Meter overload

Meter overload

When it comes to risky business, driving has nothing on parking in Pasadena

By Kevin Uhrich 03/11/2010

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Where does it all end? No one can say for sure. But we do know where misery begins for people victimized by money-hungry state and local officials imposing bankbook-busting fines for such “crimes” as improper parking, rolling through stop signs and running red lights.
 
Those latter two Vehicle Code violations now cost hundreds of dollars to resolve. Running a red light is now a minimum of $446 — a $175 increase from 2002, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rolling through a stop sign isn’t much better, with the cost of that fine coming to $381 — and that’s all without the cost of traffic school to keep those particular offenses from increasing your insurance rates. 
 
LA, it seems, is going all out to get every spare dime out of the pockets of errant drivers, booting tires then towing cars belonging to people with three unpaid parking tickets, when five such violations used to trigger such a radical response. It could be worse. In Louisville, Ken., for instance, two tickets get you the boot and then towed. 
 
But then there is Pasadena, where parking tickets might as well be issued prior to arrival — like original sin — with an incredible equivalent of 1.4 parking citations issued over the past three years to every man, woman and child in the city. 
 
Certainly every good citizen is all for people exercising good driving habits, but isn’t that just a little bit too much, especially in communities like LA, where the celebrity hob-nobbing mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa,  thinks nothing of spending a few hundred tax dollars for a bottle of fine wine over a dinner, which probably cost several times that much? 
 
Now ask: How many mouths could that base $446 red-light camera fine feed in a month’s time? That amount — roughly the cost of two roundtrip airplane tickets to and from Sacramento, or a taxpayer-paid dinner with a staffer and a lobbyist or two at a fine restaurant in LA or Sacramento — is what some families actually survive on. 
 
But these days, with Villaraigosa’s extravagant spending and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supposedly fiscally conservative governor who’s reneged on every pledge to not raise taxes, hiked college tuitions and reinitiated the vehicle registration fees that he once used to beat up former Gov. Gray Davis back in the recall campaign of 2003, what can the average person do? Faced with a $20 billion and growing deficit, Schwarzenegger tried to generate $400 million by equipping already constitutionally repugnant red-light cameras with speed-tracking devices, but that idea died in a Senate committee earlier last month. 
 
Making this fairly common practice of using Vehicle Code fine increases and municipal fee schedule hikes to close gaping budget deficits all the more dubious is the fact that our lawmakers also know that many a criminal career has started not in some nefarious drug-dealing gang or den of iniquity, but at the front counter of the local DMV.
 
There is no disagreement that people should try to drive better and pay their traffic and parking fines, even if that means going without food or shoes for the kids or putting off a house payment or whatever else people can do without to keep propping up bloated, overreaching government agencies. 
 
The perhaps not easy but fair answer would be to operate within existing means, reduce these fines to reasonable amounts and stop these relentless attacks on average and poor people. But is that ever going to happen? Not while we tolerate politicians, who spend tax money on lavish dinners and other luxuries, and newspapers like the LA Times (which, in fairness, also suggests lowering some of these fines) condoning this blatant fleecing of the poor. 
 
This idea of balancing budgets on the backs of average citizens — in effect, a regressive de facto tax — is nothing new or unusual. It’s happening everywhere public agencies are hemorrhaging money and public servants must justify their very existences — including Pasadena.
 
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at the parking situation in Pasadena and at some of the people who write and enforce these excessively punitive traffic laws at the state and local levels. Who knows? Maybe we can come up with different ways to save money, cut costs and improve “service,” whatever that may actually be. 
 
While this may not be where anything ends, we certainly can’t do any worse than the outright government-sanctioned robbery that’s now being committed by our elected and appointed officials. 

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Comments

DanD here from "Conspiracy Central ~"

So you ask Kevin, where does it all end? Why not try defining it as the total and wholesale enslavement of our once-free nation ... .

While we all know that America's (very un-)Patriot Act was already written and waiting in the "to-do" cabinet of the Global Corporate Empire since at least 1998 for an opportune time (as 9-11-01 provided) to stike a death-blow to the United States Constitution as a Federally ensconced, Civil Rights guarantor (the Constitution is still lethargically rattling around in its death throws), as a fact, that same Constitution was already under full comprehensive attack even before the end of last century, with the primary assault coming from a low-rent "enslaving the hoi-polloi" end of the privately-incorporated, fascist state level of government.

So Kevin, do you think I jest? Just check it out:

VEHICLE CODE SECTION 40200-40230

By way of this particular vehicle code of economic enslavement, the State has invented a radically new way of collecting the "punitive tax."[VC Section 40200(a)] Needless to say, this freshest brand of legislated mass-enslavement against California's rube-population functionally prohibits ANY California Superior Court judge from even adjudicating (even for judicial quality-control purposes) a parking fine, as it may be assaulting an innocent person, which is now, not even considered an infraction.

As it stands, VC SECTION 40200-40230 actually has no need for the California judicial system whatsoever because -- as provided by the Constitution-busting language of the code itself -- the very moment a Parking Enforcement punitive tax assessor decides to write a ticket -- the recipient of that "Notice of Violation" is unconditonally treated as "Guilty, until proven collected from." That's right, this law never allows a targeted vehicle owner to be considered innocent until proven guilty!

But since this cleverly-legislated abortion of Napoleonic law is all being administratively accomplished by California's quasi-executive tyrants of "extra"-Constitutional law enforcement (yeah, I mean you, Sheriff Leroy D. Baca), well, so that as much revenue as possible can be forcefully stolen from the irrelevant, voter-registered hands of California's marginally solvent electorate, these punitive tax assessors certainly don't need some Constitutionally faithful, judicially state-sponsored adjudicating activist interfering with their perfectly functioning extortion racket.

DanD

posted by DanD on 3/13/10 @ 05:32 p.m.

$446 to run a red light, and $381 to roll through a stop sign are bargains compared to the life that may be lost by being a hazardous driver. I have a friend whose life has been ruined by someone who ran a red light and smashed into his car, causing my friend to have difficulty speaking and moving around.

The point of the fines are to deter a person from being cavalier about running lights and stop signs. The folks who run lights and ignore stop signs do not have my sympathy at all - and they really shouldn't have yours. I wonder how sympathetic you would be if you were the car they hit?

posted by bigbangtheory on 3/24/10 @ 03:59 p.m.

It's a lot like the death penalty ... do you really think that the death penalty defers hardcore scofflaws from committing death penalty offenses?

HUGE puntive tax fines will not prevent the tragedies caused by criminal human error ... it only makes the government bureaucratic class feel that they have a tax tool that they can regularly victimize the public with that the public cannot defend itself against.

Hmmm bigbangtheory, you must be one of those people sucking your sustenance from the public teat.

DanD

posted by DanD on 7/15/10 @ 11:40 a.m.
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