Parking Ticket Geek

Happy %#@! Anniversary, First Parking Meter Installed 75 Years Ago Today

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

As you dig through your pockets for a quarter to pay for your parking spot today, you have an additional reason to curse your parking meter.

Today, for urban motorists everywhere, this day could be labeled an anniversary of evil.

Because this day in 1935, the very first parking meter was installed at the corner of First Street and Robinson Avenue, in downtown Oklahoma City, OK.

Who was the fiendish, evil genius who conceived this motorist tormenting device 75 years ago?

It was attorney and newspaper editor Carlton Cole "Carl" Magee.

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As the story goes, Magee came up with the idea shortly after he was named Chairman of the Oklahoma City's Chamber of Commerce Traffic Committee in 1933.

The city and the chamber of commerce were concerned that when drivers parked and just left their cars all day in front of downtown businesses, other shoppers were being discouraged from spending their money downtown because of the lack of parking spaces.

Magee felt challenged to find a way to regulate parking and conceived of the idea of a coin operated timer for parking spots.

In his quest to design a working parking regulation device, Magee sought the help of Gerald A. Hale and Professor H.G. Thuesen two engineering professors from Oklahoma State University, whom assisted Magee in making his idea a reality just a few months earlier.

According to an account by the Oklahoma Historical Society:

Hundreds of people gathered in the heat and humidity of downtown Oklahoma City to watch 150 of the new meters put into place. According to local papers initial reactions were not favorable and newspapers boys within minutes figured out a way to jam the machines so they would work without using any money. Stores without meters in front began advertising free parking as a gimmick but quickly changed their tune. Business and profit increased significantly for stores located on blocks containing the meters and soon every downtown business demanded meters on their block.

In another account in  an article by Bonnie Loyd, in the Spring, 1988 edition of Whole Earth Review the meters had to be installed under the cover of night.

Many citizens were outraged. They claimed it was un-American to pay for parking, and some initiated court actions to remove the meters. The battle attracted national attention, but the meters stayed.

Magee filed for  a patent May 13, 1935 for a "coin controlled parking meter" It took just over three years, but his patent, #2,118,318, was issued May 24, 1938. Less than two months from filing the patent, the first parking meter was bolted into the street of downtown Oklahoma City charging the outrageous sum of a nickel.

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According to accounts the city paid a whopping $23 per parking meter to the Dual Parking Meter Company--the company Magee founded to manufacture parking meters. It was named "Dual" because, as the story goes, the meters served two purposes, one for controlling parking and two, for revenue generation.

By 1951, just 16 years later, one million parking meters dotted the American scene.

Magee's meter No. 1 currently resides within a glass case in the State Museum of History in Oklahoma City.

Magee died in Tulsa, OK in 1946.

However, his infernal invention, unfortunately, lives on.

GEEK NOTE: Some accounts list July 14th or 15th as this red letter day in American history. However, most records, including the Oklahoma History Center, have it listed as July 16th.

Special thanks to our friend Sluggo for reminding us of this very special historical anniversary.

Clerk's Office Extends City Sticker Deadline To July 30th

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Unsticky City Sticker Problem Prolongs Deadline 2 Weeks

Procrastinators rejoice!

Normally today, June 30th, is the day your old Chicago city vehicle sticker expires and must be replaced on your car's windshield with the 2010/2011 sticker.

Of course, the city traditionally gives stragglers a two week grace period to purchase and affix their $75 decal, making July 15th the ultimate deadline before drivers risk a $120 ticket for "failure to display" their city sticker.

But this year, because of an un-sticky situation, the Chicago City Clerk's office has announced an unprecedented 15-day extension of the city sticker grace period extending the deadline for until July 30th.

This break from tradition is due to quality control issues the Chicago City Clerk's office has been facing with this year's stickers.

As reported last week, small batches of the first shipment of defective city stickers did not have enough adhesive to keep them affixed effectively to windshields. While complaints in the very first days of June alerted the Clerk's office to the problem, and forced them to take quick action in tossing out what remained of the first shipment of 125,000 stickers, enough of the defective decals were mailed to drivers to make it an issue.

Ironically, the sticker vendor, Chicago-based SecureMark Decal Company, which had similar problems supplying stickers to the New York DMV several months ago, was not the City Clerk's first choice to supply the 2010/2011 city stickers.

Because of this issue, the Clerk's office wants to insure drivers experiencing this issue have enough time to replace their defective stickers. The reasoning being, many drivers don't try affixing their sticker until today, will not know if they have a bad sticker or not. With just over two weeks until July 15th, the Clerk's office was concerned there won't be enough time to replace any problem stickers by the time the original grace period is over.

"A lot of people wait until today (June 30th) to put their city sticker on their windshield," explains City Clerk spokesperson Kristine Williams. "Due to the circumstances, we felt it was in the best interest of everyone to do this."

According to Williams, city ordinance allows the Clerk's office by law, a full 30 days of grace period where it can continue to sell city stickers to drivers without the $40 late fee and delaying enforcement.

The number of returned defective city stickers has risen over the past week from an initial 1200 to over 8000 as of yesterday and the Clerk's office still expects more.

"We're expecting more because so many people wait until June 30th to put them on their car," said Williams. "We don't think it will be much more because we pulled the first shipment fairly quickly."

Because of the grace period extension, enforcement of city stickers will not begin on July 16th as usual, but on July 31st. According to Williams the Clerk's office has informed all levels of parking enforcement about this issue and the new enforcement start date.

Long Lines Expected Today

Despite the additional grace period, the Clerk's office is expecting long lines of drivers trying to get their city stickers before today's "official" deadline.

"Of course, we always have big lines today," sighed Williams. "We have a lot of people that just want their sticker now."

Local currency exchanges are bracing for a rush of city sticker sales tomorrow as well.

"Yes, it's usually really busy on the 30th," says Judith Avila, an employee of the Kedzie-Elston Currency Exchange located at 3510 N. Kimball in the Avondale neighborhood. "We expect more people than normal. We'll have extra staff (on duty.)"

The upside to the grace period is drivers can avoid lines altogether by ordering their sticker online via the City Clerk's website. According to Williams, drivers ordering online can expect their city sticker fulfillment to come in the mail in two weeks or less.

Defective Stickers Being Replaced At No Charge

If you do find you have a defective sticker, the Clerk's office will replace it for free. Drivers can e-mail the City Clerk's office at: cityclerk@cityofchicago.org or call 312-742-9200 or mail their defective sticker to: City Clerk's Office, Room 107, City Hall, Attn: Daveda Peeler/Defective Sticker, 121 N. LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60602. Replacements will be sent in the mail.

If you prefer, you can get your replacement immediately and in person at any City Clerk office location.

Many Suburban Towns Moving Toward Opting Out Of Cook County RLC Program

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

8 Suburban Villages On Record Opposing County Cameras


The wheels are in motion.

Already eight suburban municipalities are moving toward opting out of Cook County's proposed red light camera program.

Less than a week after the Cook County board voted to allow municipalities the option to keep county red light cameras out of their town, Buffalo Grove and reportedly Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Wheeling, Wilmette, Northbrook, Glenview and Deerfield are making all the signs each town will opt out.

This comes less than a week after the county board backpedaled a bit on moving forward with their red light camera program, after commissioners started getting angry reaction to the program from many of the municipalities where 20 cameras were planned to be erected.

