Follow up on my Vent

Jon Rowe

Jon Rowe is a full Professor of Business at Mercer County Community College, where he teaches business, law, and legal issues relating to politics. Of course, his views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Related Post Roulette

77 Responses

  1. Morat20 says:

    It’s that “just follow the rules” mindset of the bureaucrat in power which I disdain.

    Do you find the court’s insistence you obey the laws a mindset you disdain?

    Look, your car was still registered to you. You didn’t bother following up, the buyer didn’t bother following up, your title was never legally transferred. At NO POINT did either the government of PA or NJ do anything even interesting.

    They found an abandoned car, traced it to it’s current registered owner, issued a ticket with the usual caveat for ‘failure to appear’.

    You somehow think they should have divined the fact that you sold it based on what, tea leaves?

    This can’t be said enough nobody officially transferred title. That wasn’t the job of the state. That was YOUR job or the BUYER’S job, both entirely private entities.

    In fact, the only thing relevant about the buyer being “authorized” to do title transfers? It just means that they were even lazier than it appears, because they don’t even have to get off their butts to transfer title.

    I find it hilarious that you’re disdainful of bureaucrats, when the parties that screwed up were…you personally and a “family business”. Not seeing a lot of bureaucrats there.Report

    • Jon Rowe in reply to Morat20 says:

      Well the buyer were agents of the state as it were. I find it puzzling that you seem to treat me and them as equally at fault.

      And I notified both “States” PA and NJ in May and still got a summons in July. So they didn’t need to “divine” anything after I did my work in May.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        No, they WEREN’T. The buyer was authorized to do title transfers, same as any dealership that buys used cars.

        Is Carmax an agent of the state? No. They just have the software and have registered with the state to do title transfers themselves, and just register the results with the state.

        They’re no more agents of the state than Carmax, or the Toyota dealership down the road — both of which are authorized to handle title transfers, because I’ve both BOUGHT and SOLD cars to both and they…authorized title transfers and registered it to the state.

        But to think that Bob’s Toyota Dealership is somehow an agent of the state is plain stupidity.Report

        • Jon Rowe in reply to Morat20 says:

          Please give me the benefit of the doubt and stop being rude with me.

          My assertion relates to the way PA handles tags and titles which I think is better than the way NJ handles it (the only two states where I’ve had to deal with it).

          If you want to get title for a car and a license plate in NJ you have to literally go to a NJ DMV.

          PA has outsourced/privatized that function so that authorized agents private parties can also perform that function. (But PA DMVs perform that function too.) The best party in my opinion, in PA who performs that function is AAA. But the company I sold my car to also can do that.

          What this literally means is this company can print out an official title for you and hand you a bona fide new license plate just like a DMV could. So they are “agents of the state.” That’s what I meant in my OP when I noted I could probably, if I were so vindictive, jeopardize their license to perform this function.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Jon Rowe says:

            According to this, (independent) Penndot agents are authorized to accept plates.

   (first document, page 75)

            Which means that if they were indeed agents, and Jon left the plates on the car, he satisfied the requirement.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

              Again, so does Carmax. I know, because I’ve sold them my car. They handled title transfer, plates, everything. i didn’t even have a copy of my title with me.

              I’m not gonna call “Carmax” an agent of the state, nor blame “government” for Carmax’s failure to transfer title.

              I’m gonna blame Carmax.

              That’s what gets my about Jon’s rant here — all the complaining, but the actual bad actors were the towing company he sold the car too. They were the ones who never processed the title transfer, they were the ones who never registered it with the state, they were the ones who didn’t do their job.

              Everyone else DID their job. Properly. And despite the fact that the random dudes with a tow truck didn’t, Jon got it straightened out with a pair of phone calls to the government.

              Other than ideological blinders, I can’t imagine how you can blame “government” for that. They seemed to fix a private entity’s screwup fairly rapidly.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Morat20 says:

                In the end it doesn’t really matter.

                To me, clearly, the people who screwed up were the company he sold the car to.

                Everything else was entirely unobjectionable. His rant about the jail was peculiar, just because from his description it seemed like the usual “If you don’t appear at court warning” which is on every ticket you ever get.

