Credit: Alison Green

Mike Brockway used to get a lot of parking tickets. “Some of them were just me being stupid, but a lot were issued improperly,” he says. “And 50 bucks is a lot of money.” (That’s back when the fines were that low.) So he started contesting them, which forced him to study the city’s confusing regulations. “Improbably, I got really good at fighting and beating tickets, and people started asking me for advice.” Dubbing himself the Parking Ticket Geek, Brockway launched a blog to share what he’d learned. “Then the parking meter deal came along,” he says. The Expired Meter became a key source of original reporting on the meter sell-off, from the escalating parking rates to the politics of the rubber-stamping City Council. Brockway continues to report on the deal and is now a regular source and contributor to other news organizations. Meanwhile, his site remains focused on the stories of people losing their money and their minds over the hassles of driving in the Chicago area—such as the man recently arrested for a bomb threat against Evanston police after they gave him a parking ticket. Brockway admits that traffic policy is an odd obsession. “It’s goofy,” he says. It’s also a public service.