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One U.S. City Trying to Rid Itself of People Who Pay Expired Parking Meters for Others

Every so often, you’ll hear someone who’s confronted by a circumstance that strikes him or her as being acutely out of step with the general philosophical guideposts of this nation say, “Wait…I thought this was America.”

My guess is that you and I are saying that, in some form or another, with greatly increasing frequency these days. There’s just a lot going on that strikes so many of us as being, well, un-American.

You can add this to the list:

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According to the online media platform MRCTV, in Keene, New Hampshire, a group of area residents, known as “Robin Hooders,” make it their business to deposit change in the downtown parking meters for random citizens before local parking enforcement personnel have a chance to ticket the cars. We’ve probably all, at one time or another, had the experience of jumping up from a restaurant table and breathlessly running out to our parked car to pour more money into the meter before the “meter maid” walks by and sees that it has just expired. Well, the “Hooders,” as they’ve come to be known, take care of that for random folks in the city of Keene.

The problem for the “Hooders,” however, is that the city of Keene takes none too kindly to the altruistic effort; you see, by some estimates, the actions of the “Hooders” have deprived Keene of roughly $40,000 per year in parking fines since 2013. In response, the city has made it a prime mission to wipe out the “Hooders” by subjecting them to legal redress.

Up to this point, the city’s efforts at preventing a group of people from depositing change into parking meters to help out fellow citizens have proven unfruitful. Amazingly, Keene, up to this point, has spent about $78,000 of taxpayers’ money to try to shut down the “Hooders,” to no avail. According to MRCTV, legal action commenced in 2013, when the city sued individual members of the group, alleging that they were preventing parking enforcement officers from doing their jobs, to include harassing them on the street. The “Hooders” won that particular case, with the New Hampshire Supreme Court (yes, the case went that far) saying it could find no evidence of the harassment alleged by the city. As it happens, the very job description of parking enforcement officers in Keene says that they should expect to receive comments from citizens in the course of doing their jobs; in other words, garden-variety comments from the public do not constitute harassment, apparently, in the eyes of the NH Supreme Court…nor should they.

The city of Keene is now appealing another “Hooder” court decision that went against the municipality. However, based on how the court cases with respect to this matter have gone so far, Keene officials should not be holding their breaths for a victory. What’s particularly sad is how determined the city is to litigate this matter at all.

After all…I thought this was America.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

 

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