The city of Cedar Rapids has done it again - and this time they've taken it one step further.

In what can only be described as a "cash-grab", the city's new traffic camera ticket payment policy gives a private company called Municipal Collections of America, Inc. the authority to apply 25% "late fees" to unpaid citations and to imply that motorists have acquiesced their right to dispute the validity of these charges.

According to this news release on the city's website, local officials say:

"With the ongoing dispute between the City and the Iowa DOT, it is understandable that violators may be confused about whether they need to pay their citation(s). The City wants violators to know that citations issued to-date are valid and are expected to be paid."

Confused? That's the least of it. How about outraged?!!

The release continues, by stating:

"Violators receiving these delinquent notices may no longer challenge the issuance of the Automated Traffic Enforcement citation on which the debt is based. At the time the citation was issued, violators were given the opportunity to appeal pursuant to Cedar Rapids Municipal Code §61.138, and the citation itself is no longer subject to appeal."

The issue regarding the legality of the automated traffic ticketing system remains unclear and it sounds as if the city is using strong-arm tactics to imply that motorists have no recourse to challenge the legality of these tickets.

In other words, unless you immediately file a formal written protest (and mention Cedar Rapids Municipal Code 61.138), you relinquish the right to object afterward, simply because you've ignored the citation.

Enough is enough.

It is my opinion that this is one long, slippery slope. Not withstanding the obvious cash-grab nature by the city, it is particularly bothersome that we are allowing our government to charge and convict it's citizens with infractions without due process.

It's time for the Iowa State Supreme Court to accelerate it's investigation into these practices and to rule in favor of the people. These tickets are unconstitutional and until we stand together to demand better, we'll only have ourselves to blame if we allow this to continue.

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