Usually it's the other way around – heartless Republicans not caring about the poor, Democrats half-heartedly trying to help (but usually making the situation worse).
But yesterday's Examiner (March 4) had a kind of "man bites dog" story – Assembly Bill 503, authored by Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale and signed into law last year, requires local agencies to offer payment plans to poor people burdened by government fines they cannot afford.
To give local Democrats their barely-deserved slice of credit, once this GOP-originated crutch became law, SF's Democrat city Treasurer, Jose Cisneros, added extra padding to make the crutch a little easier to use by implementing a plan that goes further in some respects than what the law requires. Which his spokesperson was not too modest to tell the Examiner:
As implemented locally by Cisneros, the plan goes "far beyond what was legally mandated" according to Treasurer's Office spokesperson Amanda Fried, and will apparently allow "eligible" people with past due parking tickets or Muni citations to enroll by May 31, a "grace period" that Fried asserted is "not required" by AB 503, which goes into effect July 18.
"Fried said the task force 'talked about how important it would be to have people with past debt to come forward and pay off their citations, but not be burdened down by years and years of late penalties," according to the Ex. Which begs the question why, after years of soaking the poor with excessive fees for parking "violations" and other bullshit ways of extorting money from them above and beyond the direct and indirect taxes they already pay, they have only taken action to provide this "important" relief after a (gasp) Republican made it the law for them to do so.
The law might have provided even more relief however, were it not for the efforts of a pro-robbery organization called the California Public Parking Association, which successfully fought to remove a requirement for a "sliding scale and then an 80% reduction in parking penalties", along with other positive provisions so as to allow its member groups to continue picking your pockets to the max even if you happen to be poor. The CPPA further hints that SF municipal authorities may have had a hand in conspiring to limit the relief offered to low-income victims of their extortion: "The City and County of San Francisco, as well as the City of Los Angeles became active on the bill and worked with the Association and the Author’s office to impact the final product."
No doubt that was the work of mysterious anonymous gremlins at City Hall who have no connection to Cisneros or other Democrat officeholders (wink, nudge). And I'm sure Fried's characterization of the plan as "an opportunity for people to clear their records and come back in good standing and continue driving safely in The City" [emphasis added] was not intended to be a veiled threat or an "offer you can't refuse". The Treasurer's Office couldn't have been intending to scare poor people by suggesting that they won't be safe on the streets unless they pay up, because Democrats care so much about poor people – don't they?
Still, the whole situation of government stepping in to provide relief from a hardship entirely caused by government, and then acting as if they're doing people a favor, brings to mind a quote from former Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne:
"The government is good at one thing... it knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, 'See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk.'"