On Monday night, during their regular bi-monthly meeting, the Buffalo Grove village board passed a resolution thanking Cook County for allowing towns the "opt out" provision. However, because the ordinance has not been signed by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger yet, and the county has not created a procedure for allowing municipalities to exercise their option, Buffalo Grove did not specifically vote on opting out.

But it seems at least most of Buffalo Grove's trustees are in support of keeping red light cameras out of the village. In fact, the village board had rejected red light cameras back in February.

"Obviously, if we thought it was the appropriate thing to do (install RLCs) we would have done it then (back in February)," said Buffalo Grove trustee Jeffery Braiman. "My feeling is we'll get blamed for it (Cook County installed RLCs) and not get any of the benefits."

Other Buffalo Grove trustees hold similar views on the issue and are in favor of opting out including trustees DeeAnn Glover and Steven Trilling.

Schaumburg, which doesn't meet again until next Tuesday, had already expressed their opposition to the county's cameras and will officially join other municipalities in keeping RLCs from being installed within the town's borders.

The Arlington Heights village board also met on Monday and was also scheduled to take up the issue of county red light cameras and discuss the possibility of opting out according to the Daily Herald.

Then Wheeling, which is not opposed to red light cameras as it has a small program in place already, is bristling at the idea of Cook County telling the town where the cameras should be installed and will also opt out according to the Daily Herald.

In addition, according to Wilmette Life newspaper, Northbrook, Deerfield, Glenview and Wilmette are actively pushing toward opting out as well.

Parking Meter Company To Resume Ticketing Monday

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.



After a 15 month hiatus, Chicago Parking Meter, LLC, the private company which controls the city's parking meter system, will resume parking meter enforcement starting Monday according to the Department of Revenue.

However, instead of hiring and overseeing its own staff, CPM has contracted SERCO, a company that has been providing supplemental parking enforcement for the city for the past 10 years, to handle their enforcement.

As part of the city's $1.16 billion parking meter lease deal signed in December of 2008, CPM was given the ability to hire its own parking enforcement personnel to issue tickets for expired meters.  The parking meter company is looking to stepped up enforcement as a way to improve payment compliance and therefore improve their bottom line.  Drivers fearing expired meter tickets when parking in metered spaces, are going to be more apt to feed the meter than risk a $50 ticket.

However, in March of 2009, after a series of embarrassing missteps in the transition of control of the meters, the city asked CPM to voluntary halt enforcement until the company had smoothed out all the problems.

According to the Department of Revenue, meter violations have decreased in 2010, from 187,597 in 2010 (through May) compared to 215,981 in 2009 for the same time period--a 13% decrease.

The city claims parking ticket issuance has been decreasing for the past 10 years. Only 2.75 million tickets were issued in 2009 vs. 2.85 million the year before. 3.4 million tickets were issued in 1999.

But this added enforcement personnel should give a big boost to the city to improve their meter violations numbers and total tickets issued for 2010 and beyond. Just based on conservative estimates, this new CPM enforcement personnel will write over 31,000 additional tickets and generate well over $1.5 million in revenue for the city.

Even though enforcement personnel on behalf of CPM will issue tickets, the city will keep all the revenue from the fines generated from the violations.

Board Passes 'Opt Out' Amendment For County Red Light Camera Program

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Allows Municipalities To Keep RLCs Out Of Their Towns

Cook County board members must have got an earful from their municipal constituents.

Because after approving a contract for two red light camera suppliers two weeks ago to begin erecting cameras at 20 proposed locations on suburban Cook County roads, board members voted to give municipalities to the option to say no to RLCs in their towns.

The board, after some lengthy discussions on the matter, voted 9-4 to approve, with three voting present and one commissioner absent.

The red light camera contract for the county surprised many of the leaders of suburban municipalities when a list of 30 proposed red light camera locations were announced two weeks ago. This prompted many towns, including Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Wilmette and others to begin looking into stopping the cameras from being erected in their towns.

"This allows for municipalities to opt out of the county's red light camera program," said amendment sponsor Commissioner Tim Schneider, who opposed the original ordinance and subsequent RLC contract. "It's not an argument for or against red light cameras...This is about the village's right to include or exclude red light cameras within their municipality."

"It's an overreach and an encroachment on their sovereignty and sets a dangerous precedence," said Commissioner Tony Periaca who voted against the original ordinance and subsequent contract. "It's a way to separate taxpayers from their money. It's not about safety it's about revenue."

Commisioner Patricia Murphy, who ultimately voted present, was concerned that giving municipalities the option to participate or not, would effectively kill the program.

"If they opt out in great numbers how does it effect our budget," Murphy asked about the $2 million dollars in revenue the county expected from their RLC pilot program. "I'm worried what this means to the budget if municipalities choose to opt out. If they opt out you're not going to have anything left.

"What this resolution does is recognize the partnership we have with the local municipalities," argued Commissioner Peter Silvestri. "The local municipalities know their communities better than the county highway department. If the municipalities don't want the red light cameras, we should respect that."

Commissioner Joseph Moreno, who voted no on the amendment and who sponsored the original county RLC ordinance in 2007 was mildly critical of his colleagues. "It's not about public safety, it's about politics," opined Moreno. "It's about getting re-elected in November."

"I'm a little surprised," said George Dunham, a village board member in Schaumburg, perhaps the most vocally opposed municipality which threatened legal action to keep cameras out of their town. "It sounds like what we were looking for. Sounds to me like they, for a change, listened to the will of the people."

Ride Of Silence Honors Chicago's Fallen Cyclists

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Event A Solemn Reminder To Share The Road, Drive Safely


On one side of the wrought iron fence, that separates Damen Ave. from one of the three baseball diamonds at Hamlin Park, young children practice fielding ground balls and running bases.

On the other side of the black fence a women's bike, painted completely white and locked to a light pole, stands as a silent tribute to the life of Liza Whitacre.

It's at this spot where 20-year old Whitacre fell underneath a truck while riding on October 21, was run over and killed.

Whitacre's bike is one of five ghost bike memorials that will be visited by several hundred fellow bike riders this evening during the Chicago Ride of Silence.

The Ride of Silence first began in Dallas, TX in 2003 to honor a local bike rider who was killed when he was hit by a school bus mirror. Since then, the event has grown to be held in all 50 states, 18 countries and 296 cities including Chicago which started their ride in 2006.

In its fifth year here in Chicago, the Ride of Silence is essentially a two-wheeled funeral procession honoring the memory of local cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding and struck by a motor vehicle.

Perhaps the only thing you'll hear will be the sound of shifting gears, the soft whiz of bicycle wheels or the muted sound of rubber tires rolling over hard asphalt when riders solemnly leave Daley Center to start their ride at 7 PM.

"It's a strong, silent statement," said bike commuter, blogger and Chicago Ride of Silence organizer Elizabeth Adamczyk of the event. "It can be an emotional experience. There's no conversation, it's silent. It's not like the loud and happy Critical Mass rides with people shouting 'Happy Friday.' We're trying to have our voice heard in the silence."

Riders will gather downtown at Daley Center Plaza at the Eternal Flame, at 6:30 PM and depart a half hour later. Cyclists will wordlessly pedal the 10 mile route taking them through the city to briefly visit the five ghost bike memorials.

