North Adams junker policy aimed at poor
To the editor:
I'm willing to buy the mayor of North Adams' assertions that the recently enforced "junker ordinance" is a quality-of-life issue ("North Adams to begin crackdown on visible junkers, unregistered vehicles," Eagle, July 6), but the way the city is enforcing it is regressive and criminalizes poverty.
Let's look at the ordinance. First there's a ticket of some amount, then, after a three-day grace period, the wrecker comes for your vehicle and it is towed to the town yard, where you are then charged towing and storage fees.
If the ticket and other fees aren't paid, what happens, other than North Adams keeping your junker? Will the city bring you to court over the unpaid ticket? Suspend your license? I suspect that, after a few people decline to pay for and retrieve their vehicles and as the lot begins to fill up, the ordinance will become more punitive. Instead of automatically resorting to another fine against the poor, why not ask the owner to sign over the title so the city can donate or sell the car at auction to recoup towing costs?
Unfortunately, in America, it's always easier to fine people for being poor. This is just another way in which many American cities are criminalizing poverty.
The city can pretty it up by calling it a quality-of-life issue all it wants, but as implemented, this ordinance is just another assault on the poor.
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