Parking tickets have been a major cash-cow for the city of Medford, and now insiders say that Action Parking targets our campus. Are Medford’s streets paved with Pell money?
By Elijah Sullivan
Action Parking does not want its employees talking to us.
Have you ever tried reasoning with one of the nameless “parking cops” who leave those green tickets on your windshield? You were probably referred to their even less accountable supervisor. That supervisor may have told you – as he told a friend of mine recently – that his protests were futile because Action Parking is “above the law.”
The City of Medford is holding a public meeting on April 20 to see what the community thinks about modifying their policies — to make parking more restrictive, shortening the amount of time one can park freely and adding meters in some downtown areas. But at least Medford is sincere about soliciting feedback, unlike Action Parking…
Ever paid your parking ticket online? Medfordparking.com is perhaps the least-helpful website ever created. The site provides so little information that they forget to even clarify how much you owe. There is just a fill-in-the-blank where you are expected to use guesswork, presumably in the hope that you mistakenly overpay.
During my first term at Rogue Community College I got a lot of parking tickets. By the end of my second term, Action Parking’s supervisor even recognized my license plate after hearing only the first two digits read over the phone.
“Oh, the California car!”
Yeah, that’s me. If Action Parking is innocent of targeting my Corolla with California plates, they were disturbingly unconvincing over the phone.
There was a point early this year when I was about to give up on reporting about Action Parking when, quite by chance, I met someone who works for the same parent company. Like other employees, he did not want to go on the record, although he did provide some insight into how the company works.
Let’s start by confirming your suspicions:
Yes, Action Parking targets the Riverside campus. And by “target,” I mean we are the source of “almost all” of the parking tickets handed out in downtown Medford. So much so that hardly a ticket is handed out during break, according to my source.
Ticket stats provided to us by the city of Medford confirm this. Matt Vorderstrasse, Student Body President of the Riverside campus, has known about this for a long time, and he is trying to get Medford to release its financial statements to see just how much the city makes by ticketing Riverside students.
For now, all we know is that Medford is making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from parking tickets (according to the Mail Tribune), and literally thousands of those tickets come from the lots surrounding Riverside while class is in session.
And by thousands, I mean 3,146 tickets were handed out in 2009 in the parking lots around Riverside, according to numbers forwarded to us by the city of Medford.
And where do RCC students get their money? A whole heck of a lot of it is Federal Pell money.
And who pays for that? Taxpayers.
Medford is considering alternatives, such as parking meters which will soon be added to the parking lot by the Medford Library. The meters will be expensive, but they will pay themselves off over time and commuters will be dealing with machines instead of low-paid workers who are not accountable to anyone but a supervisor who is “above the law.”
And that is another lingering complaint: accountability. Americans have farmed out too many important jobs to private companies. Is there reason to suspect a police officer of capitalizing on his power when he writes a traffic ticket? Usually not.
How about a ticket written by a low-wage corporate lackey who shares in the profits and possesses minimal training as best?
Meanwhile, Medford is lowering – yes, lowering – the amount of time that we can park in the downtown area and the RCC parking lots. You now have 1-2 hours to park nearby, so get used to cutting those three-hour classes short.
Studies have shown that nobody – nobody – waits for students. In the pecking order, businessmen wait for politicians, clerks wait for businessmen and nobody – nobody – waits for students. (Except – get this – other students.) It seems Medford is jumping on the bandwagon by saying: pay up or park elsewhere.
To which I say: No more paying any more fines to Action Parking. Not for me.
We’ve heard over and over that RCC helped Medford weather the recession. And our president has talked into he was blue in the face about how important college students are to the future of our country. Why, then, are we not allowed three hours of uninterrupted time to learn?
You are beginning to see why students complain. The people with money get everything free while the hard-working citizens pay for everything twice.
Apparently Medford has something of a budget crisis on its hands, and that means putting off millions in repairs around the city. Now you have probably noticed that taxpayers do not like paying for services. And I am not saying that Medford is taking advantage of our fine establishment.
I am saying that college students are the perfect prey for Action Parking’s ticketers because we need college. We have no choice but to park within walking distance of Riverside campus – the same patch of territory Action Parking was contracted to patrol. We live on coffee and resell our textbooks. Some of us live with our parents, grandparents, or sleep on our brother’s couch. If we park in 2-hour parking to attend a class that runs an hour and fifty minutes, getting a ticket is part of the price we pay for not running faster.
We must be on time. We spend half of our time hurling through life to meet our deadlines – and when we get there, we are asked to wait.
If Medford truly believes we are their future, they can wait for us.
The views expressed in this editorial do not represent the views of Rogue Community College, its employees or affiliates. Please address your letters to the Editor and submit them to email@example.com