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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Easton Violating State Law in Parking Ticket Enforcement

Yesterday, I told you about Panto's Parking Police violations of the due process rights of unsuspecting citizens who are ticketed, booted and towed while visiting Easton's downtown. I was following up on and supplementing a story first reported by The Express Times' Tom Shortell. Research reveals that in addition to violating due process, Easton is exacting penalties on tickets with no determination of guilt. This completely ignores a mandate from the Pa. Supreme Court. Finally, it is enforcing these tickets after the statute of limitations has expired, without any authority.

The reason for this is greed. Easton Mayor Sal Panto betrayed that motive to Shortell: "We are now collecting our own tickets because the city that generates the tickets should be getting those revenues, not the courts."  His own words reveal that, to him, it's all about the money. Courts are willing to work with defendants of limited means, recognizing we no longer have debtors' prisons. But not Panto.

He's doubling down. From his perch at Easton City Hall last night, he announced that he knows better than the District Attorney of Northampton County. He'd prefer the advice he gets from a collection agency.

"The process we are using now is legal," this ex-teacher and self-appointed legal expert insists.

He's wrong.

When Panto's Parking Police send dunning letters like the ones they sent to DA Morganelli, they have already lost any right to seek a penalty.  That's because Pennsylvania state law, which applies even in the People's Republic of Easton, places a thirty (30) day statute of limitations on a parking fine. If a citation is not filed in that time period, Easton loses the right to exact any fine at all. By the time those dunning letters are sent, the statute of limitations has expired,and it no longer has any right to boot or tow a car, or even to ask for money.

That's not all.

No less an authority than the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its commentary to the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, insists that no fine can be assessed to anyone, based on a parking ticket alone.

"Many political subdivisions use parking tickets and, therefore, many parking cases are disposed of without instituting a criminal proceeding under the procedures of these rules. A parking ticket is a device of convenience to the local government and the defendant. It is not a citation and does not constitute the instituting of a summary proceeding; no enforcement of penalty can be based upon a ticket alone."

The boots and towing are based upon a ticket alone,without a citation that determines guilt ot innocence. The practice is therefore contrary to state law. The City, when it immobilizes or tows away a car or collects moeny to which it has no right, is the real lawbreaker.

All the money it has collected to date should be refunded to the people it has hurt. The shakedowns need to stop now..

DohBiden is a regular LVL commentator. As his moniker suggests, he tends to be critical of all things Democrat while defending all things Republican. But his assessment of what Panto is doing is, unfortunately, right on the money.
If you visit Easton and fall victim to its aggressive parking enforcement, the mayor has stated on these boards that you're a law breaker and should shut up and pay up. If you visit Easton to work each day, the mayor has called you a burden and told you to shut up and pay his commuter tax. He's as welcoming as a stomach virus. Parking enforcement is necessary and understandable. Panto's and Easton's version of KGB parking enforcement is over the top, however. The solution is to simply avoid downtown Easton. It's actually quite easy and very rewarding in a number of ways. There's a whole world west of 15th Street and north of Knox Avenue that has many fine, independent restaurants featuring outstanding and award-winning chefs, ample, free parking and safe passage to and from their doors. Here's hoping Morganelli will give Eastonians, visitors, and commuters a fairer shake than the guy who purports to run the city.
Panto, incidentally, intends to announce his bid for a third term on February 19, somewhere on Shakedown Street. I think the meter on him has expired.

"What am I gonna' tell my boys?" he's saying right now. He might consider saying he's sorry to the people he has hurt. He should not look at parking tickets as a revenue source.

In other Easton news, El Werner and Ken Brown are reportedly seeking re-election to City Council. David O'Connell, Community Manager at Morgan Hill Country Classics, is expected to announce as well. All are Democrats.

Anthony Marraccini, an artist who owns Connexions Art Gallery, may run as an independent.

I am unaware of any Republicans who are running.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

A tow or boot happens after multiple parking tickets and late fees and therefore that makes it more than a parking ticket alone

Bernie O'Hare said...

