Archive for May 29th, 2009

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Today’s Morons: The Tarpon Springs Police Department

May 29, 2009

This one is a bit tricky. First of all, I am not talking about the officers of the Tarpon Springs police. They were just doing their job. I’m talking about the department as a whole. Maybe it would be better if I just recapped things quickly:

Fake sign

Fake sign

In 2007, police in Tarpon Springs, Florida, were told that 22 “No Parking” signs in the community were fake, and that they had been installed by a developer who was sick of people parking around a neighbourhood restaurant called Jack Willie’s Tarpon Turtle. I am not making that up. That guy, Mike Bronson, also deserves an extra Moron award, but also gets a very rare Weather Station Balls Of Steel prize for the stunt.

The signs went up in 2006 and were discovered in 2007 when someone noticed that these signs looked a fair bit different from the town’s actual signs, were mounted on different types of posts, and lacked an official city sticker on the back. Bronson reportedly denied being responsible for the signs, but then admitted he’d done it. Again, let me reiterate: Balls Of Steel.

The Tarpon Springs police determined that something like 233 drivers had been ticketed for parking in the fake no-parking zone. And then … they did nothing about it. “We messed up,” acting Chief Robert Kochen told the St. Petersburg Times. “We did not look at this thing like we should have.”

The whole mess came to light recently when a municipal official issued a report on the controversy. “I’m glad Mr. Bronson admitted to the act and the Police Department has been very proactive in this matter,” Commissioner Peter Dalacos told the Times. “I still have concerns about what action we can take to, at a minimum, have Mr. Bronson reimburse those tickets that were paid.”

Glossed over is the fact that the police knew about this for two years, and did nothing about it. That’s shameful. Whatever happens, though, Bronson won’t be charged, which kind of stumps me … how is this not a crime?

The more I think about this, the more I realize there are plenty of morons at work here:

  • The rowdy customers at the Turtle, who parked all over the place and ticked Bronson off …
  • Bronson, who erected the fake signs …
  • The drivers who parked illegally and were ticketed …
  • The police officers who never questioned the sudden appearance of 22 new “No Parking” signs …
  • The police officials who were notified of the problem in 2007 and did nothing …
Real sign

Real sign

It’s a Florida Cornucopia of Moronity! I love it. Anyway, like Dalacos said, it may be up to Bronson to pay the fines — which were about $20 apiece — and the town is quashing any outstanding warrants for non-payment of the bogus tickets.

Because, I suppose, if a scofflaw parks in a no-parking zone that isn’t a no-parking zone, and gets a ticket from a cop who wasn’t paying attention, and the scofflaw refuses to pay the fine … I guess they deserve to walk away from it all.

I don’t think the police around here are as lenient (or as oblivious) as some of the folks in Tarpon Springs, so I’m pretty sure I would get in trouble if I installed speed bumps on the street outside my house. I’ve been tempted.

Or I could put up a sign of my own, lowering the speed limit to a crawl. My once-quiet road is now a shortcut to the new Wal-Mart, and I’m sick of all these people in rusting 1993 Ford Temps and crumbling pickup trucks roaring past my little house.

I’ll let you know how this turns out.

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