"Governing As Looting" In Washington & Beyond | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

"Governing As Looting" In Washington & Beyond

Third World regimes but the same blight can occur in the United States. Few things epitomize “governing as looting” like the automated traffic ticket cameras that hundreds of local governments have inflicted on drivers across the nation.

The combinations of speed cameras and shameless bureaucrats can cast citizens into a Kafkaesque hell. Last November 2, Doug Nelson, a 73-year-old Postal Service employee and Vietnam veteran, was carjacked as he returned home from a late shift. Nelson quickly surrendered his vehicle to the pistol-wielding assailants. He filed a police report and his car was eventually recovered but the license plates were stolen by the thieves.

In the following weeks, Nelson was stunned to receive thousands of dollars in tickets for speed camera violations spurred by the thieves who stole his car. Nelson and his wife repeatedly notified the D.C. government of the unjust fines but their complaints were ignored. Because of the fines, they were prohibited from getting a new license plate and thus banned from driving their only vehicle. They were told they would have to pay the entire fine – which quickly rose to $5,000 – before they were permitted to formally challenge the penalties.

Nelson’s experience exemplifies how “due process” nowadays means any damn process government does. The District has a Ticket Adjudication Ombudsman to deal with cases of gross injustice. But because Nelson failed to speedily file a “Reconsideration or a Motion to Vacate,” he was prohibited from any relief. A local television station put its “I-Team” on the case but D.C. government officials refused to sit down for a televised interview. But the embarrassing publicity finally spurred the city to finally cancel the fines. As Hannah Cox of the Foundation for Economic Education observed, “The District of Columbia unjustly deprived the Nelsons of the use of their car for far longer than the carjackers did.”