SMITH: This ticket really was a violation

Complaints surface now and then in downtown Santa Rosa, where parking citations are a source of woe, that a uniformed meter-monitor bent on maximizing fine revenues has treated a driver unfairly.

The city typically responds that its parking officers aren't out to write as many citations as they possibly can, they're simply making downtown function better by ticketing people who violate parking rules.

But I tend to believe that Diane Kane, a volunteer at the Welfare League's thrift store in Railroad Square, rightly feels wronged by the citation she received.

She said she parked on lower Fourth Street, just up the block from the Welfare League, and walked to one of the payment kiosks. It took four tries for the machine to accept her credit card and issue a receipt, she said.

She returned to her car and gasped to find a parking ticket under a wiper blade. Kane said two men standing nearby told her they saw the enforcement officer and alerted him that she was paying down at the kiosk.

She said the men told her the parking officer stuck the ticket on her windshield and remarked, "She can fight it."

Gad. If this happens very often, nobody should be surprised when more people declare they'll crawl to an outlying shopping center on their knees before ever again parking downtown.

p.s. Don't worry about the maddening ticket chasing Kane from her work at the Welfare League shop.

HEAR THE MOVIE: I wish my father had lived to hear what Richard Blanz heard when he visited Santa Rosa's Summerfield Cinemas.

My dad enjoyed a movie but through the last decade or so of his life, his hearing problem frustrated a trip to the theater. It was impossible to adjust his hearing aids to allow him to clearly hear the dialogue through the sound effects and music, so he stopped seeing films.

Occidental resident Blanz, on the other hand, was one of the first people with hearing loss to check out the so-called hearing loop system that Bill Diles of Kenwood Hearing Centers has installed in all of the auditoriums at Summerfield Cinemas.

"It's a different hearing experience altogether," said Blanz, a retired property manager.

He was able to set a switch on his hearing aids to receive a magnetic signal transmitted by one of the wire loops that the Tocchini family, which owns the Summerfield Cinemas, had Diles install in each of the theater's five auditoriums. The film's soundtrack was broadcast directly into Blanz's hearing aids.

Diles and the Tocchinis say they believe Summerfield Cinemas is the first multi-plex in the country to have a hearing loop in each auditorium.

The technology is showing up in concert halls, at banks and other businesses, and in private homes. It's good to hear.

SET FOR LIFE: Oakmont's Alexis Melteff, 70, shares that his financial advisor told him he's got no financial worries today. "He said I have enough money to last my life as long as I die at 5:27 p.m. Friday."

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and

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