Sometimes it’s appropriate to fight city hall

I got a ticket.

I parked in front of my house on October 10th and I got a summons for doing so.

The summons alleges that I violated  Ordinance 36-12.1 — PROHIBITED PARKING AT ALL TIMES EXCEPT SAT, SUN, HOLIDAY

And in fact, I admit that is the correct ordinance for my block (the code is now text searchable, so it’s easy to find).
I will also admit that the correct signage exists (my car was parked right under the sign).

Only one slight problem (well, 2 problems):

  1. October 10th, 2022 was Columbus day
  2. October 10th, 2022 was the first day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot

Except for Holidays

As you can see in Section 36-5 (“Holidays”):

  • Columbus Day

This ticket alleges I parked in a place that was legal to park (i.e. it shouldn’t exist).

No parking “except holidays” + Holiday = move along, officer.
Right?

Except, it does exist.  And trying to bring this to the attention of those in charge was hard.  Too hard.

Since I was also a councilman at the time it was issued, the summons couldn’t even be heard in Teaneck –> so the ticket was transferred to Bergenfield.
When a summons is transferred, the professionals that write it still need to testify, meaning our professionals (including the police involved, had to be paid to attend court in another town).

Bergenfield uses the same prosecutor Teaneck appointed, so it couldn’t be heard in Bergenfield, either.

This summons (which never should have existed) –> then went to Lyndhurst (but not before I received a “failure to appear” for the court date I didn’t know about).
How many man-hours were involved for Teaneck staff here?  I still don’t know.

And then… the ticket disappeared.
The summons was listed as “disposed” on December 23rd.  There’s no indication why or by whom.  But it’s gone.

I should could have left it alone.  I won.

But I wondered: I got this type of summons, did it happen more than once (to how many others)?

The Open Public Records Act

I asked the Teaneck clerk for a list of summonses issued for ordinances that do not apply on holidays (thanks to the code being updated, the list was fairly easy) and for the dates listed in the “Holidays” section.

The result?

These summonses below should not exist.
Two of them were paid

SummonsOffenseDateHolidayPaid?
00258236-14.1 --- PROHIBITED PARKING BETWEEN 10AM-12PM,EXCEPT SAT,SUN,HOL3/2/2022Ash WednesdayPaid
00257736-14.1 --- PROHIBITED PARKING BETWEEN 10AM-12PM,EXCEPT SAT,SUN,HOL3/2/2022Ash WednesdayDismissed
00258136-14.1 --- PROHIBITED PARKING BETWEEN 10AM-12PM,EXCEPT SAT,SUN,HOL3/17/2022Ash WednesdayDismissed
00258336-14.1 --- PROHIBITED PARKING BETWEEN 10AM-12PM,EXCEPT SAT,SUN,HOL3/2/2022Ash WednesdayDismissed
00257636-14.1 --- PROHIBITED PARKING BETWEEN 10AM-12PM,EXCEPT SAT,SUN,HOL3/2/2022Ash WednesdayPaid
00324936-19.1 --- NO PARKING 2AN - 7AM*3/2/2022PurimOpen

How many improper tickets exist that people don’t bother fighting?

Shouldn’t the town have a means of identifying whether an ordinance that doesn’t apply on holidays is being issued… on a holiday?

 


* This offense is wrong.
36-19.1 is:
Sec. 36-19.1
Between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays and only applies to Beech Street.
The officer likely meant “36-19”: No parking 2am to 7am on North Side from Palisade to Lincoln.

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