                I just don’t get him tying it to “government” because all government did was (1) note an abandoned car and (2) send a ticket for that car to the owner of record and (3) Dismiss the charge with a pair of phone calls upon receiving proof the car was sold.

                If that’s horrible government, I’ll take it.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                You may not call them “agents”, but Penn DOT does. That’s the word Penn DOT uses.

                The reason this whole part of the conversation matters is because Jon was accused of having screwed up (to the point of it being said it was “entirely his fault”) for failing to turn in his license plate properly. Except he did, because as agents of Penn DOT, he did what was required.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                This is getting down to semantics, seems to me. THere’s a distinction between being the DOT and being an agent of the DOT (wrt license plates, for example). So, to Jon’s point – and I think yours Will – it’s incorrect to say a dealership isn’t an agent of the state if we’re assuming the the DOT itself is an agent of the state since (and here’s where the semantics kicks in!) the DOT isn’t an agent of the state. It’s just the state.

                I haven’t been paying too much attention to this dispute (I read both of Jon’s posts and some of the comments) since it seems what most people are arguing about is Jon’s reaction to certain events rather than the substance of what he was complaining about. Morat, tho, is actually disagreeing with Jon’s take on the substance, and so here we are. But I think Jon’s main point here (let’s suppose that his point is that current practices impose a heavy burden on citizens which the state – or agents of the state – such that the power of the state can be used inappropriately and mess with innocent people’s lives) is valid even if the presentation of those practices wasn’t as clear as it might have otherwise been. I mean, he admitted he was venting, yeah?

                FOr my part, I don’t quite get Morat’s general line of argument here since it appears to me he’s saying something like the burden falls on the individual to get right with God the state when Jon’s whole argument is that he did everything up front to get it right and that wasn’t enough. In other words, Morat seems to me to be begging the very issue Jon is objecting to.

                But again, I haven’t paid too much attention to this and everything I just said might be wildly (gloriously!) inaccurate.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                There was sufficient hat-hanging on the notion that Jon didn’t do what Jon was supposed to do (turn in his license plate to the appropriate place) that I spent time on Penn DOT website to find out whether the towing company – as an “agent” – qualified as an appropriate place.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Will Truman says:

                Oh, I agree with your comments generally and about the hat hanging specifically, and I think the info you presented about dealerships being agents of the state is very helpful. I guess what I’m getting at up there, given your contributions, is why are we still talking about this? What’s the dispute?

                {{Seems to me it’s about whether or not Jon exceeded the OT’s Right to Complain in Public threshold.}}Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                Right on. (All else I hope to say here is that I am glad I do my complaining about the DMV on Hit Coffee.)Report

              • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

                The vitriol sure did seem out of proportion for the topic. The only thing I can figure is that by adding a political angle (libertarian), it diverted the discussion from a lighthearted rueful empathetic “yeah dude, it sure sucks when things go wrong” to “your ideology is bad and you should feel bad” Thunderdome.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:


                Yeah, I sorta agree about the Ism War aspects to this (as I mentioned below). I mean, buttons were pushed, yes?, whether intentionally or not. That much seems pretty clear.Report

              • Dave in reply to Glyph says:


                That kind of thing would never happen here.Report

              • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

                As long as you don’t come off like a snob who’s too good for all of this, you’d be fine. Everyone hates the DMV.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

                I’m too sexy for the DMV, too sexy for the DMV… Hmmm too many syllables.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

                I got a letter from the DMV, the other day
                I opened and read it, it said they was suckers


              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


                But did Jon actually give his plates to the tow truck driver? It doesn’t sound like it. In which case, he didn’t fully cross his t’s and dot his i’s, despite insisting he is a professional at such things.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                They were on the car when they took it away, I expect. I assume that is the norm when you sell your car to a dealer, which is what this was, in effect.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

                I missed that part, because above he notes what could possibly have happened if he had given his plates to a shady dealer.

