Chalk One Up For The Little Guy

Vindication For Motorist Ticketed Paying Meter On Video

Motorist Scott Larsen became a bit of a minor internet celebrity last week just trying to pay for his street parking just over a week ago.

Trying to pay for his metered parking downtown, an NBC camera crew tried to interview him about his thoughts on the increased parking meter rates that had just went into effect a few days before.

But while he was paying, a Traffic Management Aide (TMA) was busy writing Larsen’s car a ticket for, of course, not feeding his meter.

“I literally couldn’t have been two minutes from exiting the car when I walked up to pay,” said Larsen. “30 seconds later I saw she was writing a ticket. Obviously she saw me. I’ve gotten several thousand dollars worth of tickets over several years and to get one in spite of paying is really frustrating.”

The entire encounter got caught on video, posted to the web and viola’ a tempest in an, admittedly, tiny teapot.

While at the end of the video Larsen dejectedly walked away from his car with a $50 bright orange parking ticket, this wasn’t the end of the story.

It seems once the NBC video had started making it’s rounds of local news websites (including here), someone within the Office of Emergency Management & Communications (OEMC) got wind and realized they had an embarrassing situation on their hands.

According to OEMC spokesperson Roderick Drew, OEMC officials not only watched NBC’s video, but were able to review the entire encounter on video captured from one of Chicago’s overhead “bluelight” pod cameras.

“We reviewed the pod camera which captured the entire incident,” said Drew. “We immediately tracked him (Larsen) down and non-suited the ticket and apologized for the incident.”

According to Drew, OEMC moved to throw out the ticket within 24 hours of the video posting.

Larsen, contacted by phone seemed satisfied with the outcome, explaining someone from OEMC had made repeated calls to the customer service department of Luna, the carpeting company where he’s a salesman, trying to reach him the day after the incident.

When they finally reached Larsen he says, “They said, ‘we apologize for the incident and how our TMA agent acted’.”

Although Larsen is happy with his ticketed being withdrawn, he’s still miffed at the way the TMA acted.

“I thought she (the TMA) was being overzealous, unsympathetic and gruff,” said Larsen “Sometimes when you give people a small amount of authority it goes to their heads.”

But the OEMC’s Drew feels no one is really to blame in this situation and it was simply one big miscommunication.

“In reviewing the incident he (Larsen) literally parked his car and walked to the meter,” Drew elaborated.  “He was partially obstructed by the camera and the TMA didn’t see anyone at the paybox. No one was really at fault. It’s one of those quirky situations you hope doesn’t happen.”

In the end, Larsen has one less parking ticket to pay and is satisfied with the outcome.

“It was nice to have something good come out of all of this,” said Larsen.

24 Responses to Chalk One Up For The Little Guy

  1. Capt M-Plate says:

    Obscured and the TMA didn’t see anyone at the box My ass.

  2. Sean says:

    Highlights a clear problem with the system… you have to leave your car ‘illegally’ parked in order to get the parking stub to make it legal.

  3. [...] being issued and they seem to have come to action.  According to The Expired Meter, the city threw out the ticket within 24 hours of the video being [...]

  4. Jeff says:

    The squeaky wheel gets the justice

  5. Dan Schreck says:

    WoW!!! great story!

  6. Hey, why can’t we all ask for the blue box video when we get a parking or red light camera ticket by submitting a FOIA to the CPD. Sounds like the city went way out of their way to rectify an abuse of power and discretion. Too late, the city’s overt apology underscores their thin skin when subjected to the media spot light.

  7. [...] Score a victory for non-retardation — ticket was dismissed. According to OEMC spokesperson Roderick Drew, OEMC officials not only watched NBC’s video, but were able to review the entire encounter on video captured from one of Chicago’s overhead “bluelight” pod cameras. “We reviewed the pod camera which captured the entire incident,” said Drew. “We immediately tracked him (Larsen) down and non-suited the ticket and apologized for the incident.” According to Drew, OEMC moved to throw out the ticket within 24 hours of the video posting. Larsen, contacted by phone seemed satisfied with the outcome, explaining someone from OEMC had made repeated calls to the customer service department of Luna, the carpeting company where he’s a salesman, trying to reach him the day after the incident. When they finally reached Larsen he says, “They said, ‘we apologize for the incident and how our TMA agent acted’.” Verdict: Over-hyped. Chips… you built this sandwich up too much, and it couldn't live up to the lofty expectations you gave it. Reply With Quote   + Reply to Thread « Previous Thread | Next Thread » [...]

