A LITTLE AFTER 1 a.m. this past Saturday, a 16-year-old boy was shot in the middle of West 42nd Street.
A few hours later, a man was found dead in his bed on East Anderson Street with head trauma.
At about 11:30 that night, a triple shooting on East 39th Street left one man dead and two others in the hospital.
All in all, an extraordinarily violent Saturday a couple of weeks before Christmas.
But I wouldn't have seen it coming the Friday before, when the City of Savannah's apparent priority was sending someone to my Parkside neighborhood just south of Daffin Park to write parking tickets.
Not just any parking tickets — tickets for being "parked facing wrong way on street."
One morning, out of almost 365 mornings so far this year, these dumb tickets were written.
And yes, yours truly got one.
On one hand, it's certainly ridiculous for me to complain about a $12 ticket when people are getting gunned down all over town, when people are mourning for family members lost to violence.
On the other hand, giving out egregiously silly parking tickets amidst so much gunplay does make you wonder about the City's priorities.
Few people question the difficult job Savannah/Chatham Metro Police face in fighting crime in a city long notorious for its spiraling socio-economic problems and associated violence.
And few people question the need to enforce paid parking spaces in high-traffic areas where spots are at a premium and frequent turnover must be guaranteed, i.e., downtown.
But parking "facing the wrong way" in a little-traveled residential neighborhood, where there are no metered or pay spaces of any kind, is the very definition of a victimless crime.
Writing such parking tickets, especially just one day out of the year, is an unseemly revenue grab by the City, nothing more.
(A cynic might say the City is just trying to recoup revenue lost from offering a few days of free parking downtown for holiday shopping. They giveth, and taketh away.)
Parking "facing the wrong way" is common practice throughout residential areas everywhere south of Gaston Street — most anywhere there aren't paid spots, basically.
It's done by simply veering left and parking on the left side of the street, rather than doing a clumsy U-turn in the middle of the narrow street.
You've done it, I've done it, we've all done it.
In some neighborhoods, like mine, about half the cars at any given time are parked the "wrong" way. Which I guess is precisely why the City sent someone to Parkside to hand out tickets like candy on a Friday morning, one morning out of the year.
I'm not bitching about the $12. Beats the hell out of getting shot, or having a loved one get shot.
And in a way I got off easy, because after the first of the year those $12 tickets are all going up to $20, with bigger tickets getting even more expensive. Another revenue grab.
My point is certainly not that anyone should feel sorry for me, or that a bogus parking ticket is in any way comparable to losing a family member to gun violence.
The point is: on Savannah's streets you're apparently at equal risk for both getting shot and getting a bogus parking ticket, and that ain't good.
An attorney friend of mine suggested that every one of us who got these ludicrous tickets should all request jury trials in order to clog up the courts as a form of civic protest, to discourage the City from pulling these blatant money-grubbing shenanigans in the future.
But like everyone else, I'll go online and pay the twelve bucks. I'd just like the money to go to fighting crime, instead of to pay salaries for more Parking Service employees to write more tickets to generate more revenue to pay salaries for more Parking Services employees, etc, etc.
Or here's an idea: Maybe the money could go to help make it possible to at least pay our water bills online without a PayPal account, since interestingly the City has already chosen to make it very quick and easy for us to pay parking tickets online.
Choosing which way to face doesn't just apply to parking your car.
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