Ghost bikes are completely whitewashed with paint, adorned with placards in remembrance of the person who was killed and locked to a pole or other object, act as solemn if not haunting reminders to both motorists and cyclists of the tragic results when cars and bikes collide.

"Part of the goal of the ride is to call attention to the fact that bicyclists share the road with you," explained Adamczyk. "We want the motoring public to know everybody has a right to the road. We hope to make that statement in a powerful and organized way."

From Daley Plaza, riders will ride to Clint Miceli's bike on LaSalle, followed by Blanca Ocasio and Mandy Annis' bikes at Kedzie and Armitage, where the two were killed within six months of each other a few years ago.

The third bike on the route is Jepson Livingston's, the most recently deceased cyclist being remembered. Livingston was killed this past December 15th at Diversey and Avers when two vans chasing each other at high speed collided, lost control and struck the 32 year old Livingston. The driver of the van which killed Livingston is now facing murder charges.

After a stop at Western & Logan Boulevard, where Tyler Fabeck's bike marks the accident that took his life, the ride concludes at Damen and Wellington where Whitacre's bike memorial is located.

Her ghost bike, covered with colorful plastic flowers and sometimes real flower is a cold dose of driving reality against the backdrop of clapping, cheers and the voices of children from the ball field just a few yards away.

The ride should take approximately two hours to finish, with the event expected to come to its last stop at around 9 PM when some concluding remarks will be made by Adamczyk and Whitacre's uncle, Fr. Andy Powell, an Anglican priest.

"It's not a race," Adamczyk said. "The ride will pause at each ghost bike. We want to give everyone a chance to grieve and mourn along the way."

A post ride event will take place at Lill Street Gallery, 4401 N. Ravenswood, which is directly across the street from the 1000 Ghost Bikes Monument, created by artist Kat Ramsland on Ravenswood at Montrose.

Several other Ride of Silence events will be taking place in the greater Chicagoland area including, Arlington Heights, Downers Grove, Joliet and Evanston.

Photos copyright and courtesy of bike ema's Flickr photostream.

iPhone App Helps Drivers Find Best Parking Prices

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

By Diana Novak Don't get us wrong. Parking in Chicago is still going to gouge you, but maybe now you can get a little less gouged. iPhone users searching for parking in Chicago, will definitely appreciate a new app that allows you to find parking from wherever you're located. The aptly named Chicago Parking App, the creation of Logan Square local Nick Capizzani, aims to help you find the absolute cheapest parking available in your vicinity, whether it is a meter, pay box, or parking structure. This also includes a list of all available Early Bird specials and a map of varying parking price zones. "Me and my girlfriend always go to Chicago and have no idea where to park," says Capizzani. "We always just park at the closest place and it turns out to be the most expensive." Frustration (a common theme amongst parkers) lead him to the idea for the app, which includes a parking timer to help you avoid meter overstay tickets, a voice memo system for recording where you parked, and turn-by-turn directions back to your car. Capizzani has already sold over 2000 of his app, which was launched in the iTunes store in early March. Versions of the app are in the works for San Francisco, New York and San Diego. Through his connections with parking garages, Capizzani is able to advertise his service in the garages in exchange for his advertising their parking garages. Alternately, he relies on reviews of his app and social media outlets like Twitter to get the word out. He has recently teamed up with San Francisco-based ParkingCarma to expand to California and add real-time space availability in the garages to the existing Chicago app. Chicago Parking App retails for $1.99 from the iTunes store. For more information, checkout the Chicago Parking App website.

GPS Angel Helps Drivers Avoid Red Light Camera Tickets

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Protect yourself.

When you drive in Chicago, America's red light camera capital, protection is what you need to do to insure you don't get bitch slapped with a $100 red light camera ticket.

That's the idea behind a niche category of electronic devices which alert drivers to red light camera intersections as they drive.

These relatively inexpensive devices utilize GPS and specialty point of interest (POI) databases to give drivers a heads up when RLC intersections are approaching, so you can slow down safely and stop before the light changes.

One of these devices is the GPS Angel.

Introduced to the U.S.  in 2009, the Angel was originally rolled out a few years ago in Europe where speed cameras have infested their continent with nearly five times more enforcement cameras than in the entire U.S.

"We're certainly not advocating running red lights," says Adam Fingerman, U.S. Marketing Director for GPS Angel. "The cameras exist at dangerous intersections. GPS Angel gives you a heightened state of awareness and warns you when you come to one of these dangerous intersection."

Fingerman kindly sent The Expired Meter a unit to test drive on the mean streets of Chicago, and we happily put the GPS Angel through its paces.

The first important order of business for setting up your unit is to download the GPS Angel Manager application via the web. This software allows you to periodically update your unit with the number of RLC intersections locally and nationwide to keep you protected everywhere  you drive.

The software, when run, steps you through the process of updating your unit. Unlike some other similar devices, there's no cost or subscription fee for drivers to update their unit.

Fingerman suggest updating your unit on a regular basis as the company updates their database weekly saying, "It's a great database. The strength of the product is the database."

Once we uploaded the company's current database to the GPS Angel unit, we excitedly plugged it into the car lighter and slapped it on top of our dashboard. After a few minutes for the unit to sync up with the GPS satellites whizzing over our heads in geosynchronous orbit far above the earth, the GPS Angel is ready to go.

Driving along, it wasn't but a few moments before the unit first chirped it's first warning, red lights flashing as if to say "Be careful! Evil red light camera ahead! Make sure you stop in time!"

When driving, the unit is silent while its' readout lights are green. When we came to an RLC intersection, the lights would turn red begin flashing. If we were exceeding the speed limit approaching the intersection, the device would trill a loud agitated alarm. If we were at, or below the speed limit, the alarm would chirp three times, followed by flashing lights.

When past the intersection, the unit would beep once and then return to green lights.

While speed cameras are not prevalent in Illinois, they are in other parts of the country. If the location was a speed camera, the lights would flash yellow instead of red.

Impressively, after a week of driving around Chicago, time after time, the GPS Angel picked up on every RLC intersection we came across.


Two buttons on the top also give drivers some additional options.

The left button, when pressed can set a "personal location alert," like a school or park to remind you to slow down and drive more carefully. You can set up to 200 of these locations.

The right button is an "overspeed warning". When pressed the unit determines your current speed and then warns you if you exceed that set speed.

Trying hard to be fair minded and critical, we found only a few drawbacks to the unit.

The first is, we came across a few false positives. In other words, we were alerted to red light camera locations that did not exist. Being pretty darn well versed in where most of the RLC locations on the north side of Chicago are located, I thought a relatively new location got by me somehow.

But, after going back and checking the two locations in question in person and then compared the GPS Angel database against the city's RLC list. In these two cases, the locations were incorrect.

However, while it was a little annoying, it doesn't bug me too much. I'm less concerned about a false positive than I am about the unit missing a camera that does exist. That would be really bad.

"Missing a camera location entirely is much worse than a false positive," admitted Fingerman.  "We recognize it happens. But the strength of he product is the database. That's why we like the idea of the free updates. Customers benefit at no additional charge."

To the company's credit, after I e-mailed the discrepancy to the company, GPS Angel customer service followed up within 24 hours and amended their database for the weekly update.

The same goes for missing locations. Submit that location to the company and it will end up in the database.

The other drawback I found was driving along the Kennedy Expressway, despite the fact there are no traffic lights on an expressway, the unit would periodically go off when it came close to RLC intersections below.