Do you have any idea what you are talking about at all? I don't care if there are 100 parking tickets. There is no violation, as a matter of law, unless a citation is filed. That's what the Supreme Court says. People are presumed innocent, even in Easton. Panto's parking Police have no authority to boot or tow anything based on a ticket or 1,000 tickets. The City is acting outside the law. It is also acting after the statute of limitations has expired.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted two OT personal attacks. The subject is the validity of Easton's parking enforcement process, not me.

DohBiden said...

"DohBiden is a regular LVL commentator. As his moniker suggests, he tends to be critical of all things Democrat while defending all things Republican."

While I lean right of center, I'm more of a Libertarian and think the Republican Party is almost as bad as the Democratic Party. Republicans in my state have raised my taxes to support all sorts of wasteful spending and continue to support a failed drug war that is really just an unsustainable public jobs program.

Sal Panto has run out of revenue schemes to support his mismanagement of his city, which he admits is just a few commuter tax dollars from receivership. When addicts become desperate, they do desperate things, like skirting state law and ignoring the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to park anywhere in Easton that requires a fee. I park there, just elsewhere. Screw Panto and his little illegal dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

"A tow or boot happens after multiple parking tickets and late fees and therefore that makes it more than a parking ticket alone"

You are probably one of the people who thinks that a cold winter is evidence that there is no global warming.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten my last parking ticket while having dinner late on a Tue. evening several weeks ago.
My last because I won't be returning any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I disagree with you on 80% of your views, but I am with you 100% on this one. My question to you and your readers is will you all forget about it at election time? This is just the latest in a long list of an overreaching government. Don't let this one slide and let's send this guy off to grab his golden parachute from Mark Mulligan.

Anonymous said...

I'm playing devil's advocate here but if you get a parking ticket, what is to appeal? You didn't feed the meter, you parked in front of a hydrant or a bus stop. Who the hell has ever appealed a parking ticket?

Anonymous said...

DohBiden is a jackass. These are your sources now? Wow.

Hank said...

Are these new fangled E-Meters bought and paid for are or they leased? If they are owned by the city and can be modified to accept all forms of United States coinage then perhaps they should look at tweaking the system to model Sycamore Illinois parking meter scheme.


In Sycamore Illinois they have a much more affordable system, pennies get you 12 minutes, nickles an hour, and dimes two hours. A few years ago council quadrupled the fine from a quarter to a dollar.

Kind citizens have been known to stack pennies on top of meters to aide those poor souls who are without coinage upon arriving at a meter.

It's not to late Sal, do not disgrace your legacy over parking.

The parking situation in Easton and many other cities makes cycling even more attractive, not only is the parking free but you can usually lock up very close to the destination.

Anonymous said...

Dude, the electronic meters are operated by your phone. There is no reason to run out of time if you are like 95% of the population and own a smart phone.

Bernie O'Hare said...

While there is a smartphone app that tells you about different eateries, there is no app for parking in Easton. I believe you are posting misinformation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm playing devil's advocate here but if you get a parking ticket, what is to appeal? "

Both Panto and Rudy Miller in his Exprers Times account used a poor choice of words. It reflects a basic misunderstanding of how the system works and who has what rights. It is not an appeal. If you get a ticket, you have no obligation to "appeal" to anyone. You have no obligation to do a damn thing. You are presumked innocent. The government, however, has an obligation to file a citation if it wishes to pursue the matter. If it fails to do so within 30 days of the ticket, it loses any right to do anything.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I just doublke-checked on my smart phonem, and there is no Easton parking app for smaretphones. The person who posted that comment is definitely wrong.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem uses MobileNow for parking. Easton uses credit card meters for sure.

Anonymous said...

I heard that there are a few BIG SHOT lawyers that have received A LOT of parking tickets and NEVER PAID THEM. WHAT ABOUT THEM?????

Anonymous said...

