful come-ons. They can fine or not fine, confiscate my property or not. Midway Companies can partner with a wrecker service that charges the maximum extortion fee of $300 per car towed, or not. Why? Because the corporation, protected by our laws to form the way it does, has money and influence! I do not.
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri delivered a speech Tuesday night where he argued that, “We are witnessing the rise of a new oligarchy of wealth and education.” The rich and the educated belong to the same class and define our culture around the power these New American Oligarchs possess.
The have-nots, meaning the working class, the guys who must play ball with the New American Oligarchs, are left behind, left to a life of despair that is destroying us, Hawley argued.
“The number of 15- to 24-year-olds committing suicide is greater than at any other time since the government began tracking the data over 50 years ago.
“For girls and young women, suicide rates have doubled during the 21st century. Doubled. Taken altogether, nearly 36,000 American millennials died “deaths of despair” in 2017 alone. There is now a death from drugs or alcohol or suicide every four minutes in this nation,” Hawley said. (source)
In other words, our country’s culture, and its politics, particularly in today’s left and right political and cultural thought, has emphasized the power of the individual, and by extension, the all-powerful corporation, over the community, and the result is as Senator Hawley described. Unless you have money, or are connected with an Oligarch, good luck having much say in how this community treats you. That’s because you weren’t born with money, weren’t lucky in earning lots of money, or you’re too damned stupid to have accumulated any wealth. Therefore, poor peons, the Oligarchs say to us, you have no standing in our community, we can take your car away anytime we want. All you have left is a life of despair, so why not go out and get high or drunk?
To clear my daughter’s name, I must file a lawsuit in a Brazos County Tow Court headed by a justice of the peace there. I have no real financial damages; I don’t know what I’d sue for. But I want to clear my daughter’s name and expose this towing scheme for what it is. The all-powerful corporation will hire a great lawyer who can argue better than I can, or maybe the property company financed the JP’s election campaign and the decision against me is predetermined. Do I stand a chance? If I win, the towing company and the corporation will appeal. The case will drag on forever. Is it worth my time?
I think I’ll go out and get drunk instead.
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