Indianapolis startup finds value in unused parking spots

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — An Indianapolis-based startup company that helps create more public parking in places where there is high-demand is a finalist for an international “smart city” award in the 2019 Leading Cities AcceliCity program.

FlexePark works with private companies that have available parking spots when the business is closed. But instead of closing the parking lots after hours, the business owner can earn additional revenue. The online tool allows drivers to scan a QR code of the sign of an available parking space, enter vehicle information and pay for it with a credit card of PayPal.

AcceliCity is a competition for startup businesses and innovators, created by the nonprofit organization, Leading Cities. The organization helps small companies find capital from a network of investors.

“FlexePark addresses one of the greatest challenges with urban traffic — accessing much-needed parking,” said Michael Lake, president and CEO of Leading Cities. “With an estimated 33 percent of traffic being generated by cars searching for parking, FlexePark is reducing traffic, reducing carbon emissions, and monetizing otherwise underutilized assets.” 

The company says unlike other shared-parking options, FlexePark does not require a user to download an app or reserve a parking spot in advance.

In this year’s competition, 500 ideas were submitted from 43 countries. A panel of judges narrowed the list to the final 14, including FlexePark. The finalists will participate in a Smart City Boot Camp in Boston later this month where they’ll get a chance to connect with potential investors.


Inmate confesses killing 2 molesters in letter to newspaper

CORCORAN, Calif. (AP) — A California inmate serving a life sentence for murder confessed in a letter that he beat to death two child molesters with a cane hours after a prison counselor ignored his urgent warning that he might become violent.

In a letter to the Bay Area News Group, Jonathan Watson, 41, said he clubbed both men in the head on Jan. 16 at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in the small central city of Corcoran.

The first attack occurred after Watson became enraged that one of the sex offenders was watching a children’s television show, the Northern California newspaper group reported Thursday,

Prisoner David Bobb, 48, died that day. Graham De Luis-Conti, 62, died three days later at a hospital. Both were serving life sentences for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14.

“We can’t comment on an active investigation,” Dana Simas, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, wrote in an email.

Watson is serving a life sentence for a 2009 murder conviction.

Days before the attack, he said his security classification was changed and he was transferred from a single-person cell to a lower-security dormitory pod at the Central Valley facility. Watson called the switch a “careless” mistake and said he had protested the decision.

Watson wrote that six days after he arrived at the prison, a child molester moved into the pod. Watson believed the man began taunting other inmates by watching children’s television programming. Watson said in the letter he couldn’t sleep that night “having not done what every instinct told me I should’ve done right then and there.”

Two hours before the attacks the next day, Watson told a prison counselor that he urgently needed to be transferred back to higher-level security “before I really (expletive) one of these dudes up,” but the counselor “scoffed and dismissed” him.

Watson said he returned to his housing pod.

“I was mulling it all over when along came Molester #1 and he put his TV right on PBS Kids again,” he wrote, according to the newspaper chain. “But this time, someone else said something to the effect of ‘Is this guy really going to watch this right in front of us?’ and I recall saying, ‘I got this.’ And I picked up the cane and went to work on him.”

Watson said he then left the housing pod to find a guard and turn himself in, but on the way, he saw “a known child trafficker, and I figured I’d just do everybody a favor,” Watson wrote. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

Watson said he then told a guard, who didn’t believe him “until he looked around the corner and saw the mess I’d left in the dorm area,” Watson wrote.

Watson is in segregated housing while he is under investigation for the killings. He hasn’t been charged yet.

“Being a lifer, I’m in a unique position where I sometimes have access to these people and I have so little to lose,” Watson wrote. “And trust me, we get it, these people are every parents’ worst nightmare.”