September 5th, 2006


Government gets to have it both ways, you know. (Or, My Village Can Blow Me)

My summons for today's court appearance over the little matter of a missing piece of fascia was very clear in its instructions: it specified that my appearance was scheduled for 1330 hours today and that I should appear no less than 15 minutes early for check-in and documentation. Never one to risk infuriating the people who can leverage vast fines against me or -- thanks to that hum-dinger of a SCOTUS ruling on Kelo -v- New London -- actually take my home... I showed up earlier than they asked. I got to the court lobby at 1305 today... and at 1320 I was still standing in line with everyone else. Why? Because nobody from the village was around to unlock the doors for those who showed up to court! We milled about in the lobby, wondering exactly when or if the "fifteen minute rule" could be applied to civil affairs. At 1328 somebody emerged from the court room and proceeded to unlock the doors, allowing us to file in and begin processing our documentation with the clerk. Weak excuses were made that the "usual clerk" was on vacation today, but that was little consolation to my aching left ankle.

So remember, kids: when working with government offices or individuals, you are expected to be early... but they are under zero obligation to extend you the courtesy of being timely themselves. I'm fairly certain there have been civil wars over this. Yes, I know I shouldn't be surprised by this foolishness and yes, I have been to the DMV before. Still, this was ridiculous. For my friends in civil service (looking at you, hakeber), I understand the public is a mob of slobbering idiots and that you can hardly be held accountable for delays you didn't cause, but this was case of the village dropping a steamer on its constituents because all parties involved are untouchable and you're entirely at their mercy. Calling the judge to task on it is just going to land you a charge of contempt, so you suck it down and they get to smirk at you with full knowledge what they've gotten away with. This might not have been quite so frustrating to me had I not had to stand on my bum foot for over twenty minutes. If the judge/clerk/et all weren't ready they still could have allowed us inside the courtroom to sit down while they got their ducks in the row.

Regardless of the delays everything else went more or less as I expected. I was the fourth or fifth person called and when I approached the bench I entered a plea of no contest (I can hardly deny the fascia is missing on that 10ft stretch of my roof). I think this rather surprised the judge, since up until I got there people were entering pleas of "not guilty" for their citations about yard grass being too long or parking too far away from the curb. So the fine against me was upheld, I agreed to pay the fee today and then the judge bickered with the Code Enforcement officer assigned to my case. The officer seemed to think that I should get this fixed tomorrow now that I've admitted fault on public record, but the judge seemed to understand my argument that the work to be done is so piddly that I can't get anybody to fix the bloody problem without buying new windows or a new roof! Eventually they settled between themselves and issued me 12/1/06 as the "Date of expected compliance," after which I get another $120 "financial incentive" to resolve the matter. We shall see if I can somehow work a miracle and do in under 3 months what I've been trying to get done for well over a year. I won't even go into the fiasco that ensued afterward, when the city tried to send me on my way with no documented proof of my appearance, the payment or the new date after I paid the fine.

In other news tangentially related to government: After my time at the city hall was done I took the Expedition down to Joliet for emissions testing. It would appear that cleaning my MAF was indeed the fix, because in the 350+ miles since I did that work I haven't had the "Check Engine" light come on. I got my ticket, pulled in for testing and held my breath. Hooray, the Expy breezed through the testing station with flying colors. That's one less thing for me to worry about. Now all that's left is... everything else.

In Birmingham they love the governor