Friday, April 27, 2007


Cash Money

I found over $10 in change under the carpet in my "new" car! If I were in Indiana I could nearly buy a 30 pack of PBR for that. ... wait, I found $4 while walking around campus the other day. Damn, with all the money I found I really could buy a 30 pack. Stupid Georgia beer distribution system.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Got a "new" car

I got a new car, but I've already broke the shift linkage in it...


Monday, April 09, 2007


Now What?

So now what do I do? I might get a check from the insurance company by Friday. If I do, I've got stuff planned this weekend so that I couldn't buy a car even if I had one picked out. And I don't have one picked out.

Now that I live in the south it would be fun to have a rear-wheel drive sedan (I guess today's terminology would say I want a coupe, not a sedan). Of course, there aren't many of those made that actually fit me. Mustang is too small, but I'd rather ride a bike than drive a Ford. Same goes for anything Honda ever made. I know I fit in a Chevrolet Camaro and I know I fit in Dodge Daytona. The last Daytonas were made in 1993 or so. I'd rather not buy a car that is already over 10 years old. If I get a Camaro, I think I'd like to get something with a V8. Might as well go all out. There are only a handful down here listed on-line. Time to start calling I guess.

Palila and I drove around on Saturday to some dealerships in the area. They just don't have much that I like. Plus everything a dealer has is in "excellent" condition, so they want your first born child. I will only have the money I get from the insurance. I've thought about something like the Mitsubishi 3000GT, but they were over priced when new and are still over priced.

Just not sure of what to do.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Bye 2002 Monte Carlo

As if dealing with the crooks of Dekalb County wasn't enough, a tree fell on my car and totaled it. Yeah, I've got insurance, but I don't think I can buy the car I had for what they are going to give me. And I really don't have time to take care of this and all the other things going on. Alex's car was hit too but not totaled. Now there's a tree in the yard that need cleaned up and the half of it still standing will need to be taken down by a professional.

I was really doing okay with all of this until I started taking out some of the stereo components I'd put in. I started thinking about how much I really did like car, about the amount of work I'd put into it, and the amount of time I'd spent in it. I was only 5 years old, but already had 123,000 miles on it. If I averaged 30mph (that's a low average if you know how I drive, but I put it down there so as to include the amount of time working on it, sleeping in it, and sitting not going anywhere) then I spent about 1/2 a year solid in my car. It is hard to not become attached to something you spent 1/2 a year with.

Well, there's work to be done. And I'm the one to do it. And we're out of beer too. What a day.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Dekalb County Recorders Court Disadvantages Poor

I was recently amazed to read the mission statement on the Dekalb County Recorders Court webpage; “To provide efficient, ethical handling of all court cases with an emphasis on timeliness, quality customer service and accessibility.” My recent experience with Dekalb County Recorders Court leads me to believe this system is not efficient, it certainly is not timely, does not provide quality customer service, and is unfair by any standard especially for the working poor.

On February 2nd I was given a traffic citation for a crime I committed. The citation lists a phone number for an automated service to find out the fine. After several attempts to find out my fine using the automated system, I called the Recorders Court itself so I could speak to a real, live human. This second line was frequently busy and hold-times were often greater than a half hour. When I finally did speak to a real, live person I was told the ticket simply was not in the system and I would have to wait. With my court date on March 15th quickly approaching I started to get nervous. I called again on Friday, March 9th and the ticket still was not in the system. Finally, on Monday, March 12th the ticket was in and the fine far exceeded my ability to pay. This was especially true since I only had from March 12th to March 15th to come up with the money. Dekalb County had 25 working days to enter the ticket. I was left with 3 days to come up with the money. I am not exactly sure how this could ever be construed as timely, efficient, or quality customer service.

I am a student and my current salary is below the poverty level. Like many individuals in Dekalb County, I live from paycheck to paycheck and I am paid monthly. I decided to go to my court date hoping to earn some kind of reprieve. I had to find someone else to fill my position while I missed work. Any hopes of getting leeway were quickly dashed.

