Robin Hood of Keene vs. the Meter Maids

Some bits and pieces from here and there:

  • The creative activists of the Free Keene movement are at it again. This time they’ve formed a group called “Robin Hood of Keene” that shadows parking enforcement officers on their rounds and quickly fills expired meters before they can reach them to write out tickets.

    Members of the group place cards under windshield wipers that read, “Your meter expired; however, we saved you from the king’s tariffs, Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Please consider paying it forward,” and includes an address where donations can be sent.

    Alleging that the Robin Hooders have “repeatedly and intentionally taunted, interfered with, harassed, and intimidated” the meter officers, the city has filed for a restraining order (the activists insist that this has nothing to do with any intimidation or harassment on their part, but with the city’s loss of revenue from the thousands of parking tickets they have prevented).

    In the filing, parking enforcement officer Linda Desruisseaux said, “Besides following me, crowding around me, making video recordings of my activities, and placing coins in expired meters to prevent me from writing tickets, these individuals repeatedly taunt and harass me, asking why I am stealing peoples’ money and telling me to get another job… In particular, Graham Colson likes to taunt me by saying, ‘Linda, guess what you’re not going to do today — write tickets.’… The taunting and harassment tends to get worse when there is a group, as they try to one-up each other at my expense.”

  • The IRS scandal that all the frogs are croaking about is largely a steaming pile of political bullshit… but the winds are blowing the smell directly into the offices of the IRS, which which is making it an unpleasant place to do business:

    A former Internal Revenue Service official who ran the unit now at the center of scandal says the agency is about to be hit by a wave of resignations that he fears will hobble its operations.

    “I think there’s going to be a significant number of departures from the agency,” said Marcus Owens, a Washington attorney who served as director of the exempt-organizations’ office .

    The same post is now occupied by Lois Lerner, who has come under fire for her agency’s treatment of conservative groups. “That’s going to have an impact on tax collections and tax administration,” said Mr. Owens, who said he thinks the controversy has been overblown.

    Mr. Owens, who worked for the IRS for 25 years, said a number of IRS officials have talked to him about their plans to leave. He said the investigations underway have crushed morale, while some IRS officials are starting to get threatening anonymous calls at home.

  • Dan Carpenter uses the occasion to note how the IRS treats anti-war tax protesters — along the way mentioning or quoting war tax resisters Julie Garber, Phil & Louise Rieman, Kenneth & Viona Brown, and Lonnie Valentine.
  • In the other IRS scandal, the one that to me seems more actually scandalous, the agency has backed down from its repulsive legal opinion that Americans have no legitimate privacy expectations in their email communications, so agency investigators should feel free to rifle through them without bothering to get a warrant. The new policy says the agency won’t aim to read your email at all if it is only pursuing a civil action against you, and will “in all cases” obtain a warrant when trying to get your email from whichever Internet service provider is storing it, when pursuing criminal cases.
  • Fran Quigley at Counterpunch takes another look at the Transform Now Plowshares case, and in particular how the government progressively ratcheted up a misdemeanor trespassing charge against the three pacifists until now they stand convicted of federal terrorism felonies, awaiting sentencing from jail as they’ve been deemed violent criminals too dangerous to release.
  • The fabled Greek crackdown on tax evasion seems mostly for show: “of the estimated 13 billion euros that government officials say is owed by Greece’s 1,500 biggest tax debtors, only about 19 million euros [≈0.1%] has been collected in .”