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How Open Government Data Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the pesky-citizens-ruining-revenues dept.

Stats 286

jfruh (300774) writes "Ben Wellington is a New Yorker and city planner with an interest in NYC Open Data, the city's online open government initiative. One thing he noticed in this vast dataset was that just two fire hydrants in the city generated tens of thousands of dollars a year in tickets. The sleuthing by which he figured out why is a great example of how open government data can help citizens in concrete ways."

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Classic NYPD objections too (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164293)

There have been some detractors along the way; a senior attorney for the NYPD said in 2012 during a council hearing that releasing NYPD data in csv format was a problem because they were “concerned with the integrity of the data itself” and because “data could be manipulated by people who want ‘to make a point’ of some sort”.

Re:Classic NYPD objections too (4, Insightful)

AuralityKev (1356747) | about 7 months ago | (#47164311)

No kidding - "Shut up before people realize we're SOAKING THEM!"

Re:Classic NYPD objections too (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164327)

Really, it's true. People shouldn't try to make or have points. I make it a policy of my own to never have a point. Now where was I going with this?

Re:Classic NYPD objections too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164973)

that's a nice point you made there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Point!

The Real Story Should Be... (4, Interesting)

sycodon (149926) | about 7 months ago | (#47164651)

...how the city most likely deliberately ignored the parking issue because they were bringing in so much money. There is no doubt that they knew what was happening and made a conscious decision to leave things as they were.

Government at all levels have become adversarial as those who are employed by it seek to protect their revenue stream at all costs.

Re:The Real Story Should Be... (4, Interesting)

Spamalope (91802) | about 7 months ago | (#47164763)

We'll need a follow up to see if they change the markings back in a year. Every 3-6 months the same intersections in Houston have missing signs with an officer standing by to issue citations. After a few days that sign is returned and the office moves to the next intersection on the list that 'just happened' to lose it's sign *again*.

The traffic light and painted arrows say it's a turn lane? Well, the fine print of the traffic law says it isn't without a sign too, so pay your fine. I feel safer already, and felt even better when I found several more intersections they were playing the same trick with round robin.

Re:The Real Story Should Be... (1)

praxis (19962) | about 7 months ago | (#47164953)

The traffic light and painted arrows say it's a turn lane? Well, the fine print of the traffic law says it isn't without a sign too, so pay your fine.

Wait, unless there is a sign saying you can turn in Houston you can't turn? So like if there is a single lane coming up to a light you must go straight? This might be the most bizarre deviation from the rest of the country I've heard of.

parking tickets in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164325)

I thought people take the subway or the taxi. I didn't see any parking lots or garages in New York City / Manhattan. I didn't see any cars parked along the curb. I must be missing something.

Re:parking tickets in NYC? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164431)

I thought people take the subway or the taxi. I didn't see any parking lots or garages in New York City / Manhattan. I didn't see any cars parked along the curb. I must be missing something.

Glasses, I assume.

Re:parking tickets in NYC? (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 7 months ago | (#47164471)

There's still cars in NYC... without them transit usage would have to be expanded to the point it might not work.

Re:parking tickets in NYC? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 months ago | (#47164661)

You've obviously never been to Manhattan. There's cars everywhere here. Half of them are taxis though. There's lots of cars parked on curbs, plus there's garages all over the place.

Maybe you should try actually visiting the city before making completely uninformed comments about it.

Re:parking tickets in NYC? (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | about 7 months ago | (#47164701)

A few minutes using Google Earth or the like would have shown him what it's like there.

Re:parking tickets in NYC? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 months ago | (#47165063)

Only partially. Yes, you'd see the parked cars on the streets with that, but the garages you won't see with a satellite view so much, you'd have to screw around with Street View a lot to see them. But when you're there and walking around, you see the parking garages all the time. They're frequently hidden under buildings, so you only see the entrances from the street.

If people would fight their tickets... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164333)

...this would be resolved. It's clear from the first picture there's two competing rules. It's marked by the city as valid parking, but there's a fire hydrant. Which law supersedes the other? Probably the fire hydrant law, but a decent judge would have understood how the mistake was made and would throw out the ticket. If the city paid attention, they'd know to fix the space so as not to waste their meter maid's time.

But nobody bothers to fight their tickets anymore. If you receive one that makes 100% sense, go ahead and eat it, but when there's some doubt, like this, fight it!

