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Reform: LA’s Parking Tickets … ‘A Rigged System’

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GUEST EDITORIAL: NBC's I-Team reported that a judge has ordered the city of Los Angeles to change the way it handles disputed parking tickets. The investigative report noted that it's "a system that many motorists say is rigged against them" and that the ruling could have "statewide impact."  Source: NBC 

Allegations of crony capitalism are usually lobbed at the big-business and big-government operators in Washington, D.C. 

But this summer, Los Angeles has played host to a quiet revolution in the way the judicial system views government outsourcing that rips off taxpayers. 

The surprising source of reform? Parking tickets. 

Thanks to an LA Superior Court judge, all of California might soon have to stop relying on private corporations to funnel ill-gotten funds into its municipal coffers. 

This month, Judge James Chalfant ruled that the city of Los Angeles can’t contract Xerox to process its citations. Xerox, it so happens, has kicked that responsibility over to a subcontractor called PRWT Services. 

While most Angelenos probably assume that their own city officials review their challenges to tickets and fees, the truth is that PRWT does that. And that’s not even the real scandal. 

Cody Weiss, the resident whose lawsuit brought about Chalfant’s tentative ruling, alleged that PRWT spends about three minutes reviewing ticket challenges. 

LA’s NBC Channel 4 investigative team, meanwhile, found that PRWT often just ignores evidence marshaled by ticketed Angelenos contesting their citations. 

Shawn Nee, one such ticketed resident, submitted video proof showing that he hadn’t actually blocked in a driveway. PRWT, found NBC4, “didn’t even look at Nee’s proof.” 

It’s a rigged system that unjustly soaks city drivers, enriching private corporations and the government they work for. 

As Chalfant put it: “City rules require most initial reviews to be denied absent a few limited circumstances, and that some rules automatically deny the initial challenge, all without regard to evidence that a motorist may submit with the initial review, without ever disclosing to the motorist that his or her evidence was not actually considered. Naturally, most motorists give up and the city, through Xerox, collects millions of dollars.” 

That’s an abuse that falls especially hard on poorer Angelenos, who often can’t just dash off a check to cover their ticket or late fee. 

As some commentators have noticed, that’s a lesson that wasn’t lost on Republican reformers as long ago as Jack Kemp’s heyday. 

Weiss’s attorney expects Xerox to appeal the ruling. Not only does the corporation want to cash in without itself doing the work – the city of Los Angeles wants to do the same thing. 

To his credit, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has shown a willingness to work with the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative, an activist group aiming to cap tickets at $23 for offenses that don’t threaten public safety. 

Now, he’s got an important opportunity to show that Californian officials should put their own residents above city government and corporate subcontractors.

 

(This is a Los Angeles Register editorial … posted earlier at LosAngelesRegister.com

-cw

  

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 12 Issue 62

Pub: Aug 1, 2014

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