Monthly Archives: April 2008

Ravenswood Sunday Morning Massacre Update: Alderman Schulter Rubs Salt Firmly In Wound

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Alderman Gene Schulter released a statement today, addressing the Sunday towing fiasco, after he met with organizers of the Ravenswood Run earlier on Tuesday.

According to Robert Rawls, who works in the 47th Ward office, after meeting with everyone involved with the race, including All Saints Episcopal Church, Fleet Feet Sports, The Mayors Office of Special Events, The Chicago Police, etc., Ald. Schulter felt, according to Rawls, “there was enough notice provided,” to residents and motorists parked along the route.

Here is a copy of his statement that was e-mailed to some of the affected residents.

April 29, 2008

Dear 47th Ward Residents,

I have heard from many of your neighbors who woke on April 27, 2008 to find their cars towed due to the 12th Annual Ravenswood Run. On the morning of April 27, nearly 300 cars parked along the race track were impounded. In response to these concerns, I have spoken directly to the race organizers, All Saint Episcopal Church and Fleet Feet Sports. In addition, I have also spoken to officials from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the Chicago Police Department. Reverend Bonnie Perry, the Pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, has provided me with a letter detailing all of the efforts made by the race organizers to effectively communicate both parking restrictions and alternative parking options to the community. I am satisfied that these efforts, along with the email notices provided by my office, were adequate.

The Ravenswood Run is an incredibly beneficial event in our community that raises funds not only for the Ravenswood Community Services Food Pantry but also the Student Health Centers at both Lakeview and Amundsen High Schools. In addition, the event currently draws thousands into our neighborhood and into stores and restaurants surrounding the course.

Attached you will find a copy of the letter provided to me by Reverend Perry. Should you have any further questions, please feel free to call my office at 773-348-8400.

Thanks and best wishes,

Gene Schulter
Alderman, 47th Ward

I’m a bit surprised that Ald. Schulter is siding with the race organizers and not his constituency. But then again, maybe I’m not.

Rawls went on to recommend that anyone who got towed should e-mail there name and contact info to the 47th Ward office at: ward47@cityofchicago.org.

In addition, Rawls said that towed motorists should call the administrative hearing number on the back of their tow receipt to setup a hearing.

47th Ward office staff also indicated that already a petition of protest by pissed off constituents has been issued to the Ald. Schulter.

Finally, some sort of letter from Rev. Bonnie Perry, the pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church pastor, has been issued. Hard copies are available at the ward office, and supposedly e-mail copies were being sent to anyone who has contacted the ward office.

I do not think there was any ill intention on the part of All Saints Church, or any of the race organizers, or the police or Ald. Schulter, but clearly there was some sort of breakdown. When you have over 300 cars towed after allegedly giving “adequate notice” something went wrong.

Below is one letter that was posted on the 47th Ward website.

Ravenswood Run Parking Restriction Letter

My guess that in some instances, on some streets, adequate notice was NOT given.

If race organizers did their job properly, why did so many cars get towed? How many cars have been towed in past years? If this race has been going on for 12 years, why is there such a fuss about cars being towed this year? This reason is, proper notice was not given on 100% of the route.

DUH!

With special events like this, where cars, understandably, have to be moved off the street, inevitably people space out or forget, and cars do get towed.

But too many people are relating the same stories and that story is no signs
were posted in some cases along some streets. Just check out some of the comments posted on the WLS-TV website.

Although I am not surprised, I still think it’s hilarious how everyone involved is trying to cover their asses by pointing the finger at some sincerely innocent victims who legitimately didn’t know they needed to move their car.

No one involved even has the guts to apologize. Pretty lame.

And when you do the math, you can kind of see the writing on the wall. If 300 cars were towed by the city at $160 a pop, that comes to nearly $50,000 in revenue for the city. The powers that be in city hall don’t want to return your money to you–even though proper notice wasn’t given.

The Alderman needs to, at the very least, try to identify some of these
streets and issue a form letter backing up the story of these individuals, and give them additional evidence to fight there tow at a hearing.

Wednesday evenings are Ald. Schulter’s Ward Night from 7-9 PM. His offices are located at 4237 N. Lincoln Ave.

