Monthly Archives: April 2009

Ticket Tidbits: Car Crashes, Anarchists, Booting, Ticketmaster, LA, DC & Midlothian

Each week or two, The Expired Meter offers up a potpourri of ticket and parking related news to keep you up informed and up to date.

ITEM: Meter Repair Man Steals $171,000 In Quarters

It seems the enterprising, but ultimately stupid William Fell, a 61-year old meter repair man for Alexandria, VA, got caught stealing nearly $172,000 dollars in quarters.

It seems that over the past year, Fell had been coming to work early. Very early. About 3-4 AM, well before his 5 AM start time. It turns out he had been relieving parking meters of their booty of quarters before work.

Fell’s supervisor noticed a steep drop in meter revenue, and put two and two together with Fell’s early start times.

The Fox News station in Washington DC has the full story.

ITEM: Parking Meter Injured In Car Crash

It’s really never a good idea to text message while driving as one driver found out the hard way the other day when, while texting they crashed into a building under construction.

No one was injured, thank God.

However, the only casualty was a poor, innocent parking meter just minding it’s own business on Milwaukee Ave.

According to WBBM Newsradio 780, “The two vehicles “by momentum” then traveled into a building under construction at 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave. and also broke a parking meter “right off,” according to the captain.”

ITEM: Parking Meter Used To Smash Window In Pilsen

In an alleged anti-Olympics protest on April 22nd, a bunch of anarchist idiots, thought it would be “cool” to use a parking meter as a weapon to break the windows of a condo development, according to Chicago Indy Media.

“A third window was smashed with a parking meter that bore a message. The message reads “Dear Racist Capitalist Scum, You and your tenants are displacing us. This is our response and it is only the beginning.”

This story demonstrates that parking meters actually have larger intellectual capacity than a violent anarchist.

ITEM: Reaction To Chicago Reader Story

If it’s not in your recycling bin already, in the April 16th issue of the Chicago Reader, following Mick Dumke and Ben Jorvasky’s fantastic expose of the parking meter lease deal, Jorvasky responds to some of the many, many furious readers.

ITEM: Higher Parking Meter Rates In Our Nation’s Capitol

In Washington D.C., they’re facing higher parking meter rates too. According to the Washington Examiner, the DC city council approved the increase in December, and all 16,500 meters should reflect the new, higher rates by next week. $1 an hour meters jump to $2 and all other meters go up by two bits.

ITEM: Ald. Joe Moore Comes Out Against 2 Ticket Booting

49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore comes out against the city’s two ticket booting ordinance in this ABC 7 News video.

ITEM: Suburban Midlothian Offers Ticket Scofflaws Amnesty

Out in suburban Midlothian, they’ve taken a tip from Chicago and are offering all the scurrilous scofflaws out there a parking ticket amnesty.

It starts May 1st and ends October 31st, and according to the Southtown Star newspaper, “Village attorney Dan McGrath said the program will be for those who have accrued the $250 maximum in parking fines and penalties or who have failed to appear in village court on their cases.”

ITEM: Ticketmaster Gives Us The 411 On Broken Meters & Street Cleaning

Ticketmaster, this website’s resident Parking Enforcement Aide (PEA) and expert on ticket writing,  reports a slowdown in PEA ticket writing because of the recent increase in broken and vandalized parking meters.

Due to recent problems with the meters, Department of Revenue management has instructed their PEA’s, when they log in a broken meter into their AutoCITE (the handheld ticket writing computer/printer), they also have to immediately call it into Revenue Security reporting the meter # and address,” explains Ticketmaster. “The good news for the citizens is that broken meters will get reported sooner, and also it will slow PEA’s down.”

And new guidelines in regards to properly providing photo evidence for tickets is having an effect on the speed of street cleaning violations as well.

With Street Cleaning tickets, management has instructed us to take a photo of the car, and a photo of the sign (even if sign is 1/2 block away) (and if at all possible with car in photo),” says Ticketmaster. “Talk about time consuming. This will be a very long street cleaning season. The good news is that the tickets will be harder to fight. The bad news, depending on where the signs are and how many cars are on a block, it will slow us down.”

Well, I don’t often disagree with Ticketmaster, but isn’t it BAD news that tickets are harder to fight and GOOD news that it’s slowing down ticket writing? Just wondering. Obviously I am biased.

ITEM: Street sweeper camera program on hold?

Sources claim the highly touted street sweeper camera program, where every big blue sweeper would be armed with a camera to photograph license plates of cars violating street cleaning parking bans, is being disbanded.

Allegedly, the six cameras are being removed.

ITEM: Two More Violations Added To PEA’s Repertoire

Ticketmaster also reports that DOR has just updated the violations in the PEA’s handheld computer/printers they issue tickets with.

They’ve added two more violations to the AutoCITE database, one for tinted windows and another for having a car alarm go off for more than 4 minutes.

