Monthly Archives: January 2010

Chicago’s Parking Meter Deal A ‘Sucessful Fiasco’

Former Indianapolis Mayor Steven Goldsmith weighs in with his thoughts on Chicago’s parking meter lease deal in a piece for the ultra-wonky Governing Magazine.

Goldsmith basically feels the deal should have been a no-brainer. In his opinion the money was good, and he supports the concept of privatization. But, because of mistakes of implementation, there’s been a political backlash and, according to Goldsmith, was a “cause célèbre for opponents of privatization nationwide.”

His opinion piece basically rehashes the deal and the main implementation problems over the past year, but he fails to address how the Mayor jammed the deal down Chicago’s throat like force feeding a duck for the purposes of producing delicious foie gras.

Read Goldsmith’s full piece “Successful ‘Fiasco’: Chicago’s Parking Meter Mishap.”

Hat tip to MW, and also Lynn Stevens who writes the Peopling Places blog.

Racist ‘Parking Tickets’ Show Up In County Board Race

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Only in Chicago.

According to a news report from NBC 5, political fliers designed to look like Chicago parking tickets and placed on the windshield of cars in the South Loop, attack Ald. Toni Preckwinkle who’s running in the Democratic Primary for Cook County Board President.

On the backside of the flier Ald. Preckwinkle is called an “Aunt Jemima,” and has a photo of Preckwinkle with a parking meter paybox behind her.

While the racially charged slur upset Preckwinkle, the Alderman seemed almost more bothered by being accused of something even more inflammatory–being a supporter Chicago’s parking meter lease deal.

The truth is, Preckwinkle was vocally opposed to the meter lease deal, and one of only five Chicago City Council members whom voted against the $1.16 billion dollar deal.

While the news story originated on NBC 5 locally, it made its way to the NBC Nightly News on Thursday evening.

Website Let’s Drivers Handle Speeding Tickets Online

Good news for lead footed drivers, now you can pay your speeding ticket, or request a court hearing online.

Back in late June, the Cook County Clerk’s office debuted a new website allowing motorists ticketed for speeding and a handful of other moving violations, to deal with their ticket from the convenience of a personal computer.

Previously, motorists nabbed with a speeding ticket or similar violation could mail in their payment or hearing request or could wait in line at one of the Clerk’s district locations.

“This new service is a special convenience for the citizens of Cook County,” said Dorothy Brown, Cook County Clerk via press release . “It enables individuals to rapidly and conveniently respond to their traffic violations and, if they so choose, pay associated fines and other charges, safely and securely on their home computers.”

The Clerk does charge a $5 fee per ticket for the convenience of using this website to pay your violations this way.

There are a few restrictions to using the new system. First, you have to be 18 years or older and, it must be what’s called a “Court Diversion” ticket. In other words, you received a ticket that does not require you to appear in court.

The Clerk’s Online Traffic Ticket System, the first of its kind in Illinois, gives users several options.

First, you need to search for your ticket. Although it can take anywhere from seven to 21 days for your violation to show up on the traffic ticket system.

You can plead guilty and pay your fine, or plead guilty, register for Traffic Safety School, and pay your fine and registration fee, or  plead not guilty and request a hearing.

Violations handled by Online Traffic Ticket System

  • Failure to wear a seat belt
  • U-turn in intersection
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign
  • Disobey turn signal indicator
  • Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk
  • Improper right turn
  • Turn on red prohibited
  • Failure to use turn signal
  • Obstructed or cracked front or side windshield
  • Speeding

Chicago Parking Meter Rate Changes 98% Complete

Parking meter rate increases for 2010 are essentially complete according to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.

CPM spokesperson Avis LaVelle, explained in our report on January 12th, traditional single-space meters would not begin being changed until after all pay box rates were finished being changed.

The vast majority of metered spaces, controlled by multi-space pay boxes, have already been adjusted to reflect the higher rates. CPM finished installing 4100 plus pay boxes the end of November of 2009 and cover over 36,000 metered spaces, or over 98% of all metered spaces.

CPM’s plan was to complete the rate change on all pay boxes before moving on to converting the 600+ remaining traditional single-space meters to the new rates.

Most, if not all single-space meters have been changed over to these higher rates.

The new rates are now $4.25 downtown, $2.50 per hour in areas directly adjacent to the downtown areas and $1.25 per hour in all other outlying neighborhoods.