I advise that all those people that got towed, respectfully and politely, ask Ald. Schulter to write some sort of form letter on your behalf. Something that will help with your hearing.

But then you also need to quickly request a hearing on your improper tow and FIGHT IT!

The Parking Ticket Geek Speaks

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Here’s the podcast from Friday’s (4/25/08) broadcast of Outside The Loop Radio.

Outside The Loop Radio Episode #83

The entire episode is dedicated to transit in Chicago with an interview with the publisher of The CTA Tattler, along with an absolutely HILARIOUS letter, show host Mike Stephen wrote to Ald. Vi Daley after his car got towed, and finally, an interview with some nutbag called The Parking Ticket Geek. What an idiot!

Nearly 300 Cars Towed In Ravenswood Sunday Morning

Residents on some streets in Chicago’s northside Ravenswood neighborhood awoke Sunday morning to find their cars missing.

Then, they got the pleasure of spending their Sunday morning standing in line with their neighbors at the auto pound for up to several hours. The highlight of their experience was the chance to fork out $160 bucks.

According to WLS-TV, nearly 300 cars got towed early Sunday morning because the annual Ravenswood Run 5K was happening Sunday morning and allegedly, residents were alerted well in advance and signs were posted warning vehicle owners.

But residents are complaining that on some streets signs were not posted or were torn down and therefore, they were ignorant that they had to move their vehicles.

The sheer number of cars being towed should indicate that something went wrong.

47th ward Ald. Eugene Schulter seems upset too according to the report. He was told that cars would NOT be towed and is calling for an investigation.

Here’s the story on the Ravenswood Sunday Morning Massacre:

Ravenswood residents angry over towed cars

I would advise anyone who got their car towed to go back to the pound and request a hearing. With media coverage like this, along with the help of Ald. Schulter, you should be able to beat the tow and get your money back.

You will have to fill out a form at the auto pound and select a date for your hearing. But it’s relatively painless. Make sure you don’t stand in the main line. Since you are requesting a hearing, you should be able to bypass the main line to talk to a manager about this.

Once you get your hearing, you’ll talk to an attorney from the city. He may just throw it out based on all the media coverage and not try to fight you before the hearing officer.

If he decides to proceed with the hearing, just make your case to the hearing officer. Explain how there were no warning signs. Bring photos of the street showing there were no signs.

Stop by the alderman’s office and ask them to write you a letter on your behalf. This will carry some weight.

Bring in copies of the news story to your hearing.

If possible, bring witnesses along to testify there were no signs, etc.

I would be utterly shocked if everyone involved in this didn’t get a full refund.

This should be a grand slam easy win.

It takes about 6-8 weeks to get your refund check.

Cop Gets Parking Tickets While On The Job

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As you know, since this is a website about fighting Chicago parking tickets, I try to stay away from parking issues that aren’t connected to Chicagoland.

But…this story was too good to pass up.

The Associated Press is reporting an attorney in Portland, OR saw a police officer illegally park his police car, got pissed off at the double-standard and then wrote the officer a citizen violations (Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!!).

Oregon attorney slaps cop with illegal parking complaint

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An attorney who watched a police officer park illegally in front of a restaurant, then wait around while his meal was prepared, issued the officer a series of citizen-initiated violations.

Eric Bryant said he was sitting at the restaurant March 7 when Officer Chad Stensgaard parked his patrol car next to a no-parking sign and walked inside to wait for his food, the Portland Mercury reported Thursday.

Bryant told the weekly paper that when he asked Stensgaard about his car, the officer asked Bryant, “If someone broke into your house, would you rather have the police be able to park in front of your house or have to park three blocks away and walk there?”

Bryant filed a complaint as a private citizen alleging several violations, including illegal parking and illegal operation of an emergency vehicle.

Stensgaard was issued a summons to appear in traffic court in May. The fines could total $540.

“Citizens should be concerned that he used his status as an officer of the law as justification for breaking the law,” Bryant said.

Cathe Kent, a spokeswoman for the Portland Police Bureau, said Stensgaard would fight the complaint in court, “as he rightfully should.”

