Open Disscussion on Parking Matters
- Open Discussion onParking Matters(Discussion Instigated by Chuck Klein, - cklein@...)----- Original Message -----From: Chuck KleinTo: VictoryUSA@...Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2005 7:35 AMSubject: Re: * * * We Need Parking Meters * * *Ron,Interesting discussion. However, both seemed to ignore one important aspect of parking meters: it keeps parking spaces free for others to use. Without them people could (and do in places where there are no meters) use the public streets as free storage places and park their vehicles (cars trucks, campers, trailers, etc.) for years - with impunity. The meter sets a time limit for such use of the space on the right-of-way at the landowners property. The common good (muchless the good of the landowner) would not be served if the streets were filled with permanently parked vehicles.Ah, you say, the city already has a law about over-time parking (vehicles can't be parked longer than 48, 60 or whatever hours. Tagging, clocking and removing such a huge amount of vehicles would over-tax the police enforcement system. This over-time law is, of course, - constitutionally (according to your arguments) no different than a meter being used instead of the tagging, clocking method.I live on a street with no parking meters, 8 blocks from the heart of downtown Cincinnati and one block from metered streets. Mine is a residential street of row houses and parking is very tight. Residents here are constantly calling the police to remove over-time parked vehicles because some try to use the free parking - in front of my house - to store there motorhomes, boats, junk, and abandoned vehicles. We don't want meters placed on our streets because we wouldn't be able to park our own vehicles all day - for those who work at night or work from their home. Meters in the downtown business district are necessary to allow a reasonable time to conduct your business and then free-up a space so someone else can use it to conduct their business.I would guess that since the city already has an easement over your property, then they have the right to install fire plugs, sewers, water lines, etc., post signs limiting parking in certain areas (such as next to a fire plug or within a set limit from a driveway or intersection) or even post traffic control devices (signs, lights, etc.) ALL FOR THE GENERAL WELFARE as noted in the constitution.Every parking ticket I've ever seen has a procedure printed thereon instructing how one may. in a timely manner, register to contest the ticket. To insist that every ticketed person personally appear - along with the officer, would not be in keeping with the letter nor the sprit of the "general welfare clause" of the constitution.Keep up the good work,Chuck KleinDear Chuck Klein:When I placed out the J.A.I.L. News Journal about Parking Ticket Matters, I had no idea that it would cause such a furry. Obviously, it is a subject of great interest, and worthy of open discussion. I know you to be a man of integrity, and therefore your expressed concern to be genuine.Here is what I will do. I am going to put this out for an open public discussion among the JAILers for their comments and suggestions, and I will open this discussion with my thoughts on the matter. (Responses should be sent to both you and me.)My mind is analytical, meaning that when I hear of a genuine problem, my mind goes into the automatic mode of solving the problem. I could not tell you all the hours my mind has imagined that if I were in control, and I could make a difference in this country, how I would solve the problems inherent within government.First off, let me establish a basic principle. There are areas in which we do need government, and thus, in those cases, government is but a necessary evil. Here are some famous quotes on this, "Society in every state is a blessing, but a government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." [Thomas Paine.] "All who have ever written on government are unanimous, that among people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist." [Edmond Burke] "Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government can render us secure." [James Madison.]I follow the basics that government should no become involved if the task can be accomplished outside of government, and that governments should only do that which only they can do. For instance, weights and measures, and our monetary system. We could not reasonably entertain that a private, for profit enterprise should be in control of our nation's money. Hence, we have provided in our Constitution, "Congress shall coin money and regulate the value thereof." They also are charged with setting all weights and measures.We just could not have people arguing what is the definition of a pound at the butcher's shop, or what is a gallon at the filling station. Likewise, a dollar has to have a clear definition of a definite weight of a specific thing, such as 412.5 grains of silver, troy weight, or else everyone would be left to pure speculation as to what a dollar is, which would otherwise be merely an ever-diminishing confidence game.So here your concern is with streets filling up with abandoned automobiles, or cars used for storage, and taking up legitimate parking spaces that others should have access to. The first question is, can a remedy be provided for this problem out side of a service of government?Without my answering this question here, let me start from the premise that indeed this must be a legitimate public service of government. With that premise, then, we know it would be absolutely wrong for governments to make this a for profit-making business, which is what is being done now. As I pointed out, in cities across America, this issue of parking profits are going in part to the corporate stockholders on the New York Stock Exchange. No only is this a moral no-no, but is