Wow – A marginal misquote, but….


Wow – A marginal misquote, but….

Got a call from the Old Gray Lady, our newspaper of record,
the New York Times.  The reporter, one
Jesse McKinley, said he was at deadline and writing about handicapped permit
abuse in California. It was Friday at 6 PM but I agreed to in interview.  After all, it was that bastion of fact and
archive, the NEW YORK TIMES.

We spoke for twenty minutes. 
I told him that the problem was rampant across the country but the main
reason was that people with these permits get to park for FREE. At least on
street and at least in California, Florida and other states. That meant that
the permits meant not only that people got a close in space, but that they
could park without paying.

I also commented that most handicapped really wanted access,
not a handout. That they needed the handicapped space so they could drive their
big vans and get their chairs and crutches out without problems.  The fact that the permits were free was
secondary, and in my opinion causing the problem.

If you have access to the NYT, you can read the article

It’s interesting that he quotes me and the parking rock
star, Don Shoup, with sort of throw away comments, but never quotes a
handicapped person, a handicapped group, or worse, never brings up the
potential real cause of the problem (free parking.)  He also neglects to mention the fact that
these permits cost cities millions (the chap from San Francisco touches on this
but it’s never followed up).  Not necessarily
because the permits are free, although that’s a big deal, but because cheaters
take space that could be used by the paying public.

The inference is that by raising the fine to $1000 the
problem will go away. Oh Please. As the women who wrote the law said herself

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, a San Francisco Democrat
who sponsored the new law, said she had seen placards advertised on Craigslist, as well as fakes. “They
are really hard to identify,” Ms. Ma said. “Only a trained eye could tell the
difference.” All of which, she said, has made the law a people pleaser.

Let me parse this for you – The law was written because it will please a
group of people, however it will do little good since placards are a commodity,
even on Craigslist, and the fakes are so good that most can’t tell the
difference. It will please some people, but do little or no good.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. We have the same problem in the UK but it has a number of levels and subleties which I suspect also apply with you guys.
    #1 Using Granny’s permit. An elderly, disabled or dead person in the family gets a permit and then someone else in the family uses it to get free parking. A straight offence, misuse of the permit fine upto £1,000, not dollars, pounds. If you park in paid parking you can also get done for “obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception” a fine to jail time depending on circumstances.
    #2 Using a stolen permit. This is a big problem since the permits obviously have a resale value and are seen as a commodity by druggies etc. Result all the above plus handling stolen property, plus possible theft. For first offenders a big fine and a criminal record minimum, possibly time served if you have a record.
    #3 Counterfieting, with colour photocopiers and photo-shop this is a problem but my police friends tell me that the counterfieters usually get something wrong and once you know what you are looking for they are usually easy to spot. Result all of #1 plus counterfieting and fraud, its getting expensive.
    Now the killer. Under UK law if you use a car in the commision of a crime the courts can seize it. Spoke to the Police about this and they are very aware of the power and will seek seizure “at the right time to make the point”. I guess they are waiting for a Rolls or a Bentley.
    So with all these penalties why do we still have a problem? Simple, lack of Police interest in this sort of offence. In Liverpool and Edinburgh the Police have committed limited resources and the problem is being managed, not least of all because when they get someone for permit abuse they usually find other things.
    Oh and European permits (we have a unified scheme) has a photo of the holder so if you are stopped its a matter of seconds to get to the truth.

  2. I’ve spotted a number of fakes, and they’re easy to spot (and getting easier – holograms were recently added). What happens though, is very rarely the £1000 fine, but simply me treating the car as though it doesn’t have a badge – so they get a £50 or £70 parking ticket, with a 50% discount available on it. Of course I report them, and if they go in and try to appeal, they may find themselves with some explaining to do, but I’m not aware of a single prosecution in my county.

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