The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Yates wrote in this morning’s paper of the end of ‘Ticketgate’.

Since February 4, 2009 Yates has written (15 times) about Mark Geinosky’s search for an answer to why he received 24 certifiably unwarranted parking tickets from the City of Chicago.  problem geinoskyHere’s Yates’ March 14, 2011 article about Geinosky’s campaign.  And here’s today’s Problem Solver column by Yates but you may not be able to read it unless you have the Trib’s Digital Plus.  Sorry.

So here it is, almost 2013.  Ticketgate now ends in a settlement.  The City of Chicago will pay Geinosky for $85,000 to end his federal lawsuit against the city.

Geinosky is happy it’s over but “disappointed he never discovered why he had been targeted.”  You know you would, too.  How would you feel if you received two dozen tickets all of which you were able to prove that you weren’t at those locations?  Every single ticket was dismissed in court.  But it was a five year hassle.  Geinosky called it harassment.  It seems so did the federal court.

So, what’s going on here?  Two things.

First, for some reason it appears Geinosky was targeted by someone or several someones.  According to Yates the tickets stopped being issued after the story was reported in the Tribune.  The Chicago Police Department also reopened the case which they had closed.  It identified four police officers allegedly involved.  Two claimed that someone used old ticket books, forged their names, or maybe used presigned tickets.  This past June the Police Board determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove allegations against the officers.  The city pays thousands of dollars.  But Geinosky gets no answers.

Second, how does this happen?  What action can a person take when they feel injustice is being done?  Is it reasonable to find out what is happening when it becomes clear that someone is wrongfully using power against you?  How much should our public officials and civic structures do to help us trust them to be credible, honest, fair?

It serves us well in cities like Chicago to have confidence that our police, courts and other public institutions serve the common good.

When our confidence is eroded or shaken, when we begin distrusting and discounting them, officials and institutions can only exercise a certain type of power.  Monitoring, warning, enforcing, threatening, intimidating.

And for all of us that would be a bad place to be.