forbidden in our California Constitution, but nonetheless it is happening anyway.I happen to be in an auto impound business when two tow truck drivers where talking beside their trucks. The one to my right asked the one to my left, "How's business?" The reply was, "Oh, great. We haven't been making so much money in the history of our business." I mention this conversation because even this tow truck driver perceives his towing automobiles off the streets as a great boon in profits beyond his imagination.Now we all believe that the laborer is worthy of his hire, and that a man should be fairly remunerated for his labor, but to be paid far beyond one's labor and beyond one's imagination for a supposed "public service" is a scam and a fraud. It is not a public service, but rather a rip-off of the public. No public service should be stuffing the pockets of those benefiting from it. Clearly, this is what is going on.For sake of argument, having here admitted to this being a government function, your question narrows down to this; is there a fair balance somewhere between the need to move vehicles off the street, and the raking in of windfall profits that is stuffing the pockets of the private sector and governments? Right now, it is clearly all about money. (For those of you who wish to argue that enforcement of parking can be handled outside of government, you are welcome to voice your opinion. I am just going along with the proposition that this is purely a government function.)Now Chuck, I note that you are going on the assumption that the moving of delinquent vehicles is always good for businesses. I wish to rebut this assumption. Generally, everything government gets involved in does not profit businesses. Here, you are arguing it does.In the City of San Jose, California, it was noted in the newspapers that the merchants got together and protested the parking meters in front of their businesses and demanded the city remove them. Their argument was that they were the victims of unfair practices in that some of their customers, and potential customers were taking their business elsewhere where there where no parking meters to shop.This, I know personally this to be a fair complaint. I have avoided places of business where I knew I had to feed the meter, and have gone to places where I do not. Of course, I did not inform these business that they were losing my business, but nonetheless, it is happening. And I know that I am not the only one of their potential customers that thinks this way.The next door city to Los Angeles, the City of Burbank, has removed every parking meter in town, and this has profited the merchants there. The City of Burbank is much more beautiful a city than L.A. The streets are in excellent condition, and one can witness when they leave Burbank and enter L.A. by the pot-holes, and multi-level patch-work on the streets. With a whole lot less money per capita, the City of Burbank keeps their city an outstanding community. One can tell a definite difference as if an imaginary line between L.A. & Burbank.In Los Angeles, there use to be "Two-Hour" parking limits in a our residential area six says a week. It meant that everyone could, and did, get a ticket just for parking in front of their home in excess of two-hours.Our community rose up in protest and signed a petition and gave it to the City of Los Angeles. We told them that they will either dig up those signs, or we will, and stack them up at the end of the block, and that we would make it a media event if they failed to act. Indeed the City of Los Angeles removed all of those parking signs. Now I do not say that since that time we have not had some infractions, but by large, things have been fairly smooth, and on occasion the city was called upon to remove a few cars.Now getting back to meters, I can say that whenever an automobile is parked outside a business that has overstayed the meter, it can be reasonable assumed that the owner of that car does his shopping within that community. While this person may be up the street shopping, someone parked up the street may be shopping at the store where the offending automobile sits. Every merchant selfishly would certainly like to have the owner of ever car in front of their business in their store, but they reasonably must grasp that every car in their are will be shopping somewhere in their community. People get thirsty, and they buy drinks. But you run a hair salon business, and do not sell drinks. Hey, that's business.But I know what you are saying. Ron, What about those who just park a car and leave it for days? Good question, and a legitimate concern. My response is, whatever we determine to be the remedy, there must be afforded a system of due process. According to our Constitution, "no one my be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process." Out of a legitimate concern for moving abandoned cars, should we entertain suspending the Constitution? God forbid. But if you are listening to what I am saying, this is exactly what is happening.Under the Constitution I have a guaranteed right to face my accusers, to cross-examine them, to present my witnesses, and to put on a defense before a jury at a public trial. Anything less is a deprivation of Constitutional due process.Now I was accused of parking my car at a certain location at a certain time. This accusation was false. My first question was whether I was an administrative subject, and whether I was at the right forum. They did not want to deal with that issue, but I did raise that they have to deal with it.The bottom line, I was totally denied a hearing of any kind in which to put on a defense of any kind, including denying that I was at that place at that stated time. What's more, a little investigation on my part revealed that even if I had been there, the posted signs were illegally posted. No one is allowed under law to just arbitrarily throw up