mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

One of those stories with no angels, only devils...

When Reason's Hit and Run blog linked to this story about a Baltimore meter maid getting handcuffed by the cops. I wasn't exactly sympathetic to the meter maid. More like gleeful.

See, I've gotten a handful of Baltimore City parking tickets. Most of them were for parking in places that appeared legal - where I studied the signs and the lines on the road and was fairly certain that I was parked legally, but when I came back to my car found out I was wrong. Baltimore City parking signs frequently take a PHD and a ton of luck to decode. Other drivers leave their cars in no-parking zones for days with no tickets, but Mad Anthony parks 3 carlengths away from a bus stop, clear of the concrete apron and signs, and still gets a ticket. And since I'm not going to take a day off from work and drive to city hall (thus risking another parking ticket) to fight a $32 ticket, I pay.

But after reading the article, I started to take the meter maid's side. This would seem unthinkable, sticking up for the enemy. It's as out of place as a Nader sticker on a Corvair. But the meter maid was handcuffed after she ticketed a car that was parked in a street cleaning zone. The car belonged to a consultant for the city who was friends with one of the police officer, or so it appears.

I live on a street with street cleaning, and when I worked night shift I would have to schedule my Sundays around not going out late enough to lose a parking spot on the side of the street where I could leave my car between 8am-11am, when I was asleep. (There are head-in spots on one side of my street and parallel on the other, so it's hard to get a parallel spot on days when street cleaning has made the head-in spots off-limits. If Mad Anthony has to deal with street cleaning, than so should Mr. City Consultant, even if he's friends with a cop. Laws are meant for everyone, not just those without connection - even when those laws are stupid.

Although she shouldn't have been handcuffed, I don't have much sympathy for ms. meter maid beyond that, though:

vans said that she and other parking control agents have had tense encounters with citizens in the past over parking tickets. On one occasion, an irate motorist ran over her foot. On other occasions, she has been yelled at and spat upon by angry motorists.

"It's just ridiculous," Evans said. "They curse us out all day long. It's a lot to go through. It's stressful."

Well, you are enforcing laws that most people disagree with. As I've mentioned before, Baltimore parking signs are hard to understand, so people often are found in violation of laws they basically don't know exist. Plus, enforcement is often arbitrary. And sometimes parking folks seem to take too much glee in finding people who are techically in violation of the law.

Case in point - there is a stretch of road near where I work where there is no parking 7AM-9AM. I once saw a parking officer ticketing cars along that stretch - at 8:55AM.

Gee, I wonder why people might not like parking officers.


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