Parking is limited on city streets, especially with many construction projects downtown, she said, and officers remain on duty even when they are picking up food.

“We are emergency responders and need to be ready to take an emergency call,” Kent said Saturday.

I am split on this issue.

I definitely feel for the lawyer. It’s hard to respect cops when they employ a double-standard of justice in their job. How many times have cops been sympathetic to you when you had, at least in your mind, a legitimate excuse for why you blew threw that stop sign or were speeding or whatever? But, “rules are rules,” they say.

I see police in their patrol cars, on their cell phones without headsets all the time, clearly violating the law against that type of behavior. Why should the police be immune to following the law themselves?

But…I also think there needs to be a bit of leeway and flexibility. Policeman DO need to be able to quickly respond to an emergency call.

So, we’ll just have to see how this story pans out.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek – 4/27/08

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Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I have a quick question – I have read that when given a red light
camera violation, one should just throw it out. At that point, the city
would have to send a personal summons, and since they so rarely do that,
basically, the ticket disappears.

My question is, Why can’t I do this with parking tickets, too? If there’s no proof that I received it, can’t the argument be the same? Or is it different when a parking ticket is placed on the car? After all, someone could have taken the ticket off of my car and
thrown it away. Or it could have been blown away. Right?

Thanks so much for the help.

Mac

Dear Mac,

Mac, Mac, Mac!

“SLAP!” (Imagine sound effect of me loudly slapping my forehead)

I don’t know where you are getting your parking ticket information or from whom you are receiving advice in these matters, but everything you just wrote is just plain wrong, wrong, WRONG!.

Please, do NOT throw out your red light ticket violation. For all practical purposes, the red light ticket IS the summons. You can’t ignore these. If you do, the fine doubles. It’s already a $90 ticket. Double? No thank you. Either fight it, which is very difficult, if not impossible to beat, or pay it. Red light violations, for all practical purposes, is the same as a parking ticket. An unpaid red light violation can count toward the three violation threshold triggering the boot.

No, no, no, red light tickets do NOT disappear.

As far as parking tickets “disappearing”, or “blowing away,” the city has a process that gives you plenty of notice if you open your mail.

Here is how it breaks down. The motorist’s first notice is the ticket itself. You have 7 days to respond by either paying, contesting by mail or requesting an in-person hearing. If the city doesn’t hear from you, they will follow up with a “Notice of Violation.” Now you have 14 days to pay, contest by mail or request a hearing.

If you don’t respond, you get a “Determination of Liability” notice, where you 21 days to pay or try to fight in person. If you don’t respond to that, your mailbox then gets filled with a “Final Determination,” notice and possibly “Seizure Notice” and collection notices.

So as you can see, the city goes out of its way to give you PLENTY of notice. They are required to do everything I outlined above by Illinois state law.

So, even if your ticket somehow “blew away”, you most likely are getting notice from the city. If you’re not, perhaps you have a case as the city is obligated to send all correspondence to the address the vehicle is registered to with the secretary of state.

The only way you can possibly use this argument is to claim you were never at the location listed in the violation at the time and date given. It would help to have proof you were somewhere else, like a plane ticket from that date or a dated receipt from the out of town restaurant you ate at that day, or a credit card statement, etc. or perhaps the testimony of a witness that will backup your alibi of being out of town.

This is a weak argument and I don’t recommend it as the ticket itself establishes your vehicle was there with the time, date, make of vehicle, license plate, etc. On the other hand, I have seen this strategy work. It’s very hard to prove this type of defense. And again, there have been cases where people who have NEVER visited Chicago being issued tickets, so go figure.

I hope my rant has straightened things out for you.

Very truly yours,

The Parking Ticket Geek

If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek at: askthegeek@theexpiredmeter.com

If we publish your question, you get an Expired Meter T-shirt–FREE!




        

Parking Ticket Scofflaw In The News

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Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell yesterday wrote about parking ticket scofflaw Maurice Fulsom and the challenges he has faced because of his parking ticket debt.

Mr. Fulsom owes the city of Chicago $13,000 in parking tickets.