With prices starting at under $99, less then the price of a red light ticket, it's easy to see why a device like GPS Angel makes smart fiscal sense. The unit pays for itself if  a motorist saves himself from just one RLC ticket.

"It's an easy to use, single purpose, affordable product," says Fingerman. "I think it's very affordable. It has a lower cost than any other product (on the market). And the database is certainly affordable because it's free. I think people like that."

For motorists who spend much of their time driving in or around Chicago, the GPS Angel seems well worth the investment to make you drive more carefully and avoid expensive red light camera tickets.

For more information on GPS Angel or a list of retailers, check out the company's website.

Stop & Hug A Crossing Guard Today!

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

May 4th Is Crossing Guard Appreciation Day

That's right.

Today is Crossing Guard Appreciation Day!

The State of Illinois made the official proclamation back in December to celebrate these under appreciated stalwarts of safety.

In Chicago, armed with their bright orange safety vests and hand held stop signs, over 1,100 blue uniformed crossing guards slow down traffic to make sure our city's children get to and from school safely each and every day.

The Active Transportation Alliance wants to make sure you show your appreciation for your local crossing guard today. They recommend giving them a thank you card, or drawing them a picture, bringing them flowers or even giving them a Certificate of Appreciation you can download from the Active Trans website.

In fact, Active Trans is encouraging people to share their thoughts about their local crossing guard to be featured in an upcoming newsletter from their organization.

In Chicago, the idea for adult crossing guards got it starts with then President of the Chicago Region PTA, Ester Saperstein urged PTA members to write their state legislators about the concept according to the SEIU Local 73 website. At the time, this job was handled by older students from each school's safety patrol.

A pilot program initiated by the Chicago Board of education began in the city in 1948. But due to a lack of funds, the police department took over the responsibility for the program in 1951, and continue to supervise the program to this day.

But now, over 50 years later, it's a day to take a moment and show your appreciation for your local crossing guard.

Just make sure you stay within the crosswalk when you do it.

Photo copyright and courtesy of TheeErin's Flickr page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theeerin/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

Parkzing.com Helps Drivers Stay On Top Of Tickets

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

New, Free Service Alerts Drivers Of Their Parking Tickets

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By Diana Novak

In our go-go busy lives, sometimes it's hard to stay on top of everything.

Especially when it comes to our parking tickets.

But not anymore. A new service called Parkzing.com keeps subscribers to their free service up to date on their parking tickets via e-mail alerts. And, if you like, Parkzing, for a small fee, will even pay your tickets on time before the violation cost doubles.

Parkzing is the creation of Aren Sandersen, a San Francisco-based software designer and entrepreneur. Sanderson listened to his friends complain about the plentiful parking tickets in the city and their heavy late fees.

"The tickets were easy to forget about and the $25 late fee (almost 50 percent of the value for most tickets in San Francisco) after only 21 days is egregious," says Sanderson. "When I half-jokingly offered to pay their tickets for them for a small fee, they jumped at the chance realizing they would each save hundreds in late fees."

Sanderson worked on the website for a few weeks in his spare time, and in February, Parkzing was born.

After a brief test period in San Francisco, Sandersen quickly expanded to include New York, Washington D.C., and of course Chicago.

"After collecting the user's license plate and email address (plus more info in some cities), Parkzing will automatically detect new parking tickets by interfacing with the city's computers nightly.  When it detects a new ticket, it sends free weekly email reminders that the ticket has not yet been paid," explains Sandersen. "Additionally, Parkzing can be set up to automatically pay the tickets after 10 days."

While no one from Parkzing has contacted Chicago's Department of Revenue, the DOR doesn't seem to have any problems with Parkzing's services.

"We do not have issues with alerting motorists about their tickets," says DOR spokesperson Ed Walsh via e-mail.  " After all, the goal of the Department of Revenue is to properly notify motorists of fines, and we are exploring ways to do this electronically. Fees can be avoided if motorists want to search for their tickets online using the City's website at cityofchicago.org/revenue."

Chicago motorists can search and pay for tickets at the DOR website. Plus, says Walsh, "There is no fee for this service."

Despite its large coverage, Parkzing's subscriber base remains pretty small. Though most of its services are free, the ticket payment costs $5 per ticket, just enough to cover the transaction costs.

Though all of his growth has come from word-of-mouth advertising, growth (in terms of profit) is not one of Sandersen's concerns.

"Most of all, I'm pleased at the money I'm helping people save; in just a few months the amount of late-fees saved is nearing the thousands of dollars," he says.

But what drives a seeming parking ticket altruist like Sandersen? What's in it for him? Sandersen understands our skepticism at his desire to help us--for free.

Under the FAQ on his website, he asks himself: "Well, why are you doing this then?" His response? "We hate parking tickets and especially needless late fees. Don't you?"

Amen, Mr. Sandersen, Amen.

Chicago drivers can find out more information about, or can subscribe to Parkzing's service by going to to the Parkzing.com website.


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StopTheBroomNow.com Sweeps Away Tickets

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Another Street Sweeping Alert Service Debuts In Chicago

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By Diana Novak

Believe it or not, now there are two different services to help you evade those pesky street sweeper tickets.

StopTheBroomNow.com is a new subscription street-sweeping alert service (very similar to StopParkingTickets.com a service this site spotlighted just a few days ago) that launched a week ago.

Designed and run by Joel Guy, 28, a Logan Square local working in IT, this messaging reminder site hopes to modernize how we park during street cleaning season.

Like many Chicago drivers who park on the street, Guy was tired of the number of tickets he was getting. "I was frustrated by the number of street sweeping tickets I was receiving every year, along with the city's posters set up at really short notice," he says. "I wished that someone would provide earlier warnings, and thought a lot of other people probably feel the same way, so I decided to do it myself."

More than frustrated, though, Guy was disturbed by the city's way of dealing with the situation. "I think if the city government really cared about cleaning the streets, this is the type of service they would be offering, to ensure that cars are moved in time for sweeping," he says. "Currently, if a car is left on the street, that section of the street goes un-swept and the city collects a $50 ticket. So we [Chicagoans] lose both ways.

While he understands the demand for such services, Chicago Streets and Sanitation spokesperson Matt Smith does not recognize the necessity.

"This information is already available," says Smith. "Between schedules posted on the internet, posted signs and 311 you can learn a lot about this information. I'm not going to tell people how to spend their money but people are paying for the convenience of information we already provide."

Guy recognizes that street cleaning was not designed as a mode of earning money. "However, at this point, it's a huge source of revenue for the city so whether or not the current system is fair or helpful to people parking their cars, the city doesn't really care," he says. "There's no impetus for them to do something like what I'm doing... beyond making their constituents happy. In the meantime, I'm happy to do it for them."

Ultimately, Streets and San wants the streets cleared of vehicles so they can sweep the streets properly.

"The bottom line is people should move their cars when sweeping occurs," reiterates Smith. "We fully encourage people to comply not just for the tickets but so we can do the job properly."

For just $8 a year, (or just over $1 per month of street cleaning season which runs from April 1 to October 31) Guy will monitor your favorite parking street on the sweeping schedules and let you know when to park elsewhere. You can choose how to be alerted (through email or text message) coming both 48 and 24 hours before the sweepers arrive.

Though the service is brand new with this sweeping season, Guy is already prepared to begin taking on subscribers.