                Let me summarize my thoughts on the matter:
                1.) We should make dealing with the government as easy as possible.
                2.) No one should go to jail simply for abandoning a car.
                3.) Jail may be an appropriate penalty for failing to respond to a summons but other measures should probably be taken first, especially when considering the possibility of summons not arriving, language barriers, and unexpected things preventing attendance.
                4.) Sometimes mistakes are made, even by the government. And when the extent of the damage caused by a mistake is a few phone calls, some perspective is in order.
                5.) Jon did a poor job of tying his specific situation to the broader issue of mass summonses and resulting warrants, in part because he came across as if certain penalties were fitting for other types of folks but certainly not for him. That distracted from his point and maybe it shouldn’t have but, well, it did.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                Actually, re-reading it, you may be right. If he put the plates on his replacement car, he’s in the clear. Otherwise, the conversation is where it was until last night.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                That’s my read as well. I think Jon is perfectly within his rights to complain that he got a summons after he provided requested documentation to NJ. NJ dropped the ball either by failing to clear the ticket when documentation was provided, or by failing to make sure Jon was put in touch with the office that could clear the ticket. And while Morat is right that the threat is the normal threat for every ticket/summons, Jon is right that he had a reasonable expectation that the ticket would be cleared, and that the hypothetical stands as problematic: had Jon not received the July summons because of lost mail or extended vacation, he would be at risk of arrest & jail because the state dropped the ball.

                Seems to me, if the state wishes to use the police as defacto process servers, we should have an option below “arrest & make appear”.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Nice summary. And personally, I don’t think Jon’s complaint derives from his (overt!) libertarianish tendencies (if that’s what some folks believe is happening here). He’s not, it seems to me, looking for facts to confirm his theory. He’s talking about an actual event which he – and I agree with him! – has every right to complain.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I’ll agree with that, but honestly without the “Don’t show up/pay your ticket and we issue a warrant” why would you bother showing up in court?

                Sure, it can be abused — and we should try to figure out some fix to it.

                But there’s people that’ll happily collect tickets, or refuse to pay child support, or even refuse to show up in court….where do you draw the line?

                And how to you compel obedience? I mean 95% of us will just pay our ticket, or show up in court, but the remaining 5% can corrupt the whole system.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                In this case, the situation should have been considered resolved in May. As it would have been in other states.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                Most likely, but the police are sort of a weird vehicle to handle this.

                I’m surprised he didn’t contact the court clerks first, as he had proof of sale, there’s probably a form he could have filled out.

                Maybe he did and they’re the ones who sent him to the police.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:


                Well, riffing off the idea of police as process servers…

                If you have an encounter with the police, and you are written a ticket, that is your summons. You have, quite clearly, been served with an order to appear (or pay the fine).

                If, however, the ticket was written in absentia, as in Jon’s case, then there is no summons. It’s just a ticket. If it is mailed first class mail, it still remains just a ticket, since there is no proof of receipt. If it is going to be a summons, then it needs to be sent registered mail/return receipt showing that it was delivered & a person signed for it. If that fails, then the ticket goes into the system, and should the police encounter the person, they can reprint the ticket and at that point the summons is issued.

                After the summons is issued, then it goes as it does now (you miss a court date, then you get a warrant sworn out).

                Also, we need some way to make things right when the ball is dropped. Let’s say Jon sent in all the requested documentation, was told it’ll be taken care of, then the ball was dropped & Jon never learned that the issue was still outstanding. Then, on Friday evening, Jon is stopped, the warrant is enforced, and he gets to spend the weekend in jail. Monday morning, after a phone call or two to get all the documentation on hand, Jon gets his case dismissed in short order.

                How is Jon compensated for the error of the bureaucracy? They didn’t just waste his time, they literally held him prisoner for days. He was arrested & booked, which becomes a public record that can damage his reputation, his car was impounded, which will cost him hundreds of dollars to retrieve. Additional costs may have been incurred because he was held prisoner for a weekend & unable to act (e.g. perhaps he was stopped because he was speeding home to fix a burst pipe, now he has tens of thousands of dollars in water damage).

