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Parking and Traffic Appeals Panel

The Parking and Traffic Appeals Committee was convened on September 11, 2006, by Dr. Larry Browning. Martin Poenie continued as chair for the 2006-07 term. The chair subsequently assigned committees. Robert S. Scott was elected as co-chair. However, in view of the requirement that the chair must be a member of the general faculty, Dr. Thomas Milner was elected chair and Dr. Larry Browning was elected co-chair for the upcoming 2007-08 school year.

Our first committee meeting was held on September 27 at the Parking and Traffic Services (PTS) offices. This gave committee members an introduction to the process and an overview of the policies. Subsequently, the chair organized subcommittees, five total with eight members each. Each subcommittee was composed of four faculty, two staff, and two students. To date, we have handled 196 cases but the process is ongoing and continues into the summer. This is a sizeable increase in caseload over last year where we had 155 cases at this point in time. Of these 196 cases, 120 were upheld, 38 were dismissed, and 38 were given a reduced fine.

In order to decide cases, we continued to use a Web-based system for allocation, review, and decision of cases. This system is very useful and becomes ever more important as the caseload grows. However, it continues to have some serious flaws that create difficulties for both the chair and the committee members. These flaws have been communicated to Jeff Reed, but resources need to be allocated to fix the Web site. Some of these issues have been detailed in the accompanying document, “Guidelines for the Chair of the Parking Appeals Committee.” This document was generated because the incoming chair has generally not received any instructions and has to figure it out themselves (See Appendix C8). This is understandable because the Web-based review system is relatively new and has been evolving. However, it is felt that this will give the incoming chair a good start and alert him or her to potential problems and workarounds.

The key issues that cause the most difficulties with the Web-based review system are as follows:
A. Once the chair has assigned cases, the assignments are removed, and the chair can no longer see how the cases were assigned. It would be helpful to have assigned cases remain in view but coded in such a way that previously assigned cases can be clearly distinguished from those that have not yet been assigned (e.g., highlighting previously assigned cases in red and unassigned cases in green or some other obvious demarcation).
B. When the committee members log in to review cases, they cannot easily find the newly-assigned cases. This problem grows as the list of cases becomes longer. It would be helpful to have a system that identifies when cases were assigned and some sort of code that clearly distinguishes cases that have been decided from those that have not (e.g., red for decided cases, green for undecided cases).
C. It would be helpful to the chair to see not just those subcommittee members who have rendered their decisions but also those that have not. This would make it much easier for the chair to prod those members that have not finished reviewing the cases.

These issues have been communicated to Jeff Reed of Information Technology Services (ITS), but resources will have to be allocated in order to make these changes.

There is also a small but growing problem of irate “offenders” or ticketed persons accessing the Parking Appeals Committee address book from the Web and complaining either directly to committee members, or more often, to the chair. These complaints come with various accusations and belligerence. This was disturbing to the committee members, and it is felt that there should be some way to prevent anyone from sending group e-mails to the committee. At a minimum, an explanation of the appeals process should include a line stating that “those who appeal fines may not communicate directly with any members of the parking appeals committee. All communications must be done through the formal appeals process.”

We do not anticipate problems in completing our caseload, but new cases continue to be assigned throughout the summer so it is more or less impossible not to have some carryover into the next year.
Martin Poenie, chair

Appendix C8
Guidelines for the Chair of the Parking Appeals Committee
Written by Martin Poenie, Chair of the Parking Appeals Committee (2006-07)

1. The panel convenes in September at which time a vice chair is elected. The vice chair will serve as chair the following year. Both the chair and the vice chair must be members of the General Faculty.

2. One of the first duties of the chair is to arrange a meeting between Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) and the members of the committee. This should be done as soon as possible. At this meeting, PTS representatives explain what they do and how appeals are processed. They also talk about PTS policies; time is allotted so that committee members can ask questions.

3. Operations of the committee are largely carried out via the Web. There are two important Web sites. One contains a list of the committee members and their e-mail addresses; the other is the Web site where cases are reviewed and processed. The steps to be followed are given below.