For more information on their services, check out Guy's website, StopTheBroomNow.com.

Environmentally Friendly Automotive Tips For Earth Day

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

And while the editors at The Expired Meter don't whole-heartedly buy into the radical environmental movement in America, we do believe in responsible and reasoned environmentalism.

Many of the vital components in automobiles are not very environmentally friendly. But there are ways to handle these issues in a proper and responsible way.

So, here's a list of tips for car owners and how to be a vehicle owner and still celebrate a guilt-free Earth Day.

Motor Oil

If you change your oil yourself, do NOT just pour it down the drain or put it in the sewer.

Most oil change businesses recycle the used oil they extract from the vehicles they work on. These places also will accept your motor oil for recycling too.

Local area auto part stores Pep Boys and AutoZone stores and oil change specialists Jiffy Lube will all help you recycle your oil.

Used Car Batteries

The huge auto batteries in your car certainly don't belong in a landfill.

The key when purchasing a new battery is turning in your old one. Not only do most auto part stores give you a substantial discount on your new battery purchase, but some of them accept your old batteries even if you are not purchasing a new one.

Again Pep Boys and AutoZone will take your old car batteries for recycling.

Tires

Illinois citizens produce more than 12 million used car tires every year and they are not allowed in landfills.

But, luckily auto part stores or tire shops are legally compelled to make sure old tires are disposed of properly.

If you have some old tires to get rid of, the Environmental Protection Agency provides a list of local places that will accept yours.

Liberty Tire Services
1323 W. Cortland
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 871-6360

Liberty Tire Recycling
1705 Cottage Grove Ave.
Ford Heights, IL 60411
(708) 757-6260

Advanced Ground Care Products LLC
665 W. Armory Drive
South Holland, IL 60473
(708) 331-6100

Shred-All Recycling Systems
1234 W. 43rd Street
Chicago, IL 60609
(773) 523-5404

If you want more info, the EPA has lots of interesting information on tire disposal.

Anti-Freeze

Of course, anti-freeze is another car fluid you don't want to pour down the drain or spill on the street. Pets who for whatever reason, enjoy the taste of this poisonous chemical will end up dead from ingesting it.

So anti-freeze needs to be disposed of carefully.

The City of Chicago's Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Center, located at 1150 N. North Branch St. on Goose Island not only accepts anti-freeze for disposal but motor oil too, along with a host of other household chemicals.

The center is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, but check their website for exact hours.

Vehicle Donations

If you want to be really comprehensive in your recycling, you can consider donating your car to a local charity.

Those damn "1-800-KARS FOR KIDS" radio spots can really drive you insane, but you certainly remember them.

Perhaps another car donation program closer to our heart would be WTTW Channel 11's vehicle donation program.

When you donate your clunker to WTTW, you can at least see your donation at work when you tune in Chicago Tonight or Sesame Street.

Stopping Tickets In The Street Sweeper's Tracks

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

New Service Reminds Drivers To Move Cars By E-mail, Text

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By Diana Novak

If your sick and tired of getting tickets for forgetting to move your car on street cleaning day, then there's a new service just for you.

A new service has popped up for those of us looking to avoid yet another street sweeping season of the orange blight.

StopParkingTickets.com is the brainchild of Greg Bukowski and Molly Curry, an Old Town couple annoyed with the surge of parking tickets that inevitably follow the April 1 start of street cleaning.

For $9.99 a year, their service alerts Chicagoans of their street's day for regular street cleaning, through both an email the night before and a text message the morning of. The text message arrives with enough time before the 9 AM enforcement deadline to allow their clients to move their car to a safe place.



"We've both received more than our fair share of parking tickets, despite our efforts to always check for street sweeping signs," says Curry. "We found that too often, the signs are hard to see, spaced too far apart, or can't stand up to the wind, rain, and rowdy pedestrians common here in Chicago. I discovered that while street sweeping routes and schedules are posted on most of the city wards' websites, it's difficult to make sense of the rhyme or reason behind it, and especially if you live in the vicinity of more than one ward."

Curry gives most of the credit for the idea to Bukowski, her fiancé and partner in the venture. The service launched in June 2009, so this street cleaning season will be their first full season in business. They currently have just under 100 clients in eight wards, but the service is tailored to the needs of its subscribers: you give them your information and they stay on top of your neighborhood's cleaning schedule.

Curry and Bukowski have been getting the word out on their service primarily from personally placing fliers on the windshields of cars fresh from the sting of another street cleaning parking ticket.

And, while they work to wrest parking ticket revenue from the hands of the Department of Revenue, they are careful to stay on the city's good side.

"We're not opposed to street sweeping itself," says Curry. "We're simply frustrated with the inefficient ways in which our fellow residents are notified of it; we realize those tickets can add up for even the most innocent, diligent street-parkers. We simply want to help those parkers save their hard earned money in these hard times, and we're happy to help the city clear the street so they can beautify our blocks!"

While they have not spoken to the Department of Revenue about their business, Curry and Bukowski are confident the DOR would not have a problem with it. "We do have faith that the intentions behind Chicago's street sweeping is exactly that, to sweep the streets, and not, as some have suggested to us, to create an excuse to ticket its fine citizens," says Curry.

While previously unaware of StopParkingTickets, the Department of Revenue does not seem find any issue with the service Curry and Bukowksi provides.

"I, personally, was unaware of this service," says DOR spokesperson Ed Walsh via e-mail. "While we cannot endorse a private service, it may benefit motorists assuming the
information is accurate and timely."

Recent attempts to cut costs through the city's street sweeping plans, however, may have some serious side effects for those attempting to avoid parking tickets.

Mayor Daley's recent rearrangement of the street cleaning schedules, begun just eight days before the April 1st start of street cleaning season, had some residents worried and befuddled.

In fact some alderman had already sent copies of the new street sweeping schedule out to constituents before changes went into effect.

After initially suggesting a grid-based system, Daley and aldermen settled for a compromise that has sweepers remaining in the ward four out of five days of the week, and working to sweep adjacent wards for the equivalent of one day a week.

How is Stop Parking Tickets planning to deal with this curve ball? These changes could make their service invaluable, but keeping up with them is seems like a Hurculean task.

But Curry is confident that she can stay on top of her game. "All we can do is promise our subscribers that if the information is out there, we will get it to them," she says. "We are cross-referencing those few schedules that have been put out there by individual wards with those offered by the city, constantly checking and re-checking for any changes or updates, and hoping that our subscribers can bear with us."

How this plan works out, for both the city and Stop Parking Tickets, remains to be seen. There is great potential for an increase in street cleaning tickets here, but Stop Parking Tickets is doing their best to ensure that this won't happen. "Last season we could map out each person's notifications for the year and schedule them accordingly. But until the city gets this figured out, it's like we're starting from square one every day."

For more information on this service, check out the StopParkingTickets.com website.



Ticketed In 60 Seconds...Or Less

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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It seems people all over the world have problems with overly aggressive ticket writers.

One story that's gone viral globally takes place in Melbourne, Australia.

It seems this one gentleman parks, saunters over to the pay and display machine to get his receipt and when he returns to his vehicle, he's already receiving a parking ticket.

Ouch!

But the gentleman tries to fight his ticket with a hilarious letter to the City of Melbourne for what the offense of what he contends is "failure to pay for parking ticket within apparent allotted time of approximately 38 seconds from the time car was parked."


