Finally, some respect!
So says Simon Belsky, a City Council candidate with an unnerving resemblance to the late Rodney Dangerfield who said this week that he fought the law... and won.
After an aggravating three years, a $115 ticket that was slapped on his car claiming that he was parked “0 feet from a hydrant” in front of 2909 Avenue U was officially dismissed.
But not only was the ticket thrown out, a New York Supreme Court judge said that the city would have to reimburse him for any expenses he shelled out to fight the ticket.
“I had no doubt we would win,” Belsky said Monday after hearing the news. “We had precedence on our side.”
He also had logic on his side.
After all, there isn’t a hydrant in front of 2909 Avenue U. Belsky said he was parked in front of a parking meter outside the address. The hydrant, in fact, is located next door, in front of 2911 Avenue U.
“How could I be zero feet from a hydrant in front of a building with no hydrant?” he asked as he pleaded not guilty and sent the ticket back.
That’s where the fun began.
The city, in all of its wisdom, would not dismiss the ticket.
Even in light of the ticket’s defectiveness, the court upheld the guilty verdict. Sam Miller, a city Department of Finance spokesperson, was quoted excusing the mistake, explaining that the markings on 2911 Avenue U are not well displayed so an adjacent building address was written down for lack of an exact address.
“Is it possible that the hydrant is more in front of 2911 than 2909? Yes. If it was 2909 versus 2932, it’s different,” said Miller.
Finding himself up against a brick wall, Belsky continued to fight, in the interim accruing late payment fees, so a $115 ticket quickly ballooned to $200 and beyond.
Armed with not only photos, but statements from local elected officials confirming the discrepancy, Belsky took his case all the way to State Supreme Court, where his defense was determined “not patently incredible.”
According to law, if the defense is deemed not patently incredible −− or perfectly plausible in common parlance −− the ticket should be dismissed.
It only cost him hundreds of man hours to research and prepare his case and over $600 in filing fees to finally get justice.
But being victorious against the city: priceless.
“[Parking tickets] is one of the biggest abuses this city imposes on the public en masse,” he said. “The city dismisses 500,000 summonses a year. That means that 50 percent of the parking tickets that are written are defective.”
Belsky said that because so many tickets are defective, “everybody who fought it would win.”
“But what the city does is put fear in people,” he explained. “They keep raising the fine with penalties, so people just give up and pay.”
Even when you feel so confident in your case to take your fight to the New York Supreme Court, you have to pay a filing fee of $305 or higher −− a cost many would think unreasonable to fight a $115 ticket, Belsky said.
Belsky said that if he was elected to the City Council −− which he hopes to achieve this year, although he completely recognizes he’s the “underdog” against incumbent Michael Nelson −− Belsky said that he would put a pro bono team of attorneys together to help fight parking tickets for everyday citizens.
He would also push to weed out the Traffic Enforcement Agents who are writing these defective tickets and fire them. The money, he said, could be used to hire more police officers.
“For every two traffic enforcement agents you terminate, you could hire a police officer and put them around the city and have them write summonses against speeders and motorists rolling through traffic lights,” said Belsky, who is not afraid to mince words, especially when he describes city policy. “That would generate more legitimate revenue for the city than all this bull−−it and make the street safer for seniors and children.”