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.
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.