» posted on Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 at 8:04 pm by admin
Does Democrat Clerk Pat Frank Care about the Poor?
Emails sent on February 20,2018.
EMAIL 1: 40 PERCENT charged on top of total amount owed in fines/court costs per FS 28.24696
Good Morning Ms. Frank,
As you may already be aware, I have been in the last couple of weeks helping on a pro bono basis a significant number of individuals who are trying to have their driving privilege reinstated. Some of these individuals are struggling financially. As I have been serving these individuals I have learned that once the original court costs/fines are transferred to collection agencies (after 90 days of amounts that remain unpaid) 40 percent of the total amount owed to clerk/court system is added on top of the outstanding amount.
Here are some of the cases I have run across:
Total amount owed pre collection $599.00 now defendant owes $ 833.00
Total amount owed pre collection $2,600 now defendant owes close to 4K
Total amount owed pre collection $774. now defendant owes $1083
Despite the legality (legislative change should be focused on this) of these seeming usurious amounts that affect/burden some poor people who are further negatively impacted by having their driving privilege taken away as a result of the inability to pay and at risk of being jailed and furthered burdened with more costs/fines, how is/are the state of Florida/Floridians benefitted by this practice of having the amounts owed to a county court system transferred to a collection agency? Why can’t the original amount be left with the clerk’s office until satisfied by the debtor in order to avoid this exorbitant 40 percent additional charge?
As an elected official, I would like you to address this issue. Many voters find this practice of charging 40% (on top of the total amount owed) to be reprehensible / infuriating particularly as it relates to the poor amongst us.
I am publishing this email communication on Florida You Judge.com and will post any response from your office once received.
Email 2 : Inquiry regarding 28.246 (6)
Regarding the language in 28.246 (6)
“In pursuing the collection of such unpaid financial obligations through a private attorney or collection agent, the clerk of the court must have attempted to collect the unpaid amount through a collection court, collections docket, or other collections process, if any, established by the court, find this to be cost-effective and follow any applicable procurement practices.”
Which collection practice, as required under this statute, did your office first attempt to collect under? Thanks.
Note to reader: red characters are added corrections which do not appear in the original email sent which can be obtained via public records.
Subsequent email issued to Frank
Your office has always responded to my emails. Why has your office become silent all of the sudden.
Again, I ask. How is it beneficial to Floridians for clerk offices to transfer court fines/costs owed to Hillsborough court system to outside state agencies, such as Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson and Penn Credit. Some of the cases I have run across are being charged 40 percent on top of total amount owed. Including poor people who cannot pay the original amount. How is that ok with you? Is it because campaign reports for your 2016 election campaign show that attorneys for these collection firms donated campaign contributions to you? Is that the benefit? Contributions to re-election campaigns? Why won’t you answer how Florida benefits from outside firms being used to collect these debts and why they cannot stay in the clerk’s office so that they don’t create a greater burden to poor people? Poor people who then risk arrest/jail because they have to drive to work to make a living (if they can even find work) but cannot get their driver’s license because they cannot afford to pay these outrageous amounts. Do you even care or are Democrats who criticize Republicans for just being about the rich just a nice sounding but shallow talking point?
For those of you who care:
You can check this link:
On top/ the scroll down on reporting groups: go to 2016 Candidate Election Cycle for 11/8/2016 and click on Pat Frank’s name and then scroll down for the monthly reports.
Click on 12/2015 and 7/1/2015 (you can check other months to) to see attorneys/corp contributions….Penn Credit Corp is on the July financial….I have seen Penn Credit
as a collection agency on cases in Hillsborough
Also read this article by St Petersburg Blog reporter Mitch Perry:
Pat Frank’s re-electioncampaign in December funded almost exclusively by Texas attorneys
Ms. Pat Frank’s Email Response. My Responses in Red.
Ms. Frank, please see below your email reply with my responses in red.
Ms. Oropesa, –
As Clerk of the Circuit Court, I am an elected County Constitutional Officer. As Clerk, I provide administrative assistance to the courts and my duties are ministerial, defined by the laws of Florida and rules and orders of the Florida Supreme Court.
