Thursday, July 6, 2006

Stay off the . . . sidewalk?

A guy in Michigan was threatened with contempt of
court for writing “Bullshit money grab” in the memo
line of his check paying for a parking ticket.

I think that’s outrageous.

Yes, writing “bullshit” on your personal check is a
bit crude, but what if you feel the charges were
exactly that? Are we not allowed to express ourselves?
The check will cash either way. We not only have to
pay our tickets, we have to act happy about it, too?

My interest in this topic was largely philosophical
until I got a citation for riding my bike on the
sidewalk downtown. Did you even know Iowa City had
bike cops? I wanted to explain that I was doing it
because everyone else was doing it too, but I didn’t
think he would be moved by that line of reasoning. I
could have followed up with “I don’t have to do what
you say; you’re not my real dad!”

(To potential letterwriters – save your outrage. I
know the “no bikes on sidewalks” law is a safety
issue, and I invite you to give a eulogy on that
subject at my funeral when I am hit and killed by a
cellphone-using motorist while biking on the street
downtown.)

So, knowing I was guilty, I braced myself to take my
lumps like a grownup – until he handed me the ticket,
that is. $69.80?! The fine was marked at $45 plus a
surcharge. This was particularly confusing to me,
since according to the Iowa City city code the fine for bikes on the sidewalk downtown is only $10.

I’m sure this was all just a misunderstanding which
will be cleared up at my 8 a.m. court date. But if it
goes against me, don’t think I won’t be tempted to
squeeze “Thesechargesarecompletelybaseless!!” into the
memo line.

Jayne Lady
Editorial writer

1 comment:

Michael said...

Iowa City municipal code may say the fine is only $10, but did the officer cite you according to that or state safety laws? That's where the difference came in. It's another one of those things where the city and state have given cops in a bad mood 101 different ways to work out their aggression.