Monthly Archives: February 2009
It seems that the Des Plaines‘ city council cannot agree on a vendor for their red light camera program.
But of course, red light cameras are not about revenue, but for improving safety, right?!?
The red light program was approved in April of 2008 and the suburban town is considering 19 locations for red light cameras.
By Madhu Krishnamurthy
With lingering questions about projected revenues and risk, the Des Plaines city council Tuesday night delayed selecting a vendor for the city’s automated red-light camera enforcement program.
The council had authorized the program itself in April 2008 by ordinance. Staff came back with proposals from various vendors Tuesday.
Des Plaines Police Chief Jim Prandini recommended the council choose RedSpeed Illinois from among four vendors who submitted bids because it’s a local company and the police department would not have to administer the program under its proposal.
Though not the most experienced, the Lombard-based company serves 51 communities in Illinois, which is significantly higher than any other vendor, Prandini said.
“We felt that RedSpeed offered the most comprehensive service,” he said.
Yet, RedSpeed’s proposal projected the least amount of net revenues for Des Plaines. The company’s take is 35 percent of every $100 ticket issued, not including other fees it charges for each step of the process.
RedSpeed projects one camera would generate 300 tickets per month with only 50 percent of citations being paid on the first notice. Of the projected $15,000 in monthly fines collected, Des Plaines would get $4,501 when all of RedSpeed’s costs are deducted.
Alderman Carla Brookman questioned why the city should pick RedSpeed over other vendors who were promising more than $9,000 in net revenues for the city.
“I’m uncomfortable trying to generate revenue from this type of ordinance where the lion’s share is going to the vendor at the expense of taxpayers,” Brookman said.
Alderman Mark Walsten asked Prandini how the city would address cameras nabbing motorists making right turns at a red light, a problem that recently spurred public outcry in Schaumburg.
More than 10,000 tickets were issued over 75 days at the intersection of Woodfield and Meacham roads in that town generating nearly $1 million in fines for illegal right turns on red. Sensitivity to public outrage prompted village officials to replace the right-turn red-light camera with right-turn green arrow signals.
Prandini said that shouldn’t be a problem in Des Plaines.
“We’re looking at the traffic safety angle of this and each intersection is going to be reviewed,” Prandini said. “We don’t want to see tickets if somebody made a complete stop. We set those parameters on the front end.”
Des Plaines will be studying whether cameras would help at 19 of the city’s top accident intersections for 2008, as well as the Cumberland Circle roundabout.
Prandini said RedSpeed was widely favored by area municipalities that currently use its service, such as Prospect Heights, Wheeling, Schaumburg and Rosemont. He said the biggest plus is that the company would reduce the police department’s workload.
“The only thing we have to do with RedSpeed is review the citations that they will be sending us every day,” he said. “All of the other companies, the staff time that it would cost us to implement this program would be prohibitive for us.”
Regardless of the vendor, cameras would be installed at no cost to the city once feasibility studies are conducted at targeted intersections.
Money Saving Tips & Tricks For Surviving Chicago’s New Meter Rates
With the parking meter lease deal finalized, and the rates of parking meters being increased meter by meter and neighborhood by neighborhood, Chicago drivers need to employ some smart strategies for adapting to higher rates and increased enforcement.
Here are some smart parking strategies that will help you survive these higher meter rates in the midst of a recessionary economy.
Keep an eye out for meters which still have time remaining.
Piggybacking on someone else’s quarter or quarters is always a great way to save money.
While not all meters are the same, most meters with time remaining, do not exhibit a flashing readout. You should be able to tell from your car if the meter is flashing or not. So if you have your pick of meters, of course, pick the one with time still on the meter.
A broken parking meter is a thing of beauty.
Inoperable meters are, by far, the best parking spots you can find.
Broken meters don’t have to be fed and you can’t be ticketed for parking at one. Finding a broken parking meter is like stumbling upon a $5 on the street, or finding some cash in a jacket pocket you haven’t worn since last Spring. Finding a broken meter to park at is a gem of serendipity that can make your day.
Busted meters are a bit harder to spot while driving as a dead meter exhibits no readout, while an inoperable meter will flash either FAIL and/or OUT OF ORDER. But up close, it’s quite apparent when a meter is not working.
If you park in the same area regularly, locate the broken ones and make a habit of snagging those spots.
Unfortunately, while currently, there seems to be a dearth of inoperable meters on the streets of Chicago, the new lessee has all the motivation in the world to keep their new toys working all the time.
