Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Decline and fall: Lawsuit takes on Chicago's "ransom fees" for impounding cars

Once again I have to mention that Chicago is the only major city facing population decline.

Why? Besides rampant violent crime, corruption, wretched schools, red light cameras seemingly everywhere, high taxes, unsustainable pension debt, crappy roads and streets, and a stagnant economy, there is another reason.

Holding automobiles ransom.

From WBEZ:
A new class-action lawsuit wants the city of Chicago to stop seizing cars used in certain crimes, and return vehicles to innocent owners who can’t afford to pay the hefty impound fees.

These ballooning fees, which often accrue as owners navigate an inter-departmental web of bureaucracy, can leave residents owing thousands of dollars to get their car back even if they were never charged, according to the suit and a WBEZ analysis of city data.

The lawsuit claims that’s exactly what happened to 51-year-old mechanic Spencer Byrd when police stopped his 1996 Cadillac sedan for a broken turn signal on June 21, 2016 and found heroin on a passenger. Byrd was never charged, according to the lawsuit, but police seized his car and held it until a judge ordered it’s release. But Byrd still doesn't have his car, according to the suit, because he first must pay more than $17,000 in storage and tow fees.

The suit challenges the way owners can avoid these fees, a process that requires a request be made in person for multiple administrative hearings and a finding of not liable under very narrow criteria. WBEZ found that between 2001 and 2017, more than 51 percent of owners were found liable because they didn’t request a hearing.
Byrd's Cadillac is probably worth $1,000. Chicago wants $17,000 for his car.

Decline and fall.

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