While both violations have been on the books for a while, up until now, only cops would write those type of violations.

So watch out and get your tint removed and for God’s sake please turn off your alarm–at least during the day! No one wants your crappy AMC Pacer anyway.

ITEM: LA Rushes Toward Parking Meter Privatization

Yesterday, the LA City Council voted nearly unanimously to spend half a million bucks to explore privatizing their 41,000 parking meters ala Chicago according to LA Streets Blog.

LA’s KNBC also covered this story.

About two weeks back, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, proposed the idea in a Budget & Finance Committee Meeting.

Politicians and pundits have been watching what’s been going on here in Chicago very closely.

In fact, a writer from the LA Times, will be on the ground here in Chicago this morning, to spend a few days checking out how our city is handling our meter madness.

Hopefully, if LA moves ahead with privatization, they’ll learn from the many, many, many mistakes Chicago made.

Cops Used For On The Job Valet Parking


Pam Zekman cracks me up.

When the CBS 2 Investigative Reporter shows up on TV, you know someone is going to get a smackdown. It makes me giggle when she chases these numb skulls down the street.

I don’t blame them! If I ever see Zekman walking up to me with a microphone and a cameraman in tow, I’m hauling ass.

This time, she sheds her bright kleig lights of truth on another clout driven scam.

It seems the city has some police officers working as glorified valet parkers.

Zekman staked out Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park and the United Center and caught polticians, contractors, police officials and others with clout, parking illegally right in front of each venue.

Despite the fact that signs clearly prohibited parking during game days, fat cat after fat cat pulled up and parked while police officers signaled them into spots and reserved spots with bright orange safety cones.

I wonder if these cops ever thought, when they were going through the police academy, that they would be reduced to the role of a valet parking lackey? It’s really embarrassing.

Is this what cops should be doing? What happened to catching bad guys, keeping the peace and making sure our citizens are safe? How does opening the car doors of scumbags whom feel entitled to such perks, make the city safer?

And who downtown sanctioned this? My guess is the cops will get in trouble for doing what they were instructed, and the people who told them to do it will skip away scott free.

Unfortunately, Zekman just reinforces that there are two sets of rules in Chicago. One set of rules for the clouted. And another for the rest of us suckers.

Watch Pam Zekman chase a bunch of jerks parking illegally with her microphone. Hilarious!

Thanks to Illinois Patriot for the tip.

Wake Up To The Parking Ticket Geek

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What’s more annoying than waking up to an incessant alarm clock in the morning?

Waking up to a radio alarm clock and being forced to listen to the grating voice of that goof called the Parking Ticket Geek on the radio.

Someone should write a torture memo about THAT!

The Geek joins the morning team of Big John & Cisco on WIND 560 AM to talk about the Geek’s recent run in with the law.

Tune in to John & Cisco on 560 AM or stream it live right here.

The Geek will be on between 7:30 and 8 AM.

DOR Caught In The Act Downtown

Our good friend The Angry Chicagoan, spotted this Dept. of Revenue van illegally parked downtown at noon this past Tuesday.

No one was in the van, according to Mr. Angry.

He and I concur the driver was probably enjoying a delicious, leisurely lunch somewhere in the vicinity of where their vehicle was parked, being that it was lunchtime and all.

Mr. Angry and The Geek also agree, that if he and I decided to lunch downtown, and were parked in defiance of the posted signs, we would have been ticketed and then, most likely towed to the tune of $160.

The Angry Chicagoan has some very strong thoughts about protesting the parking meter lease deal and the meter rate hikes, with his thoughts popping up all over the place including last week’s Chicago Reader.

And that’s one reason we like the Angry Chicagoan so much.

Fewer Cars Towed For Ravenswood Run

Last year, 300 cars got towed along the Ravenswood Run race course.

This year, numbers were down substantially, with only a reported 50 cars getting towed.

It sounds like the race promoters learned from last year’s fiasco and got the word out in a big way, even holding a press conference Friday to warn residents to move their cars.

According to reports, unlike last year, signs were posted properly and in quantity along the race route.

50 cars sounds about normal for a race of this length.

So essentially, the news story is that there is no story.

And that’s good news.

Minnesota Bitch Slaps Illinois Tollway

Despite the fact we really don’t cover tollbooth violations here, this story was too good to I-Pass up.

It seems that the Illinois Tollway system is sending out a lot of unwarranted fines for blowing through a tollbooth without paying, to drivers in Minnesota, who weren’t even in the state of Illinois when the violation allegedly occurred.

In fact, the volume of improper violation notices from Illinois has increased so much, the harassment from debt collection companies on behalf of the Illinois Tollway has been so profound, and the complaints have been so plentiful in Minnesota, their State’s Attorney, Lori Swanson has told Illinois to back off.

