Almost laughed up my breakfast Tuesday morning when I grabbed my favorite newspaper and discovered that Akron has “threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with Turkey.”
I checked the date at the top of the page to make sure it didn’t read “April 1.”
Akron might sever diplomatic relations with Turkey?
Are we going to recall our ambassador?
Are we contemplating a blockade?
Does Mayor Don Plusquellic realize Akron is a medium-size Midwestern city and not a sovereign nation?
Sure, city officials have attended trade shows in Turkey. But I’m guessing a country with 74 million residents is not exactly quaking in its boots at the thought of Akron cutting off ties.
Nobody in Akron is pleased that a slippery group of Turkish rogues was able to hack into the city’s income-tax records, compromising critical personal information on 30,000 residents. But threatening the Turkish government doesn’t strike me as terribly productive.
‘Ticket City’ sequel
Note to motorists in Cuyahoga Falls who don’t check their brake lights daily:
If you are pulled over by a police officer who is collecting overtime as part of a new traffic-enforcement program, you won’t get a ticket for a burned-out brake light.
But if that same officer pulls you over while he’s on his regular shift, you might very well get a ticket.
Does that make any sense?
It somehow does to Police Chief Tom Pozza, who vehemently disagreed with the column I wrote last week in which I was highly critical of his push to restore his town’s reputation as “Ticket City.”
Pozza had announced a program in which overtime pay will be given to officers who agree to write at least three traffic tickets per hour while working those shifts.
He said in our May 8 news story — and reiterated to me — that the three-ticket-per-hour tally would not include nit-picky violations.
No speeding tickets unless somebody is going at least 15 mph over the limit, he said.
No tickets for loud mufflers, he said.
No tickets for broken taillights, he said.
So I asked the chief to explain the case of Pamela J. Walker.
Walker, who had read the chief’s quotes, called me to say she had been given a ticket May 11 for having — ahem — burned-out brake lights.
She said she lives alone and had no way of knowing her brake lights weren’t working until she was stopped. Had she known, she said, she would have gotten them fixed immediately.
How many people routinely check their brake lights? If ever there was a case for a warning, this would seem to be it.
But Walker was handed a ticket.
She appeared Monday in Cuyahoga Falls Mayors Court to fight the ticket but was found guilty. She paid $10 for the fine, $60 for court costs and $15 more so she could go on a payment plan.
Yes, she needed a payment plan in order to pay $70. That tells you how much disposable income the woman has.
The chief said he’d look into the case. After he did, he said, yes, Pam Walker did get that ticket. But she didn’t get that ticket because of the special enforcement program; she was ticketed by an officer on a regular shift.
“You’re comparing apples to oranges again,” Pozza wrote in an email. “The subject is the traffic enforcement program. There are other law violations we are to be concerned with in the normal course of our day. I am only commenting on the traffic enforcement detail.”
That response might be even more troubling than the new quota program.
We’re talking about the CFPD! Same cruisers; same officers! To the public, that is absolutely apples-to-apples!
In a return email, I told the chief: “I’m quite frankly astounded that you have two different sets of criteria for the same officer based on whether he’s working a regular shift or this special enforcement program.
“Unless this woman was verbally abusive to the officer or has a long history of tickets (she says she doesn’t), giving her a ticket instead of a warning is unconscionable.”
I didn’t hear back after that.
Welcome to Ticket City, folks. Enjoy.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.