No, that’s not a typo. Seriously, $13,000.

I checked the Dept. of Revenue website to see if Mr. Fulsom made their list of top parking ticket scofflaws. Shockingly, $13,000 of parking ticket debt doesn’t even rank in the top 75, because Fulsom doesn’t even make the list.

Mitchell’s column isn’t really about parking tickets, but how this extreme debt to the city is preventing Mr. Fulsom, a choreographer, from getting a business license to run a practice studio for two south side children’s dance troupes.

Mitchell is probably my favorite Sun-Times columnist and I almost always agree with her.

It’s hard not to side with her again. Fulsom sounds like, despite the fact he owes a crap load of cash for parking tickets, he’s trying to do right by the nearly 70 kids in his programs. Kids who now have no place to rehearse because of the politics surrounding Fulsom’s parking ticket debt.

It’s petty when you think about it. Cash-starved Chicago seems to believe it is more important to collect their $13,000 in parking violations than to keeping kids off the streets and doing something productive–in the same neighborhood where a rash of young people have been killed over the past week.

Pathetic and weak Chicago. Wise up!

Here’s Mary Mitchell’s column

Parking tickets give city license to trip up dancers

It’s a nice piece, but I would be more interested in finding out how does one go about getting $13,000 in parking ticket fines? You almost have to be working at it, as if it were a hobby or calling.

The scary thing is there are at least 75 people who owe even more!!!

We’re going to revisit a discussion on parking ticket scofflaws very soon.

Carol Stream To Install Three Red Light Cameras

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ANOTHER west suburban town voted to install red light cameras in their town.

The Daily Herald is reporting Carol Stream village trustees voted this past Monday (April 21) to install three red light cameras along North Ave.

The three locations will be:

North Ave., East bound at Gary

North Ave., West bound at Gary

North Ave., West bound at Kuhn

No installation date has been scheduled yet because they village awaits final approval from the Illinois Dept. of Transportation.

Here’s the story: Carol Stream to join communities with red-light cameras

Blogger Seeks Donors To Help Pay Parking Tickets

Dave is the blogger at Big Kid: Bigger City.

He recently got bitch slapped by the city of Chicago.

You see, Dave has an out of state license plate. The city is pretty bad about sending notices to people with out of state plates. Sometimes they take years to send the ticket info to the out of state address where your car is actually registered.

Often, and I speak from very real experience, you think you will NEVER get the tickets. You get cocky and start parking anywhere you want, flouting the law, NEVER feeding meters. You are INVINCIBLE!!!

But then, out of the blue, reality knocks you on your ass when you get notices for a crap load of tickets all at once. DAMN!!!

Now Dave is looking for people to help him pay all the money he owes the city. Pretty creative actually. I would love to help him out, but I have my own tickets that I can’t afford to pay. I hope his plan works.

I was stupid, but now I could use some help,” says Dave on his Fundable.com page. “feel free to help me get the city of Chicago off my back.”

If you feel for Dave and and want to contribute, you can Help Dave pay his parking tickets.

Good luck Dave!

Here’s how Dave describes his experience.

