When life hands you car theft, make political hay.
"While picking up his car from a local automotive repair shop last month, [Jody] Landers' vehicle was stolen as he was inside the office and paying for the work," the former City Councilman's mayoral campaign announced Wednesday. "More than two weeks after the car was recovered, Landers started receiving notices, via U.S. mail, of several parking and moving violations that were the work of the thief. After trying for several hours to convince the City to waive these fees and dealing with red tape issues, Landers ultimately relented and paid the fines."
Landers' campaign got one thing wrong: He never relented. I reached him by cell phone Wednesday as he was leaving a municipal building, where he'd been trying to get a parking ticket ($52) and a red-light ticket ($75) waived.
Landers says the prospect of paying the bad guy's tickets isn't the most annoying part.
For the 12 days his 2003 Nissan Xterra sat in the city impound lot, no one called to say it was there. It had been reported stolen April 14 and towed to the lot May 13. It wasn't until May 25, when he got a $52 ticket in the mail for parking in a tow zone, that he was able to find his car: If it had been parked in a tow zone, he figured, maybe it had been towed. So he called the lot, and Bingo!
Landers' campaign issued a news release about the snafu, intending to highlight the government inefficiency he says he'd wipe out as mayor. He said he'd make sure the people ticketing, towing and impounding vehicles run the plates to see if they're stolen. And, because his ordeal was part paper chase, he'd make city agencies do business with citizens via e-mail.
When Landers received the red-light ticket in the mail, he called the city to say he wasn't responsible because the vehicle had been stolen. He was told to submit a copy of the full police report, which is available only by mail.
"It took 20 days to mail me a photocopy of the report," he said. "Today, I go up to the counter and handed the lady all the papers and she said, 'Well, we can't accept a copy of the police report.'"
She wanted the original report, which, of course, police maintain for their records.
Landers did have one good thing to say about the city's part in all this: "They're very efficient at sending out these citations."