Seek out parking spots on streets which are generally metered…that don’t have a meter.
These spots are more numerous than you think. I come across areas that have meters on one side of the street, but not the other. Or streets that have meters for the majority of the street, but not at the very end.
You just have to train yourself to keep an eye out for these perfectly legal spots that are meter-less and therefore cost nothing and have no time restriction.
Of course, these spots are always the most in demand.
Higher meter rates are inevitably going to push people from meters onto nearby side streets. It only makes economic sense that people will always see the least costly alternative. Parking on non-metered side streets is free, which is infinitely cheaper than parking at a meter.
The main barrier to side street parking is the potential of facing residential permit parking. Look out for any signs that restrict your ability to park on a neighborhood side street. Being ticketed for a residential parking violation is more??? costly than an expired meter ticket.
But, parking a block or two away from where you need to work or shop for a few hours is going to be worth the walk, especially if you can save a few bucks.
Perhaps, if the new, higher parking meter rates make it too expensive to drive, and public transportation is a viable alternative, perhaps the CTA is a way to go.
Parking Garages & Lots
Downtown, the option of parking garages or lots vs. metered parking becomes a matter of simple cost/benefit analysis.
For example, parking for just an hour at a meter is only $3.50, less than what most garages or lots would charge. But, four hours of metered parking is $14.00 and perhaps a lot or garage is a less expensive option. At some point, garages and lots become the more affordable alternative.
I have heard rumors of places that have free parking and much lower sales taxes. In whispers, people call them “the suburbs.”
In the suburbs, they don’t have 10.25% sales taxes or $3.50 an hour parking meters. Vote with your feet, your tires and your dollars. Spend your money outside the city, outside the county, out of the grasp of Mayor Daley and Todd Stroger.
There are plenty of towns and businesses that appreciate your money so much, they make it cheap, easy and convenient to do business with them.
Consider taking them off on their offer.
Feed The Beast
Please, if you do have to park at a meter, make sure you feed it properly.
Keep lots of quarters in your vehicle at all times.
Make sure you pay attention to the time and return to your car before times runs out or to recharge your meter. A $50 ticket is something everyone can do without.
Like our pal Ticketmaster says, “25 cents will save you $50.”
True wisdom friends. True wisdom.
Geek Editor’s Note: Millennium Park Garage photo courtesy of Chicago-Photo.com.
It seems that the Chicago Tribune has pushed the police to take a second look at Mark Geinosky’s parking ticket harassment case.
A few day’s ago, Jon Yates, the Problem Solver columnist for the Trib, wrote a great piece about Mr. Geinosky problem. His problem was that a cop has it in for him and wrote him 24 tickets for violations that never occurred at locations he had never been.
But Yates reports now that some cops from internal affairs looking into the case, interviewed Geinosky the day after the Trib piece was published.
It’s great the Trib could get something done for Mr. Geinowsky. At the same time, it’s sad that it takes the bright light of the media to get some simple justice for the common man.
By Jon Yates
Geinosky, 48, said the interview went well.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I do believe they’re taking it seriously.”
The Orland Park resident has received 24 tickets in the past 16 months and insists he is being targeted by officers. To date, 23 of the tickets have been thrown out by administrative hearing officers.
Thirteen tickets were signed by the same officer. A Police Department spokesman said the officer has not been disciplined.
“At this point in our investigation, there is no evidence that constitutes a relief of the officer’s active-duty status,” said Officer John Mirabelli. “The allegations will be thoroughly investigated, and the matter will be handled according to the results of the investigation.”
Geinosky is scheduled to appear in administrative court next week on his latest parking ticket, his 24th. That ticket was issued Dec. 1, more than two months after he sold his car and removed the plates.
Another DOR Vehicle Caught Parked Illegally
Since we published our first “funny foto” of a Dept. of Revenue vehicle parking illegally a few weeks ago, more photographs of the DOR caught violating the laws they are supposed to enforce have been trickling in.
Reader Jim sent me this photo and asked us to publish it.
“Please make note of the signs in the upper right hand corner of the photo,” Jim says by e-mail. “I wish I could write my own tickets.”
Me too Jim. Me too.
If you see a Dept. of Revenue vehicle parked illegally and snap a photo, send it to The Expired Meter and we’ll publish it.
Please e-mail your photos to: email@example.com
We were not disappointed.
In fact, we’re really impressed.
Because the juvenile and illegal ticket writing activity that this one cop seems to have performed, needs to be condemned.
