Once again, I know for a fact that the City of Portland likes to stick a siphon into my wallet and drain every penny out of it for no good reason. They continue to insist I am BREAKING THE LAW (thank you Mike Judge for letting me use the above image without your permission), but the reality is, I am not. In repeated acts of sheer defiance, I continue to challenge them and I continue to lose. Not this time. Let me explain. Sometime in 2010, while parked in downtown Portland, I received a ticket for not having a front license plate on my truck. I was appalled. What did not having a front license plate have to do with legally parking my vehicle? First of all, this ticket was from the City of Portland and was issued while I was parking on the street, after feeding the tall green meters that seem to take forever to verify your credit card. This was NOT a Pacific Audit Solutions issue, as I’ve discussed previously. So, I got home and researched the law cited on the ticket: 16.20.120-R, NO FRONT OR REAR PLATE. Despite how the language sounds, I was not cited for having NO plates, just not a front plate. The fine, $55.
Before I go any further about why my vehicle has no front plate, let me dissect 16.20.120-R. The title of this law is “Prohibited Parking or Stopping of a Vehicle”. So upon first glance, why would legally purchasing a permit to park have anything to do with having a front license plate? Excellent, excellent question. The law goes on to explain that “it is unlawful to park or stop a vehicle that is required by law to display two registration plates if a plate is not displayed on the front and the rear of the vehicle”. Ok, so I still don’t understand what license plates have to do with parking or stopping a vehicle, but let’s investigate the 2013 Oregon Revised Statutes law for license plates.
First, there is Volume 17, Chapter 803, Section 525 (803.525); Number of plates issued. This section clearly states that the Department of Transportation will “issue” two registration plates for every vehicle that is registered by the department except as otherwise provided in this section. Ok, fine, nowhere does it say that registered drivers must DISPLAY both plates. Second, there is Volume 17, Chapter 803, Section 540 (803.540); Failure to display plates. This section states, and I quote: A person commits the offense of failure to display registration plates if the person operates, on the highways of this state, any vehicle or camper that has been assigned registration plates by this state and the registration plates assigned to the vehicle or camper are displayed in a manner that violates any of the following: (a) The plate must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle, if only one plate is required. (b) Plates must be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle if two plates are required. (c) The plates must be in plain view and so as to be read easily by the public. Once again, not a single mention of two plates being required! It’s interesting, (a) is written to imply a singular item while (b) and (c) are both indicating plural objects. (b) comes the closest but leaves a lot up to interpretation with the use of “if two plates are required”. So, are two plates required or not? You tell me, because I can’t find any law that says they are. I paid the $55 regardless, not wanting to deal with the hassle.
My 2004 Tacoma lacks the ability to display a front license plate. Never once has any agent of the law ever stopped me for this because they don’t care. I’m not putting human health and wellness at risk, they have more important things to ticket people for. However, I’ve always kept my front plate under the passenger side floor mat because, well, what else are you supposed to do with a license plate that can’t be fastened to the front of the vehicle? After ticket number one I began to place the plate on my dashboard when I parked downtown. But alas, this was not good enough and I got ANOTHER ticket. Apparently, despite the law not mentioning this, the plates must be fastened to the front of the vehicle. Shit, screw you Portland, this time I requested a trial. Well, as it happens it was crazy busy at work and I totally missed my trial date, so I had to pay the fine, AGAIN (I think it was still $55). So, I simply stopped driving downtown. Nobody seems to care about this ‘violation’ on the east side, nor in northwest, as I still drive there and nobody bothers me. However, I met a friend for lunch just the other day, downtown, and I was ticketed for the THIRD time. The fine was now $80, and that is what rekindled my loathing for the City of Portland’s money grubbing bullshit enough to write this blog.
So, what are my options? As indicated on the back of the ticket, I have three options. First, I can simply admit my guilt and pay the ticket. This is clearly the easiest option. Second, I can pay the ticket (they call it ‘posting bail’) and submit a written explanation contesting the ticket. Third, I can post my bail and request a hearing. In both cases where I contest the violation, I must submit my bail prior to anyone listening to my reasons for contesting. You read that right, you have to pay FIRST! What happened to INNOCENT until proven GUILTY? I have to submit my “BAIL” before you will even read my explanation or request a hearing! This stretches well outside the bounds of the basis for our entire legal system. I mean fucking George Zimmerman was walking the streets a free man after shooting a black kid walking down the street. Yet I have to pay before I get a trial? You think for one second that the City of Portland is going to refund me a penny once they already have it in their coffers? I think not. You can be damn straight I’m requesting a trial this time, and I’m going to show up and win this fight!
So, who is giving me these parking tickets? It’s certainly not the police, or I would get pulled over all the time. We all see them driving around in their little golf carts downtown, but who are they? To answer this, you must mine the Portland City Code database and find 16.10.650, Parking Code Enforcement Officers. So, now I have a name for these slime balls. The Code goes on to state the following: (A) The duties of the position of parking code enforcement officer are to provide assistance as special police officer in the enforcement of parking regulations as provided by this Title, and other related work under the direction of the Bureau Director. (B) Persons appointed as parking code enforcement officers or as supervisors, will be special police officers of the City. As special police officers, the parking code enforcement officers and supervisors will have authority to issue citations for parking violations, including violations of disabled zones on property that is open to the public outside of the public right-of-way, or on City of Portland owned or operated property. So, now they are no longer Parking Code Enforcement Officers, they are “special police officers” assigned to assist with the enforcement of parking violations. In other words, the cops don’t care about parking violations but we need someone to make $800 an hour to help pay our bills. Yes, I think it highly likely that these guys can write 10 tickets an hour and make $800 an hour. Let me ask you this, why don’t they have the responsibility of ticketing people for say littering? For something that actually has a negative impact on health and wellness? I mean if you are going to issue tickets for something that does not even qualify as a misdemeanor, then why not ticket people for actually committing misdemeanors???? Bass fucking asswards!
Let me just finish this off with some words about my operation of a motor vehicle. I’ve been driving for 21 years. I have a handful of moving violations (speeding tickets). I have never hit a single object, moving or stationary. I don’t talk on my phone, text, or surf fucking Facebook while I drive. I yield to pedestrians at every opportunity I have. I check five times before making a right turn to make sure I’m not going to right hook a biker. I don’t speed anywhere but on the Interstate. I don’t hit the gas pedal when the light turns yellow, I stop! I don’t block right of ways. I’m a good fucking driver! If all drivers had my habits, the streets would be safe enough for an unaccompanied baby to roam them at rush hour. In closing, FUCK YOUR HUNGER FOR MY MONEY CITY OF PORTLAND. Let me spend it willingly on vendors I support!!!!!!!!!! I will update this blog after my hearing concludes, count on that.