                Now I’m not saying that the state should not be able to enforce the criminal system, but the state also needs to take responsibility for when it bollocks it up. Either it can do that by being very judicious with the use of the arrest power, or it can be ready to dole out large chunks of money when it has to make things right. As it stands, the state acts as if the desires of the bureaucracy are far & above more important than those of the citizens, and that it is incapable of making things right when it does screw up.

                For example, the administration dropped the ball, and now 200 teachers have to retake a test in order to be able to work. It’s nice that the district is accepting responsibility for the screw up, but are the affected teachers being compensated for the time they will have to spend to prepare & re-take this test?

                Final note, this is part of the Iron Law in action, and as such, it applies to any bureaucracy, not just government ones. Corporate bureaucracy is just as likely to demand considerable effort from employees or customers in order to do the job the bureaucracy exists to do (basically everyone else has to work to make things easier for the bureaucracy), and then bend over backwards to avoid compensating people for wasted time when it messes up.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                *shrug*. Calling the tow truck guys “government bureaucrats would be distorting the concept past the point of ridiculousness.

                Personally, I see four issues:

                1) The buyer of Jon’s car failed to transfer title. They aren’t ‘government’ anymore than Carmax is, whatever PA calls companies that can effect the title transfer. (As Carmax does). They’re a private entity. They screwed the pooch.

                2) Jon got issued a ticket because the car was found abandoned and he was the owner of record, due to issue 1. I don’t see the government as having screwed up here. They took the car, identified the owner, issued a ticket.

                3) Jon feels that the threat of arrest for failure to appear is overly extreme. We can talk about that. I’m kinda wondering what the alternative is though.

                4) Jon blames “mindless rule following” and “government bureaucrats” for what was the mistake of a private agency (not transferring title) and for a court issuing a standard ticket with summons. I think both of those are, bluntly, absolutely wrong. As noted, the problem lay with a private company’s failure to transfer title (I wouldn’t blame my county if, having bought a house, my realtor never bothered to submit the paperwork to the county registrar). The other is, well, the standard ticket with the “what happens if you don’t appear”. In fact, by getting it fixed with a pair of phone calls and not having to show up or even apparently submit much in the way of documentation, it looks like the government fixed a private company’s mistake pretty quickly.

                And if we want to talk about issuing arrest warrants for failure to appear or failure to pay, I think we could find a much better example than this. Because this? This is a poor example. Because right here was had private company screw up, and Jon managing to fix it with a few phone calls. I’m guessing the state then sent the ticket to the buyers.

                It ain’t Ferguson and farming tickets.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Morat20 says:

                I did forget he cleared it up once and had to deal with it again.

                That sucks.

                On the other hand, has he ever tried appealing a medical claim? If you only do it twice, you’re lucky. 🙂Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                He’s not calling them government bureaucrats. He’s calling them agents, as Penn DOT does. The government bureaucrats he’s complaining about seem to be the NJ officials that sent him the summons in July after he had provided the information in May.

                Before May, I personally think everyone was doing their job. The failure occurred when the situation wasn’t put to rest in May.

                That’s a lot less egregious than what the tow company did, but not insignificant.

                Edit to add: He also seems to be criticizing Pennsylvania for not automatically nullifying the registration when he canceled the insurance and didn’t renew. I think that criticism is undue, unless he transferred the plates to a new vehicle.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                I think “agents” in that sense is a red herring. Any car lot is an “agent” in that sense and it doesn’t add anything to the conversation. It just means they have the software, training, or whatever to do the transfer on-site and register it with the state later.

                As for nullifying the registration: I think you’re right. Lots of people let registration lapse on cars — because they’re not driving them, for one. Sure, it’s unlikely he’s storing a Subaru like he would, say, a classic mustang that’s not driveable without some custom work you’re not doing for awhile, but what’s the state supposed to do? Guess at his reasons?Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                No, “agent” is relevant here in that they were authorized to deal the transaction without having to go to the DMV independent, and would have been authorized to take the license plate in lieu of handing it over to the DMV. You may not like the word, or its implications, but it’s very relevant to the discussion. You can internally replace the word “agent” with something else if you prefer, but that’s the word they use so I think it’s fair that Jon use it as well.