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (4, Informative)

itsenrique (846636) | about 7 months ago | (#47164405)

Having been in traffic court a few too many times, let me tell you: fighting tickets is NOT what the judge is looking for. For this type of small time high volume casework they HEAVILY steer you toward making a plea and not stating your case to save time. They are usually not willing to hear people out and more punitive if you claim not guilty vs going the no contest route (what they want). I'm talking mostly about speeders, I've never been to court for a parking ticket, but I believe it may be the same court.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (4, Insightful)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 7 months ago | (#47164741)

Actually for all crimes, regardless of severity, plea bargains are the order of the day. The legal system couldn't come close to handling even 10% of the cases if they were to go to court.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (5, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#47164789)

I've defended myself in such cases when I was in college and the local police were making a significant amount of their revenue through frivolous tickets. They brought in witnesses and everything in one case. Every time the city was extremely angry with me for taking it to court. The judge was ok with it however. The police officers were literally rolling their eyes in court. I asked one if she needed eye drops and the judge snickered.

The problem with parking tickets is they are usually based on Ordinances which, in the USA, are often passed by committee... sometimes even by the local law enforcement and can be changed on a whim. In one case, they'd required a permit for certain parking spots which I had, but a few days before I got my ticket they "revoked" permit parking in that area with no notification or indication. I lost that case with the judges sympathy. The fines are too small to get a real lawyer for, but taking them to court at least deprives local government of any profit. Also, it's fun to play Perry Mason and give a cops a hard time on the stand. Just be respectful and don't argue with the judge. If the judge appears not to like you and/or be a "hanging judge" just sit back and lose. You might make things worse by being talking too much. In my experience though, you wont run into much of that in traffic court. Familly court however? Those judges, understandably, have a bad day, ever day... Just nod and agree with them.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165021)

In one case, they'd required a permit for certain parking spots which I had, but a few days before I got my ticket they "revoked" permit parking in that area with no notification or indication.

Where do you live?

In some jurisdictions (such as where I live) the law is that the no parking rules must be clearly posted on signs. No signs = no valid ticket.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gt... [thestar.com]

That being said, in this article's case, it's a fire hydrant. Everywhere I've lived you can't park in front of a fire hydrant. Apparently many New Yorkers don't know that and NYC needs to paint some lines on the ground to tell them.

On the other hand, I've seen some cities that have signs saying, "WAIT FOR THE GREEN LIGHT" at intersections, so NYC drivers aren't the only morons out there.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (1)

beschra (1424727) | about 7 months ago | (#47164469)

Great idea. But fighting a ticket takes time, and the time it takes is usually going to interfere with work hours. Add in the fact that it could take a full day due to waiting your turn with the judge or bailiff or whoever. So, do I take time off work and take the chance that a ticket will be tossed out or pay the fine? It comes down to a financial decision for most people.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 7 months ago | (#47164883)

You have to fight more creatively than that. As others have noted, many authorities cynically use situations like this to "generate" revenue. They've set the system up to make it difficult to fight and change. Going through whatever process they set up is not likely to have any effect.

I tried their system on a red light camera ticket. Had my evidence that their yellow was too short and requested a hearing. The hearing was a total kangaroo trial. My evidence was ignored. It was picture number one showing that the light was red before the car crossed the painted line, and picture number two showing the red light and the car in the intersection. Verdict: guilty. End of discussion. That the light in picture number one would have been yellow if it had been set to the correct time was not considered. The judge advised me that I could go on to municipal court and raise that question there, where it would be considered. Well, maybe. But I was through with them. What would happen next if I went on? The muni court would rule against me and tell me I could appeal?

They've also cunningly set their shakedown price at a low enough level that it's not worth fighting. The ticket was "only" $75. I fought anyway, but lost of course. Also, to dodge around the requirement that the accused gets to confront the accuser, they made this an offense against a city ordinance, not a traffic violation. So you don't get screwed by your auto insurance company seizing on this as an excuse to consider you a more dangerous driver, and raising your rates. This dodges around another problem, which is that they have nothing to show who was actually driving the car. They simply fine the owner, never mind who was driving.