There were several things that happened during my appearance in court that both surprised and angered me. First, without the judge ever leaving his chambers, the court clerks announced that everyone there would be offered a plea deal. Points were significantly reduced, but we were all still responsible for the full fine. If one positive thing came out of the entire experience, it is that my points were reduced to zero and my insurance company will never know about the ticket. I found the end result of going to court is three hours or so of wasted time, considerable belittling by the court clerks (a topic I’ll get to shortly), but at least your insurance will not go up.

Now, about the belittling. I was shocked at the clerks’ treatment of the individuals in the courtroom. First, one of the clerks frequently tried using intimidation. He would repeat over and over that cell phones were not allowed in court and that the judge had the right to put us in jail for two days if we used cell phones. He also repeated over and over that we would have to post a cash bond if we were caught talking. His tone was incredibly derogatory. I was angered to watch the officers of the court holding side conversations while those of us in the court were being treated like children. The one act of intimidation that angered me the most related to a sheet of paper where individuals in the court must enter their plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. This same clerk continued to belittle us by constantly repeating that the judge was not a lenient person, and that we must have the sheet completely filled out or the judge would be very angry and short with us. An individual finally worked up the courage to ask the clerk “what does nolo contendere mean.” The clerk looked at her and told her the judge would explain the form. Almost comically, the individual responded back to the clerk, “if you won’t explain what it means, then how can we fill out the form?” The tone and the constant repeating of threats of jail time and greater fines smacked of intimidation with the purpose of encouraging people to take the plea deal and leave the court before the judge left his chambers.

Unfortunately, there were many people in the court that day in a similar situation as me; they were unable to pay the fine. I can only imagine that many of these people would have liked to have paid their fine, but were unable to do so because, like me, they only had 3 days to come up with a large sum of money. For those of us in this situation, we were offered parole. For an extra $34 per calendar month we could go on parole and have 120 additional days to pay the fine. It is important to note that “per calendar month” is a real sneaky trick. What this means is, if you go on parole on March 30th, you owe $34 for March, and then on April 2nd you owe $34 again. Yes, $34 for a weekend. If I were a paranoid individual or a conspiracy theorist, I would guess the people that enter the tickets are in cahoots with the individuals who run the parole business. The ticket entry people get some kickback for being slow and helping to make sure more people end up on parole.

This situation I am writing about is more than just frustration and annoyance. For starters, the complete lack of timeliness in entering the tickets disadvantages the disadvantaged. Anyone living from paycheck to paycheck is unlikely to be able to gather up the money to pay a traffic ticket with only three days of notice. Furthermore, these individuals who cannot pay the fine quickly are charged even more via the parole racket.
Finally, when academics study fairness in organizations and judicial systems, they look at multiple factors. One of the advantages of our judicial system over that of what is used in many parts of the world is that we can hire our own representative and we have some control over the evidence presented. In other words, we have some procedural control that, regardless of the outcome, makes our system fairer than other systems. Beyond procedural control and the final outcome is also something called interactional justice, or the fairness of how you are treated by the agents (police, clerks, judges) of the judicial system. My experience with the Dekalb County Recorders Court leads me to believe there is no justice in the system. For being poor, I was given a greater fine than someone who is not poor through the parole system. Not only that, the lack of timeliness and lack of efficiency speaks to bad procedures in place for entering tickets. How could it possibly be fair that Dekalb County gets 25 business days to enter a ticket and then the suspect has only 3 days to gather up the money? Finally, with the belittling and intimidation tactics used by the clerks, the agents of the judicial system, I see very little interactional justice.

I am currently working to share this experience and these thoughts with as many people as possible. I doubt this system will change, and I will likely so no direct payback for my efforts. But I do hope to harass the agents of the system and inform the people Dekalb County about the kind of trouble they could run into if they are poor.

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