In fact, the cop in question, at the very least punished, but should be fired.
Writing improper parking tickets for some stupid, silly vendetta is WRONG! Policeman are professionals and need to act like it.
The vast majority of police officers are decent, hard working folks dedicated to keeping you and me safe.
But when pinheads, like the cop in question, do stupid and illegal things to the citizens they are sworn to protect, their behavior undermines the public’s ability to hold cops in the high regard they deserve.
SCC comes out and tells it like it is. He stands up for the idea of doing things the right way.
But check out the comments. There’s a lot of divided thought on this subject. Sadly, too few somehow try to rationalize this type of behavior. Repulsive.
But here’s SCC’s take.
- Over the last 16 months, Mark Geinosky has received 24 parking tickets.All but one have been dismissed. You can bet that one will be thrown out, too, when he goes to administrative court next week.For reasons Geinosky can’t explain, he believes Chicago police officers have targeted him with the barrage of citations—sometimes issuing four tickets at a time for such things as parking too close to a fire hydrant, obstructing the roadway or leaving his vehicle in a crosswalk.
- Of the 24 tickets he has received, 13 were written by the same officer. The Problem Solver is not naming the officer because he has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The 13 tickets were written at four different South Side locations in May, July, August and October of last year. All 13 of those tickets were written at exactly 10 p.m., no matter which day they were issued. And all 13 were sequential in number, meaning that from May to October that officer wrote no tickets to anyone other than Geinosky from the ticket book in question.
Why do idiots make it so hard for the regular boys and girls to show up, do their job and try to do it well and with pride with crap like this?
It’s supposed to be us Catholic’s annual period of fasting, penance, reflection and sacrifice that culminates on Easter Sunday.
So, amongst a host of other things I’m “giving up”, I’ve decided to give up parking tickets for Lent.
I’m going to try my damndest to not get a single parking ticket for the entireity of Lent.
This will be very difficult for The Parking Ticket Geek.
Perhaps, with a lot of prayer and by the grace of God, I’ll make it.
On a similar note, Ticketmaster e-mailed me that he has a similar goal for Lent.
He’s shooting to be 100% error free in his ticket writing for Lent.
No mistakes. No tickets that can be successfully contested and dismissed due to errors.
Another tough goal, but definitely admirable. As much as we all dislike parking tickets, it’s the improperly issued tickets that we constantly rant, rave and rail about here.
Wish us both luck in our Lenten endeavors.
ASH WEDNESDAY CONSIDERATION
Ticketmaster also says that he and his colleagues are going to be giving a bit of extra consideration and understanding around churches today in respect for the parking chaos that often accompanies Ash Wednesday services around the city.
Thanks to Ticketmaster and the rest of the city’s PEA’s.
We always appreciate a little understanding and consideration.
Each week or two, The Expired Meter offers up a potpourri of ticket and parking related news to keep you up informed and up to date.
“I introduced an ordinance to City Council in January that will exempt all parking meters in the 3rd ward only from Sunday hours and will ensure that all new meters in the ward (placed in 2008 only) will be exempt from the new rates for at least two years.“
ITEM: You may have missed this. I know I almost did. But a few weeks ago, employees at Chicago Auto Pound #2 (103rd & Doty) made the grisly discovery of a decomposing corpse in the trunk of a car on pound premises. Bummer!
ITEM: The Second City Cop blog reports recently reported this salacious tidbit.
And on Thursday, we saw a wondrous sight. Not one, but two CTA supervisors out writing tickets in honor of Lincoln’s Birthday. The CTA supervisors were not writing cars parked in bus stops, but rather Rush Hour Parking Restrictions (7am-9am or 4pm-6pm) along the route.
On a city holiday.
That’s all we need, rogue CTA supervisors writing out improper parking tickets all over the city.
ITEM: I was down at The Billy Goat downtown Friday night to meet some real journalist friends from downstate Champaign. I told them about this dimwit blog about parking tickets I’m writing and they told me that even Champaign, IL has parking meter controversies.
ITEM: Hoffman Estates recently passed a red light camera enforcement ordinance. According to a report in the Daily Herald, the village is still waiting IDOT approval and still hopes to have cameras up and running by spring.
ITEM: I ran into one of SERCO’s (a private firm hired by the city for help with parking enforcement and meter collection) finest the other day. Not one of the ticket writers, but one of the dude’s that periodically drains the quarters from our parking meters. He told me that Chicago Parking Meter LLC, the new lessees of Chicago’s meters, was going to hire all of SERCO’s meter collection guys to do the same job they were doing before for, get this, MORE money.
