Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't Do The Crime If You Can't Do The Time

Shawn Vestal tells a sympathetic story in today's Review. In a truly generous and worthy cause, a gentleman dressed as Santa and accompanied by family members dressed as elves delivered presents to St Margaret's Shelter. The problem is that he got a $450 ticket for parking in a spot reserved for the disabled.

At first, Finn pulled up in front of the shelter on Hartson, but was told it would be better to leave that spot – the closest to the front door – open. He pulled into the empty parking lot – and into one of three open handicapped spots.

Understandably, a lot of people are upset at the perceived unfairness of this situation. Surely someone who is doing something so kind and wonderful--and it is--should not be punished for parking in a disabled-reserved parking spot.

Does the law apply equally to us or do we make exceptions for certain people? (I'm leaving out the law as it applies to the 1%.) Maybe I should rephrase. Should the law apply equally to us or should we make exceptions for certain people? Who will decide what those exceptions are? Would that be fair?

It's not like Finn had no place to park. He could have returned to the slot out front and told the people inside that it was the only one available. Regardless, he chose to park where he did.

Sitting through several sessions of a commissioner presiding over parking tickets--and suffering through a painful experience of my own--I learned that the only way you can have the ticket thrown out is if you can prove you did not violate the law. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and motivations and excuses have no part in it. The commissioner is permitted to reduce the fine for mitigating reasons so maybe Finn can have the fine reduced. But the most it can be reduced is by one-third unless the rules have changed within the last year. I'm pretty sure Finn is looking at at least a $300 fine.

While this all makes for good press and garners sympathy for Finn, I think he should pay the fine. It would be nice if other generous people chipped in to help him out. I'm willing to throw in a ten spot.


Spokane Al said...

I was once, decades ago, Santa Claus for my son's preschool class. It was one of the highlights of my life. When each child sat on my lap and gazed at me, there was no doubt that they truly believed.

That said, I fail to understand why playing the part of that fine gentleman would have allowed me the right to park in a handicapped spot.

In fact, in retrospect it seems to me at least, that pulling into the handicapped spot would be something that Santa would never do.

Anonymous said...

He should have had Rudolph maintain the sleigh in a holding pattern.

todd said...

Completely agree with you Hank. While Santa's story seems like he was wronged, he knew what he was getting into. I find it sad that people tried to help him receive special treatment and sad that this article was written in what I assume is an attempt to gain sypathy for bad choices. If the city bends on this they will just invite even more sob stories from those who feel the law doesn't apply to them.

Anonymous said...

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.*

*This warning not applicable to Wall Street, Dick Cheney, or members of the Spokane Police Department.

Anonymous said...

Equal justice in America: Santa Clause gets a $500 ticket, Lord Blankfein gets a $5,000,000 bonus.

Double Felix said...

I have to say I completely agree with Hank on this one.

Santa should be happy it's just a ticket.

After all, a meter maid shot the Easter Bunny in the back of the head for double-parking.

We don't even know what they did to the Great Pumpkin, because the city attorney refused to release the video tape.

Oh, and Santa? Better to tell the elves to drop those little hammers, if they don't want to end up in the pokey.