by Joey Hack
The 451 spot parking lot is free this month, but beginning next month parking will cost $3 between 6 pm and 4 am, while remaining free at all other times. That may sound like a good deal but the $3 fee does not sit well with some.
"Freedom to park should be every bit as important to us as freedom of speech and religion," said Jenny Tonic, a 43 year old Midtown resident, and founder of "Don't Tread On Me With Paid Parking," an organization with a mission to make parking fees illegal in Tennessee.
"Our Constitution gives us freedom of assembly. How can we assemble freely if we have to pay to do so? I mean, that's the exact opposite of free!" Tonic said while working on a design for her protest flyer on her Macbook Pro while enjoying a scone and beverage at a local Starbucks that cost a total of $8.42. "Times are tough, and it's ridiculous that we have to pay to park anywhere."
Tonic says that people who believe they will be allowed to park for only $3.00 haven't read the fine print. "Special event parking may have different fees," she insists. "And who exactly do you think it is who gets to decide which events are special? Hint: not you or me."
In addition to her public protest, Tonic is working hard to get a state Constitutional ban on parking fees throughout Tennessee. She has been in contact with state legislators attempting to have them put forward a referendum to amend the state's constitution. So far, no legislators have returned her calls or email.
"I can only assume that these people are in the pockets of Big Parking," Tonic said. "It's frustrating and upsetting. All I know is that until this is resolved, there's no way I'm going to Overton Square. They'll take my $3 from my cold, dead fingers!"
Reports indicate that after the interview, Tonic drove her Acura MDX to a convenience store, where she purchased a pack of cigarettes for $5.89. Later that evening, she reportedly enjoyed three beers at $3.50 apiece at a local bar as she and like minded citizens discussed the proposed amendment.
Joey Hack is a regular contributor to Fly on the Wall and is a member of the Wiseguys improv troupe.