Take the time to read the displays and signs carefully on each meter so you understand the rate you will have to pay.

Sun-Times: What’s Up With ParkMagic?

Transportation writer Mary Wisniewski took a look into the ParkMagic program in Monday’s Chicago Sun-Times.

Wisniewski tries to find out when the heck Chicago Parking Meters, LLC will make a decision regarding the pay-by-phone device, but got the typical non-committal answer from the company.

Hopefully, CPM will pull the trigger on ParkMagic and let more people embrace this cutting edge technology.

While Wisniewski’s piece claims 700 people got ParkMagic units back in 2007, that number is closer to 1000.

Here’s her full story, “No Magic answer to pay boxes.”

Rich Dude Gets Nailed With $290,000 Speeding Ticket

That’s right.

A $290,000 speeding ticket.

A Swiss millionaire, according to a report from the Associated Press, with a history of repeated speeding offenses, was hit with this record setting fine because normal speeding ticket fines were not having the normal effect of deterring rich dudes from driving too fast. He was going twice the local speed limit, 60 mph in a 30 mph zone in his Ferrari.

More and more European countries like Germany, Austria, France and Nordic nations have been changing their laws to make allowances for an individuals wealth and tailor a fine to reflect their wealth and income. In Germany, while no one has received it, the maximum fine is $16 million. The max in Switzerland is $1 million.

Before, because lower fines were essentially as insignificant as pocket change to a very wealthy person, these rich drivers continued to flout driving laws.

One wonders if the laws should work the other way as well where broke guys like The Parking Ticket Geek would be fined $5 for driving his rusting ’89 Impala over the speed limit?

Ticket Trap Game Teaches Drivers How To Avoid Parking Tickets

Can I park here?

That’s the question that confounded John Staniszewski for many years when he was living in his native Brooklyn.

It was his frustration with confusing parking signs which led to Staniszewski’s car being ticketed many, many times over the years.

“No matter where I parked in Brooklyn there was a different regulation and I would be getting tickets all the time,” said Staniszewski who goes by the handle Parking Ticket Terminator. “There was nothing out there to educate people with that and led me to think of different ways to help with that.”

Eventually, it was those maddeningly annoying signs and costly tickets that was the motivation behind Ticket Trap–Staniszewski’s online parking ticket game.

“It’s meant to give people an experience of what’s out there and take the edge of the parking (experience), said Staniszewski explaining why he decided to create Ticket Trap. “It helps get your eyes used to the seeing the details of seeing different signs and build awareness of how to park legally.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Staniszewski an elementary school music teacher for 20 some years, now living on Staten Island, used his background in education to use, designing the game as an “question and answer game about educating and building awareness of many of the problems motorists face parking their vehicles everyday.”

Ticket Trap allows players to pick their player avatar and a vehicle to roam to and fro over the entire five burroughs of New York and challenge their parking violation knowledge. Gamers can play in both English and Spanish.

If you opt to play the game in a traditional linear way, you begin your trek on Staten Island level one, progressing next to Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and finally, Manhattan, the most difficult level.

Along the way, you make stops to park and are challenged in the form of a parking ticket and an image of a NYC parking sign, a scenario and then a list of multiple choice answers. Choose the right answer and you collect the amount of the fine, or if you are wrong, you lose whatever the fine amount is.

Staniszewski came up with the Ticket Trap game concept over seven years ago and began using one set of internet gaming developers in India. When the first developer disappeared with all the programming code for a half-finished version of the game, Staniszewski had to start the process over again from scratch.

“It was years in the making,” said Staniszewski. “I lost a lot of sleep over it.”

But Staniszewski’s persistence paid off when he debuted the game this past summer.

Traffic is up at his game website and he plans on releasing a CD version of the game soon. In addition, he’s been working on a parking sign matching game to further educate drivers on how to be more savvy when reading signs when trying to park.

While the self-named Parking Ticket Terminator says his experience in parking in New York has reduced the amount of parking tickets he receives, he sheepishly admits he still gets a ticket once in a while.

“I’m pretty good, but I’m always learning something new,” said Staniszewski. “I was getting several a year still when I was living in Brooklyn. Even today parking in the city is challenging.”

Ultimately Staniszewski is hopeful that Ticket Trap will educate drivers to be more aware, careful and and eliminate them getting parking tickets.

You can play Ticket Trap online at parkingticketgame.com.

