Letter to the Editor 1

Yesterday, I came out in the rain to my car and saw a tell-tale yellow envelope under my windshield wiper.

The incident brought Peter Finch’s famous Network speech back to mind: “First, you’ve gotta get mad. So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!’“

The envelope contained a succinct little parking citation for “permit displayed imprope [sic]” that informed me I had five days to pay a $30 fine. Keep in mind that this fine is listed under “All other parking violations not stipulated” (for a cost of $25 plus a $5 admin. fee), which could explain why I’ve never heard of this. I’ve heard of other fines. For instance, last semester I parked in one spot on the Horseshoe for two weeks before they ticketed me for parking in the wrong lot (despite the fact that there was no notice posted anywhere, and that even the parking map leaves it ambiguous). Not wanting to deal with the ticket, I left it on my windshield wiper for two weeks. Then they gave me another ticket—this one I deserved—for parking in a Teacher’s lot at 4:45 p.m. This ticket mysteriously vanished one day and I forgot all about it. Finally, I came to my car one day and saw a boot on it. Apparently, without informing me of the fact, my car was placed on the “If Seen, Tow or Boot” list, which I didn’t even know existed. The terrible thing about this was that, at the time, I was parked legally (and in an out-of-the-way parking lot, as well). The NMSU Parking Regulations explicitly says that this is correct, which I argue flies in the face of justice and fairness.

But fairness matter not when the person you appeal to is the person who ticketed you. I found the boot just before 5 p.m., which I assumed was about the time that the Parking Department went home. I did not realize that the office remains open 24 hours a day. So, figuring that it was up to me to get my car home (a 45 minute drive), I used my ingenuity to avoid the problem: I changed the tire and drove home on the spare. The next day I went to the Parking Department to contest the boot. I was armed with information, precedent, a heck of a lot of philosophy, and I was mad as hell. After working my way up from the front clerk to Police Captain Stephen A. Lopez, who condescendingly assured me that I could not contest a boot and that if I refused to pay, my car would be towed away. “That’s not a problem,” I said, explaining that I had driven home. “Stay right there so that I can come around and arrest you,” he said, and then arrested me for “Larceny between $200 and $2,000.” Soon after this, I was handcuffed, patted down, searched, fingerprinted, and had my mug shot taken (which I requested a copy of, but never received). The only problem was that Larceny requires the intent to not return the object: a fact that was never explained to me. So intent was he to punish me, in fact, that I wasn’t even asked about the boot. I eventually spoke to a Detective Franco (after several hours of sitting in handcuffs feeling like a jerk for getting arrested and leaving my carpool driverless), who took my statement and let me go. I later found out that the senseless hours I spent under arrest were so that no judge would be able to see me that day and I’d have to spend the night in jail (a scare tactic that, would not have worked for my prior obligations). The District Attorney never pressed charges (I assume it was because the ‘intent to not return’ would have been ever so annoying in court), but my fingerprints are now on file somewhere and this scares me. The Parking Department can give fines, collect money, and have cars towed or booted at its own discretion. They can place a car on a secret “If Seen, Tow or Boot” list without informing the person of their truant account, and they can tow or boot cars that are otherwise completely legally parked. Meanwhile, certain parking lots still look like the surface of the moon, and though there is enough space for parking, the best spots fill up first—ironically by the people that are least in a hurry to get to their classes— and a student can spend up to an hour looking, and fighting, for a spot. And despite the consistency of this problem, I have yet to see an in-depth article written on this. I, and the NMSU student body, want to know: “Where does the money go?” The standard complaint is “why don’t we make a parking garage?” The Parking Department states in its website that to build a parking garage would cost an extra $15,000 per parking spot. They even suggest taking out a 30-year loan (that the students would have to pay for), and calculate the cost with that (between $500 and $833). What they don’t figure out is the reverse: creating an account with this that builds interest, so that we would have enough money saved in less time to build the garage. I’m not a Finance major, but this way seems much more productive than the reverse. The point of this isn’t to tell a horror story of what can happen when one stands up for what is right. It’s to prod the student community to challenge this system. Just about EVERY student hates the Parking Department, and they complain to each other, but I have yet to see any positive action being taken on this front. I voted for Senate the way I did because I was promised some action on this front, yet I have seen nothing happen. So, everyone who reads this, call 646 1839 (or e-mail police@nmsu.edu) and let them know how you feel. E-mail President Martin (president@nmsu.edu), contact the Vice President for Facilities and Services, the Faculty Senate, ACAP, your ASNMSU Student Senator, the ASNMSU President (austenfulmer@yahoo.com) and repeat. Push them to change the current system before things get worse.Pixel Q. Styx (note: objects in red were edited out for the actual publication… for some reason)

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