How the rest of us are ticketed

Booted Car.jpg

This isn't an Albany boot, but you get the idea.

By Jessica Pasko

Editors' note: We're guessing (hoping) that Jessica's story is not a typical Albany parking ticket experience. But it's so outrageous, we thought you'd want to hear about it -- especially in light of the whole "ghost ticket" situation.

While the Albany police department is apparently handing out tickets that don't actually have to be paid to Albany's elite, there are others of us who are getting booted. Erroneously.

Yes, everyone who gets booted complains -- but before you brand me a martyr, let me explain.

Last Thursday, after a wonderful dinner party at CCK, I came out to discover my car had been booted. It was cold, it was almost 11 and I was on lower Central Ave. I was also utterly confused at that point because I didn't think I had any unpaid parking tickets.

As it happens, that day I'd received a letter from city hall regarding a ticket I'd contested. I was turned down and given until Feb. 12 to pay the 50 dollar fine. I had also received a ticket two weeks ago for parking too close to a fire hydrant. That ticket wasn't due until the 22nd. I didn't think this qualified me for the boot.

Dealing with the cops

So my boyfriend makes a couple of attempts to phone the police station listed on the ticket to ask them to look up my record. Each time he is met with absolute surliness. Finally the officer relents and agrees to look the records up. Our friends drop us off at the boy's house and we get in his car and head to the police station, where the officer shows me my ticket history on the computer system. According to them, I have been granted "scofflaw" status for being overdue on three tickets.

The boot notice infers I owe over $400, in part because the cop inappropriately applied a late fee for a non-late ticket. I point this out at the station and that part of the fee is knocked down. I then show him my paperwork from city hall and explain that when you contest a ticket, you don't owe a late fee. He agrees, but tells me I have to work that out with city hall, not him.

He told me if I wanted to get my car back, I would have to get a money order for $400. Yes, folks -- the APD doesn't accept personal checks or credit cards. It's after 11 p.m. at this point, so clearly this isn't going to happen.

On to city hall

The next morning, I have to call work and take a personal day. I drive the boyfriend's car to to city hall. At the parking violations bureau, they look at my records and my paperwork and realize that the cops should not have booted me at all.

I'm feeling pretty triumphant at this point and begin singing a bastardized version of The Clash's "I fought the law" in my head.

What I actually owed was $85 -- not $400 -- on a ticket that I did legitimately forget to pay. So the nice guy at city hall knocks off the boot fee, the inappropriate late fees and sets it up so that all I'm actually required to pay is the $85. I then head to the treasurer's bureau and pay up the $85 and my hydrant ticket.

The very sweet woman there feels terrible for me, takes my payment and says she will call the cops to get them to take off my boot. All I have to do is show up at my car. She also tells me to give it about an hour or so. So I grab some breakfast, drop off the borrowed car and take the bus to my car. I get there and am glad to see the boot is removed.

But, wait...

Here's the kicker: There's now A PARKING TICKET ON MY CAR.

Apparently as soon as one cop took the boot off, another must have driven past and ticketed me. I begin to do one of those things where you're laughing and crying at the same time, because, really, the whole thing is kind of hilarious. Or not.

I drive back to the police station and explain myself to the officer on duty, who is about as nonchalant as he could be. I explain that it took me a few extra minutes to get to my un-booted car because of the lack of transportation inflicted on me by his police department. His oh-so-helpful assistance? Go work it out at city hall.

Back to city hall

So I head back to city hall -- to the same parking violations bureau guy. He is appalled by this whole situation. He takes the ticket, takes my receipt and has me fill out a parking bureau complaint form. He assures me they'll take care of it and I won't have to worry about anything and I will likely get a letter in the mail about it soon.

By now it's about 3 p.m. and I begin to wonder, "Is 3 p.m. too soon for happy hour?"

photo: Flickr user quinn.anya

Comments

I absolutely sympathize when it comes to dealing with the Albany Parking Bureau. I woke up one morning to find my car gone - assuming I'd been towed due to an outstanding ticket or two, I called APB to find out where my car was. I was informed they didn't have it, which of course caused me to express confusion and concern. The response I was met with was "So basically what you're telling me ma'am is you just don't remember where you parked your car last night." I explained that was not the case, I received another snarky comment and was told to call back after I looked around a bit. My car had been hit by an ambulance in the middle of the night, towed away without my knowledge and it wasn't until a very forceful second call to the policy that I finally found this out. They are rediculous.

