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Citizen Journalism, New York Style

August 18, 2007 Media 20 Comments

“Oh, you’re that guy that did the video at Copia!” is something I hear often as I introduce myself to people. Last year I video taped a valet company at Copia violating the terms of their valet permit — placing cones in the street and such. The owner came out of his restaurant to confront me after I removed their cones from the public street. In case you missed it, here it is (note: video contains explicit language):

Valet Parking at Copia from UrbanReviewSTL and Vimeo.

People were aghast at both my behavior and the restaurant owners. Dave Drebes wrote on the Arch City Chronicle blog, “Yes, there’s too much space reserved for valet parking, but I’m not sure his approach is… um… constructive.” One commenter on that post said, “wow, talk about needing to get a life! This guy is a class A-1 Loser. who the hell cares if the valets use freaking parking spaces?” Yet another person wrote, “I would suggest that Mr. Patterson try to change his methods and behavior before he becomes the person who complains all of the time and never compliments anyone for any reason.” This video, from nearly a year ago now, came after months and months of trying to get some change. At the time, I could not believe the things this guy was saying to me on camera, clearly he did not know who I was or what I’d do with the video. My post, with a variety of comments, can be found here.

But this post is not about valet parking, Copia or me. Well, sort of about me. I’ve been called a bully and my methods questioned which is fair game as public as I am. Ald. Florida called me a zeolot and has said that I am mean. To everyone out there that doesn’t like me or my methods all I can say is be thankful I’m from Oklahoma and not New York.

Meet Jimmy Justice:





Recently Jimmy Justice was featured on the Today show, here is a report from the ABC station in New York.

Now let’s see, a good place to shop for video cameras in the city…


Currently there are "20 comments" on this Article:

  1. insider says:

    looking back on this video, you’re lucky the copia owner didn’t kick your ass

  2. fair parking says:

    Thank you Steve for fighting these battles. These a$$holes shouldn’t be allowed to make up their own rules just because they have a restaurant. If anything there should be more people like Jimmy Justice. I, for one, will always aplaud your efforts at enforcing fairness.

  3. Patrick Wessel says:

    that guy is awesome. keep up the good work, too.

  4. Dole says:

    INSIDER: I always laugh when people talking about ‘kickin some ass’……If the owner of Copia had tried to throw some punches, Steve could own that restaurant by now. Trying to ‘kick some ass’ on camera has led to more than a few slam-dunk lawsuits.

    [SLPCopia Steve’s Urban Winery & Market has a nice ring to it.  Maybe a little too stuffy for my taste.]

  5. Buck says:

    “Clearly, he did not know who I was”

  6. fair parking says:

    The 50th most powerful person in St. Louis!

  7. Scott O. says:

    Hmmm, seems like once the owner settled down he made some pretty good points about employing people downtown and investing in that building. Sure, I think there is too much valet space too, but the owner seemed like a fairly resonable guy, maybe this could have been worked out in some other way? Who of us doesn’t occasionally break a law or infringe on a permit? Speeding, not paying a meter, smoking weed, not coming to a complete stop, staying in parks after sundown… Maybe this guy is making a bad call on the valet space, but is someone who opens a new restaurant and market? downtown really the enemy? And if he is… who isn’t?

  8. Sam says:

    The owner at Copia is a gigantic ass. I’ve known people who have worked there, and they all tell me that he’s one of the worst people to work for. He runs a good restaurant, the food is very good, the atmosphere is nice, and I love the patio. But that doesn’t give him the right to act that way, treat people like trash, and allow the valet company to take up public spaces.

  9. Jim Zavist says:

    I won’t comment on Steve’s motives or methods – we all need to decide for ourselves, which battles (if any) to fight with and/or against the “the man” or “the system”. I will point out, however, that public space appropriated for private use(s) is no longer “public”. I’m a big believer in (and advocate for) the ability of well-run businesses to succeed (“the market”), as well as being pretty Darwinian when it comes to having government trying to “protect” private enterprises from failure (not!). That said, I also don’t think that any business should be given an advantage over other nearby businesses (which is exactly what St. Louis’ current valet efforts are doing) by us as a community, via our elcted officials and/or city employees. If a business needs or wants to provide parking for their customers, there are multiple ways to do so (through private business transactions) other than taking multiple parking spaces “off the market”.

    [SLP — Removing a couple of spaces for valet in front of the business getting the valet is certainly fair I think.  However, taking the entire block as they had been is beyond the free market and can get into having government actively supporting one business (via lax valet enforcement) and negatively affecting others by stripping away public parking.  

    But, I don’t want this post to be about valet parking.  What do people think of Jimmy Justice and his methods?  How would St. Louis react to that?] 

