First in a series!
Last night while watching the local news, I saw a story that perfectly captured what's wrong with this city and the idiots who run it.
It seems that the city wants to crack down on residents who have multiple, unpaid parking tickets. Their solution: a new "boot" device which would be attached to any car caught parked on city streets whose registered owner has 3 or more outstanding parking tickets. This is not the traditional "Denver boot" - a simple but massive, heavy metal claw that makes it impossible to move a car. The Denver boot requires (I believe) someone from the authorities to come out and release your vehicle (once you have paid all your fees and fines). The new device, in typical Seattle fashion, is more high tech: it's also a big metal claw, but it has a keypad on it. The idea is that you contact the city (by going online), pay all your tickets - plus the hefty ($175?) unlock fee - by credit card to remove the claw. When you pay, the city gives you an unlock code, which you then enter on the boot itself, to release the device. Then you must bring the boot back to the city and drop it off - if you don't, you get dinged with hundreds more in penalties. It sounds like the total cost would be a minimum of several hundred dollars, assuming you do return the boot device promptly (probably 4 figures if you don't). If you don't pay up and remove the boot in a few days (and return the device to them), your car would be towed and impounded - more fines and fees for that. While it's impounded, the "storage fees" pile up every day. After a few more days, if you don't pay up, your car would be sold at auction to recover the costs (it wasn't clear to me if the registered owner would receive any of the proceeds, after the fees and fines were deducted, or if the city just keeps it all).
OK, I get it that the city is looking for every opportunity to squeeze more revenue from its citizenry. I get it that the various anti-tax initiatives have tied their hands to a large extent (note that I'm no fan of the crooked watch salesman from Lynnwood and the damage that he has inflicted on the state). I also get it that the city isn't going to just let people off the hook (nor should they) if they have unpaid parking tickets. I also understand that this procedure is more or less what happens in big cities everywhere (except for the dazzling new high tech aspect of this gizmo, which surely makes Seattle's leaders' hearts go all aflutter).
Here's where I have a problem with this....
The city council seems to be moving forward to adopt this. There's just one thing apparently standing in their way: the car campers. "Homeless advocates" are concerned that this would unfairly impact their clients, and are protesting the proposal because the bums who live in their scummy RVs are amongst the worst "scofflaws" (this is what the "homeless advocate" said, not me) - most have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of unpaid parking tickets. They worry that this would unfairly target the car campers. So what does the city council do as a response? Of course, they are looking for ways to let the bums off the hook - they would be exempt.
That's right. If you, long time citizen of Seattle, taxpayer, consumer, and contributor to the economy, manage to rack up a few unpaid parking tickets because you foolishly parked downtown at 7:45pm or on a Saturday afternoon, you run the risk of incurring multiple hundreds of dollars worth of fines, plus the hassle of having to take their "boot" and drop it off at the city's designated location after you've paid up. But Fat Freddy, living in his brown Winnebago that's parked on the street by the Fred Meyer (or in his van parked behind the library every day), who has racked up $1000 worth of tickets over the past few years of sponging off the system? No problem, they get a free pass! It would be cruel to hold the "homeless" accountable. So the city is looking for ways to exempt them from the tough love that the "boot" would apply to others. Nice.
The bums openly admit that "Seattle is the best place in the world to be homeless." With policies like these, it's no wonder we attract more and more of them.
How's that for the city's priorities?