There's a flip side to this weaseling out of those legal requirements. The simplest way to fight is to refuse to pay. Their power to compel payment is much more limited. They can't put a black mark on your record and have the state stop you from renewing your driver's license or car license, because it's not a traffic violation.

So, what to do? I can't vote against the politicians who set this all up, as I don't live in that city. I can however boycott businesses in that city, and I do. It's not just pure revenge, it's also prudence. I don't risk any more tickets if I never drive there.

In a similar vein, I fight against the MAFIAA creatively. One can pirate, of course, and millions do. But what I did was dig into the backgrounds of the people they use in their battles to terrorize ordinary citizens. Specifically, their expert witnesses. In one case, the witness was affiliated with a university, and was using their name. I inquired of that university's provost whether they approved of this activity by their employee. Turned out, they didn't even know about it. And when they found out thanks to me telling them about it, they definitely didn't like it. Haven't heard a peep out of that expert witness since.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (4, Insightful)

bjackson1 (953136) | about 7 months ago | (#47164501)

Here is my problem with contesting parking tickets. I once had a rental in Chicago (as I did not own a car at the time) that I had for a weekend. About a month later I got a parking ticket in the mail forwarded on from the car rental agency for parking in a no-parking zone. However, I never parked there, nor was in that part of the city. I am guessing the meter maid wrote down the wrong date or time on the citation as I was never there.

However, I was presented with two choices: 1) Pay 75 dollar fine 2) Take a day of vacation time to go to the city and contest it on a Thursday.

At the time, I made an after-tax rate of around 150 dollars per day. Even if I could do it in a half day, I am paying 75 dollars to possibly recoup 75 dollars. If I lost the argument, I paid 75 dollars to pay another 75 dollars. This is a real kobiyashi maru type situation for me, in which I just paid the ticket. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, but it's the choice that makes the most sense.

I've also got a parking ticket that I didn't feel was just for being parked in front of a fire hydrant. That time it was me driving, however, I had pulled over to the side of the road to use my phone as I was getting an important call. While I was on the phone, (with four way blinkers on) a police officer came up and asked me to move, which I did. Before asking me to move, they took a picture of my car and sent in the ticket. This was completely legal (I was 'parked' in front of the hydrant), but completely unjust to me. Again, it wasn't worth my time to try to contest it. It was legal but unjust (in my mind)

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164533)

Ah, you're one of those dimwits who stop in dangerous places to make phone calls, and think it's OK because you put your hazard lights on.

Stopping = part of the solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165027)

Ah, you're one of those dimwits who stop in dangerous places to make phone calls, and think it's OK because you put your hazard lights on.

It's because of people like you that others use their cell phones while driving. Only parking in front of a hydrant is dangerous - if you're just stopped you can quickly move out of the way of the fire hose.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165095)

I realize you're just a troll, but that's not a "dangerous place" to stop.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164669)

In Chicago you can contest ticket by old mail. Yeah I know you have to buy stamp and find mail box or go to post office - all those last century things.
I have 75% success rate with mail contesting, attach plane tickets, any proof that you were not there - well worth stamp cost.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164677)

If the engine was on and you were in the vehicle, you weren't "parked," you were "standing." Most municipalities have different rules for "no parking" and "no standing" because if there was a real problem (e.g. the building caught fire and they needed the hydrant) you'd presumably notice and get the hell out of the way.

If people would fight their tickets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164725)

By design fighting a traffic ticket isn't worth your personal time. Even if you go it alone (no lawyer) just the fees involved with bringing it to court are almost as much as the ticket, so either way you loose. It should, of course, not be so, if you fight and win whoever wrote the ticket should get fined and pay the court costs. Unfortunately very little of our "justice" system is geared towards real accountability and equality. Though it would be nice if more people fought these things on principal & tried to get precedents set/media attention to dissuade such abuses in the future

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 7 months ago | (#47164829)

Unfortunately very little of our "justice" system is geared towards real accountability and equality.

The court system is theater designed to give the peasants the illusion of justice.

It's sole purpose is to increase margins for the ruling class - people who believe they are free require the rulers to expend fewer resources to keep them compliant and productive.

Re:If people would fight their tickets... (1)

fermion (181285) | about 7 months ago | (#47164933)

I don't know. I like the idea of funding the city with people who choose not to know the simple rules. From a safety point of view, doing the work so the people who do no know what a fire hydrant looks like can have other clues, it a good idea. Spending the money just because people don't know what a fire hydrant looks like is not.

great (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#47164353)

That's awesome. Good work Ben Wellington. It's amazing what the "sort" button in Excel can do.