Jess that is horrible!
My roommate has had problems with Albany's Parking Enforcement as well, he gotten not one, but two tickets for an unpaid meter in less than six months. The kicker? This was on Madison Ave by Washington Park, there are no meters!

Oh how I wish Albany had a metro system (read: subway). This would solve many of the problems concerning parking downtown, traffic, and ugly parking garages.

Christ, as much as I love this city, I effing *hate* the APD. This is a police force that couldn't care less about murders, rapes, robberies, assault, etc, but GOD HELP YOU IF YOU PARK ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE STREET, OR YOUR ASS IS GRASS!! And, as your blood-pressure-spiking tale illustrates, even if there's a *perception* that you have violated the Laws Of The Albany Parking Gods, (yea, verily) you will be mocked and punished severely as your car is put into the stocks.

Bottom Line: Don't anger the Albany Parking Puritans. They make baby Jesus cry.

This is worse than the time I was pulled over for running a stop sign that didn't exist... in New Paltz.

Pretty crappy treatment, for sure... but why are you getting parking tickets in the first place? How hard is it to read a sign?

There is absolutely ZERO culture of service within the APD, and this includes parking enforcement as well. I'm NOT saying that all the APD is bad cops, just that they do NOT see themselves as public servants.

I'm not totally in love with the city of Troy as a whole, but the police department there seems to have a totally different attitude, at least from my limited experience.

I had a similarly-horrible booting situation in November. My car was stolen two years ago (as part of a house robbery--the APD never dusted our house for prints, and an officer gave my roommate serious 'tude when she gave him the list of things that had been stolen from her. There was never ANY follow-up regarding the house robbery).

The cops recovered my car in a Central Ave. parking lot after it being missing for a week (they also did not dust the car for prints).

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I left my house to go to work one morning this past November to find it booted. Apparently, I'd been ticketed TWICE for illegally parking in the lot on Central before the cops wised up that they were, in fact, ticketing a stolen car.

I never received any notices from the Parking Violations Bureau because I'd moved after the home robbery, and the notices were never forwarded.

I ended up having to pay the $40 booting fee, but not the $250 for the two unpaid tickets, after showing the Parking Violations clerk the copy of the police report from the car theft. She actually rolled her eyes at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

I always try to support the cops--they have a really rough job, and they get very little respect in return. Unfortunately, nearly every time I've needed the cops for something, the response has been lazy, incompetant and downright dismissive. It's erroding my respect for the cops, and as I can see from all of the other comments here, I'm not the only one.

@Hornomomo -- on one street where I was ticketed, the no parking signs are spaced so far apart that I didn't see one at all. I had to walk two blocks down from my car to find a sign informing me not to park on that side of the street on that particular day. The other one occurred when my boyfriend borrowed my car while I was on vacation.

I've said it before on this site, and now I'll say it again... The cops in Albany have got to be the most corrupt, unhelpful, infuriating collection of 'public servants' I've ever come across after living in several different cities. I've had several interactions with the po-po here, and in no case have they been helpful. I had a thoroughly disinterested cop come to my apt after an a break-in (nothing came of it, not that I was expecting anything). I've seen cops nearly run people off the road while speeding through traffic with their alarm lights off. I've read about a drunk cop losing their gun at Larkfest. Will it ever change? Doubtful.

The APB is a separate entity from APD. Even APD officers get tickets from the APB and they can not get out of them. Unfortunately, APD is left to clean up the mess APB creates and, in return, they are the ones that get blamed. My respect for the police is not erroding.

To add to the list of parking/police hell stories:

2 years ago my car was stolen. I notified the police and the officer who came to my house to take the report clearly was disinterested and joked about the situation the entire time.

A month later my car turned up at Joe's Osborn Street garage. The person who stole my car had parked in a tow-away zone.

The police did not find my car, I was alerted by the garage.

The kicker: I HAD TO PAY the ticket ( and needless to say the impound fee) for the (expletive here) who stole my car and parked it in a tow zone!