In addition, Swanson held a press conference to ask other Minnesotans if they’ve been illegitimately harassed by the Illinois Tollway system.

Here’s Swanson’s press release from Friday. And boy, she seems pretty pissed.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a very comprehensive article about this.

Am I Missing Something Here?

On Wednesday, the Sun-Times front page story is about the two-ticket booting kicking in.

Of course, I ravenously read it over, thinking my hero, city hall reporter Fran Spielman has some earth shaking parking related story.

Not really.

The story is basically a slightly updated version of what The Expired Meter reported back in early March.

The only new information is that the city announced 65,000 or so seizure notices were mailed out to vehicle owners and 415 of these people have already felt the painful sting of a big, evil, yellow metal immobilization device slapped onto their vehicle. The 415 then had to suffer the excruciating and brutal assault on their wallet and forked over a big wad of cash to the city to secure freedom for their vehicle.

So, I’m thinking, this is some pretty stale, so-called “news.”

I mean, the 65,000 people whom received their seizure notices, already got the new, right?

But then, later that evening, I see a news report by Sarah Schulte on the ABC 7 website reporting,  City warns ‘boot’ is on it’s way. Check out the video news report too.

So now I’m really confused.

Am I missing something here? Is this actually a news story? I mean, anyone who reads this website would have already have known this piece of news–six weeks ago!

So, whatever.

If you don’t know already, the two-ticket boot plan is now in full swing.

Either pay up or watch your back.

The Geek is working on an article on how best to avoid the boot. Stay tuned.

The Geek On The Radio Twice This Weekend

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The Parking Ticket Geek is a busy boy this weekend.

In between his glitzy social schedule of a birthday party for a 6-year old, two school events for the kids, and Sunday morning Mass, the Geek finds time to appear on two radio shows this weekend.

Saturday afternoon, the Geek shows up on Dick Kay’s Back on the Beat talk show on WCPT 820 AM.

Mr. Kay’s show airs from 1-4 every Saturday afternoon. The Geek shows up in the 2 o’clock hour.

Now, Dick Kay is a local legend in Chicago broadcasting. Everyone knows that. I’ve admired his political reporting for years.

But why he wants to diminish his legacy and the quality of his show, by having a simpleton like the Parking Ticket Geek spout off about Chicago parking issues, is beyond my puny frontal lobe.

Then on Sunday night (actually early Monday morning) the Geek joins his idol, Nick Digilio on WGN 720 AM at midnight.

Now Nick has all sorts of nuts and fringe elements on his show. That’s why I’m such an avid fan. When one of the most popular weekly features on Nick’s show is “Drunks In The News,” the Geek kinda fits right in.

So, tune in this weekend, if you have nothing better to do.

ALERT!: Ravenswood Run Sunday, Move Your Car!

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If you live up in Ravenswood, make sure your car is parked safely Sunday morning.

The Ravenswood Run takes place this Sunday morning at 8 AM.

But if you are parked on a street along the race course, you will have to move your car no later than 5 AM. That’s when the towing will start.

And if you recall from last year’s race, 300 cars were towed off the alleged “race course.”

From most reports and by the volume of cars that were towed, it seems that the race promoters didn’t do a good enough job of postering and communicating with residents, what streets residents couldn’t park on.

It’s a safe bet that the race promoters, Ald. Schulter’s office, and All Saints Episcopal Church are going to be overly aggressive in getting the word out this time around.

Check the map and if you live on any of those streets, we recommend moving  your car the night before, far away from the race, so you don’t have to worry about your car being towed away.

Additionally, here’s a PDF of the Ravenswood Run course map.

According to a press release from Ald. Schulter’s office, “Alternate parking for residents will be available from 3 p.m. on April 25 until 3 p.m. on April 26 at both Ravenswood School (4332 N. Paulina), Ravenswood Bank (2300 W. Lawrence), the surface lot 4500 N. Winchester.  Additional parking is available at the Sears parking lot at 1820 W. Lawrence until 12:00 pm on Sunday afternoon.”

In addition, there will be street closures in the area of the race on event day.

Don’t wait until early Sunday morning to move your car, because we know you. You’ll drink a little too much Saturday night, then forget to set your alarm and then wake up at noon. You’ll stumble out of bed, find your car “missing” and then spend the rest of your Sunday in line at the hell that is the auto pound just to pay $160+ bucks to the city for the privilege of getting your car back.

If you’re still not sure where you can park, call Ravenswood Community Services at 773-769-0282 or call the 47th Ward office and ask the nice people there for help. Their number is 773-348-8400.

If you somehow screw up and get towed, check out our Ultimate Internet Reference Guide To Getting Towed By The City Of Chicago.

Parking Karma At Work?

Saw this Comcastic funny foto over at Endgadget.

Thanks for the tip Pablo, who says, “There are fewer things I hate more than parking tickets and Comcast!!”.