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Posted: January 31st, 2023

WRD 204 Final Project

WRD 204 Final Project
Autumn Quarter 2022
Take it to the streets
This quarter, you’re part of a fictional nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people contest
and win appeals on parking violations in the city of Chicago. The NPO’s plan is to target
residents who have been ticketed on a ward-by-ward basis in order to educate them on how to
appeal and win in court. As part of a volunteer working group, you will adopt a ward (see sign up sheet), perform an analysis using open data, and create documents that help motorists in
that ward appeal their parking tickets.
Why is this an important issue?
A 2018 study by WBEZ and ProPublica found that black motorists are frequently forced into a
spiral of crushing ticket debt and, often, Chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to resolve that debt,
restore their driver’s license to good standing, and free their vehicle from impoundment.
Recently, the state of Illinois and city of Chicago have taken measures to allow motorists to
regain driving privileges1
provided their only offense is unpaid parking tickets; additionally, the
city has paused the draconian debt collection measures2
that include garnishing state income
tax rebates and forcing motorists to post thousands of dollars simply to enter into a repayment
Still, the issue remains in the public spotlight. A recent ruling from an Illinois appellate court
found that fines issued to motorists for missing or expired city stickers in Chicago are illegally
high (state law limits fines of this type to $250). A recent news story highlighted two drivers who
are fighting their violations in court.
A lose-lose system
The city needs enforcement revenue (well over $200 million per year) to pay for public works
and maintenance projects, but many motorists cannot afford to pay for a city sticker ($90.88–
$144.33 per year) let alone violations for not purchasing the sticker ($200.00). These costs—
and the cost of incidental violations motorists naturally accrue in the course of living and driving
in the city—will spiral out of control when left unpaid. Once a violation is assessed, late
penalties can make repayment a virtual impossibility. Hence, drivers lose their vehicle to
impoundment where it accrues additional penalty fees. The city typically collects no money in
these situations, and city residents must rely on other means to get to work, drop their kids off at
school, etc.
Scenario: A plan to combat ticketing practices
The fictional nonprofit “Take it to the streets” is seeking volunteers to “adopt a ward.” You can
view statistics for ticket appeals in each ward on the ProPublica website and use those as part