  8. Greg says:

    She didn’t see him? He is on video shouting to her that he is paying the box…

  9. KC says:

    I’m glad they got rid of the ticket.

    But it is an absolute lie to say that she didn’t see him. She says, “You were over there doing an interview while I was here.” From the time the interview started to the time he put the ticket in his window was about 1 minute.

    Honestly, she should be fired. She wanted to get back at him for talking to the media. She works for the city and government employees should not be trying to punish people for speaking to the press. It isn’t like he was standing there chatting for 10 minutes.

  10. DoR Employee says:

    FYI:

    TMA assaulted Friday Afternoon. Suspect arrested and Charges Pending per sources.

    PEA assaulted Friday Morning. Suspect arrested and Charges Pending per sources.

    To anyone that thinks they can get away with assaulting a city worker..

    Try picking on ones that aren’t in their 50+’s and Female…and see what happens.

  11. John Adams says:

    DoR Employee: This has nothing to do with the above story, except that maybe if TMAs and PEAs stopped acting like jackasses they wouldn’t get assaulted.
    NOT SAYING ASSAULTING THEM IS ACCEPTABLE. Just saying that syrup and honey attract more bees than does vinegar.

  12. DoR Employee says:

    John…

    There is a professional code of conduct for PEA’s that also is on the books for TMA’s.

    Why the Supervisors that handle the TMA’s don’t actually enforce it…is beyond me.

    Management at Revenue LOOKS for reasons to discipline PEA’s for rude behavior or the slightest complaint from ‘connected citizens.’

    You are likely to get a verbal warning from a PEA if you get to us before we hit the print button and don’t act like a Jack ass.

    But Once it is Printed out…..don’t bother approaching us…because the POLICY answer is “we don’t void tickets, you have to contest it; Sorry.”

  13. John Adams says:

    DoR said:
    “You are likely to get a verbal warning from a PEA if you get to us before we hit the print button and don’t act like a Jack ass.”

    Kind of like the treatment Scott Larsen got? (and please don’t point out that that was a TMA and not a PEA…Joe Q. Public doesn’t care who you are if you are writing him a ticket)

    DoR said:
    “But Once it is Printed out…..don’t bother approaching us…because the POLICY answer is “we don’t void tickets, you have to contest it; Sorry.”

    Great policy. Ensures more revenue, which is what parking tickets are designed for.

    I’ve said it before: Parking tickets are nothing but a tax. If they were somehow intended to provide a service or enforce a law which protects citizens, then they would be viable. They are not viable. They are in place to bring in money. They are not intended to protect the citizen, or make things run smoother, or insure safety or peace.

    You don’t believe me? Then answer this question: Would the Mayor and all his aldermen be REALLY REALLY happy if suddenly ALL the citizens started parking legally and NEVER GOT A PARKING TICKET? I mean, come on, that means we have a bunch of law abiding citizens paying their meters and not parking on street cleaning streets, and so on, right? Isn’t that what they want?

    Convince me otherwise. Until then, it’s an unfair tax, and nothing more. Sheesh, you guys are bold enough to put it right in your name: DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE. Hello? Hello?

  14. John Adams says:

    Or, another, more humorous slant on this comment:

    DoR said:
    “You are likely to get a verbal warning from a PEA if you get to us before we hit the print button and don’t act like a Jack ass.”

    Before who acts like a Jack ass, you guys? :-D

  15. DoR Employee says:

    John…I will agree that some of the violations on the books are slightly horse shitty.

    But keep in mind the City council thinks these up and has them put into effect.

    Cop’s drive by them because they are lazy due to a broken spirit and no morale.

    PEA’s Enforce them because its the JOB we are Paid to do.

    You will get sympathy on Meters from 99% of the PEA’s on the job.

    But don’t expect tolerance from us for the following shit:

    Bus Stop for Dry Cleaning?

    Tow Zone for Starbucks?

    On a Hydrant for Child Drop off at school?

