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Letter: Salt Lake City should stop treating its residents like ATMs

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor
Deseret News

I opened my mail the other day to find an extortion letter from Salt Lake City Corporation.

In this surprise letter, the first notification of any kind that I have received from the city, I was informed that I am responsible for an expired parking meter violation in the amount of $170. The infraction supposedly occurred four and a half years ago. The nice young lady who answered my phone call cited a photograph as proof positive that I am guilty and owe the fine.

You can imagine how relieved I was to learn that the city would settle this supposed violation at a great discount — extorting only $65 if I would pony up the funds today (saving me the prospect of small claims court and a damaged credit record).

For me, this whole experience has been an insult and an inconvenience. However, these kinds of tactics prey upon the most vulnerable citizens. Can you imagine how an underemployed single parent, working two jobs, without enough money to pay for rent and food and gas, is impacted by an extortion letter like this? Not having the ready cash to pay the ridiculous fine, and without the free time to contact the city during working hours, they might ignore the letter. Then the wheels of "justice" would continue to turn, eventually causing untold misery.

Surely such draconian tactics cannot be justified. It's time for the city to quit treating its citizens like ATMs.

Clark Shurtz