You'll get the boot.
Panto's Parking Police also check inspection stickers and registrations. They even enforce on Sunday. And get this. Panto has set up his own judicial system that completely removes judges and due process from the equation.
Judges? He don't need no steenkin' judges.
Instead of contesting your ticket before a District Judge, you can argue with a tow truck, a boot or some cop on the Panto payroll.
Under an Easton ordinance, Panto's Parking Police can boot or tow any car that is late in paying off a ticket. If some unlucky bastard accumulates five tickets, the zombies must immobilize his car.
After hearing horror stories from several people victimized by Panto's Parking Police, District Attorney John Morganelli decided to test what is going on himself.
On December 11, Morganelli was in downtown Easton. He tried putting change in the meter to no effect. When he returned to his car, he had a ticket. It specifically warned him that failure to pay the penalty by a date certain "will result in a citation being issued against you in accordance with the Pa. Rules of Criminal Procedure."
So far, so good.
That's due process.
|"I thought they were leaves, Your Honor!"|
That's not due process.
It gets worse. A few weeks later, Morganelli received a FINAL NOTICE, increasing the fine to $45, and warning him again that his car could be booted or towed. Once again, he was provided with no information telling him how to contest the ticket.
Morganelli called Magisterial District Judge Daniel Corpora and learned that Easton no longer bothers to issue parking citations. Instead, the Panto Parking Police are judge, jury and executioner. Pay Panto or they boot or tow the car. This violates the Rules of Criminal Procedure, which require that a citation must be issued to a person who ignores a ticket. It is mandatory, and for good reason. It gives the person who is accused an opportunity to plead Not Guilty.
It's called due process of law.
In a letter to Easton officials, Morganelli lays out his concern:
"The City of Easton's present procedure is woefully inadequate and violative of due process rights. The notice sent to citizens essentially warns them that their car will be towed or immobilized unless they pay the fine. There is absolutely no opportunity to be heard nor is any notice given to the violator that he has a right to be heard. If a car is towed or immobilized, that is a violation of due process in that it is taking of private property by the government without due process of law."Morganelli asked Easton to tell him what steps they are taking to start following the Constitution and Rules of Criminal Procedure. Mayor Sal Panto, who apparently thinks Easton is part of the Kingdom of Ga, smugly tells The Express Times that he unilaterally decided to stop sending cases through the court system because the City is being shortchanged.
This is absolutely outrageous. A City government does not exist to engage in shakedowns, especially against its poorest citizens. The whole point of due process is to ensure that every person, black or white, man or woman, Easton resident and commuter, has both notice and an opportunity to be heard before an independent judicial officer, not some Panto flunkie, before his property is taken away. The citizen must be informed of this right for it to mean anything. Using cops to act as hearing officers is total nonsense.
That's just nutz.
Under Panto's reasoning, he might as well start hearing murder cases, wearing the robes of the Kingdom of Ga.
You can read Morganelli's letter and supporting documents here. They demonstrate that the City misrepresents to drivers that it will issue a citation. Then Panto's Parking Police, instead of following the citation route provided for in the Rules, threatens to boot or tow cars without informing drivers they have a right to contest the matter.
This booting practice has led to civil rights lawsuits in other cities. Then the city gets the boot. In this case, due process and the rules of criminal procedure were ignored because, as Panto made clear, he got tired of sharing revenue with the courts.
"Temporary seizure or immobilization of one's vehicle for violation of parking ordinances interferes with a property interest, thus entitling one to the protections of due process," says one federal court. There must also be a fair and impartial process before depriving someone of important property rights.
For Panto, it's all about the money. While giving sweetheart deals to developer Mark Mulligan and permitting a Redevelopment employee to go into business with him, Panto sticks it to people who could easily lose their car because of the financial hardship involved
But in this country, we have a Constitution.
Updated 9:40 am: I have filed a Right-to-Know request with Easton, seeking the following records:
1. Record of all income received in 2014 from the practice of immobilizing cars for parking violations.
2. Record of all income received in 2014 from the practice of towing cars for parking violations.
3. Record of all income received in 2014 from the sale of immobilized or towed cars.
4. Record of the number of hearings conducted in 2014 for parking violations.
5. Identify all hearing officers who hear parking violation complaints and their title in the City.
6. Identify the number of successful appeals and the number of unsuccessful appeals.
7. How many vehicles were immobilized in 2014?
8. How many cars were towed in 2014?