Oregon Man Arrested For Feeding Strangers’ Parking Meters

UPDATE #2: This seems to be a huge, HUGE story in Eugene. A more recent report from KEZI TV devotes over 10 minutes of video news coverage to this story and provides testimony from witnesses that back up Mr. Bond’s story and that he did not harass the parking enforcement officer in the way described in the police charges.

In addition, the police admit Bond did not obstruct the officer by plugging the meters (although there is a separate law on the books that makes feeding other people’s meters illegal).

Bond’s fine was $810, but he vows to fight the charges in court.

Check out the full story and video.

UPDATE: KVAL TV in Eugene, OR is reporting additional facts that seem to contradict the arrested man’s account of the situation. It makes him out to be much more of an aggressor and verbally abusive toward the ticket writer. They claim he followed the parking enforcement officer for three blocks in his vehicle while verbally haranguing her. It was this behavior and a fear for her safety, according to city officials, that prompted the parking enforcement officer to call for police.

Thanks to John Adams for the tip.

*****

A Good Samaritan in Eugene, OR had a run in with a parking enforcement officer for feeding the parking meters of complete strangers.

30 year old Benjamin Bond got angry with an enforcement agent writing tickets on the street, parked his truck, fed his meter and then, armed with a pocketful of change, plunked coins into a block full of parking meters.

But saving a bunch of drivers from an expensive expired meter ticket, brought three cops out to slap the cuffs on him and drag him to jail. He was charged with “harassment and obstruction of governmental administration.”

It sounds oddly reminiscent of a run in this writer had with a Parking Enforcement Aide last spring.

Remember, it’s not illegal to feed someone’s parking meter in Chicago.

WBBM Radio Reports Uptick In Ticket Revenue

Revenue from parking ticket fines are up by $1.5 million in 2009 over 2008.

At least according to our friends over at Newsradio 780 AM.

Veteran news reporter Craig Dellimore, reports that $12.5 million in parking ticket fines were raked in during 2008, but rose to $14 million in 2009, a 12% increase.

The city claims the increase is due to several reasons. This includes last year’ s ticket amnesty program, the extended hours of meter enforcement (from 6 days a week to 7 days a week), and increases in fine amounts for some violations.

However, the piece forgets to mention the main reason for the increase which is a massive increase in ticket writing manpower that began at the start of last year.

Here’s the full story.

EDITOR’S NOTE
: The Parking Ticket Geek shares his pathetic brand of nitwittery with Vocalo listeners tonight after 5:30 PM. Listen in at 89.5 FM or stream it live via the Vocalo website.

UN Diplomats Owe NYC $18 Million In Parking Ticket Fines

Ouch!

$18 million in parking fines.

That’s the total amount United Nations’ diplomats from 180 countries owe New York City according to a press release from Representative Anthony Weiner, of New York’s 9th Congressional District.

“It’s insulting to all New Yorkers that countries like Yemen, Zimbabwe and Iran owe the City millions in unpaid parking tickets,” Congressman Weiner said via press release. “Diplomats park illegally, ignore paying their parking tickets and expect New Yorkers to pick up the tab. This needs to end.”

Rep. Weiner wants to get tough with this kabal of international parking ticket scofflaws. He’s proposing legislation that would effectively, have the U.S. State Department withhold the dollar amount of parking ticket fines owed by a nation receiving U.S. foreign aid and re-route it to  NYC to pay for the ticket monies owed.

Egypt leads the list of offenders with nearly $2 million in fines according to Rep. Weiner’s press release, from 17,633 issued between 1997 and 2009 according to the New York Times. Kuwait follows somewhat closely behind with nearly $1.3 million owed.

This type of scofflaw behavior, where foreign diplomats have diplomatic immunity in almost all instances (except parking tickets it seems), is apparently more prevalent from countries with higher levels of corruption according to a study by economists profiled in Forbes magazine back in 2006.

One wonders, are diplomatic vehicles with consulate plates immune from booting and towing?

The Top Ten United Nations Parking Ticket Scofflaws

Country Amount Owed
1. Egypt $1,929,142
2. Kuwait $1,266,901
3. Nigeria $1,019,998
4. Indonesia $692,200
5. Brazil $608,733
6. Morocco $582,883
7. Pakistan $575,108
8. Senegal $486,929
9. Sudan $475,970
10. Angola $438,486

Source: New York City Department of Finance