Lessons Learned In The Windy City

So, when people say to you, “oh, don’t worry about that parking ticket… you have out-of-state plates so you’re fine,” what should your reply be?
- a) Hey! Great point! I’ll park wherever I want!
- b) Hmm… are you sure? Is that some type of weird law in Chicago?
- c) Shut the freak up. I screwed up, now I’m paying my ticket so the city doesn’t get ticked off a boot my car.
A couple of months ago, I would have probably started out at B, but soon landed on A. It would save me money that I could spend on important things (like coffee and beer) and everybody knows what a pain it can be to park in this city. I mean, it’s not like I’m parking in front of a hydrant or in a bus stop… just in a residential zones that get checked randomly.
Well, that’s before the city of Chicago came to the realization that this car with Ohio plates happened to accumulate a couple (or 6 or 7) tickets over the past three years.
Now, you have to understand, the city of Chicago is a greedy whore. Apparently it is necessary to pay for our mayor to travel all over the world to scope out cities planning for the Olympics. It’s also apparently necessary to pay the court clerk $125,000 a year and provide a “business analyst” that happens to drive her around. I really would love to sit down with her and give her the overused line from Office Space, “So what is it exactly… that you say… you do here?”
So anyway, back to Chicago, the greedy whore. Well, if Chicago sees a way to put a few bejamins in the bank account, there is no way the city is going to miss it. So, if a well-meaning guy from Ohio happens to let a few tickets slip to the land of forgetfulness, Chicago likes to remind that guy that it never forgets a dolla.
So, Chicago came looking for its money. I’m not exactly sure how much I owe, but it is definitely more than I wanted to spend at one time. It’s my fault. I was stupid. I should have paid the tickets when they came through, but it just didn’t happen. I’ll make a quick list of excuses…
- I was just getting on my feet and too poor
- They wouldn’t let me pay in “services rendered”
- They also wouldn’t take Schrute Bucks (or Stanley Nickels)
- I was morally opposed to the outrageous parking fines
- 2006 was the year I made a resolution not to pay parking tickets
- I forgot
The city decided today was the day to remind me that I owed money. So now I feel kind of dumb… and irresponsible. I’m not a big fan of letting crap like this happen, but I’ll live.
Maybe it is the inspiration I need to get back into the habit of using public transportation.
Regardless, the moral of the story is to give the city of Chicago all of your money. You, in return, will get access to lots of parks filled with rude employees and roads with potholes that eat Vespas.
This message has been brought to you by the Chicago Tourism Commission. If you’d like to help me support Chicago in its efforts to make loads of dough, please donate here (this isn’t a joke… this is really a lame solicitation).

I have some advice for Dave and others with out of state plates that experience this situation.

If you had not received anything prior to this, and this recent notice is “Notice of Violation”, you can still possibly fight these tickets. You have 14 days from the date on the Notice of Violation to request hearings or contest by mail.

Or, even if you don’t think you can beat the tickets, you can still request hearings to delay your payment time. It takes 4-6 weeks to get an in-person hearing date and then another 4-6 weeks before the hearing date rolls around. Then, if you blowoff that date, you get another 3-5 weeks to pay before the ticket doubles.

So in essence, you can request a hearing and then work out your own payment plan with the extra time so you don’t have to pay all at once. It sure makes it a bit less painless.

But, perhaps, you can fight and beat some of those tickets and not pay those at all.

The Parking Ticket Geek Bores Radio Listeners This Friday

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The Parking Ticket Geek gets the chance to put radio listeners to sleep this Friday, April 25th, at 6:00 PM on Chicago’s WLUW 88.7 FM.

It’s better and cheaper than Ambien.

This evening I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Andy Hermann and Mike Stephen, the hosts of Outside The Loop RADIO, a news and views radio show that airs on WLUW 88.7 FM at 6:00 PM every Friday evening.

Andy and Mike were very charming and cool and I was flattered that they asked me to be a guest on their radio show. My interview was short, so I’m sure the rest of the program is interesting and exciting.

Listen in and feel your eyes glaze over with boredom as I blather on about the minutae of parking issues in Chicago.

Outside The Loop RADIO

Celebrate Earth Day By Driving Your Car

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Today is Earth Day.

Celebrate it in style by driving your car, preferably an older model that burns a lot of gasoline, to view the beauty that is the earth.

Drive to see all the black and beautiful asphalt paved highways and byways.

Drive to see the handsome, muscled Chicago skyline and glistening azure of Lake Michigan.

Drive to see the verdant farm fields and beautiful lush forests outside the city.

Drive to celebrate the modern automobile that has given the gift of freedom and personal mobility to the common man to see and appreciate the earth. A gift of freedom that would never existed without the car.

Because, the reality is, there is no such thing as global warming. It’s a myth. A myth based on a false premise, and supported by a multitude of faked data constructed by alleged scientists, policy wonks and hippies, to scare the American citizen and enrich it’s conspirators.

A conspiracy meant to deprive you of your right to drive  your car.

The truth is, a new ice age is imminent.

What we need is MORE driving not less.

Fight back and send a message. Do your part by driving your car and “warming” the environment.