I hate Garfield Heights

Sara Peterson

In fact, I hate Garfield Heights so much that my wrath could not be quenched merely by complaining to my friends and family — I have to write a letter to the editor of my college newspaper about the flaming hoops the Garfield Heights Municipal Court is making me jump through, to satiate my anger.

It all started mid August when I had spent the night before in Kent to visit a friend.

The next morning, I headed to my internship in downtown Cleveland. I lived in Euclid for the summer and I never went from Kent to downtown before, but I knew if I took 480 W to 77 N, I’d be dropped off in downtown where I’d be able to easily navigate my way to my internship.

Traffic was hell. I was terrified if I took the wrong exit I’d be terribly lost, and a guy riding my bumper exited right before I saw lights behind me.

Turns out I was the last car in line of a bunch of cars following too closely.

I called the court three days after I got pulled over to see how much my ticket was and I was told they hadn’t entered it into the system yet. A few days later I called again and I was told the ticket was $40.

When I went to the website to pay the ticket online, I found out it wasn’t $40, it was $240—for following too closely. The only time I could fight the ticket was from 8-8:30 a.m. on Wednesday mornings—the exact time I have a class I can’t skip. To top it all off, my license was suspended because I refused to pay it.

I cannot begin to explain how many times I called the court trying to fight this ticket. I asked if I could talk to a prosecuting attorney and I got hung up on, I asked if I could come during a different day and I got hung up on. Finally, I was told I could write a letter to the judge pleading my case. I write the letter, fax it to the court and wait. I call a week later and “my correspondence has not been reviewed.” I call another week later, the clerk bites my head off, tells me “I can send it again, but if she’s not going to read it” and I got hung up on.

Finally, after two months, my class is canceled, I bribe a friend to drive me the hour to Garfield Heights and I sit in a courtroom for two and a half hours while people with DUI charges, possession of marijuana, driving without a license, disorderly conduct and more shove ahead of me. I meekly walk up to the judge, explain that I feel the ticket was unfairly given and I can’t pay the $240.

The judge understood that as an RA, I don’t have any “real” money coming in seeing as how my payment is room and board and then sentenced me to 30 hours of community service—for tailgating.

So, now I have a probation officer. It cost me $25 to reinstate my license and I have to pay about $60 for him to oversee my community service. I was scheduled to meet him on Monday at 9:30 a.m., and I was also supposed to take my one and only exam for a very important senior-level class at 9:15 a.m.

I sent him a fax asking to change the time, because he can’t answer any phone calls or e-mails from me, with the hope he’d get back to me, but I didn’t hear from him.

I skipped the exam to see my probation officer to discuss my community service. I’m a senior in college with a 3.0 GPA, an RA and a hardened criminal. Do you think this will look good on my resume?

Sara Petersen is a senior public relations major and a guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].