Originally, I was told, SERCO’s entire meter collection crew, was going to lose their jobs due to the meter lease deal.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the conversation was that I’m told there are only 9 guys doing quarter collection for the city’s entire 36,000 plus meters. WOW!
ITEM: Chicago is not the only major city in the U.S. that has a two ticket boot policy. According to the Washington Times, it seems that Washington D.C. is cracking down on people with two or more unpaid red light tickets or speed camera tickets by slapping on the boot.
ITEM: Sun-Times transportation reporter Mary Wisnieski says shame, not fine increases is the best way to stop drivers from for using their cell phones without a headset, while driving. A little preachy, but decent commentary.
RANDOM THOUGHT: While Chicago Parking Meter LLC’s meter rate change time line has all 36,000 meters changed over by March 9th, I have my doubts.
With so many meters on the fritz, once you factor in meter repair time, I don’t think they meet their original deadline.
I’m not saying it will be a long delay, perhaps a few weeks, but it should take longer than originally predicted.
Riveting huh? What kind of numbskull thinks about this stuff? Just me, I guess. Loser!
ITEM: Taking a page out of Mayor Daley’s book, according to the Daily Herald, suburban Schaumburg has a parking ticket amnesty program kicking off March 1st for the entire month. Scofflaws can get up to 50% off previously unpaid tickets.
But Schaumburg is just not being nice for the hell of it. In April, this suburb’s boot threshold drops from five unpaid tickets to just three.
Call (847) 882-3586 for more info, or pay your Schaumburg parking ticket online.
ITEM: According to a source within the City of Los Angeles, the City of Angels has been watching Chicago very closely and is now considering privatizing their parking meter system too.
HELP!: I’m looking for a motivated journalism student to help with writing, reporting and research for this blog. E-mail the Geek if you’re interested at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Expanded Use Of Photos Will Make Parking Tickets Much Harder To Contest
It seems Chicago’s Dept. of Revenue (DOR) has had so much success utilizing photographic evidence when ticketing parking violators, the department has decided to utilize photography for for even more violations.
According to DOR management, the program was expanded the second week of February.
Ultimately, the goal of photo evidence is to discourage motorists from contesting tickets utilizing photos and encourage violators to pay sooner.
“It has been pretty successful,” said Dept. of Revenue spokesman Matt Darst about the program. “But it’s always been our goal to expand it (photo evidence) when we thought they (PEA’s) were familiar with the technology and the (AutoCITE) device.”
When the DOR first had Parking Enforcement Aides (PEA’s) utilizing the new AutoCITE handheld ticket printers with photographic capabilities back in August 2008, the PEA’s were instructed to use them on just four limited violations.
This included city sticker violations, residential parking permit violations, missing front or back license plates and expired registration stickers on vehicle plates.
“These four violations generally had a high contest rate or low payment rate,” said Darst explaining the rationale behind using photo evidence for the initial violation types. “But we look at it as providing two things. It provides additional information with the ticket. It may provide the driver with a defense. And it supports a ticket when a PEA thinks they wrote a proper ticket.”
But now, the expanded list of violations that will have photo evidence provided by Parking Enforcement Aides will include:
- Parking on a sidewalk
- Double parking
- Blocking or parking in an alley
- Parking less than 30″ from a stop sign
- Bus stop parking
- Pay & Display violations and even
- Expired meter violations
According to our friend and PEA Ticketmaster, PEA’s are not limited to the partial list above and are instructed to use their built in camera whenever they see fit.
“Management has now instructed us to basically take photos of all violations,” explains Ticketmaster. “This includes: meters, fire hydrants, bus stops, 30′ from stop signs as well as everything else prior to (now).”
The only upside to this new policy is that taking photos does slow down the ticket writing according to Ticketmaster.
“Yes, taking all those photos have seriously slowed some of us down,” says Ticketmaster. “The good news for the owners is that maybe we won’t be able to get to their car as fast, the bad news is that these tickets will be even harder to contest.”
Although Darst doesn’t agree with Ticketmaster’s assessment as far as speed and feels any slow down would be nominal at best.
Only PEA’s and SERCO enforcement employees carry these handhelds ticketing devices and only account for about 35% of all parking tickets. Police still write the vast majority of parking tickets in Chicago.