Parking tickets in Albany - my favorite topic! When I lived on the Park I got one at 9:45am or so on 9/11/01 for not moving my car to the alternate side of the street by 9 am, one when I had a sign on my windshield saying the car was dead and we were waiting for a tow truck, another when all the temporary no-parking signs had been torn down and shredded (and several more when I was running a few minutes late for the 9am alt-side movement ... the parking vultures wait around the edges of the Washington Park Neighborhood and start ticketing at 9:01am!). I tried to fight one once and it cost me an entire day of waiting around with 100 other folks at City Hall and running out to move my car every hour or two so I wouldnt get ticketed again at meters that only allow you to stay at them for that long. When my husband and I were looking to buy a house I fought tooth and nail to stay in Albany ... until the morning I walked out to yet another ticket. We bought a house in Niskayuna within the week.

Can all of this be sent to the Mayor, City Council and the Chief of Police? I don't think they frequent this site. Something has to be done.

It's nice that you believe that this ingrained corruption of the APD is simply unknown by those in charge, CB. (Really, not meant to be snarky; it's good of you to believe the best of the people assigned to uphold the law on the streets.) However, the corruption in our police department is entrenched at every level. Here's but one article on the subject: http://www.democracyinalbany.com/story/2007/3/4/94039/96175

And if you want another eye-popping example of the APD protecting the most corrupt SOB's they can find, just google "William Bonanni." (He's an APD cop who's spent over a third of his career on suspension/leave due to horrifically brutal incidents at his hands, and IS STILL ON THE FORCE.)

Chief Tuffey, the city council, and Mayor OrangeFace aren't in the dark about any of this, honey. They know. And they don't care.

My sister attends Saint Rose and relays to me parking ticket stories just like you all are saying- she was given a ticket because the police put up signs for a snow emergency at 1pm saying they had been there since 7am, (when they didn't) and ticketed her. The college kids don't really have a voice (or money for that matter) so it's a pretty unfortunate situation.

I too have been towed ( a few years back), actually the police were fine, but Dotts garage are the ones who tow and what a bunch of crooks they are!! (I do wonder if they have some kind of shady deal with the city of Albany) Plus they damaged my car because they towed it wrong!
They ended up having to pay , but what a nightmare, not to mention loss of work, renting a car, etc...
I was wrong as I had illegally parked and deserved the ticket, but I did not deserve what I had to put up with from Dotts

So I got booted the other day, racked up over 300 dollars worth of parking tickets. Although I do think the fines are a bit expensive, I realize the blame for recieving these tickets resides solely on me and my "violating the law" and all. What I do find as unfair though came after I paid the service fee of 40 dollars to have the boot removed and I discovered a loud squeaking noise coming from that recently liberated front left tire. So I said to myself "gee, someones going to have to pay for this, because I shouldn't and actually can't" (I work for minimum wage). So I returned back to my favorite place in the world, city hall, to find out what bullsh*t I had to go through now in order to be reimbursed. The verdict was I had to fill out a two of the same form get them notarized and bring them back to city hall so they can take the proper steps in their investigation. P.S. the investiagtion could take up to eight weeks (its been 6 already). P.S.S. Im a delivery driver and can't work because I wont have a car for the next 8 weeks, so I am now looking for a job that is near a bus route (suggestions would be nice), but thank god public transportation is free around here...oh wait

#albanyblows

What a "great" city Albany is - inviting people to patronize establishments downtown by ticketing cars on deserted Broadway near 677 at 5:45pm on a Friday - way to go Albany!

Car broke down during a snow emergency last winter, so being a good citizen I shoveled and pushed it up on my lawn, the next morning an officer came to my door after my neighbor complained the car was there (he's a f''k). Officer told me I could park there..... Three hours later I go out to clean the foot and a half of snow off of my car and try and get it running again in the sub-arctic-hell-scape we all know and love. To my surprise a 120 dollar ticket was waiting for me. It's illegal to park on your OWN lawn in Albany and the fine is more than DOUBLE the amount for actually parking illegally. So needless to say I contested this annoyance and received a wonderful letter around a month later. It went something like this, and I'm paraphraseing, 'The city of Albany I understands the circumstance and agree with your actions, so we're reducing the ticket..... To 60 dollars, if you pay it within 10 days, if not warrents may be issued for your arrest'. Furious, the only word to describe my mood when I think about this.

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