Ben Wellington is evil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164529)

He deprived the city government of thousands of dollars. He should be made to pay back double of what he effectively stole.

Bad coloring. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164357)

You could also paint your fire hydrants fire engine red or bright green so people would notice them instead of the blackish brown in street view. But seriously, if you have a hydrant on the sidewalk, you should have some sort of marking in the space saying its illegal rather than the standard markings.

Re:Bad coloring. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 months ago | (#47164681)

But then they wouldn't make as much money with tickets.

So that you don't have to RTFA (4, Informative)

Ecuador (740021) | about 7 months ago | (#47164391)

There was a fire hydrant on the sidewalk, with a bike lane between it and drawn parking spaces. In US cities you can only park where there is a parking space explicitly drawn, so this spot had exactly what you were looking for and people parked. And got ticketed. And this happened all the time, since it looked like a perfectly fine parking spot, but the NYPD disagreed. Apparently no-one had complained loud enough (I'd think such tickets would be very easily contested), but when this guy blogged about it after seeing the data and it went viral, the DOT fixed it relatively quickly by marking it as a no-parking space.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 7 months ago | (#47164461)

I do find the whole fire hydrant thing in the US a bit odd - we have hydrant points here in the UK, but they are below ground with a small manhole cover over it, and are also positioned so they cannot be trivially blocked (either in the road, or on the pavement). We don't seem to have any major issues with inaccessibility, so why the US?

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164543)

Here in the US, we like having people run over them, causing a 3-4 meter high geyser.

In fact, where I live, they moved to dry-barrel hydrants (ones where the actual water valve is underground) because people loved deliberately hitting them.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 7 months ago | (#47164695)

I thought all hydrants were dry-barrel. The firemen remove the side caps and connect hoses, then open the valve using the large nut on top of the hydrant. The valve itself is below ground at the water main, connected by a shaft to the nut.

The reason crashing into the hydrant causes the geyser is because the valve is either broken by the impact at the top of its shaft, or the shaft is sheared off and the stopper in the valve is pushed out by water pressure.

That's how it was explained to me anyway. Maybe other systems are different.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 7 months ago | (#47164975)

I thought all hydrants were dry-barrel. The firemen remove the side caps and connect hoses, then open the valve using the large nut on top of the hydrant. The valve itself is below ground at the water main, connected by a shaft to the nut.

The reason crashing into the hydrant causes the geyser is because the valve is either broken by the impact at the top of its shaft, or the shaft is sheared off and the stopper in the valve is pushed out by water pressure.

That's how it was explained to me anyway. Maybe other systems are different.

If the valve is not on OR under the hydrant, but under a main shutoff cover (as described) then the issue of hitting the hydrant is nonexistent; you can rip it clean out of the ground if you want and water will still not come out unless you rip out the main shutoff too.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165049)

Not all hydrants are dry. Some (I believe they were called "California hydrants") are fully wet. It was described to me as a freeze-thaw type of issue.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (2)

iMichka (3681663) | about 7 months ago | (#47164615)

I thinks it's a question of money: "underground" hydrants in the streets are more expensive, and have to be checked regularly for dirt ... (once in a year in Germany if I remember well). So the US went for the cheap solution, which is fine but needs to make sure nobody leaves his car in front of the hydrant.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164617)

Oh you poor Brits... You guys would cry that the US is confusing if you found out that the average American tea drinker used his left hand to hold the cup instead of the right. You people are simply never happy.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165117)

Even easier to confuse a Merkin -- tell him you want your tea at 80 degrees. He'll probably bring you tepid iced tea.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164781)

I'm reminded of an episode of London's Burning where someone had parked over the under-ground hydrant and they simply just pushed the offending vehicle out of the way with the appliance.
No idea if it's something that actually ever happens though.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164939)

A lot of the US gets heavy seasonal snow & ice which I don't think is nearly as prevalent in the UK. Also the thought line is probably that having above ground ones are far more noticeable, in fact in some areas where they get real heavy snow they attach brightly colored metal poles to the hydrants in case they are covered by snow.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 7 months ago | (#47164949)

I do find the whole fire hydrant thing in the US a bit odd - we have hydrant points here in the UK, but they are below ground with a small manhole cover over it, and are also positioned so they cannot be trivially blocked (either in the road, or on the pavement). We don't seem to have any major issues with inaccessibility, so why the US?