4. One of the first jobs the chair must do is to divide the committee into subgroups. The committee is composed of faculty, staff, and students; therefore, each subcommittee should have fair representation from each category. Assuming that there are 40 people on the committee, it would be reasonable to divide the committee into five subgroups of eight people each. Subcommittees will be designated in terms of a number (i.e., Subcommittee 1, Subcommittee 2, etc.). From that point forward, the chair will only know the subcommittees as numbers one through five. WITH THAT IN MIND, THE CHAIR SHOULD BE SURE TO COPY THE SUBCOMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS AND KEEP THEM AVAILABLE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE. The chair may need to contact members of a subcommittee later if they are not keeping up with their caseload. For example, if the chair needs to find out who is on Subcommittee 1, he/she will refer to the saved lists. In previous years, for one reason or another, chairs have been unable to get all subcommittee members to participate. Ideally, at least five members should render decisions on each case.

5. Once subcommittees are established, cases can be assigned. However, before assigning cases, the chair must contact PTS and Information Technology Services (ITS) to make sure that the case Web site has been set up for the new academic year. If the Web site has not been set up properly, the results can be unpredictable, and most likely will involve committee members being assigned the previous year’s cases which causes a great deal of confusion. This issue has been the most common source of the committee’s problems in the past.

6. Once subcommittees have been assigned and the chair has been given the go ahead from PTS and ITS, a general routine should ensue. Typically what will happen is:
A. The chair will be notified that new cases have been uploaded to the Web.
B. The chair will then assign these cases to the subcommittees. There is a link for “Assign New Cases” where the chair assigns cases to the subcommittees. If, for example, there are 25 new cases, the chair can enter one (i.e., assign to Subcommittee 1) for the first five cases, then enter two for the next five cases and so forth so that each of the five subcommittees is assigned five cases to review.

This site displays only NEW UNASSIGNED cases. ONCE THE CASES HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED, THEY DISAPPEAR. Therefore, it very important that the chair copy the case assignment lists before submitting them online. The copy will enable the chair to determine who was assigned to a particular case. [Side note: I would urge ITS to change this so that old case assignments remain visible but are coded in an obvious way to show that they have been assigned or have not been assigned.]

C. The chair will then send an e-mail to the subcommittee members informing them that their respective committee has a new set of cases to review. In the e-mail, always include the link to the Web site, where members must go to review the cases, because everyone forgets it. Once a given case has been read, members have the choice to uphold, dismiss, or reduce the fine; they can also enter comments. URGE COMMITTEE MEMBERS TO PROVIDE COMMENTS OR REASONS FOR THEIR DECISIONS!

Note: It is in the assignment of cases that the committee chairs have had the most difficulty to date. In principle, the chair assigns cases to subcommittees. When members log in to review their subcommittee’s cases, they should see only the cases that have been assigned to their respective committee. Various problems have been encountered where, for example, a member has been assigned all cases, not just their respective subcommittee’s cases. Alternatively, a member may log in and find that he/she has no cases to review, even though the chair has assigned each subcommittee a caseload.

The problem of a member logging in and seeing no cases to review is often only an apparent problem. What happens is that when the member logs in, he/she sees a list of old cases and cannot identify the new ones within the list. This is compounded by the fact that the past chairs have urged ITS to change this so that new cases can be distinguished from old cases by some form of obvious code (e.g., red for old, green for new). This problem becomes even more complicated by the fact that once cases have been assigned, the assignments disappear from the case list (refer to 6.B). So, if a particular committee member says, “I cannot see any new cases to review,” the chair cannot go to the Web and find that information. To resolve the problem, the chair will have to refer to the list of case assignments that he/she copied prior to submitting them online. If the chair has not make a copy of the list, it is possible that he/she will not be able to resolve the problem.

D. Typically the committee members get a week or so to review cases. While some committee members are very prompt in reviewing cases, others require prodding. The chair should periodically check the cases to determine if all the subcommittee members have rendered their decisions. It is not uncommon after a week or so to find that only two or three members of a particular subcommittee have submitted decisions. If this occurs, the chair will need to send out at least one general reminder to the subcommittees to finish their cases. If committee members still do not finish cases, the chair may need to contact subcommittee members individually. It is here that the chair may want to refer to the original subcommittee lists to find out which members have not rendered decisions.

E. Once the subcommittee members have finished their cases, it is the chair’s responsibility to render the final decision. The chair follows the directive of the subcommittee unless there is a tie. If there is a tie, the chair essentially has to cast a vote and make the final decision.

There is a Web link to “Decision Details” where the chair can read the decisions of the committee members. There is another link to “Make Final Decisions” where the chair enters the final decision for the cases.

7. The chair prepares an annual report that is due in April.