March 22, 2008
Waverly, Iowa (The Weekly Vice) -- Things are going blissfully well in Waverly Iowa, a small college town that's about 60 miles north east of Des Moines. The community is so free of problems, that Waverly police have begun handcuffing, jailing and prosecuting evildoers over major offenses - like $10 parking fines.
Meet Meaghan Hagensick. She is a Wartburg student who learned the hard way that Waverly will not tolerate high priority crime like parking tickets.
Hagensick was arrested, handcuffed and escorted directly to jail by multiple police officers because she failed to pay a $10 fine. Yes, like any hardened criminal, Hagensick was forced to bond out of jail, pay court costs and pay a higher fine.
Hagensick claims she never received the ticket. This is a common problem with parking tickets that many people have, but one that has extra merit in this case.
College students regularly have multiple resident addresses. It's not uncommon for students to move, move again and move again as school years stop and start. One would think that a college town that thrives heavily on student population would get a clue about how to properly facilitate this challenge.
Vehicle registrations for college students almost always lead back to the parent's home address. Meaghan's father Duane Hagensick doesn't recall ever receiving a parking ticket in the mail.
While it's true, everyone should pay their fines, there are a few elements to this story which defy logic.
First, the taxpayer cost. Are Waverly taxpayers really eager to see their limited tax dollars going to fund the resources required to hunt down fugitive parking ticket evaders? Two officers, a judge, a couple of police cruisers, gas and investigative time is a legitimate expense for capturing a child molester. How does this pan out for $10 fines?
Secondly, most of civilized society has figured out that offenders are usually quite eager to pay up when the license bureau has been notified of an unpaid fine. No one wants their license suspended over a silly fine - thus the problem is solved on paper. With fax machines, the town of Waverly wouldn't even be required to pay for a postage stamp.
Lastly, there is the little issue of carting a hardened offender off to jail in handcuffs over an issue that could legitimately be a matter of not receiving the notice. Parking tickets are usually not signed by the offender, so the court really has no proof that the offender has acknowledged receipt of the ticket or even knows about it.
For this reason, most of the country has learned to take a diplomatic approach to compel payment of non moving violations instead of carting the offender off to jail like a rabid, half neutered dog who has just munched off a grandmother's leg.
Meaghan would like to point out that a lot of crime might be missed, while officers are beating down residents doors over parking tickets. It's obvious however that this line of thinking has blown right over the head of police chief Richard Purcell. Perhaps he could take a few economics classes at Wartburg.
We suspect that the police chief simply thought he had the bright idea of recouping losses for the city treasury, however he seems to forget who's treasury that is. The peoples. The city must answer for it's lack of discretion as well as it's squandering of taxpayer funds. The analogy of stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime seems to come to mind here.
Also, the incident will hit sites and blogs across the entire country, making the chief of police/ Sheriff's department in Waverly a laughing stock. Well worth payment of that $10 fine we suspect.
Waverly, isn't it great to know elections aren't that far away?
The Weekly Vice