It's not a question of the hookup being completely inaccessible, it's a question of it being accessible enough to quickly service both sides of the street (as hydrants are generally only installed on one side). So, no parking next to them, and firefighters have a decent chance at getting hoses hooked to pump trucks or run across the street to fight a fire.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

RobinH (124750) | about 7 months ago | (#47165111)

I don't know about in the UK, but over here in North America, whenever you encounter bad design, the knee-jerk reaction isn't to fix the design, it's to put the onus on *everybody* to change their behavior to adapt to it. This is reinforced by a general public that loves to point out when other people do things wrong because it makes everyone else feel good about themselves. "Of course you got a ticket! What kind of idiot parks in front of a fire hydrant?" Seriously, a guy cut the end of his thumb off here at work, and rather than looking into the root cause to see if we could reduce the risk of it happening again, everyone literally made fun of him to his face for being stupid. So it's a cultural thing.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#47164491)

Still, when you gte out off you car it's right there, so you should notice it and move. becasue paring that close to afire hydrant is a ticket-able offense

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164579)

There was a bike lane between the pavement and the "parking spots", so people assumed that was the reason for there being a legal parking spot there. In fact, the blogger specifically asked the DOT whether it is legal to park in a parking spot if there is a bike lane between you and the fire hydrant and they answered yes.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

dcw3 (649211) | about 7 months ago | (#47165129)

No, the bike lane has no affect on if a space is legal or not. The only thing that matters is the distance, which is 15 ft.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#47164511)

In US cities you can only park where there is a parking space explicitly drawn

Well, this isn't really true, it varies by state and city but a lot of times parking spaces are not drawn (it seems to me they are usually only drawn if there are parking meters, but that is convention, not law).

The most important rules are to look at the curb color; if it is painted red, or yellow then you can't park there for example; then make sure you aren't parking in front of a driveway, because then you won't just get a ticket, the owner will have your car towed; then another important rule is never park next to a fire hydrant. That is so if there's a fire, the firemen can get to it.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

Bazman (4849) | about 7 months ago | (#47164719)

There's a fire. The firepeople can park in the middle of the street and run a hose past your car.

I'm guessing its because they won't be able to **see** the fire hydrant rather than be able to physically get to it. We have "H" fire hydrant signs on the pavement (US: sidewalk) in highly visible locations to indicate hydrants which are usually accessed via flat metal panels in the ground.

Re:So that you don't have to RTFA (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#47164805)

lol are you saying people should be able to park next to fire hydrants?

Re: So that you don't have to RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165093)

In jurisdictions where snow plows don't tear them up, many communities mark the location of hydrants with a reflective button in the road e.g; there are blue markers in the center of the road where there are hydrants.

Why is he so astonished? (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 7 months ago | (#47164409)

Why is he left wondering why the DOT didn't analyze the parking ticket data? BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO. DOT and their associated fines act as the Executive, as opposed to the Legislative or Judicial Branches.

It's trendy to consider society as a single organism in which everyone works for an optimal outcome, but the approach is flawed. The DOT is not in the business of analyzing which parking areas generate the most money, if anything, they should be in the business of optimizing the parking areas which make the LEAST money.

+1 for geekiness and making the data accessible, but righteous indignation is really out of place and show a remarkable degree of insulation from the real world.

Re:Why is he so astonished? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#47164515)

Actually, you are insulated from the real world.
They didn't analyze becasue of man power. Agency love to look through their data and improve service, but it takes time and cost money.

And it's a out parking fines not creating parking spaces.

Re:Why is he so astonished? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 months ago | (#47164767)

The point of good governance is not to trick people into breaking the laws. Because if the law is fair it should be their for the public good. No parking next to a hydrant means that fire fighters can have quick access to it. Parking could delay the firefighting time, and cause far more damage then the fines would produce.
So it is important that people follow the laws, and not just put things so we can just bring in revenue.

As with any big data project. We just don't just store the data and magic happens. There are questions to try to figure out and answer. Having the public ask the questions means you get more out of the data.

