Friday, July 08, 2005

Showdown with Johnny

Music: Interpol, Antics
Movies: War of the Worlds
Netflix: The Butterfly Effect, The Terminal

I got my first parking ticket on Wednesday. I wasn't happy.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I attempt to live my life above reproach, which means I don't litter, I park neatly between the lines, and I give no latitude for others to hold me responsible for any illicit activity. I was devastated by my first and only speeding ticket, and felt the same way on Wednesday.

But on Thursday, I fought back.

I had a verbal show-down with the DSCR Rent-A-Cop, and he handed me a ticket and told me to take the issue up with his supervisor.

So I wrote a letter. Everyone told me not to send it; they said that I was putting my job on the line for contesting a parking ticket; they said I had no legal rights to fight a parking ticket, especially as there is no fine for it.

But I have a fundamental problem with letting issues like this go. When we decide that it's not worth our time to fight an unjust parking ticket, we give the government implicit permission to hassle us over minor legal issues. We set a precedent of acceding to bullying, and I won't stand for it. The erosion of civil liberties begins when we accept a parking ticket as "no big deal". F that.

Here's the letter:

Yesterday afternoon, as I was returning to my car, I watched as a DLA Police vehicle pulled up behind my car and began writing a citation for a parking violation. This had me utterly flummoxed, as I cannot perceive how my parking job was a violation.

My parking spot yesterday was next to 163 down by the Community Center. This is the spot that is partially inhibited by a jersey-wall, and is next to the bus-stop. I have, over the past two years, parked in this spot more times than I can remember, and have often been denied that spot by others who have also used it. Never have I seen anyone receive a citation for parking in this spot, nor had I ever received one.

Obviously, that changed yesterday. Since I got to watch the officer write the ticket, I asked him what made my choice of parking spot invalid. He replied “this is not a parking spot.” I asked him why, and he replied that the jersey-wall was inside the space, and that the second white line was obstructed. I replied to him that there are many spots on base that have only one white line, and he told me that those other spots are “different”. When I asked him how they’re different, he advised me to contact you and handed me a ticket.

No citation was issued for the car parked next to me, whose back wheel was over the line.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the past two years have seen a number of parking spaces disappear or go from being unassigned to assigned. Several spaces have been converted to non-parking use (and clearly marked as such), and a few non-parking spaces have received official recognition as parking spots.

Take, for example, the last space (17A) behind Building 34. I have seen co-workers receive citations for parking there before there was a number, under the charge that it was not a proper parking space, since there was no white line on the curb-side. Now, it is an official space, as is 1A on the same row. While it may be officially assigned (Maintenance in 17A, DSCR-D in 1A), these were previously spots that – when unlabelled – would get ticketed.

There is nothing that marks my ticketed spot as invalid. There is no yellow paint, no white paint on the curb, and no sign (although there is a sign-post, like there are at many valid parking spots). Motorcycles, however, regularly park in clearly illegal spaces, and long trucks and SUV’s regularly double-park, all without fear of citation.

So my questions are thus: what, according to DSCR (or DLA), explicitly defines a parking spot? Did my parking job yesterday explicitly violate any standing statute, or is it up to the discretion of the officer to determine what is proper vs. improper parking? Can I get a copy of the directive that defines legal, valid parking spots, so that I can educate my coworkers and prevent any further infractions?

If I did not violate any explicitly defined statute, I request that my citation be revoked.
The reply I got was astonishing. I got a call from the Captain, who told me not to worry about the ticket, that it had been "taken care of". She also APOLOGIZED for the officer's actions, which was completely unexpected, and her boss told me to bring him the ticket so that it could be rescinded.

So how about that? The little guy comes through, every once in a while, and Truth, Justice, and the American Way still hold.


Manda said...

Who's my hero now? I love the fact that you aren't afraid to make a stand when it is important to you.

You rock.

Keep on rockin in the free world, baby.

Anonymous said...

Never back down.