signs wherever one want to post them. There must be a stated reason, and that reason must be justified. In this case, the stated reason for those signs were to prevent cursing. Cursing is a moving crime. Parking is not cursing. In order to enforce a cursing statute, that stretch of the road must be posted, "No cursing between the hours of 8 pm and 11 pm. Cursing means passing the same point twice within four hours." (These times are examples of what the law requires.) Now let's suppose for argument's sake, I was parked at the time and place in which I was accused. When and where am I afforded an opportunity to argue this point?So I ask, shall we suspend the due process of the Constitution of the United States over the public need to tow away cars? As they are enforcing it, not only does anyone get a pre-deprivation hearing, but the people are being denied a post-deprivation hearing.So, back to your concern. If we are not to ignore the Constitution, do we propose amending the U.S. Constitution to deny due process under certain circumstances? And then who is to decide if the situation meets that "certain circumstances? We would need a hearing on that question.Chuck, I cannot answer your question, but I know I do not want to suspend the Constitution out of expediency to make parking spaces available to other customers. I will now let others check in on this discussion. Is Chuck Klein's concern justified? If this parking enforcement solely a government function? Should everyone be afforded due process in parking matters? Is this something in which we should consider amending our nation's Constitution?Let's hear from everyone on this matter. cc. both of us.-Ron BransonChuck Klein
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California February 12, 2005
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______________________________________________________(By Sandra xsha@...)What did you do, sue on behalf of property owners so that they could be rebated a portion of their property taxes from the fines earned on meters?I thought the govt. had the right to take certain amounts of property by public domain in order to assure the smooth functioning of society. The issuance of parking fines keeps revenue coming in to the municipalities which they need to run their services. Meters bring money and a system of fines has to be in place to ensure that people pay the meters. People may not like this, but it does serve a function.Since people influx into city or crowded areas to do business, ruining the air and water and creating crowdedness, it would indeed be fair for some of the revenue to go back to the property owners inhabiting the edges of city streets. This might be designated for something like property upkeep or for grants to promote the betterment or beautification of run down city areas.SCR from N Eng Coalition for Family JusticeDear Sandra, this is Ron. I would like to address your questions and concerns.My action regarding an alleged parking violation was a challenge of the alleged jurisdiction of the administrative arena. All administrative processes are based upon contract. I wrote on this in a JNJ dated 12/9/03 titled "Understanding Administrative Law." (Pasted in below for your convenience).Basically, when the "city" (actually a corporation) asserted administrative law by "offering" me an "administrative review," I asked them some simple questions as to this review, such as, "When did this hearing take place that they are offering to review, by whom was it heard, and what evidence did they rely upon in making their findings?"I asserted that I had no knowledge of when or where such hearing took place, seeing as there was no notice sent to me of this hearing. I asked them to produce such information to me so that I may appropriately defend myself if it be found that I was under their jurisdiction.As to the question of jurisdiction, I asked for a copy of the contract agreement between both of us wherein I agreed to their administrative arena. I pointed out that all people are born with rights, and that they are not automatically administrative subjects, and that those rights are guaranteed by our Constitution. If I had somehow waived my rights for certain privileges to inure to me, then there had to exist my signature thereto. I wished to see a copy of my signature on that document.In converse, I sent them a declaration stating that I had never entered into a contract that waived my rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and to counter-claim my declaration; and that in the absence of their performance to show proof of their claim, it would be determined by their default that no such thing existed, and that they had withdrawn their claim. Indeed, they did default, and by operation of law, their failure to contest the issue, left my declaration stand uncontested.They came back with, "because I did not timely demand a hearing, [they] were doubling the fine." Their response did not address the basic issues presented before them.First off, whatever I sent was "timely" as shown by the green return slip by the post office. Next, what I sent them was not a "demand," timely or not, for an administrative hearing. They just wanted to avoid my jurisdictional questions, and this is how they decided to do it. It is obvious that jurisdiction to act comes before proceeding with the proposed action. It should be noted that I was careful not to waive any right I might have to an administrative hearing, should my question regarding jurisdiction to act fail. Seems logical, does it not?Nonetheless, they proceed illegally to judgment without a hearing or addressing my questions. Obviously, it cannot be said that I did not have a defense. It is just that they did not like my defense, but since they are the moving party, the burden rests with them. To this day in that case I am entitled to put on my defense in an administrative arena, but