                That doesn’t make them state employees (and I don’t read Jon as saying that it does), but it’s a significant designation.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                It’s this sort of crap that’s a problem with privatization.

                The people that bought the car? private companies. Staffed by private individuals, doing their work for a profit.

                Their sole link with the government was their ability to handle title transfers.

                Awfully convenient that they’re somehow “government” when they screw up, but I’m guessing they’re not “government” when they don’t.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

                That is not actually a response to what he’s saying (what he means by agent, and who he is holding accountable for what).

                If it helps, assume that wherever we talk about agents we’re referring to the fact that they are licensed by the state and not that any of us think they are government employees (de facto or othwerwise) because we don’t.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

                Eh, that helps. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive because I’ve seen that casual conflation of “government” before.

                Honestly, I still think the fact that he got off with two sets of phone calls was pretty darn efficient given the circumstances.

                I would like to see an actual post on the use of jail to enforce ticket collection, separate from this issue. It obviously tweaked Jon pretty hard that it might apply to him (even though I read it as a bog-standard ‘Show up to court or else’ thing, he apparently didn’t. Or hadn’t ever noticed, since he undoubtedly pays his tickets. shows up to court when he’s summoned, etc).

                It’s been shown to be abused, but on the other hand — what other option is there? I mean one that’s not equally ripe for abuse.Report

              • One of the questions that I don’t think has been answered yet is who Jon actually sold the car to, in the sense of whose name was on the bill of sale. The State of PA? GEICO? A towing company with a dealer license? A towing company w/o a dealer license? An employee of the towing company as a private individual? A subcontractor hired by the towing company? Was there some sort of fraud involved, eg the tow operator improperly represented the transaction as legal when in fact it wasn’t? Given where the vehicle ended up, and having read a bit about how strict PA appears to be on dealer licensing, I’m now inclined to guess the latter. And that nothing will come of it unless Jon files a complaint with the State of PA.

                But yes, NJ law enforcement/courts could have done a better job. Although my long-ago recollections from when I lived in NJ of dealing with the case where an officer transposed two digits on a license number while writing a ticket so that it came to me are unpleasant.Report

              • Jon Rowe in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I’m trying not to respond to most of the comments here anymore, but yours is an interesting question (albeit one that might require an appellate court to answer over a $300 car sale).

                I called Geico for a tow to “We Buy Any Car.” They sent over their agent Company X. That company said “we buy cars too” and offered to buy it for $100 more than WBAC. I signed over title to them and the tow truck operator (an employee, agent of Company X) gave me a bill of sale with his signature on it.

                On the Bill of Sale is listed the company’s name with notions on top how they 1. tow cars; 2. sell cars; and 3. are a PennDot authorized “auto tag” service center.Report

              • Jon Rowe in reply to Jon Rowe says:

                BTW: These folks are like a poor man’s version of AAA, the party I called first (as noted in my OP) but who said they wouldn’t tow the car because the inspection was expired.

                AAA too does titles and tags too in PA. They are a bit pricier, but classier and more trustworthy.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jon Rowe says:

                $300 cash, or check? If cash, I’ll bet the towing company never saw the vehicle. Louie (with the actual Uncle Guido) always told me that I wouldn’t believe how many honest small businesses in and around NJ were used for this or that purpose by the mob. I can imagine Louie’s reaction to farming out PennDOT services to small businesses: “Why don’t you just give the mob access to the state’s title and registration computers? Why bother with the middleman?”Report

              • Jon Rowe in reply to Michael Cain says:

                $300 cash, but I still have a bill of sale (and an email from the owner/manager — one of the guys with the “family” last name — saying they have a copy of the B.O.S.; I wasn’t sure if I retained mine and they seemed willing to give me a copy. But then I found mine.)Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jon Rowe says:

                Now I’m fascinated. How good are Pennsylvania’s freedom of information laws? Could you get a title search of some sort done?Report

      • Kim in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        PA’s not a state. It’s a Commonwealth.

        • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

          Which makes it kind of funny that Pennsylvania started the whole [state] State University naming convention.Report

          • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

            … in 1874? That seems a bit late… (except, strangely, it’s really not. Most of the quick googles I’ve done for State University appear to be Historically Black Colleges — who knew?).Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Kim says:

              As near as I can tell. Ohio State got its name in 1878. Most of the others were later, as agricultural schools became full universities or they needed names for HBCUs. And in other cases (like Texas, Idaho, and Missouri) just because it was available.Report

  2. Tod Kelly says:

    “Given the party who screwed me is an authorized agent of PennDot, what should I do about it?”

    I hate to say it, but at this point I think at this point the best thing to do about it is to just let it go.

    First off, I don’t think anything that you do will make a change. But more than that, life’s too short. The process has already taken up more than enough time and mental bandwidth out of your life. (I’d add that same advise about your trying to get people here who think you, I dunno, somehow deserve to be lost in a morass of bureaucracy to have some empathy.)Report

  3. Michael Cain says:

    I enjoyed the original rant, and the comments. I also find that “writing it out” helps, even if the rant never gets put in a public place.

    Random thought. IIRC, my state’s auto titles have enough room on the back to do multiple transfers and there’s no requirement to re-register the car unless you’re going to drive it. True in Pennsylvania? If I owned a towing company big enough that I got business from Geico and PennDOT, I would certainly look into a wholesale dealer license. That sets me up to buy cars from people like you and then resell them — to someone who’ll cut it up for parts, or to a retail used car dealer, or to someone shadier. My truck operators would be in the position to do just what this one did: “We buy used cars. Will you take $300?” If I knew that I could drop it off at Uncle Guido’s garage [1] for $350 and sign the title over, that’s $50 and I’m off the hook. I don’t want to know what Guido does with the cars.

    Seriously, though, you’re a lawyer. How many times per month do you advise clients that it’s always much harder and more expensive to fix things after they’ve ignored some steps of the standard process?

    [1] Years ago when I worked in NJ my lab had loaned some equipment to an affiliate company who was being extremely slow about returning it. I was muttering about it one day when Louie, one of the guys who worked in my group, asked, “You want I should have Uncle Guido talk to them?” He explained that everyone in his family knew what Guido did for a living, and he could guarantee that the equipment would be returned promptly. I declined to enlist Guido’s help.Report

    • Jon Rowe in reply to Michael Cain says:

      In PA certain private parties are officially authorized to do work that the DMV does and can print out PennDot titles and have license plates on hand to give to you.

      It’s a better system than in NJ, IMO, where folks must actually go to a DMV (and I’d imagine in NJ dealers have a special “in” with NJ DMVs where they don’t have to wait in line like ordinary folks), But PA’s system risks giving shady private parties this function.

      So if you are in PA and you want to sell your car to some stranger, the best party, IMO to go to is AAA.

      The party I sold my car to was authorized by the state perform this function just like AAA can in PA.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        Right. And you can (apparently) turn your plates in to them. Satisfying the checklist presented by Nevermoor.Report

        • Jon Rowe in reply to Will Truman says:

          Yes and God forbid I gave this party my plate to do God knows what with.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to Jon Rowe says:

            I think it actually sucks that you have to give up your plates at all. I have plates from all the states where I’ve lived.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

              Unfortunately, I don’t know if there is another option. There are lots of problems that can arise from all those plates floating around.

              I suppose in states that require both a front and a back plate, you could require just one be turned in as that would cut down on some possible chicanery. I don’t know how many states require front and back plates. And some folks may find that objectionable for one reason or another.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

                I have never had to turn in a license plate anywhere I’ve lived. One state said that if you were replacing the car you move the license plate from one car to the next, but other than that… oddly enough, we already have three sets of license plates where we are now (due to our own mishap with the DMV). We had three sets in Arapaho, too. (My wife got specialty plates, so we got standard plates for the 4-6 weeks it took for the specialty plate to be printed.)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                I used to have quite a collection of old plates. It’s obviously not much of an issue or states would do more to retrieve them (probably because if a plate is sitting on a car that does not match the make/model/year/color of the car that an officer is curious about, its a red flag).Report

