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Carmen Lopez’s Parking Ticket In Front Of Barber Shop Sheared

April 27th, 2017 · 17 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, Development and Zoning, News and Events

Lopez hearing

Carmen Lopez confronts her accuser Peter Kehoe, right, at hearing. At left Michael Moretti, hearing officer.

February 6 seemed like a benign day for retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez who took her elderly father to a Downtown barber shop on Broad Street. She parked outside the shop and waited for her dad. As she described here in an OIB commentary she was later jolted by a $40 parking ticket: patrons of downtown businesses are given tickets without ever being told, warned, advised or otherwise notified that pulling over into an empty space for more than 5 minutes will result in a $40.00 ticket.” Thursday afternoon she received justice–that she also wants on behalf of others subjected to fines–when a hearing officer dismissed her fine.

Joined by community supporters and even her husband Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe, Lopez leveraged her savvy legal skills during the City Hall meeting, filleting the city’s roll-out of the modern meters without visible signage of the consequences for failing to execute a transaction within five minutes of parking a car.

Lopez, citing City Charter regulations, challenged the parking ticket through an administrative appeal. Retired city police officer Peter Kehoe who showed a cheerful indifference to the proceeding represents the city in these matters as a “parking violation administrator.” Michael Moretti, also an elected city sheriff, volunteers his time as a hearing officer to rule on the appeals. He was appointed to a term by the mayor and approved by the City Council, per City Charter regulation.

Lopez father

Carmen Lopez’s father, center, sitting with cane. Standing behind is Superior Court Judge Dale Radcliffe, husband of Lopez.

At several points Lopez seized control of the meeting actually turning the tables on Kehoe, “You’re my accuser,” questioning his credentials and evidence to prove the case against her. Kehoe and Moretti responded calmly to her challenges.

In the end Moretti sided with Lopez, ruling the city’s lack of public meter signage was justification for dismissing the ticket. In doing so Lopez has created a boilerplate argument for others subjected to fines. And the police paperwork plopped on the desk inside the hearing room showed dozens and dozens of similar appeals and many others involving the handicapped are being heard regarding the modern meters that were designed to replace the antiquated coin-operated machines with an additional revenue windfall. Unintended consequences have amounted.

For instance Juan Santiago who operates the barber shop across from the Margaret Morton Government Center that created the parking ticket in question says he’s lost more than 50 percent of his business since the meters were installed in front of his business. “I’d leave,” he said Thursday, “but I have a lease. They are chasing people out instead of inviting them in.”

The parking meter growing pain is also a source of frustration for Kelvin Ayala who operates Moe’s Burger Joint in the remodeled Arcade Mall on Main Street. He’d like the city to issue a one-year moratorium on the meters and also reduce the fine from $40 to $20.

For info on the parking meter provider see here.

The modern meters are a fulfillment of a campaign promise by Mayor Joe Ganim. But they’ve become a toothache for some Downtown visitors and businesses who argue the meters don’t provide proper signage notifying of consequences, for instance, not executing a transaction in five minutes. Others argue the two-hour parking limit is also an unfair burden.

Bridgeport parking meter

CT Post photo.

Despite the deletion of her fine, Lopez says she’s not done bringing attention to the issue. “People need to know the city administration and City Council are hurting the people.”

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Frank Gyure

    No way am I parking Downtowm and having to deal with these Orwellian monster-meters. With the old meters,we had to synchronize all methods of timing to make sure that we either got back to the meters or,if we did not,the parking nazis would swoop down and place a ticket. Guess what??? I do not need nor do I have to deal with the meter/parking situation in Downtown Bridgeport. I just don’t go there..and I create a little bit of peace in my life.

  • Maria Pereira

    No-one conducts more thorough research or is more prepared than Judge Lopez. NO ONE.

    Her gut instincts are undeniable. She warned me about Fran Rabinowitz, Dave Hennessy, Andre Baker, Lindsay Darrel, etc. I couldn’t see what she saw early on until it was too late.

    She has been 100% right EVERY single time. If she gives you advice on a situation or individual; take It!

  • Maria Pereira

    I hope that serves as precedent so that EVERY other person who received those tickets gets a refund or waiver of payment.

  • Frank Gyure

    In this case,a retired Superior Court Judge brought enough “firepower” and publicity so that her claim about the parking ticket was absolved.But the ordinary citizen does not have access to such legal and publicity firepower. The ordinary citizen gets “screwed” and will no longer use downtown businesses. And the “ordinary” citizen will tell everyone within ear’s reach;do not go to Downtown Bridgeport. This shows the insularity of the powers-to-be in Bridgeport.

  • Lisa Parziale

    If it took the esteemed Judge Lopez to take on city hall, so be it. We should all be grateful she cares so much for the residents of Bridgeport. I’m honored to have been a part of her life, along with her sister Betty, and Mom and Dad. I hope all those aggrieved by this parking system do as she did. If the leader of this City used common sense, all those ticketed under these circumstance would have been excused from the excessive, unfair fines starting from the date this practice was exposed. Soooo, this is a campaign promise fulfilled! What a pathetic statement.