    I hope to catch you and ticket you for your stupidity.

  16. John Adams says:

    DoR Employee:
    I understand that the City Council makes the laws. That’s not a question in my mind at all, and it doesn’t make the laws right or good.

    I do have sympathy on the cops for low morale and broken spirit. It stinks that things have gotten so bad that they don’t feel they make a difference anymore.

    And I appreciate that PEAs are doing the job they are paid to do.

    The instances you mention above really are crappy. People shouldn’t park in handicap spots or crosswalks either.

    But I am going beyond those things. I’m questioning the motivation for some of the parking laws in the first place. And everything I see points to the motivation for having parking meters and parking enforcement is to bring in revenue.

    Now charging for parking in and of itself is not wrong. But setting up laws in such a way that citizens are almost guaranteed to fail, and when the failure of the law is the desired result by the lawmakers, then something is seriously wrong.

    As I said before, would council members and the mayor be ecstatic if everyone in the whole city suddenly started abiding by EVERY parking rule in the city and no more revenue came in except from meters or pay parking?

    You know what the answer to that question is.

    Thanks for the dialogue. And believe me, I’m trying to park legally. It’s the only goal I have when I park.

  17. DoR Employee says:

    John, you have a very good point.

    I can’t comment on the reasons for it beyond that comment.

    If everyone Parked legally 100% of the time, there would still be Meters to inspect and City Stickers to check and RPP to check and Expired Plates to look for.

    But I see where you’re going.

  18. David says:

    I wonder what I would be charged with if, after parking legally and paying my meter, as I got in my car to leave I saw another car with a ticket on it for the period that my meter strip was good for so I took the meter strip from inside my window and stuck it in the ticket envelope for the other guy to use…. I haven’t done it, I have no intention of doing it, but it would seem to me that if I had one or more invalid tickets that I was not able to challenge, this would be a way to clear up the karmic balance of the Universe…

  19. John Adams says:

    Good idea David. I might do it, just because. :-)

  20. DoR Employee says:

    Daivd David David…

    We Photograph Meter Tickets as PEA’s.

    I don’t care if you try to help out people nailed for meters by the CPD or TMAs (Handwritten and No Pictures after all).

    Also….keep in mind that the Meter Receipt says: Place Receipt on Dash

    If its not on the dash….its not legally valid. We can Cite that.

  21. DoR Employee says:

    Tell me if this sounds right…

    PEA’s instructed to wait 10 minutes before enforcing:

    Rush Hour
    Meters

    But Police and TMA’s not told same thing.

    Instructions come from Dep Dir of Street Operations due to her being a wimp.

  22. DoR Employee says:

    Oh….we got the numbers from Management on Friday for Fiscal year 2010.

    3 PEA’s managed to write approx 65k tickets alone.

  23. Chicago Citizen says:

    Jan 26, 2011

    As a 40+ year resident of Chicago, I could have plenty to say about parking. But the short story is this:

    Mr. Larsen’s comment was and is absolutely correct, citizens will eventually rid themselves of the incompetent and self serving municipal employees that run Chicago. Already Richie Daley Jr. (yes I remember when) is leaving. Guess his nephew and brothers aren’t interested in continuing the nepotistic circus we citizens have bankrolled for decades. Not to worry, the nephew has hands in video gambling machine licensing for taverns etc, as you read this. Funny he didn’t report his uncle is Mayor of Chicago when he applied for the right to operate, isn’t it?

    And Mr. Adams didn’t go far enough…what if NOBODY paid the parking meters…do you think the city would have enough time, competence and courts to try all the cases if we staged a total revolt of citizenry?? Think about it…$75 million projected annually is going out of Chicago to Morgan Stanley derivatives. And how far is the city budget in debt…$500 million, $600 million?? And again, who is supposed to benefit from this? They sold the meters to pay for last year’s deficit, only question is, what are they going to try and sell now? Maybe they could sell the rights to rename the city…from Chicago to a name that begins with Sh and ends with hole. Hope I don’t break my trans-axel in a giant pothole when I try to park in one of your Pirate Parking meters Mr. Mayor!

  24. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Very well said Mr. Chicago Citizen.

    Eloquent, powerful and 100% correct.

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