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.

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek 4/28/09

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Hi Ticket Geek,

I have an out-of-state car which is boot eligible. I am about to drive it back to New York, and return with another car that I own. I understand that the city is very unlikely to connect the boot-eligible car with the new one. Is this true?

Even if my cars were registered in Illinois, can they boot one car you own for tickets on a different car?

Thanks!

Ned

Hey Ned!

These are both great questions.

First, your strategy for avoiding the boot is a great one. If you have multiple vehicles registered out of state and drive them in Illinois, the chances are EXTREMELY low that the city will link the vehicles.

This is especially true if you have the luxury of being able to afford a large fleet of vehicles registered out of state, at your disposal, like yourself.

What the heck Ned? Are you jet setting between Chicago and New York or what? Are you “Summering” in The Hamptons, attending polo matches on weekends and meeting friends the “club” after work? Are these “vehicles” you are speaking of actually high end European sports cars costing in excess of six figures or just limousines?

Unfortunately, for the rest of us broke ass victims of the recession,  (like the impoverished and pathetic Geek), and can only afford to register your broken down, pothole damaged jalopies in Illinois, you are more at risk with booting.

So the simple answer is YES, if you have multiple vehicles registered in Illinois, technically, all your vehicles are boot eligible if one of them is boot eligible.

However. Despite the fact they have the technology, the city doesn’t always seem to put two and two together.

For example, if you have two vehicles. One with three tickets and boot eligible and the other with no tickets. The one with no tickets will most likely NOT be connected to the boot eligible vehicle.

Those evil boot vans will be looking for the license plate of the boot eligible vehicle NOT the vehicle with the clean plates–because it’s most likely not in the database of boot eligible vehicles.

However, if both vehicles registered in one name have a combined three or more tickets in final determination (or two over a year old) and is boot eligible, both vehicles are in danger of the boot.

At least that is our most recent knowledge. The city continues to improve their database and technology, so things could be changing and I wouldn’t know about it until I get booted again.

So paranoia is always the best strategy when the boot is in pursuit of your vehicles.

Very truly yours,

The Geek

Dear Parking Ticket Geek,

I parked on Ontario near Orleans on Tuesday night.

I put $4 in quarters in the meter and went to dinner. When we returned to the vehicle, there was a ticket – not for a meter violation but for residential permit parking!

Down the street was a residential zone sign from 6pm-6am. If meter had to be fed until 9pm, and the residential parking zone starts at 6pm – it doesn’t make any sense! The residents would have feed the meter for three hours??

Is this contestable? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Pablo

Pablo-

Yeah, this is really confusing.

And painful.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about this particular issue.

Unfortunately, the residential permit parking restrictions take precedence over the parking meters. So, yes, even people with the proper parking permits would have to feed those meters.

Any other parking restrictions (street cleaning, temporary no parking signs for construction or an event, 2″ snow ban, valet parking) will ALWAYS take precedence over a parking meter.

If there’s street cleaning on a metered street one morning, just because you park at a meter and plug it with a quarter doesn’t mean you are not in violation of a street cleaning violation.

In the above photo, for example, the loading zone would take precedence over the meter. On a humorous side note, In typical city fashion, this meter is completely unnecessary, as the loading zone prevents people from using the meter until 2 AM. And at 2 AM, the meter doesn’t have to be fed at this particular location in Lakeview.

So the same goes for residential permit parking. The zoned parking has precedence over the meters.

It’s VERY important to read the signs and be double, extra careful. Often it’s worth the extra minute or two to stroll down the block to make sure there are not any conflicting signs that can get you in trouble.

Even the meters will often have warning labels.

Good Advice

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I think you’re screwed on this one Pablo.

The Parking Ticket Geek

Hi Geek,

Stumbled upon your site today and I was wondering if you could help me out.

I just received a ticket for having my windows tinted (first time in 3 years of parking on the street with the same tinted windows), and needless to say I’m going to contest it to try and avoid the ridiculous and unnecessary $250 fine.

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What I’d like to know is whether or not I can have the tints removed and argue at the hearing that I’m currently in compliance with the rule.

The ticket instructions say I can’t argue current compliance for this violation, but I couldn’t find anything in the Chicago Municipal Code that says I can’t assert a compliance defense. Is there any authority besides the ticket instructions that says I can’t argue compliance for this violation, and if not, do you think I have a shot with this sort of argument?

Thanks for the help.

John

Dear John,

Yup, $250 bucks is a real stick in the eye isn’t it?  A really sharp one at that. That tinted window fine went up pretty recently. And I agree, it’s a crock of crap.

However, there is no compliance component to this ordinance within the municipal code. Here is the law.

9-76-220 Obstruction of driver’s vision; tinted and nonreflective windows.

(a) No person shall operate a motor vehicle on any roadway with
any sign, poster, window application, reflective material,
nonreflective material or tinted film on the front windshield,
sidewings or side windows immediately adjacent to either side of the operator…

(b) It is unlawful to park or stand a vehicle on any portion of
the public way if the vehicle is equipped with nonreflective, smoked or tinted glass or nonreflective film on the front windshield, sidewings or side windows immediately adjacent to either side of the driver’s seat.

So, your windows are either tinted, or they’re not.

You can’t just remove the tint and be in compliance and get out of that $250 fine.

However, if you can somehow photograph your vehicle, perhaps with someone in it and demonstrate that it’s not tinted, it may be worth fighting the ticket. Check out this previous Ask The Geek column for more details.

If you really do have tinted windows, I would advise removing the tint as soon as possible. I think it will cost you around $50, an amount which is a lot less than $250.

Thanks John.

The Geek

Hi PTG,

Question: On occasion I rent a car from a company that’s based in Indiana and sometimes I am given a car with Indiana plates. What happens if I get a ticket and ignore it?

Thanks,

RS

Well RS,

Your issue then becomes between you and the rental company.

They’ll either ask you to pay it and if you don’t, they’ll pay it but then charge your credit card.

So, with a rental car you are at even MORE of a disadvantage when it comes to parking tickets. You can’t run and hide like I do when I get a ticket.

Perhaps this has something to do with my irrational and abject fear of Hertz Rent-A-Cars.

Thanks RS.

The Geek

Ask The Parking Ticket Geek is a weekly parking ticket advise column here at The Expired Meter.

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

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.