it is yet to be decided by the courts as to whether I am their administrative subject. I still have not received anything relating to this question.Now if you received a letter from Moscow stating that you had not paid your Russian aviation license fee to Moscow, and that they were offering you an administrative review, would you ask them for the hearing? Would you just write them a check? I hope you would at least have some questions regarding jurisdiction, if you answered at all.And what if Moscow told you that they were now doubling this fee because you did not "timely demand an administrative hearing," and then they proceeded with collection procedures? I would hope you would be outraged at this action.But you say, "What if I had gone to Russia and applied for a aviation license?" Ah! Then there would exist a physical record of such event. Now there is nothing wrong with applying for a license from Moscow, but surely that is the first issue to be resolved, not collection procedures.Does everyone born and raised here in America, and who have never been to Russia, automatically owe a Russian aviation license fee? No! But then one could argue, "Hey, Russia needs the revenue, and the issuance of aviation license fines keeps the revenue coming in to the municipalities which they need to run their services, and people may not like this, but it does serve a function."Oh, but you say, "You did not use their services, and therefore do not owe Russia for such services." Good point! And neither did I use the City of L.A.'s services. I was accused of being at a certain location at a certain time, (which was not true), and that I had overstayed my welcome. But I was never afforded an opportunity to argue this point. Remember, I was denied a hearing altogether, and we never got past the jurisdictional questions.Constitutionally, I am to be afforded an opportunity to face my accusers, to cross-examine them, and to compel witness on my behalf at a public trial. But you say, "The government could not afford to do that to everyone to whom they give a parking ticket." And I respond, "True. But since when is the Constitution to be suspended in the name of expediency?" But you argue, "The government could not make any money if they followed the Constitution." That's just too bad!And that was the absolute intention of our Founding Fathers in designing our Constitution to govern our nation. All governments swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. They do not swear to uphold and defend "revenue-raising." Where there's a conflict, their obligation is absolutely clear-- otherwise, they are not public servants, but tyrants, and no longer deserve their office, but punishment.I recall in one of my court experiences regarding a ticket, as I walked out of the courtroom into the hall, a police officer rushed out of the courtroom after me, screaming on top of his lungs: "Why don't you just pay the damn ticket and forget it?" I can say that this whole ticket fiasco is totally about revenue-making and not about law enforcement. There is nothing constitutional about it at all, and I have proved it by law and by prior court decisions.Now, let's discuss this issue of justification of the parking meters in the name of collecting revenue. I do not have the cite before me, but it is definitely established by the courts themselves that when it comes to fines, there can be no hint of revenue-raising, for if the objective be to raise revenue for public services, then the scheme is clearly unconstitutional.To show the reasonableness of such a finding, would it meet your approval if revenue were applied arbitrarily? Obviously not! But what if government needed the money, would that justify it in your mind? If so, then I could justify theft by expediency. "Hey, I have a wife and kid at home, and I need the money to feed them." If it were criminal for me to do it, would this same crime be justified if it were done in the name of government? What if they passed a law saying it was alright? I then ask, "What part of 'Thou shalt not steal,' do you not understand?"Now let's talk about civic duties in your above argument. You argue that this money is going into "government" as a civic duty. But is it? It is clear from the below news article I quoted that a percentage of this money is going into private pockets. And those private pockets are the corporate stockholders on the New York Stock Exchange. Is this the "civic duty" you are referring to?Now let me cite from Article XVI, Section 6 of our California Constitution, "...[the legislature] shall not have power to authorize the State, or any political subdivision thereof, to subscribe for stock, or to become a stockholder in any corporation whatever..." No matter how you cut it, the fact is, public monies, in the name of "fines" are arriving in the stock market, and are inuring to the benefit of stockholders who are profiting from those parking meters. Parking meters, to use the Cities' own descript, are a windfall profit-making business. (See below). The City was afraid my case against them and Lockheed could destroy their little game, and they were willing to spend millions to defend their gravy train. Where the City and Lockheed once worked together on the take, they are now nipping at one another's heels. Yes, "The Wolves vs. The Jackals" is a good description of what is going on behind the scenes.-Ron Branson
Parking Windfall Angers Officials
Los Angeles authorities say the city did not receive its fair share of fines collected by two firms. One contractor is $20 million richer.By Patrick McGreevy
Times Staff Writer
February 1, 2005
In 1998, city officials struck a deal to split the money from a new fine on scofflaws with the firm that collected parking ticket payments. But for seven years, city officials failed to ask for their share. Now, the firm is $20 million richer and city officials want the windfall back.
