To motorists who received $17 tickets for having expired tags while they were inside the Mondawmin Mall MVA office to get new registrations for their vehicles, James A. Holechek may be a savior.
Outraged at the conduct of city police who routinely lurk outside the state Motor Vehicle Administration office at the beginning of the month to pounce on those who are late in registering their cars, Holechek has offered to pay the fines of Monday's victims.
"This is not the way we create an image for the city of Baltimore," said Holechek, a public relations executive, former candidate for the House of Delegates and long-time civic activist.
The target of his wrath was the police department, which sends two patrol officers to the MVA lot, hoping to catch automobile owners who drive up in cars with expired tags. There were 13 victims Monday.
"When I read the story [about the incident], I choked on my morning orange juice," Holechek said last night. "I just couldn't believe it.
"I'm a businessman," he added, "and I've spent much of my 35 years in Baltimore trying to get new businesses into the city and into the state, and I know how important it is to create the proper image. I see something like this and I know it went out all across the wire services, and people will be looking at this all over the country."
Holechek said people will say, how silly it is "spending tax dollars to do this kind of thing to citizens."
In order for Holechek to pay the tickets, drivers must forward their tickets with their names and addresses to his public relations office in the Village of Cross Keys. He will honor only the tickets written outside the MVA office Monday morning.
"I'm concerned about the guy who was unemployed and can't afford it," Holechek said, adding that he doubts any well-to-do victims will send him their tickets.
But even if they do, he says, "Maybe somebody won't have to go home and tell their spouse they messed up."