              • Speaking of plates, my current state is the first that only gives you one for the back. Me no like.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to Jon Rowe says:

        I’m no longer criticizing, as I’m clearly confused here. In what capacity was the tow operator acting when they said “Hey, we buy old cars too!”? Maybe another way to ask the question is, “Who did you actually sell the car to?” State of PA? Geico? Joe Blow’s Towing Service? Jane Doe, tow truck operator? Some other entity? Given an answer to that, was the entity actually required to re-title the car before disposing of it?Report

  4. zic says:

    It always seems best, to me, to point out how unfair regulatory burden can be. ETA: We wine about this for ‘corporations’ all the time; but it’s the nickel-and-diming of America that concerns me more; I think it consistently rises to the level of a constitutional violation — most particularly moving violations and WOD.

    Imagine this happening to someone not a lawyer. We continually take a huge financial toll on people who aren’t lawyers and who can’t afford a lawyer. All over this land, that petty abuse of people (Ferguson was doing this; remember?) is used to fund public coffers. If you’ve got just enough money to afford a lawyer, typically between $1,800 and $2,400, these problems go away.

    In this case, it’s complicated due to the interstate problem, so that legal fees would double; you’ve got to pay up in each jurisdiction.Report

    • aarondavid in reply to zic says:

      I agree with you @zic about how unfair this can be to many, many people. And I do feel that this great example of how much of our petty bureaucracy screws over people who don’t have the money to pay lawyers to make it go away (and indeed that people have to pay lawyers to make it go away is still an injustice.) But I am curious as to what part of the constitution you think it violates? I am not saying you are wrong (IANAL) but I can not think of what part it violates.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to zic says:

      One of the things that always fascinated me while I was working for the legislature was, when I could find it, how things got to the point they were. I suspect that the system for titling cars goes back to the days when even the cheapest ones were quite expensive — enough so that the state levied a “wealth tax” on it and so kept track. Even today, a car will quite possibly the second most-valuable piece of property a person ever owns. In general, we’re happy that the state goes to considerable effort to keep track of those mobile easily-stolen pieces of property for us (and keep track of the identifying tags).

      Unsurprisingly, people bitch when they have to jump through the same hoops of a system designed to protect (in today’s dollars) a $30,000 piece of property to deal with a $300 piece. And get in trouble when they fail to jump through all the hoops.Report

  5. Gabriel Conroy says:

    To answer your question, I’d agree with Tod. But maybe writing a stern letter about what you could’ve done if you had been vindictive might be a good thing, assuming you wanted to spend the time necessary to write a stern letter.

    As for the “just follow the rules” mindset vs. the point you were trying to make in your vent, I suppose there’s sometimes a happy (or at least happier) medium. My instinct is to say, “just follow the rules,” and yet I realize the more byzantine the rules, the harder it is to follow. And even if the rules aren’t byzantine, they can still probably trip you (or me) up.

    At the same time, I have some sympathy for the fact that we live in a complex society that needs to be organized by some rules, even by rules that don’t make sense. This doesn’t mean I believe that complexity comes from the top down, but just that there is sometimes a rationality behind that’s not always apparent. My sympathy ends probably some point well before the state threatens to issue a warrant for your arrest, but the sympathy is still there, especially for the government worker (often derided as a “mere bureaucrat”) who has to enforce those rules and who is probably conscientious and theoretically would like to do a good job. (Not that I’m accusing Jon Rowe of being rude to government workers–I see no evidence of that in any of his posts–just that if I were inclined to push back on that post, it would have probably been along the lines of the “sympathy” I just noted.)Report

  6. Chris says:

    The argument for taking action against the tow company, whatever that action may be, is that they may do this to someone else, someone, as you might say, better equipped for Trenton jail. In fact, if you are serious about the views you expressed in the first post, one might even argue that, if you have recourse, you are morally obligated to take it, particularly given how you are situated. But it won’t help you personally, so if that is your concern, best to just move on with your life.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    FWIW, my issue with your initial rant was less about the initial incident and more about your response to the summons.