I am well aware that income disparity may result in a person losing their driving privilege because of their inability to pay traffic fines. (Great that you understand this) There are fourteen bills filed in this legislative session that seek to amend section 318.18, Florida Statutes, which defines penalties for driving infractions. Some of those bills address the consequences of income disparity. (What has been your legislative participation been in appealing to our lawmakers in regards to the maximum exorbitant 40 percent collection fee that can lawfully be imposed? Please answer my question as to what is the benefit of transferring the outstanding amounts to a collection agency rather than keeping the debt with the clerk’s office? (I understand the law mandates it but what is your position on whether this statute should be amended to discontinue this practice unless there is a benefit to our state/residents?) What collection practice as mandated under FS 28.246 has your office first attempted prior to transferring to collections, established by the court, and found to be “cost effective”? FS 28.426(6) allows collection amounts to be added in an amount “not to exceed 40 percent”, what have you done to negotiate that down to a reasonable / fair percentage with you campaign donor/collection agencies you do business with? By the way, why are you not economically stimulating businesses in Florida by giving the business to agents here rather than outsourcing to out of state companies?
Section 318.18 also allows people who cannot pay a monetary penalty to perform community service as an alternative to paying a monetary penalty. My office will also set up a payment plan, which allows persons to pay a monetary penalty over time. (Please see attached your office’s standard “Notice of Unpaid Balance”, wherein this notice do you advise those financially struggling in our communities that they can avail themselves of community service (as you point out in this email communication) for noncriminal traffic infractions under 318.18? Where? You do understand that in criminal cases where fines/costs are usually much higher this does not resolve the issue which those impacted by income disparity? What has/will your office recommend legislatively if in fact you are concerned with those affected by the disparity you understand exists? How does your payment plan work?
When a person takes no action in response to a traffic citation, my office notifies them of their obligation to pay the monetary penalties. If there is no response to my notice, I notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and their driver’s license is suspended. If no response is received after ninety days, I forward delinquent payments to the collection agencies I have retained. Those collection agencies are authorized by law to charge an additional 40% of the penalty for their collection service. Ms Frank with all due respect, FS 28.246 states, ” The collection fee, including any reasonable attorney’s fee, paid to any attorney or collection agent retained by the clerk may be added to the balance owed in an amount not to exceed 40 percent of the amount owed….Your assertion that the collection agents are authorized by law to charge an additional 40% is not correct, correct? So on behalf of the poor which your party indicates it is the champion of, you can negotiate something less and do so lawfully, especially when considering persons impacted by income disparity, right?
The Florida legislature requires me to report the amount of collections of all monetary penalties, costs and service fees required to be paid by Florida law. My personal view of whether or not any payment defined by Florida law is excessive is not relevant to my performance of my constitutional duties. But just the same I/m sure voters,especially the poor and those who care about their plight, may want to know. You were a former legislator no? You do understand that inequities such as those you begin your email intro can be fixed through appropriate legislation especially in regards to excessive payments. So therefore, in that respect, your personal view is relevant. But I understand the uncomfortable position you may find yourself in of having to answer what your position is as on out of state collection agencies, who contributed to your re-election campaign, charging 40 percent of the total amount owed on top of what is owed, especially when the poor within are communities are being harshly affected and subjected driver’s license suspension and further impacting their ability to pay their monetary obligations. In order to pay they have to drive to work. How can they if their license is suspended during a time when they are unable to pay? By doing so they risk arrest/jail if caught, more fines/costs/ 40 percent collection charges. It would be nice if everyone either paid their traffic citations promptly, performed community service or entered into a payment plan. That would eliminate all collection fees. But that is not reality. Right because there is income disparity. It would be nice if a clerk advocated for the elimination of exorbitant collection fees or negotiated down the 40 percent, which can be done lawfully on behalf of the poor, even if campaign donors will make less from their collection services. If would be nice if those unable to pay were drawing in income comparable to the collection agencies who are charging 40 percent of an outstanding debt and then have extra to donate to re-election campaign contributions.
A solution to the problem of collection fees that you articulate resides with the legislature and with educating people of their options under law. I have started the process of doing just that and hope you are doing the same. In fact, I would love to have you participate in an online segment/ radio show to discuss these issues. Please let me know so that I can coordinate. I am sure the voters who entrusted you with another term would love to hear you discuss this important subject matter. While this response does not resolve the problem you articulate, I hope you understand that I must operate within the bounds of the law. And as I pointed out in my responses, there are in fact things that you can do to alleviate the problem, if you want to. I will be participating in a radio show from 8am-10am this morning and discussing this subject. Please feel free to call in 813-444-9588. The show can be heard by visiting http://www.n-touchnews.com/
Thank you for your interest. You’re welcome, my pleasure. Thank you for your response. I will amend the blog post captioned, Does Pat Frank care for the poor? with your email reply and my responses in red.
Have a great weekend Ms. Frank!
filed under Justice SystemComments Off on Does Democrat Clerk Pat Frank Care about the Poor?