  10. LisaS says:

    Whaddya mean, city officials, employees and cops have to follow the laws? What’s the point in putting up with the hassle?

    Here in my neighborhood, there’s a Mini with an NSO placard that parks illegally on a regular basis. I would go all Jimmy on him, but he’s a nice guy and might yet get a cop out to enforce the “don’t pass a school bus with a stop sign out” law.

    Not that I’m holding my breath.

  11. South Side says:

    Vans and trucks are constantly parked on the sidewalk along Memorial adjacent to the Gateway One building. KMOV, KMOX, and East-West Council are in that building. The vehicles are parked there during the business week. I’ve called the cops on those vehicles before.

  12. Julia says:

    I agree with Jimmy J’s premise, though not his yelling tactics. It irks me to no end to see those who are supposed to be enforcing the laws and, presumably, setting an example for citizens by their behavior 1) utilizing the rolling stop, 2) not wearing seat belts, 3) parking illegally, 4) speeding, …

  13. urban says:

    Illegally parking cops are practicing their version of sovereign immunity.

  14. equals42 says:

    You don’t even have to be an actual officer, city employee or anything to abuse the system. When I lived downtown, I was always amused at the people who just printed a page in 48 font and stuck it on the dashboard which claimed the were court couriers, city _____’s or Fed building so and so’s (even though they were parked near 6th and Olive). These people never had a ticket but anyone else would have a $10 parking violation within 5 minutes.

    My favorite though was from my days in California when I was headed home one night. I stopped at an intersection to turn right and waited at my green because I heard sirens. Two cops were flying through their red, lights and sirens blazing. They were headed toward my house, so I followed. When I caught up with them a few miles later, they had stopped with a few other patrol cars at 7/11 a few doors down from my place. I walked into the store and they were just having coffee and relaxing. People are people no matter where they live and what the wear to work.

  15. Frank says:

    Interesting post there Steve,
    As it happens, I am both a former New Yorker, alternative transportation advocate and am now in the process of starting a wine bar in the city of St. Louis. I’m going to be putting in bike parking and I’m in a pretty walkable neighborhood, but parking is going to be key to this places’ success. I’m going to go through all the permitting I have to, and I’m trying to negotiate a lease of a lot nearby for busy nights, but I can see where this guy would be tempted to push the bounderies and feel entitled to more of the sidewalk than he really had dibs on.

    That said, the guy should have known better than to yell at someone with a video camera. He would also do well to never say the words “$#@* Joe Edwards” within a football fields’ distance of a recording device.

    I’ve never heard of Jimmy Justice, but he comes off a little too shrill for my taste. I don’t think that humiliating individual cops is a good way to get people to do the right thing. In your video, you had at least engaged the city (calling the cops, checking with permiting) before you turned your camera on and went to work on the cones. Here’s what Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group in New York has done to curb systematic illegal parking abuse by city employees.


    Basically, you just post pics of city employees’ cars that are illegally parked downtown and it just embarrassed the hell out of just about every city agency. I guess it’s simular here as it is there, being a city employee or cop carries the unsaid benefit of being able to park wherever the hell you like.

    The wine bar is a few months from opening, so I won’t pimp it in this comment, though I am not above shameless self promotion. I’ll do my level best to be a good neighbor stay on as many peoples good sides as I can.

  16. john says:

    Bikes and vino… I’m there! Sorry to hear that to be successful here you must increase auto parking. I wonder if a better vibe (and thus more business) can be created by primarlly serving those who support and live in a manner that fosters liveable communities. Of course I’ll go out of my way to avoid businesses that support bullying instead of good will.

  17. Frank says:

    Thanks for the advance pledge of patronage! I find that biking and beer also go together swimmingly and I’m working on a killer beer selection.

  18. cptmrpants says:


    Just yesterday I pulled into a meter space in front of Copia to walk across to the Dubliner.

    A valet came and told me I had to move the car, that those are valet spaces from 6pm- whenever… no cones or anything- and there was a valet sign that looked to be a city sign.

    Anyway, I moved of course, but I wondered exactly what the rules are.

    A specific # of spaces or no city spaces at all, just no cones?

    what are the rules there?

  19. velo~ says:

    Hey – this is off topic (sorta) but bikes/wine/beer – it’s all good! Frank, let us know when/where you’re opening.

    You could plug this new fine bike, friendly establishment at stlbikefed@yahoogroups.com
    But you have to join the yahoogroups first…

  20. Ben H says:

    Cops and transit empolyees ’round here dont go for no sass talk like they do in the big city…

    Sorry to ressurect an old post, but St louis already has a Jimmy Justice equivalent. He is just not carrying a video camera yet. His name is Charles Boone.


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