As funny as this letter is, perhaps the response from the city is even more hilarious.

Or should I say pathetic.

We'll let you decide.


Thanks to the many nice readers that tipped me off to the story as well as Consumerist Editor Meg Marco where I came across the story as well.

Windy Citizen, Geek Teamup For A Week

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Come join the Parking Ticket Geek over at Windy Citizen for a week of fun and parking ticket advice.

The Geek is flabbergasted and sincerely honored the friendly folks at WC, one of Chicago's premier reader directed news websites, has asked the intellectually challenged Geek to answer parking ticket questions this week.

Readers are encouraged to submit their questions and the Geek will choose to answer one or two of the most unique questions every day.



So come on over to Windy Citizen and share your most nagging Chicago parking ticket queries, and we'll do our best to answer them.

Or just check it out and cyber-heckle that idiotic parking obsessed dork.

CBS 2 Spotlights More Loading Zone Corruption

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

You gotta hand it to CBS 2's Jay Levine and Ed Marshall.

They do some very solid television reporting.

Wednesday they were on the topic of loading zone abuse again.

Just over a week ago, the two were west of downtown spotlighting the problem there.

This time they're in the Gold Coast, reporting that drivers apparently connected to the many bars and businesses on Division Street park their cars for hours in loading zones. Instead of paying the pricey parking meters in that area, these motorists park in these loading zones or free.

Check out Jay Levine's report on CBS 2, "Businesses Use Loading Zones For Private Parking."

Or you can see the video report right here.

Photo copyright and courtesy of CBS 2 Chicago.

Construction Brings Traffic Hell To Chicago

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Drivers, get ready for big time traffic delays for the next two years.

Most Chicago motorists find the bumper to bumper delays that come from warm weather construction pretty much de rigueur during the spring/summer/fall.

But, this spring, the construction apocalypse takes place in downtown Chicago and points west of the city.

Four major road or highway construction projects that have their terminus near where the Eisenhower meets downtown, have or will get underway soon according to an excellent overview of this mess by Chicago Tribune transportation writer Jon Hilkevitch.

Ground zero is Congress and the Eisenhower. That's because not only is the Eisenhower being worked on from Congress west for 27 miles, but the Congress Parkway Bridge is being fixed up as well as the streetscape on Congress from Wells St. to Michigan to provide more access for bikes and pedestrians.

To make matters even worse, both levels of Wacker Drive, which begins/ends just east of the Congress Parkway Bridge will begin construction in either May or June.

Perhaps, the most annoying part of the projects will be the effect of taking out Lower Wacker Drive out of commission. Considered one of the best and fastest short cut routes by in the know Chicago drivers, without this route to alleviate traffic, backups should be hellacious.

The dust will finally settle on all this construction sometime in 2012.

So, take deep breaths, drop some Xanax or do whatever you need to do to get through this construction hell.

Our advice is to try to avoid driving through this area as much as possible.

To get all the details on this driving chaos, read, "Gridlock ahead for western commute, Loop traffic."

Easter Marks Ticket-Less Lent For Geek

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Taking a break from hiding Easter eggs for the kids, I decided to reflect on the past 40 days of Lent.

Being the guilt-ridden Catholic that I am, of course I tried to "give up" a few things for Lent.

This time around, swearing, carbonated soda, and all candy were the vices on my list of things to be "given up".

But I also gave up parking tickets.

Shockingly, despite mild lapses on the first three things, I was parking ticket free for all of Lent.

Seriously.

Hard to believe, right?

I guess with God's help, anything is possible--even avoiding parking tickets.

Have a blessed Easter everyone.

The Geek Forgets 'Walk To Work' Day

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Today was National Walk to Work Day.

Oops!

I totally forgot about it.

After spending the entire day in my car, not only driving to work, but motoring all over the city, I drove home, sat down at the computer and saw that I was supposed to walk to work today according to the Active Transportation Alliance.

I'm so embarrassed.

What a faux pas.

Active Trans, which promotes biking and walking as alternatives to driving due to some seeming disdain for combustion engine vehicles, was the primary promoter of the event here in Chicago.

While it was a beautiful day for a walk, it was an even more beautiful day for a drive.

Next year I'll try not to forget...

Yeah. Sure. Right.

The Dirty Business Of Street Cleaning

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Just hours before the official start of Chicago's street cleaning season, there still is no firm plan in place for keeping city streets swept and no comprehensive schedule that can tell residents what streets get cleaned when.

As of 6 PM this evening, sources say the Mayor has backed off his plan to push for a grid system for street cleaning.

Instead, there's currently some sketchy hybrid plan being proposed where sweepers remain "in control" of the wards for four days (or 32 hours a week) out of five, with a fifth day where the sweeper works outside the ward for nearly the entire day.

This most recent plan has the sweeper in the ward for two entire days. On two other days, the sweeper works the ward for five hours or so, before it's assigned to work adjacent wards for a few hours. Then, just one day a week, the ward's sweeper is assigned to work outside the ward after working with one or more other sweepers to quickly address that ward's cleaning obligations for the day.

Confused yet?

"I thought it was kind of goofy," said 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack about this alleged compromise plan. "It really doesn't make sense. It's even more confusing than the grid system plan. Just pick a system like we had before. Make sure cars are moved and make sure we have enough vehicles to do the sweeping. The Mayor is trying to micro-manage it at the last moment because of a lack of proper management all these years."

Despite this compromise plan being bandied about today, Ald. Moore still plans to move forward to call a special session of the city council to address this issue. Sources say Moore has enough confirmed city council members to meet a quorum. Although the Chicago Reader claims this quorum is tenuous despite Ald. Moore's wife Barbara creating a Facebook event page for the meeting.

To add even more intrigue to the drama, another source claims city hall has been lobbying alderman Tuesday to boycott the planned meeting to suppress a quorum.

Another source close to city hall theorizes the compromise plan may just be a ruse to pacify just enough aldermen into not showing up so that the required 26 votes to make up a quorum cannot be met, and then the Mayor can then return to the grid plan he wanted all along.

Theoretically, hopefully, we'll know what the outcome is tomorrow after the meeting.

Street Sweeping Rebellion Brewing In City Council

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Normally Mayor Daley always gets his way.

But, perhaps not this time.

Last Tuesday, just eight days from the traditional April 1st start of the Chicago street cleaning season, the administration decided to make a drastic change to how city streets get cleaned.

For decades, street cleaning was under the control of each of the 50 alderman and their ward's Street and Sanitation Supervisor. With one street sweeper designated per ward, the two parties would put together a detailed schedule to make sure their ward got the proper amount of street cleaning per season.

But the mayor, facing a severe budget shortfall, and a shortage of street sweeper drivers due to layoffs, decided to switch street cleaning to a grid system. While on its face, the new system seems more efficient, alderman are complaining that the new plan will reduce the number of street cleanings by almost half in many cases and not allow for the type of flexibility needed to sweep on demand after street festivals, after running events, or even after traffic accidents.

But the city council seems to be pushing back.

Alderman Joe Moore (49), Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22) and Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20) are leading the street cleaning revolot by calling a special session of the city council on Wednesday, March 31 to try stop the mayor's plan in its tracks the day before street cleaning is due to begin.

"It's really a misguided plan," explains Moore. "It will result in a nightmare, especially along the lakefront where parking is at a premium."