    Did you ever get anything in writing confirming that you did not need to appear?

    Again, I’ll ask… how would you advise a client who said that they spoke with someone on the phone and their court hearing was cancelled?

    Oh… and that bit about Trenton Jail. There is room to question placing low-level offenders in a maximum security prison. But the manner in which you discussed it seemed to focus on their being “Trenton Jail types of people” and “non-Trenton Jail types of people”, with you being in the latter not because of the alleged offense but because of who you are.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:


      Kazzy: the manner in which you discussed it seemed to focus on their being “Trenton Jail types of people” and “non-Trenton Jail types of people”, with you being in the latter not because of the alleged offense but because of who you are.

      I can see how you could take it that way, but I don’t think that was the intent. If there are two possible jails I could be sent to, and one looks more like Mayberry and the other looks more like Oz, I might make a joke about how a wuss like me is probably not going to do well in Oz. I think there have been multiple comedies made in recent years with this premise, of a real “softie” getting sent to a “real” prison to do hard time.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


        Perhaps. But when he says this:

        “In my circumstance, the poorer and more blue collar oriented folks do have one distinct advantage over me: I think they’d do better in a Trenton jail.”

        Ugh. That is a pretty disgusting comment any way you parse it. The idea that growing up poor or working blue collar necessarily makes one “Trenton jail hard” is.. again… ugh.

        I mean, why do we assume Jon is soft? He threatened multiple agencies with legal action, attempted to violate my anonymity here… maybe he isn’t particularly adept at honing spoons into shanks, but he seems far from a “softie”.Report

        • Dand in reply to Kazzy says:

          attempted to violate my anonymity here

          Are you aware of the fact that your name is listed on your hover card profile? I’d assumed you were but if you’re concerned about your anonymity you may not be.Report

          • CK MacLeod in reply to Dand says:

            Dand: Are you aware of the fact that your name is listed on your hover card?

            Good catch! People who don’t want “their names to get out,” and want others to respect their anonymity, ought to be consistent when they sign up for services whose implicit purpose is to aid in “personal branding.”

            To be or not to be etc.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Dand says:

            I was not an actually appreciate you pointing out that. And yet, none of that excuses what Jon did.Report

            • Dand in reply to Kazzy says:

              I wasn’t following the thread where he attempted to violate your anonymity so I don’t know the details. The way that your hovercard listed your name(which you were not aware of) may have given Jon the idea that you weren’t attempting to remain pseudonymous. Again I don’t know the details of what happened.

              I wasn’t aware of the hovercard profiles until off the cuff changed formats, is everyone aware that the profiles are visible? If not should there be a PSA alerting people to their visibility?Report

        • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

          @kazzy – regarding the quoted bit, again, I can see why it could be read that way, and there’s certainly a sort of classism that could be imputed to that; that said, again I do think it was an attempt at joking/self-deprecation, and like many jokes I think there may be an element of truth in it (that a harder life may better prepare one for a hard situation, than an easier life does).

          Many of my cousins, for example, are much more blue-collar or rural than I am, and I do think of them as “tougher” than me in many ways, and I admire/envy that; if one of them got sent along with me to a prison or other dangerous situation (like zombie apocalypse) where relying on one’s wits and fists might be necessary to survive, I’d bet on them, not me.

          Regarding “attempted to violate my anonymity here” – you were going after him pretty hard at the time, I’m willing to accept that it was an accident, possibly due to being flustered and/or trying to de-escalate the confrontation by using a more “friendly/personal” form of address to you.

          Of course, if it were to happen again, the benefit of the doubt that I have just outlined will be rescinded immediately and with prejudice.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


            Those are a lot of hoops to jump through to paint Jon in a halfway decent light. Sorry. I’m not buying it. He made SEVERAL references to him possibly being sent to Trenton Jail, identifying it as part of the ridiculousness of the situation. I don’t doubt for a second that Jon actually harbors such a mindset. Which is all the more troubling given that he works in law and this perception can possibly filter down to how he handles cases, makes recommendations, and the like.Report