    • Frank Gyure

      Lisa Parziale..what chance do i have if I take on City Hall. City Hall employees hide behind their glass-walled areas and pontificate with any of the denizens of Bridgeport. God forbid if one of the political hacks come out and pontificate..the hacks are infallible just like the Pope.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Can we “follow the money” for a moment on Street Parking where there are meters? I am looking at the February 2017 monthly financial report that shows us eight months through the 2017 budget.

    Flip to the REVENUE section, and reviewing Comptroller, Tax Collector,and Police Administration, I find no meter line item. Under Police Administration there is 41650 Line for Parking Violations, initially set at $1,100,000 last spring and reduced by $100,000 during the year. Actually $107,264 was received in February, but how much of this may be refunded/waived in the instance of the inconsistencies in the law and the City’s official process. Since the City has already received $716,770 in eight months, with four to go and the new technology, one wonders why the revenue estimate decreased?
    Still looking for Meter Revenues and I come to Office of Planning and Economic Development where Line 41641 shows $259,067 actual in 2016 but only $75,000 budgeted for 2017 and only $2800 received through 8 months. Something obviously has changed here…without explanation.
    And I find no Revenue category? Makes me curious. How about you? After all, this morning we also learned that the “prosecutorial officer” a former police officer, familiar with parking issues back in the day, when there is a question, reports to a Police Captain regarding his duties handling the Parking Violations Appeals process. We also learned that LAZ parking, another firm that sets up communications protocol and finally the meter manufacturer are parties to the Bridgeport deal, so the funds are going somewhere, even though software has been available since inception adequate for community needs from the manufacturer. Of course, that may have meant one less company feeding from the revenue stream? But where is the City revenue recorded? Apologies for not finding this, but perhaps someone in City Hall can chime in where the number, year to date for gross or net revenue is reported? Time will tell.

    • Frank Gyure

      The budget and everything that comes out of OPM is “fake.” At worst,the info from The Mayor’s Office is a pure lie. It’s almost a waste of time to look at any and all info from the Government of The City of Bridgeport.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Is that retired police officer that handles parking issues a city employee? If he is I hope the proper deduction from his pension is being done because there should be no double dipping.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Parking regulation policy could be a metaphor for the essential lack of real planning and vision with respect to overall development and revenue planning in City Hall. There isn’t any real planning or policy development going on. Bridgeport government is, at a basic level, a primitive, reactionary, opportunistic entity that allows our future to exist as a vacuum. We allow real policy and planning — the big stuff — to be done by those who would exploit us and restrict our prerogatives. And then we mindlessly grub for revenue through contraindicated, counter productive, regressive means such as downtown parking meters…

    Downtown Fairfield has 0 — zero — parking meters. I checked, very recently… Downtown Fairfield has a wonderful, inviting, interesting, vibrant downtown. Probably the best downtown in Fairfield County….

    Bridgeport is making all the wrong development moves, everywhere. Or, I should say, they are being made for us by our “One Coast, One Future” down-county “partners”… Our parking meter fiasco is simply one more symptom of our state/regional limited development/revenue- generation prerogatives.

    Will our next governor continue the same repressive, exploitative policies against Bridgeport and the rest of Connecticut’s cities, or will we get someone with a real vision for the state beyond southwest, coastal Fairfield County?…

    • Frank Gyure

      Jeff..I happen to live in Black Rock. There are a few meters in Downtown Fairfield but these are more oriented towards commuters-commuter parking lots etc. There are some “time” limited components of parking in Downtown Fairfield. The Fairfield Police Dept. would have retired police officers mark cars/tires with chalk and this might show cars that are parked beyond the FREE time limit. Even with the meters,you are looking at SIX dollars to park all day. Why would I ever go to Downtown Bridgeport and risk getting a $Forty Dollar ticket etc. NO THANK YOU. I spend my entertainment and leisure dollars in Fairfield-I don’t have to worry about meters.

      • Frank Gyure

        BTW..this has nothing to do with Malloy..or Hartford etc. This is all 100% Bridgeport stupidity. We have people who work in City Hall,amke policies and procedures but they get FREE parking ALL DAY and then at 5pm,they go home to their houses OUTSIDE of Bridgeport. They are all out of touch.

  • Frank Gyure

    Heyy..Lennie Grimaldi..are you doing some fancy-schmantzy advertising stuff with the OIB blog? I’m getting a lot of internet advertising whenever I come here.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Haven’t been downtown for anything since these meters were installed,want to try that new cheesecake store that opened in the arcade,but I’m not stressing out,rushing around,while trying to avoid the tickets,or god forbid I find a space,decide to sit in my car a moment and check my phone or something,if I don’t do it within 5 mins,I’ll get a ticket??..no thanks,I’ll find cheesecake somewhere else..

    • LennieGrimaldi

      Harvey come to my book signing May 11, 5:30 to 7 Barnum Museum. You can arrive at 6 when they no longer ticket! Also they still have the old coin operated meters near the Barnum.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Harvey that’s what I’m doing. I want to enjoy Lennie’s book signing and don’t want to be stressed before I get there. I hope you go, I’d love to see you, it’s been a long time.

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