11:03 - I was picked up by police 25 years ago for unpaid parking tickets. I had to pay all of the tickets and additional astronomical penalties or go to jail. I could not leave the magistrates office until someone with payment arrived. I think you are crazy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am aware that Bethlehem has a parking app and have used it. I am also aware that some Easton meters have credit card slots and I have used them. BNut the person who said there is an Easton app and that a person can add time to parking without leaving a restaurant is posting misinformation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I heard that there are a few BIG SHOT lawyers that have received A LOT of parking tickets and NEVER PAID THEM. WHAT ABOUT THEM?????"

If you have evidence that Panto's Parking Police are playing favorites, come forth with it.

Anonymous said...

The Mentor, BGW, and IHeart Radio have officially been served their papers by Dick Sprague and CO, I know you don't like to dwell in schadenfreude but these events must bring a small amount of joy into your life! Will you cover this "bombshell"?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe I shall. It is a well-written complaint, and the Blog Mentor has idiotically published it, in the hope more read of his defamation.

Anonymous said...

Hope you cover Panto's Press Conference this afternoon. We can't count on the mainstream media to ask the hard hitting questions.

Anonymous said...

I think Panto should ask Brown if he could use Sahl Comm to help with his latest self imposed nightmare!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the Blog Mentor represent himself. What an assclown!

DohBiden said...

"DohBiden is a jackass. These are your sources now? Wow."

An online opinion post is not a "source." Only a jackass would fail to make that basic distinction. The thought of you having to type "DohBiden" is a riot, though, regardless of your jackassyness. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Don't go to Easton for Valentines Day! The restaurants there should be outraged at Panto.

Anonymous said...

Sal is the guy you propped up as the next county executive be3fore you hated him. Just like you told us Barron was incompetent before you told us he wasn't.

Peter J.Cochran said...

The real 'Big Shot Lawyers' just figure the cost of delays and doing business,hand the ticket to a staff member in the office that pay the bills and that's it. I never witnessed an attorney get away with anything down town,with the District Magistrate,Never.

Anonymous said...

After reading The coverage of Pantos newest statement, this needs a third installment Bernie.

Is he stupid or stubborn? Making an appeal to the parking authority doesn't fix the underlying problem. It's like asking the police to also be the judges in a criminal trial.

Anonymous said...

The parking authority is not an independent body. It has a vested interest in collecting as much money as possible - nearly a million dollars per year. Sal has now tripled down because his city is so broke he can't part with a single dime of that revenue. Any stories of Easton's alleged prosperity are betrayed by Sal's clutching to every possible source of money - legal or illegal. He's flipping off Morganelli, county employees, visitors to Easton, Benie and the US Constitution. He was awarded a Masters Degree and claims to have been a teacher. Is this true? He communicates in atrocious English, can't balance the city's books, and clearly has no grasp of the basics of the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

I personally am glad the tickets are no longer a criminal matter. Being chased down at home or your job by an overzealous constable over a parking ticket is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Villa should look into hiring TM to defend him. She is experienced in blogging and speaking on the radio, and in how defamation is proven. The bar of proof may be set differently for a DA than a bottom feeding blogger, but the principle is the same. I understand she could use the work, and she's highly trained. She may need a ride to get to hearings.

Anonymous said...

I have a question....if Mr. Mayor is saying this is not a criminal matter then how is he getting the vehicle registration information. That information can only be obtained by a Certified CLEAN operator for legal purposes only. If this Is not a criminal matter then the City should not be able to access that vehicle registration information. Therefore they are subject to criminal and civil penalties. Perhaps DA Morganelli should be concerned how they got his name and address.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"After reading The coverage of Pantos newest statement, this needs a third installment Bernie."

I crashed today's news conference and a third installment is on the way.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
This guy pinto should have taken notes from allentowns tickit taker intrim turned county judge and GG the head metermaind, they would now be building multiple parking decks on pa's tax dollars and than reeping some astronomical fees come fright night, this is not even to mention the trickey Nickey Zarkwaski developed plots that have the subterainian laying of the shit pipes also paid for with some sort of abreveation letters?

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

Marraccinni can't wear any head dress if he was elected to council. And that is doubtful he will win as an independent. Outside of the snoots in downtown and the ones on the Hill, the West Ward and South Side wouldn't know him from a hole on the Free Bridge.