In most cases, this photographic evidence will make it MUCH harder for motorists to contest their tickets as photos provided by PEA’s will, in most cases, help support the facts alleged on the ticket.
The key will be to view your photos online and see if the photos accurately represent the facts of the violation.
For example, is that your car and/or license plate in the photo? Do the photos prove what the written violation states? Are the photos clear enough and in focus enough to prove the violation occurred? Check the photos to see if they may prove the violation did not occur.
If you are using photo evidence to dispute a ticket, your photographs (and testimony) are going to have to over power the photo evidence provided by the PEA’s. This may be difficult, but not impossible. More and better photos may do the trick.
However, if the photos provided by the city make the ticket irrefutable, then you may just want to pay…unless you’re mentally unbalanced like me.
Some really juicy ticket stuff in today’s Chicago Tribune.
Right on the front cover is a photo of Mark Geinosky fanning out a multiplicity of parking ticket violation notices from the city.
What did this guy do to piss off the cops? Whatever it was, it must have been pretty harsh.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Yates, The Problem Solver, Geinosky has received 24 completely bogus tickets in 16 months on a license plate that has been off his former vehicle for the past six months.
13 of the 24 tickets were issued by the same cop, nearly all sequential from the officer’s ticket book. Which means the only vehicle the cop writes tickets for is Geinosky’s.
Most of the tickets were for bogus violations at random addresses all over the south side.
Now Mr. Geinosky has fought and defeated all but one of these violations. He goes in for his, hopefully, final administrative hearing soon and will beat that one too, one would expect.
He filed a complaint with Chicago Police Internal Affairs, but they decided not to investigate and officially dropped the case Oct. 1, 2008.
But now, according to the newspaper, it seems that Internal Affairs has re-opened the case. This is probably due to the Trib sniffing around this story.
Out in the blogosphere, local blogger, Detective Shaved Longcock, had some thoughts and advice for rookies writing bogus tickets.
“But here is a hint for all you new young rookies – No matter if the tickets are legit or not, it is never good for you to write over a dozen citations (all citations numbered in a row) over a six month period to the same vehicle parked in different locations. One would have to wonder why the only vehicle you can find to write a ticket to over a six month period is this guy’s vehicle.”
But at the end of Yate’s piece, Geinosky asks, “I can’t help but ask myself how many others are being falsely targeted.”
Good question Mr. Geinosky. VERY good question.
The Chicago Tribune Problem Solver helps a man who kept getting parking tickets—for an SUV he no longer owned.
Over the last 16 months, Mark Geinosky has received 24 parking tickets.
All but one have been dismissed. You can bet that one will be thrown out, too, when he goes to administrative court next week.
For reasons Geinosky can’t explain, he believes Chicago police officers have targeted him with the barrage of citations—sometimes issuing four tickets at a time for such things as parking too close to a fire hydrant, obstructing the roadway or leaving his vehicle in a crosswalk.
Even after the Orland Park man traded in his Toyota Highlander in September, the tickets continued to roll in, issued to the old plate number—even though he took the plates off the vehicle and stashed them in his garage. Someone, he said, is out to get him. And he wants to know why.
Geinosky filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority in September that promptly was forwarded to the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division.
On Oct. 1, Internal Affairs closed his case without investigation. “They said they don’t investigate parking tickets,” Geinosky, 48, said. “I said, ‘This isn’t parking tickets. This is harassment.’ “
With another court date looming and no end to the tickets in sight, Geinosky e-mailed What’s Your Problem?
“Either these are a ton of coincidences or my license plate is written on a bathroom wall somewhere and cops are saying, ‘Hey, I need to write some tickets,’ ” he said. “There seems to be a hole in the system.”
The Problem Solver called the Police Department last week to inquire about the tickets. On Saturday, Sgt. Antoinette Ursitti said, “Internal Affairs has launched an investigation.”
How bizarre is Geinosky’s case? Considering the following:
Of the 24 tickets he has received, 13 were written by the same officer. The Problem Solver is not naming the officer because he has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The 13 tickets were written at four different South Side locations in May, July, August and October of last year. All 13 of those tickets were written at exactly 10 p.m., no matter which day they were issued. And all 13 were sequential in number, meaning that from May to October that officer wrote no tickets to anyone other than Geinosky from the ticket book in question.
In some cases, the tickets were issued on desolate stretches of road where legal parking appeared to be readily available.