But it may be too late.
The city Department of Transportation has negotiated a tentative settlement with Affiliated Computer Services, which took over the contract three years ago from a unit of Lockheed. But Robert Andalon, a department official, said the deal may provide the city with only "several million dollars" in free services.
Elected city officials are angry that the lapse went uncorrected for seven years and the full amount may not be recovered.
"The loss of these kinds of public funds is staggering," said Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the City Council's Transportation Committee, which will take up the proposed settlement next week. Villaraigosa said transportation officials failed to follow procedures.
The head of the city union that represents parking ticket officers said the mix-up should lead the city to take over the collection of its parking fines, so the city can keep all of the money.
"We'll see an international company give something back to the city? In my lifetime?" asked Julie Butcher, leader of Service Employees International Union Local 347. "This is money that went to line Lockheed's pockets instead of lining the streets with asphalt."
The snafu is related to a contract approved in 1997 by the City Council with Lockheed Information Management Services to process and collect parking citations. The contract was taken over in 2002 by Affiliated Computer Services, which bought the information management unit from Lockheed.
In 1998, a city parking administrator approved an amendment to the contract to give Lockheed more incentives for collecting delinquent parking tickets.
Under the amendment, Lockheed was allowed to collect an 18% special collections fee on the fines taken in when the city seized a vehicle having five or more unpaid citations.
Under the agreement, Lockheed could keep up to $2.5 million, but would provide services to the city for revenue over that amount, said Wayne K. Tanda, general manager of the Department of Transportation.
Officials said the department never required Lockheed to provide any additional services, leaving Lockheed with $20 million or more in extra cash. And the city paid Lockheed $2.3 million for additional services that should have been covered by the agreement.
An internal investigation found that the City Council, not transportation officials, had the authority to approve the agreement. Tanda said that because of that, the deal was not legally binding.
Tanda blamed the lapse on "a loss of continuity of key DOT staff." He said the parking administrator who approved the deal retired shortly afterward, as did one of his key assistants. A second parking administrator retired a year later.
A fourth parking administrator saw the agreement and raised alarms a few years ago.
"When she became aware of the letter of agreement she consulted with the city attorney's office and was advised that [it] was probably not legally enforceable," Tanda wrote. "No further action was taken, and the general manager was not consulted."
Tanda said the amendment represented a "significant revision to the scope of work and the payments to the contractor," and therefore should have been approved by the general manager, subject to approval of the council.
"The contract required this procedure. This was not done," Tanda wrote in a report to the City Council. "Due to an extraordinary set of circumstances involving the departure of key DOT staff, compliance with the letter of agreement did not occur," Tanda wrote.
Officials with Affiliated Computer Services did not return calls.
Mayor James K. Hahn has asked the city administrative officer to review the proposed deal before extending the firm's contract for another five years.
"The mayor, more than anything, wants to make sure the taxpayers get the best possible deal and get what they are entitled to," said Sahar Moridani, a spokeswoman for the mayor.