Friday, December 9, 2011

Traffic Ticket Amnesty Program "Wrongheaded" LA County Supervisor Says

I wrote about the state's new plan to allow amnesty to traffic ticket scofflaws who have paid nothing on the outstanding fines, something I wrote about earlier this week.

Well, the plan is not all smiles and hugs. Zev Yaroslavsky, the longtime Los Angeles city councilman and current county supervisor, raises a great point, in his blog. Zev writes:

The AOC has determined that only people who’ve paid nothing on their tickets during the past two years are eligible for the 50% discount. This means that if you’ve sent along any money at all since 2009, then you’re excluded from the deal. In L.A. County, some 75,000 people fall into this category.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking: What? Why would we essentially penalize people who’ve made some good-faith efforts to pay their tickets while offering bargain rates to those who haven’t?
Actually, there’s no good reason.
The AOC is simply—and cynically—playing the odds. It apparently figures that anyone who’s made good on even a sliver of their debt is likely to keep paying. Conversely, those who’ve paid nothing will probably continue along that same course. This latter group, the thinking goes, needs special inducements.
But here’s the problem: it’s blatantly unfair. What’s more, there’s no place in the law that calls for this exclusion. In fact, the Los Angeles County Counsel and the counsel for the Los Angeles Superior Court have concluded that the AOC incorrectly incorporated an eligibility requirement not found within the four corners of the statute, SB 857.
He's right. The much-more-significant mirror to this is the mortgage crisis in the United States, where folks are encouraged to stop paying on mortgages to get the banks' attention to get some help -- a legally and morally incongruent result. Why not grant amnesty also to people who have made at least some effort to pay their traffic fines?

Zev is working on it. Yaroslavsky has authored a motion before the LA County Supervisors to be heard on Tuesday to urge the Judicial Council's AOC to add those who made some payments to the traffic ticket amnesty program. Perhaps we could have one of our supervisors do the same in San Diego County.

It's also refreshing that we still have politicians like Yaroslavsky who are not afraid to tell you what they think, especially when they perceive something is unfair and do something about it. He also has created a great web site for LA news and blogs too.

Here are some fun quotes attributed to Yaroslavsky according to his Wikipedia page:
  • "The average person walking into City Hall is behind the eight ball before he ever gets to the first step."
  • "Let's have a little vision. What does Westwood Village need? Another McDonald's? Pioneer Chicken? What this town needs is a little vision."
  • In response to news media organizations' threat to sue over a new city tax: "Let them take us to court. . . . Sue! Sue!"
  • "I've always had the propensity to pork up. . . . but when I finally got a chronic disease, it became an issue of life or death."
  • "I let the facts dictate the outcome; I don't let the emotion dictate the outcome."

(Photo by Tony Zelijnak via