On Aug. 27, Geinosky received three tickets in the 1900 block of West 63rd Street: a $75 ticket for obstructing the roadway, a $100 ticket for parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant and a $60 ticket for parking in a crosswalk. The block in question contains nothing but boarded-up buildings. The Problem Solver recently visited the location and found only one car parked in the entire block.
On Oct. 7, Geinosky received three more tickets in the 7300 block of South South Chicago Avenue: a $100 ticket for double parking, a $75 ticket for obstructing the roadway and a $75 ticket for leaving his car parked and unattended with the motor running. The address in question is in a block that runs parallel to the Chicago Skyway and has no buildings—just trash-filled, abandoned lots.
Geinosky insists he was never in any of the locations noted in the citations, and no tickets were ever placed on his vehicle. Each time, he learned about the tickets when a notice of violation arrived in the mail. He said the blizzard of citations started soon after a relationship with someone not involved in the Police Department turned sour.
After appearing in court seven times to have the tickets dismissed, Geinosky has earned a reputation at the courthouse.
“The last time I walked up, the hearing officer said, ‘Yeah, I remember you,’ and just kind of dismissed everything,” Geinosky said. “There were a couple of hearing officers who asked me why [the officer] has written me 13 tickets in a row. I say, ‘You have to ask [him].’ “
The Problem Solver asked the Police Department’s Office of News Affairs if he could speak to the officer but was told the officer was unavailable because of the investigation. Attempts to reach him at his home were unsuccessful.
Geinosky said someone from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division called him Thursday and told him to expect a call from an investigator. The investigator had not called by Monday afternoon. The Police Department vowed to investigate all 24 tickets, including those issued by at least two other officers. Geinosky said he does not know any of the officers in question. “All I’ve ever wanted to know is why [the officer] wants to write tickets against me, and all the officers before him.”
Next week, Geinosky will return to court to fight the one ticket that has not yet been dismissed—a $100 citation issued Dec. 1 for parking too close to a fire hydrant. It should be a slam dunk. All he has to do is show the hearing officer proof he no longer owned the car at the time and—voila—it should vanish like the rest of them.
But that doesn’t make him any less frustrated.
“I keep seeing the city’s push for amnesty to generate funds for the Revenue Department and I can’t help but ask myself how many others are being falsely targeted,” Geinosky said. “This seems to have no end, and no one wants to help me resolve this and make it stop.”
Story and photo copyright Chicago Tribune 2009.
Photo by Nuccio Dinuzzo.
You’d think if anyone had the clout to beat a parking ticket it would be Santa Claus.
But, unfortunately for Ol’ St. Nick, according to the NY Daily News, he’s never faced the people at New York’s Department of Finance where he failed in his bid to have his $115 ticket for double-parking dismissed.
Santa (aka 60 year old Chip Cafiero), was passing out toys from his horse drawn carriage with Cafiero’s SUV escorting the carriage. The SUV, according to Cafiero was being used to insure the safety of the children and the carriage when it got ticketed.
Man that’s cold. North pole cold.
By Matthew Lysiak
There was no Miracle on Third Ave.
Kris Kringle – aka Chip Cafiero – lost his battle with the city over a ticket and will have to pay $115 for double-parking in Bay Ridge while delivering toys to kids.
“I’m surprised the city found Santa guilty,” said Cafiero, a 60-year-old retired school teacher. “The agent saw me handing out toys to kids and walked over and slapped me with a fine anyways. Has this city lost its heart?”
Santa, ahem, Cafiero, tried to fight the ticket, but his written plea fell on deaf ears.
Reaction to the fiasco – first reported by the Daily News – was mixed along Third Ave. Most thought the parking agent was a bit overzealous, ticketing the Chevy Suburban parked near Cafiero’s horse-driven carriage. Others conceded the agent was just doing her job.
“My car was merely trailing the procession to provide a safety measure for the carriage and the children,” Cafiero wrote in his appeal to the Department of Finance.
Cafiero learned Friday that the city wasn’t swayed. Now the entire borough should be on the lookout for lumps of coal.
“Despite this experience, I hope Santa will not skip over Brooklyn next Christmas and leave our children and families off his list,” said state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge).
Golden said Santa should contact City Hall to arrange a special parking permit for the holidays. “Obviously not even Santa is exempt from traffic enforcement here in New York City,” he said.
The Fifth Avenue Merchants Association, a small group that helps to organize many of the local community events for children, vowed to pick up the tab for Cafiero.
“The city can take my money,” Cafiero said, “but they can’t take my Christmas spirit.”