According to Moore, the grid system increases the size of the area that will be swept at any given time, making it harder for drivers who have to move their cars to find safe and legal spaces to park their vehicle while street cleaning is occurring.

"Where are all those folks going to put their cars?" says Moore. "They may have to park blocks, if not a mile away from where they live. If they don't move they'll receive tickets or if the city doesn't ticket, streets won't get swept."

But Matt Smith, spokesperson for Streets and Sanitation doesn't feel the problem is as severe as Moore portrays.

"We're trying to be as realistic as possible and we'll be in each grid for a couple of days," explains Smith. "We're looking at this issue and are continuing to work with the wards. The grid system makes sense."

Vi Daley (43), another alderman with a lakefront ward, is also troubled by the mayor's plan. Her ward contains the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Peggy Notabart Nature Museum and is home to many summer festivals and running events.

Ald. Daley has been communicating with Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Thomas Byrne on the issues particular to her ward.

"This should have been done before this. The timing wa not good," says Daley about the rushed nature of this plan. "I don't think they knew about all the issues we had. They're (Streets & Sanitation) are going to come back to us in a few days with some solutions."

According to Ald. Moore, Streets and Sanitation management is going to present the most up to date plan to Ward Superintendents this afternoon.

32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack, like Ald. Daley is concerned about the speed of this gear shift. Waguespack's staff had already spent considerable time notifying residents of their ward's street cleaning schedule before Daley announced his plan. Now, all previous ward street cleaning schedules have been scrapped with a new citywide schedule being finalized for early this week according to Smith.

In addition, Waguespack's ward won't see any street cleaning for an entire month under the new proposed grid schedule.

"I'm not opposed to the idea behind the grid system," says Waguespack. "I just wish they had come to us back in November to see what we could do."

Moore says alderman are going to be calling on the budget office to provide the funds necessary to keep street cleaning under the control of the aldermen and likens this situation to the mayor's short lived plan to reduce the use of salt on icy streets last winter.

"This goes to the absolute core duty of an alderman to pickup garbage and keep the streets clean," explains Moore. "It's robbing us of our ability to provide these core services to our constituents."

The special session of the city council is scheduled to begin at 10:30 on Wednesday.

Loading Zones Don't Mean Free Parking

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Just because your business pays the annual $100 fee for a loading zone, doesn't mean you can park all day there for free.

But, some drivers on the west side are avoiding paying the meters by taking advanage of loading zone privileges according to CBS 2 News.

The always intrepid Jay Levine and his producer Ed Marshall are on the story taking 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett with them to investigate drivers trying to game the system.

Read the full story, "People Pay $100 A Year To Park -- In Chicago?" and check out the video here.

Photo copyright and courtesy of CBS 2 News.

Westmont Hosts Red Light Camera Forum Thursday

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Red light cameras will be the focus of a forum hosted by Social Justice in DuPage Thursday night in west suburban Westmont.

The group has been hosting a series of these forums on topics of the day. This time around, their fourth installment of the series is entitled "Red Light Cameras: Civil Rights vs. Surveillance." and will take place at the Westmont Public Library at 428 North Cass Avenue. It starts at 6:30 PM.

The esteemed nitwit, The Parking Ticket Geek has very kindly asked to be a panel member.

For more information, check out the Social Justice in DuPage website.

EVENT: Red Light Cameras: Civil Rights vs. Surveillance
DATE: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
PLACE: Westmont Public Library (Map)
ADDRESS: 428 North Cass Avenue, Westmont, IL
(Second-level meeting room)

Budget Issues May Reduce Highway Police Patrols

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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Since 1985, Illinois State Troopers have patrolled the 53 miles of Illinois highways that run through Chicago.

But now, with the state budget facing draconian cutbacks, this responsibility may fall back on the city's shoulders according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gov. Quinn is proposing cutbacks to the state police that would remove the 182 officers who currently patrol Chicago highways. And Mayor Daley is not happy.

Because Daley is already facing his own budget issues and with Chicago police already understaffed, it would be fiscally impossible to replace the patrols with CPD officers.

The most obvious possibility would be a highway system with a skeleton crew of patrols or, according to city hall, installing speed cameras along the highways system and just mail speeding tickets to lead-footed drivers.

Speed cameras?!?

Uh oh! That doesn't sound good!

Tribune Jumps Into Yellow Light Timing Issue

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.



The Chicago Tribune has devoted many gallons of black ink to covering, or perhaps uncovering the red light camera controversy in Chicagoland.

Tuesday, the newspaper added their take on the yellow light timing issue with an article pointing out the difference in amber times at city intersections versus suburban intersections.

In general, as this site has pointed out in the past, city intersections are generally three seconds, versus four to four and a half seconds at suburban intersections.

In essence, a defacto ticket trap for suburban drivers who come to the city.

As always, the Tribune does a good job of covering the story.

However, one thing that jumps out at me is the article's reference to accusations of less than three second yellow light intersections within the city by anti-red light camera proponents.

This is a veiled reference to video taken by one of the most vocal area red light camera critics, Barnet Fagel.

Buffalo Grove resident Fagel, a highway safety advocate for the National Motorists Association, shot video of a large number of Chicago intersections with RLC units and, according to his timing, 13 wound up with yellow light intervals under three seconds.

Some local politicians, in the fight over the RLC issue, have cited Fagel's video as just one more piece of evidence why red light camera reform is needed.

The Trib piece seems almost like a direct rebuttal to Fagel original video from November of last year.

And despite the fact Fox Chicago News pointed out the discrepancy in yellow light times between Chicago and suburbs a few weeks ago, the piece, "Yellow lights shorter in Chicago," is definitely worth reading.

Also, check out the Trib's companion videos.


Red Light Camera Protests Target Senators Cullerton, Millner Saturday

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.


It was Valentine's Day when Chicago's last red light camera protest took place.

Now, with RLC  "reform" legislation advancing in the state senate, protesters are coming back for round number two on Saturday with a pair of protests around Chicagoland.

The primary protest will take place this Saturday at the same location as last time, Western & Addison in the Roscoe Village neighborhood on the Chicago's northside from 12-2 PM. This action is aimed directly at Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and takes place in his district.

Cullerton has sponsored a compromise RLC bill that is close to a vote, but according to some anti-red light camera activists, the bill has no true reform contained within it.

"If Cullerton passes the bill as is, I think he's sure to get beaten up in the media," says Scott Tucker, GOP nominee for state representative in the 11th district who doesn't feel the bill goes far enough. "The red light camera issue is an embarrassment to the majority party because it clearly illustrates their abuse of their constituents in the name of revenue."

The other protest target is Sen. John Millner (R-Bloomingdale) who has brought red light camera reform legislation that was less than satisfactory to anti-RLC activists. Protesters will be in Millner's home town, at Army Trail & Springfield in Bloomingdale from 12-2 Saturday. This location is the closest RLC to Stratford Square Mall.

"We're not giving up," says organizer Scott Davis of Campaign For Liberty, who plans to help distribute several thousand fliers encouraging suburban drivers to call Millner's office. "We're in the business of pain now. If he puts forward some real reform--we'll back off."

Protester propaganda accuses both Cullerton and Millner of accepting campaign donations from red light camera company lobbyists and thus beholden to the camera companies.

Cullerton accepted $1500 in lobbyist money in 2009, and Millner received a $1000 donation in 2008.