See for more info: over-unpaid-parking-tickets-now-theyre-getting-them-back
See for more info: ticketing-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic
of the decision-making process on which ward you want to adopt. You’ll use a subset of
ProPublica’s dataset to target one ward and try to help residents successfully appeal their
tickets. The goals for your project submission are threefold:
1. Convince motorists who have been ticketed that they can fight their ticket and potentially
win. The success rate of contested tickets will obviously factor into your rhetorical appeal
to motorists.
2. Educate residents on the types of violations most common in that ward and the types of
allowable defenses they can use during a hearing to argue their case.
3. Present them with an organized list of information from the city of Chicago with simple
instructions for how to schedule their hearing as well as provide them with a model for
constructing a defense and advice on how they can use rhetorical appeals to argue their
case. Often times motorists feel intimidated by the appeals process and either pay their
ticket (or, worse, ignore it) rather than attempt to argue their case in court.
You’ll analyze the data and create the resources necessary to try to encourage residents to
advocate for themselves in court. As part of a larger effort, you’ll be expected to complete both
the deliverables from category one, and select one of the deliverables from category two:
Category 1
Complete both of these
Requirements and description
A list of the top five violations
in your ward and the percent
of violations appealed for
each, as well as the success
rate among motorists who
appeal each type of violation
I’ll provide you with a subset of the publicly-available data that
you will analyze to find this information. You’ll create a
visualization of your choice that you feel best meets the
rhetorical goal of encouraging motorist appeals.
A short-form report
website containing information
that further encourages
appeals and gives the
motorist a model appeal and
procedure to follow for
constructing a valid appeal
Whichever option you choose (report or website), you should
make the motorist feel like you are their partner in advocacy
and help them to construct an argument that they can deliver
in administrative court or via mail to make their appeal.
Your appeal model can take the form of a organized
questionnaire, broad template, or case study that they can
model their own appeal on.
The report/website should also contain a list of steps the
motorist should take, the allowable defenses, and any
pertinent deadlines for filing an appeal.
Category 2
Choose one of these
deliverables to complete
Requirements and description
A windshield handout that
volunteers can place on
ticketed vehicles
Explains the purpose of your nonprofit and its goal. The card
should encourage the motorist to attempt the appeal process
and provide hope that they can succeed in their appeal. I’ll
evaluate you on how well you accomplish these objectives.
A social media account you
can use to spread the word
and encourage appeals
Your account should contain a description of your
organization, a profile picture, three posts, and a fictional
interaction with a motorist that you would use for modeling a
positive interaction between an SM volunteer and a resident
of your ward.
Alternate Category 2 deliverable
If you have an alternative format that you’d like to try out (like a promotional video, podcast
episode, GIS map/choropleth, etc.) then feel free to propose it to me sometime before the start
of week 10 (11/9). Once I approve your proposal, this deliverable will take the place of the
Category 2 deliverable above.
Perhaps you have specialized skills in your field that will help you translate your work to a useful
medium. If it’s an A/V project, I have recommendations for open-source software and may be
able to help you along, but I’d recommend you not try something you’ve never done before as it
may be too much work and you’ll end up focusing on mastering the medium over delivering the
Most average people are not lawyers and have had minimal training or experience advocating
for themselves and others in court. The hearing process puts the defendant at a podium, and
the judge (who hears their case from behind a bench) allows them to make a statement and
present evidence. It is an intimidating process, so defendants must have an allowable argument
with carefully arranged evidence. They should address the judge as “sir/ma’am” or “your honor.”
The judge presents the city’s case, then the defendant gets one chance to make their case. The
ruling can be appealed in the circuit court, but very few defendants are likely to take the process
any further due to time constraints and legal costs.
The major challenges in this project are to convince the motorist that they should attempt to
contest the ticket, then give them some training on how to construct their argument and present
their case. It’s likely that as a larger group, motorists you communicate with will encounter the
same judge, so their argument cannot be from a cookie cutter; it has to look relatively unique to
the individual so the judge doesn’t start to form a bias against defendants presenting identical
arguments. When you train them on how to make their case, you should explain this concept to
motorists and encourage them to express their argument in their own words.
Finally, administrative judges hear hundreds of these cases a month, so you need to emphasize
the unofficial code of conduct I referenced above in order to make sure the defendant doesn’t
get on the bad side of the judge and damage their own ethos.
Evaluation criteria
Below are criteria for each of these deliverables. Keep these in mind when preparing your
submission; they are the basis for my evaluation of your work on this project.
Encouraging statistics: You should have accurate statistics for your ward that supply
the information I described in the deliverables section above. Additionally, the
visualization you prepare should give users realistic expectations, but also encourage
them that an appeal is worth their time. The visualization should be of the appropriate
type and easy for an average motorist to understand.
Report/Website: Again, this document should contain all the information I asked for
above, and it should make some effort to relate to the residents of your specific ward
(i.e. build ethos as a trusted community member); use whatever approach you feel is
appropriate to accomplish that goal. If you elect to write a report, use principles of
document design and structure to make the document approachable and easy to follow.
If you create a website, use Google Sheets or a similar website building platform to
create a site that adheres to the same criteria as the report: easily navigable and
structured for quick retrieval of information.
Windshield handout: The document should print on one page and describe clearly lay
out both immediate and next steps to the motorist along with giving them confidence that
an appeal is worth their time and that they have a reasonable chance of success. Reuse
copy and statistics from your Cateogry 1 deliverables here and present them in a
concise way (remember: you don’t want the motorist to simply crumple it up and throw it
away). Utilize rhetorical appeals to maximum impact, but avoid excessive application of
Social media site: Choose a site where you’re familiar with the conventions. Make sure
you mention that this is for a class project, not a legitimate NPO. The interaction modeling portion should be realistic (i.e. avoid an exchange like “You should appeal!”
followed by “Thanks, I will!”). Since this could be used for training purposes, try to
construct an exchange based on our discussion of employing rhetorical appeals to
convince a motorist to make an attempt.
Additional requirements
 When citing sources (city websites, images, ProPublica data, etc.) you can use
footnotes, captions, and/or hyperlinks. Make sure you are consistent in how you cite
outside information.
 I only care about parking tickets for this project. Do not include any information on red
light camera tickets or bus lane violations.
 Please make sure that I can access all your content (especially websites and social
media) without needing a log in or having to request permission.
Work process
We’re going to have a peer workshop session where you’ll give and receive feedback on drafts
of your work in the last week of the course. I’ll place you in small groups then email you with
reminders and expectations, but generally I would like each group member to have one
deliverable to show off and an outline of what the rest of their project will look like.
All materials are due as a zipped folder on D2L by no later than Thursday, November
22nd, 11:59 p.m. CST. You only need to provide the link to the website/social media in a text
file, not the source files. All other documents should be submitted as .pdf files.
Please be advised that per university rules, I cannot accept a submission after this date, and no
extensions are possible. If I don’t receive your project, I have to mark it as a zero.

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