Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pay parking fines or go to jail

Today's daily article from the Mises institute is a great little account of how a man was arrested and imprisoned over failure to pay a parking ticket.

The saga began last October, when he rolled through the same stop sign in front of a private swimming pool that he and fifty others roll through several times per day. He thought he had paid the ticket but he hadn't, and the court date came and went. He received no other notices.

But something interesting was brewing in local politics after he received the ticket. The local newspapers ran a series that claimed to unearth ticket-fixing going on in the Auburn city government. It seems that some friends of powerful people were getting their tickets dismissed. Auburn was already known for its lax enforcement but this had the whiff of corruption.

The papers lacked details but there were hints that the whole story was a result of a dispute between an elected official and an appointed city manager. The city manager later resigned or was kicked out.

The suggestion of corruption was enough to attract the attention of the FBI, which made some inquiries. The combination of the media pressure and FBI curiosity was enough to force a change in city policy. The new policy in Auburn would be total crackdown on ticket violators, particularly those that didn't pay and didn't show up to their court dates.