Re:Why is he so astonished? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165071)

Analyzing data takes resources. Small government enthusiasts are working diligently to reduce resources. You can have a small government, but that doesn't mean it's optimized for your efficiency.

Re:Why is he so astonished? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165055)

I'd like to add that allowing fines to be revenue to be added to the budget puts fining at the top of the priorities list for making money. Speeding cameras are a prime example of widespread abuse. I say the goal of fines was supposed to be to get people to change their ways, and so the incentive to hand out fines shouldn't be financial gain for the finer.

Thus, fines should go out of the budget and into a convenient black hole like the deficit, or if that miraculously gets filled, a long-term investment fund of sorts. Even though that sort of thing would imply some sort of long-term vision so notably absent from most if not all "democratic" or "republican" systems.

Saves NYers nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164411)

NYers aren't saving $55,000/year over this, they're going to be paying the loss of income in additional local taxes instead. Saving taxpayers' money requires cutting costs somewhere, which this clearly doesn't do.

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 7 months ago | (#47164451)

Except people deserve transparency in taxes they pay.

As far as I'm concerned, if the police department needs more revenue it should come in the form of a tax levy. We should shut down any "creative" ways of increasing revenue like adding red light cameras, or allowing confiscation of your car if you get a speeding ticket.

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 months ago | (#47164545)

Agrees. All monies gathered should go into the general fund and never back to the police dept. If people don't want to pay for police, then so be it.

And property confiscated should, generally, go to the family of whom ever did the crime.

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 7 months ago | (#47164717)

And property confiscated should, generally, go to the family of whom ever did the crime.

Why should the families of criminals profit by their criminal activity?

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 7 months ago | (#47164889)

How about stolen items confiscated from the criminal should go back to the victim and not sit in an evidence locker for a year...

Re:Saves NYers nothing (2)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 7 months ago | (#47165035)

You have to be careful here. You create an incentive for people to bring false charges against someone else.

Property should not be seizable unless as a punishment from the judge and it should go to general government. If I commit a crime, my property's not involved.

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 7 months ago | (#47164551)

We should shut down any "creative" ways of increasing revenue like adding red light cameras, or allowing confiscation of your car if you get a speeding ticket.

How is someone parking in front of a fire hydrant a "creative" way to increase revenue? Everyone knows, point blank, you never park in front of a hydrant. Take a look at what happened to this jackass [wcvb.com] who thought the rules didn't apply to them.

Further, confiscating someone's vehicle because they got a speeding ticket sounds like they had other issues. Police do not take your vehicle for one ticket. Most likely this person was a habitual offender, possibly running drugs, so confiscation helps the community by removing their ability (temporarily) to endanger people around them.

Or are we supposed to coddle people who feel it's acceptable to endanger other people's lives like this guy [pennlive.com] ?

Re:Saves NYers nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165103)

Its a "creative" way to increase revenue (even though it is probably unintentional) via the fact that you have two conflicting rules. First off the fact that it was clearly marked as parking by the department of transpiration, but secondly was near a fire hydrant which general traffic rules suggest should not be blocked.

Re:Saves NYers nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164561)

How about buying less of that wholesale DHS militarized equipment for the police department?

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164517)

That's true only if the ticket values are the only cost and taxes rise to cover the difference. However, there's a lot of cost to getting a ticket which doesn't go into the city coffers. If we buy your implicit assumption that the police force is on a fixed budget, then this will give more time for other policing, and the dirvers who would be getting ticketed save time with the tickets and the opportunity cost of not having $100 to do something else with.

Re:Saves NYers nothing (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 months ago | (#47165031)

How about cutting costs by firing meter maids that are no longer needed to write tickets for misleading parking spots?

No good deed goes unpunished... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164463)

Especially when you save citizens from getting scammed by our oh-so-wonderful governments.

Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 7 months ago | (#47164465)

Whenever "too many" tickets are issued for the same offense, the city should investigate doing something at that situation... too many tickets at a certain hydrant equates to time to move that hydrant or build a parking space in the area.

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 7 months ago | (#47164555)

But, uh, then they'd lose all that lovely money. What they should have done is changed all the other hydrants to ensure that more people get parking tickets.

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 7 months ago | (#47164903)

They could lose even more if whatever attracted the parkers move to another jurisdiction... business do close and go elsewhere when too many people are annoyed!

