Friday, December 30, 2011

Civic Duty is Expensive

It cost me more than $400 to help Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley on election day.

For the past few years, I have taken a vacation day from my job on election Tuesday (this year it was November 8) to help out a candidate or two. While I enjoy the work, it's not really vacation-- I was awake and on the road by 6 a.m. on November 8th driving to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, where I would help Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley.

Arriving in J.P. in the dark, I found a primo parking space, or so I thought. In typical paranoid Boston-resident fashion, I got out of the car and inspected the spot. [Boston residents are trained that any spot that looks legitimate probably is illegal. The spot is guilty until proven innocent, if you will.] After looking for a crosswalk, measuring the distance from the intersection, scanning the street for signs, and inspecting carefully the color of the paint on the curb, I made the determination the spot was legitimate.

My car parked in J.P.

November 8, 2011

Much to my dismay, a $100 parking ticket was waiting for me later in the morning. The charge was blocking a handicap ramp. I took photos, as I was upset enough that I planned to file an appeal (more on that later).

I hopped in my car and left the allegedly illegal parking spot to traverse J.P. and begin to knock on doors. After hitting a few dozen homes, I executed a three-point turn to continue my canvass. CRUNCH. My rear left taillight collided with a fire hydrant. I would learn today, almost too months later, that the repair will cost about 300 dollars, including tax. Honda specialists are fixing the light as we speak.

In the days between election day and today, I crafted a rather detailed letter explaining why I felt the parking spot in question in J.P. was legal. The day before Thanksgiving, I trekked to Boston City Hall and dropped off my appeal, along with a copy of the original citation and printouts of my photos.

Last week, I received a notice from the City of Boston informing me that my ticket had not been paid, and accordingly the fine was no longer $100-- it was now $133. The notice said nothing of my appeal; I assume it has been lost. Reluctantly, I paid the ticket, ending my attempt to appeal such a violation.

So 300 bucks for the taillight and another $133 for the ticket. At least Ayanna Pressley won.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Ross - I admire your civic spirit! Years ago, I had a similar parking spot issue. I had parked in what I believed to be a legitimate spot, but ended up getting five parking tickets in a row (Monday through Friday) that I felt were underserved. I also appealed, was initially denied at the Office of Parking Clerk level, but eventually won my appeal and had the tickets thrown out (and I got awared my costs) after a mini-trial in Superior Court in Boston. (My first trial as a lawyer, too!) Rob