Obama's Unpaid 1980s Parking Tickets Virtually Ignored; Not a Bad 18-Year 'Investment'

There was somewhat interesting and awfully quiet news about the unpaid parking tickets of Barack Husseian Obambi Obama (who I call "BHOO" for short, with "Obambi" being the New York Times' Maureen Dowd's favorite nickname for the Illinois senator) in Cambridge, MA from the late 1980s.

Here is what the Somerville (MA) News reported:

..... Records from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation office show that between Oct. 5, 1988 and Jan. 12, 1990 Obama was cited for 17 traffic violations, sometimes committing two in the same day. The abuses included parking in a resident permit area, parking in a bus stop and failing to pay the meter. Twelve of Obama’s 17 tickets were given to him on Massachusetts Avenue.

In one eight day stretch in 1988, Obama was cited seven times for parking violations and was fined $45. Thirteen of the 17 violations occurred within one month in 1988.

Obama’s disobedience of the rules of the road earned him $140 in fines from the City of Cambridge. The tickets went unpaid for over 17 years and $260 in late fees were added to the tab. On Jan. 26, the fines and late fees were paid in full. The final tally for Obama’s parking breaches was $400, according to Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation.

The paper also reports that "Obama settled all his outstanding debts with Cambridge’s Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department Jan. 26."

Here's an interesting point made by a Lucianne commenter last week (link no longer available):

There would have been a warrant out for my arrest a long time ago if I had ignored parking tickets. Why didn't they go after him?

Good question (it could be that Obama experienced some unpleasantness related to these tickets, but since they were unpaid, that appears doubtful). It has been a few years, but I recall stories of acquaintances being pulled out of university classrooms by cops because they were delinquent on parking tickets. I believe that a few readers could regale me with personal or acquaintance-related stories of nastiness they faced as a result of unpaid parking tickets.

BHOO's parking booboos prompted a brief bit of investment and inflation research, which makes the case that the Democratic presidential contender has perhaps benefited substantially, even after considering the penalties, by waiting to pay off his tickets for so long:

  • The base fine amounts of $140, if invested in the 18 years between 1989 and 2006 in the S&P 500, would have grown to at least $1,000 -- $600 more than BHOO owed and paid, WITH penalties.
  • If the penalties also go back 18 years and you could somehow show that BHOO invested $400 in the S&P 500 instead, it would be reasonable to contend that he's several thousand dollars better off today for having been a parking scofflaw in the late 1980s. Who says crimes (OKAY ..... parking violations) don't pay?
  • The point is that a smart guy like BHOO should know that by only paying $400 for parking tickets that go back nearly two decandes, he's getting one heck of a gift -- and he should have paid at least some, uh, token amount more in acknowledgment of that.

Finally -- You would at least think something that in the big picture seems relatively unimportant (though undeniably a bit revealing) would get a quick "I was wrong; I am sorry" out of the BHOO's campaign. You would be incorrect. Again from the Somerville News:

Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said the presidential candidate’s parking violations were not relevant.

Thanks to that reaction, Jennifer, I hope that you are wrong. But given the "Obamessiah" treatment he has received thus far, it's probably a pretty good political calculation on BHOO's part.

Of course, the "if this were a Republican or conservative presidential candidate ....." question about parallel treatment applies here, as it does in so many other areas.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.