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164583)

Maybe I'm simply a cynic, but without some regulation forcing them to, I would never expect anyone to voluntarily investigate a situation that ends with them receiving more revenue.

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 7 months ago | (#47164945)

That's why I said "should" instead of "must"... but when government is not doing what it should, the elections should get to them.

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (1)

xfade551 (2627499) | about 7 months ago | (#47164693)

Or just do what most municipalities do and paint the curb or apparent parking space red.

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164773)

Realistically, if "too many" tickets are being done, tickets are a great revenue source, and unlike bonds or taxes, need zero voter approval. So, cities tend to be encouraged to do this.

This is common when RV-ing. The local RV parks are full, so you choose between parking at a Wal-Mart, or checking into a hotel. However, both will get you a $250 ticket in a lot of places (this started in California, and what happens in California becomes the standard in the nation and the world.) Plus, it gives the local finest an excuse for a stop and search... and that can result in a nice civil forfeiture which scores even more money.

It reminds me of an acquaintance who claimed to have worked at a red light camera company, where he bragged about at random times, the traffic signal light could flash red just for 50-100 ms, snap a picture, then change back to green. That way, they could keep the flow of red light camera tickets going but without being caught on driver dash cams with extremely short (or no) yellow lights.

Probably the best way tourists can fight back is to blacklist towns doing those shenanigans, but with larger cities like NYC, that can't really be done.

Re:Unwritten rule of parking tickets. (2)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 7 months ago | (#47164905)

It reminds me of an acquaintance who claimed to have worked at a red light camera company, where he bragged about at random times, the traffic signal light could flash red just for 50-100 ms, snap a picture, then change back to green. That way, they could keep the flow of red light camera tickets going but without being caught on driver dash cams with extremely short (or no) yellow lights.

Probably the best way tourists can fight back is to blacklist towns doing those shenanigans, but with larger cities like NYC, that can't really be done.

The best way to fight back is to blacklist everybody who has ever been employed by a red light camera company.

Use LinkedIn to track them down, create a public website where you name and shame them.

If you can find out where they live, confront them at their houses in front of their families and neighbors.

Until there's a social cost which makes acting like an amoral mercenary unprofitable, the number of amoral mercenaries will continue to increase.

Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#47164487)

That doesn't sound good for their economy. The city needs the money.

Re:Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 7 months ago | (#47164625)

But the purpose of the law is to keep the hydrant clear for use by the fire services. The fine is only a means to this end. If you think it is a money earner, either the hydrant is unnecessary, or you think the city is happy to make money by burning buildings (and possibly people).

Re:Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about 7 months ago | (#47164779)

They don't NEED it, they want it. If NYC didn't sign teachers', FD and PD union contracts that rape the taxpayers they wouldn't be in the hole.

Re:Saved New Yorkers Thousands On Parking Tickets (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 7 months ago | (#47164983)

It's neutral for the economy.
Wealth is neither created nor destroyed, just merely transferred between entities.

It's good for the economy of the New Yorkers, it's bad for the economy of the New York Government.

The economy is not a zero-sum game and can go up and down. But this right here is a zero-sum transfer. You could argue about where the money is being more productive, in the government's pocket or in the parker's pockets, but that trends into the philosophical.

Coming up after the break... (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 months ago | (#47164513)

How NYC has to increase taxes because of "increased costs" of Open Data, which will amount to about 60-100k a year...

The bad guy here is the meter maid (1)

roccomaglio (520780) | about 7 months ago | (#47164553)

The person writing the tickets saw the obviously incorrect DOT marking and did nothing. The like that people were being trapped. They probably found it easier to meet quotas. Ignoring this obvious issue is egregious and this person/people should be punished.

Alternate headline (5, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | about 7 months ago | (#47164565)

"Hacker arrested for stealing $57,000 from NYPD"

"After breaking into government computers and accessing unauthorized data, in much the same way that Aaron Swartz and Andrew Auernheimer did before him, notorious terrorist Ben Wellington manipulated government records to steal over fifty thousand dollars directly from the people of New York City. In the interests of protecting freedom and democracy, SWAT teams arrived at the homes of Wellington, who hides behind the non-de-crime of "I (redacted) NY", along with members of his immediate family and his dog who was shot while trying to resist arrest.