But Millner, who because of his years in law enforcement before getting involved with politics, stands behind his position on red light camera enforcement and defends his acceptance of campaign money from Red Speed Illinois.  Millner argued he voted against speed camera enforcement legislation in 2008--an enforcement technology product Red Speed also markets.

But protesters are not the only ones taking Millner to task on this issue. Millner's democrat opponent in the general election, St. Charles resident Corrine Pierog also feels Millner view on red light cameras is wrong.

"People in the collar communities are really upset about red light cameras," says Pierog who has met many people opposed to red light camera enforcement while campaigning within the 28th district. "Why isn't he advocating for safety instead of something (RLCs) that causes accidents? That doesn't make sense. I just don't see the purpose of them."

These two Chicagoland protests are part of a network of 13 anti-RLC events occurring simultaneously nationwide Saturday, loosely organized by the Liberty Restoration Project.

In the meantime, Cullerton's red light camera bill, while it seems to have the votes to pass, has not been called to the floor thus far. A vote is expected next week.

For more information on the protests, check out the Facebook page for the event.

Watered Down Red Light Camera Bill Trickles Out Of Committee

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Cullerton Plays Politics With Anti-RLC Colleague's Red Light Video


There's finally a red light camera reform bill headed to the floor of the senate.

But there's question on whether or not it will actually provide the type of revisions and restrictions anti-red light camera proponents have been asking for.

Monday in Springfield, the Transportation Committee advanced a bill sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) that purportedly gives motorists some red light camera relief.
However, outside of codifying practices already being utilized in red light camera enforcement in Illinois, the only change would be a some flexibility on right on red violations and a limiting the fine to the original amount if the ticket is contested.

Cullerton's bill would prohibit right on red violations from being issued for making a complete stop that is beyond the stop line or at the crosswalk. Some municipalities do issue tickets for right on red when drivers passed the pavement stop bar, even though they made a complete stop.

Some suburbs with RLC programs will also add extra fees to the ticket if the driver opts to challenge the ticket.

Perhaps the highlight of the committee meeting was President Cullerton's use of actual red light camera footage to visually demonstrate some of the issues challenging the senators.

However, it turns out the video was documenting the red light camera violation of one of its members, Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Lake Barrington).

According to Sen. Duffy, President Cullerton replayed the video over and over during the course of the meeting.

"It is really petty," said Duffy who's original bill SB 2466, proposed banning all red light cameras statewide. "It's like when he (Cullerton) moved my parking space when I spoke out on another issue. It's so silly."

When asked if the use of enforcement video from an individual's red light camera ticket was legal, Duffy replied, "My staff is researching that."

Cullerton's staff obtained the video of a vehicle registered to Duffy rolling through a right on red turn lane in Schaumburg back in early 2009, via a Freedom of Information Act request.

"It is legal if it is used for legal proceedings or government proceedings," explained Rikeesha Phelon, spokesperson for Cullerton's office. "Duffy has been very public about his opposition to red light cameras. That's why we used this video."

"Cullerton is yellow about the truth about red light cameras," laughed Barnet Fagel, of the National Motorists Association. "When I stated we needed more yellow time for safety at all traffic signals, that's not the type of yellow I was talking about."

"It's not reform," says Scott Davis, Cook County coordinator for Campaign for Liberty. "They can pass the reform bill that has not reforms in it, we're not going to stop. We're not giving up."

"I'm not happy with the bill," said Sen. Ricky Hendon (D-Chicago) who has been pushing for tougher RLC restrictions. "I still think the bill still needs some massaging. I would like to see a study for one year, to see if red light camera intersections cause more accidents (than they prevent). If it's not about the revenue and it's about safety, it should be in there."

Duffy also doesn't think the bill goes far enough either and doesn't plan to vote for the legislation.

"It's too watered down," explained Duffy. "I'm not going to support this."

In the meantime, Davis and other anti-red light camera proponents are planning more RLC protests this Saturday, March 20th.

Video courtesy of the DHStatehouse channel on YouTube.

llerton Plays Politics With Anti-RLC Colleague's Red Light Video

Red Light Camera Fall Down, Go Boom At Archer & Ashland

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.


It was vehicle vs. red light camera early Saturday morning in the McKinley Park neighborhood.



And when it was over, one red light camera was down for the count at Ashland & Archer.

But as of 5 PM, workers from the city's Bureau of Electricity were on the scene to clean things up.

One worker, when asked said the camera would only be down for a few days before it's back up and snapping photos or motorists caught running the red light there.

In the meantime, southside motorists can breath a little easier for a few days, at least at that particular intersection.

Toyota Accelerator Allegations May Be Hoax

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

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I've been scratching my head over this story.

As someone who's driven many a Toyota vehicle in my driving lifetime, based on my experiences with the reliability of this auto brand, I've been just a little skeptical about the many allegations of accelerator issues.

Then, on the heels of congressional hearings a few weeks back, a driver in California goes through some sort of dramatic 911 chronicled incident with his Toyota Prius hybrid and was ultimately helped  to stop his runaway vehicle by a state trooper.

While most of the main stream media ate up the story without exhibiting the healthy skepticism you would assume a good journalist would show,  real journalist Michael Fumento started asking some hard questions.

Questions like: why didn't the driver just shift his vehicle into neutral, or how could the driver have reached the gas pedal with his hand to release it while driving in excess of 90 MPH as he alleges?

Fumento piece seems to cast some serious doubt on the truthfulness of the driver who's currently embroiled in bankruptcy,  and seems to imply this was some sort of staged attempt to get money out of Toyota.

Perhaps, in light of this, all those other gas pedal issues need to be revisited.

At the very least, Fumento's piece for Forbes, "Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax," is an interesting read.

Fumento is scheduled to be on the Today Show Monday morning to discuss his expose.

Ms. Hairston Goes To Pittsburgh

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The Parking Ticket Geek

The Geek is an idiot, who gets a lot of parking tickets, and knows how to fight back.

Warns Pittsburgh About Parking Meter Lease Deal


Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th) was out of her Chicago office Thursday.

Ms. Hairston decided to spend the day in, of all places, Pittsburgh.

The alderman, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, was in town at the behest of Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto, to share her views on Chicago's experience with leasing its parking meter system.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ms. Hairston, who flew to the Steel City on her own dime, warned the Pittsburgh city council of the pitfalls of privatizing the city's parking garages and/or parking meter system.

Ald. Hairston, one of only five aldermen who opposed Chicago's lease deal, spared none of the bloody details of what most view as a fiasco for Chicago.

The Daley Administration, according to reports, declined to send a representative to speak at the meeting.

Hairston's visit comes a day after representatives from Morgan Stanley infrastructure investment group tried to convince the Pittsburgh city council not to vote for an independent, outside evaluation of these assets.

A stance that angered many council members according to the Post-Tribune article.

In concluding her appearance Thursday, Ms. Hairston told the Pittsburgh council, "You all should be complimented for having the guts -- and I do mean the guts -- to take this on and to challenge it and to question it."

Council members were pleased with Ms. Hairston's insights.

"I'm really glad you made the trip," Councilman Patrick Dowd told her.

Pittsburgh, if it ultimately decides to move forward with privatization believes its combined parking assets could raise about $200 million. Chicago leased it's parking meter system for $1.16 billion in December, 2008.


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