"The criminal mastermind is being held without trial in a secure, undisclosed location and has been denied access to telecommunications equipment for fear that he might use a pay phone to break into the Pentagon and whistle the correct codes to launch nuclear missiles at Mayor Bloomberg."

"The Attorney General's office then went on to congratulate itself for protecting freedom everywhere, and urged everyone to enjoy their new twenty gramme chocolate ration."

Alternate headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164683)

lol, he wuz prolly getting tracked on fb by akamai, and prolly the Israelis did it through akamai and primesense cuz he wuz on an iphone.

GET REAL! Bloomburg`s tax-booty-hole in Tel-Aviv has Iron Dome!
ARRRRRRR!

Re:Alternate headline (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 7 months ago | (#47164747)

whistle the correct codes to launch nuclear missiles at Mayor Bloomberg."

You do know that Mr. Bloomberg doesn't get to keep the title forever, right?

Re:Alternate headline (2)

Minwee (522556) | about 7 months ago | (#47164923)

You do know that Mr. Bloomberg doesn't get to keep the title forever, right?

...and that was the only thing about that story that seemed wrong?

Re:Alternate headline (1)

gnu-sucks (561404) | about 7 months ago | (#47165087)

Straight from 1984's Ministry of Truth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

Excellent writing.

Less tickets for some... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164645)

...more taxes for everyone! :)

Don't forget the safety point (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 7 months ago | (#47164667)

The law against parking in front of hydrants is, presumably, to allow easy access for the fire service in case of fire. The fine is only a means to enforcing this, and making the city safer. Not, for example, raising revenue not an act of hydrant-worship by city officials. So by getting the city to make it clearer where the hydrants are, and thus keep them open for use, he has made the city a safer place. That is actually more important than saving fines. Maybe, one day, someone will not be burned to death because the fire service ran out of water as a result of this,

Gotta love Street View (1)

zarmanto (884704) | about 7 months ago | (#47164715)

I glanced at the Google Street View link in the ITWorld.com article, and the 2007 imagery [google.com] for that location shows that the bike lane didn't exist at that time... and likewise, it shows that nobody is parked in front of the hydrant. Move forward, and all three of the subsequent snapshots of that location show cars (which were no doubt all ticketed) parked alongside the newly painted bike lane, directly adjacent to that hydrant -- but more interestingly, the photos also show "no-parking" markings on the street leading up to just a bit before that hydrant. At a glance, any reasonable person would interpret the street markings to indicate that parking there was perfectly legal, and expected. And really, how much more than "a glance" do most people give to their city parking, when they're probably already late for work?

That said: I wouldn't necessarily go straight to NYPD malice for the explanation. Seems to me, someone in the DOT simply wasn't paying enough attention to his surroundings when he designated the street re-painting requirements, (oops) and low-paid NYPD traffic cops simply discovered and took advantage of the situation to easily meet their ticket quotas, without ever really asking or caring about the "why."

Re:Gotta love Street View (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47165029)

So they can ticket two cars [google.com] in one go?

The real fix should be (1)

n4djs (1097963) | about 7 months ago | (#47164787)

that instead of white striping off an entire space, you white stripe the 3 feet of access area needed in front of the hydrant so the hose can be attached to the hydrant (in other words, change the alignment of the adjoining spaces ...|...........|X|..........|... instead of ...|...........|XXXXXX|...........|...

Re:The real fix should be (1)

Paco103 (758133) | about 7 months ago | (#47164865)

Or, instead of repainting everything to change alignment, just offer legitimate motorcycle parking in the available space.

Re:The real fix should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164969)

Eh, I'd consult with a firefighter to see how much working room they need around a fire hydrant to connect a hose.

Might be they have some use for the extra width.

Police complaints about releasing data (1)

swb (14022) | about 7 months ago | (#47164875)

I actually RTFA and was shocked with the police comment about releasing data because "..people would use it to make a point."

Shocked is probably the wrong word to use, because at this point I expect it, but it was surprising that the police would be so public about their desire to not release data because people would use to redress their grievances with them.

Data inconsequential. It was the noise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164915)

The open data was only a means to an end. That end being generating enough noise to overcome the corruption.

This is what news organizations are supposed to do instead of what ever it is that they do now.

Wrong title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47164995)

how open government data cost New York thousands of dollars per year.

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