In a follow-up to her commentary confronting the city’s new Downtown “RoboCops” parking meters, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez grinds up the city’s process to “essentially privatizing parking meter enforcement.” Like many, Lopez received a $40 computer programmed parking ticket for not completing a meter transaction within five minutes of pulling up. Her parking ticket appeal has been denied. She has requested a formal hearing, per state law, that could be scheduled in late April by the Police Department’s Parking Violations Bureau.
For as long as I can remember, people have always said that if you like law or sausages, you shouldn’t watch either being made. Otto van Bismark and Mark Twain have both been credited as the originator of the maxim.
Regardless of who said it first, the statement conveys the message that making either laws or sausages is unsightly, and the process should be kept out of public view. Only when the law or the sausage is finalized and ready, should it be exposed to the public.
In Bridgeport, sausage making gets a bad rap when compared to law making!
After reviewing the recent processes used by Bridgeport’s City Council to make the new law creating a parking division and to approve a contract essentially privatizing parking meter enforcement, I set about to investigate whether sausage making is as unsightly an operation, as making laws.
Being somewhat familiar with the law making process used by the Bridgeport City Council, I stopped by DeYulio’s Sausage Company, 1501 State Street in Bridgeport, unannounced, to personally observe the sausage making process. My hope was that someone would take mercy on me and give me an appointment for some time in the future.
Lo and behold, I was not turned away!
Instead, I was welcomed into the plant by Michael Taylor, a member of the management team. As soon as I explained my mission, he agreed to give me a tour of the facility and answer questions.
As he led me through the sparkling and impeccably clean facility, I was amazed at the order and respect permeating the atmosphere. Key ingredients are required by the recipe in order to maintain the integrity of the product. These ingredients are always included. Machines were quietly being operated by a team of dedicated and committed employees, obviously concerned with producing a quality product. The workplace was bright, open and inviting. The employees were courteous to me as a visitor.
While I was there, the US Department of Agriculture inspector was making his daily visit; everything passed inspection.
In Bridgeport, most of the law making process is performed in one of several City Council committees. Ms. Eneida Martinez and Mr. Jose Casco were co-chairs of the Ordinance Committee at the time that this parking ordinance was approved. Mr. Jack Banta and Ms. Jeanette Herron were Co-Chairs of the Contract Committee at the time of approving the agreement with Laz Parking LTD.
Democratic principles are a key ingredient in the recipe for making laws. The recipe requires that the law making function of city government be independent of the executive branch (the Mayor). Sausage makers are loathe to dilute key ingredients for fear of compromising the integrity of their product. Contrast that with lawmakers in Bridgeport, who are flexible and lax with key ingredients, and even allow the Mayor to script the recipe.
The Ordinance Committee Co-chairs knew that the Mayor and his ethics czar, Ed Adams, were eager to remove the parking functions from the police commission and give it to the Department of Public Facilities as soon as possible. They also knew that the Contracts Committee co-chairs had managed to get the Laz Parking LTD agreement through the committee process and obtain City Council approval in less than 30 days.
Not to be outdone, on June 29, Ms. Martinez and Mr. Casco called for a special meeting for the next day, Thursday, June 30. This happens to be the eve of the 4th of July weekend.
The committee approved the ordinance and recommended that the City Council also approve it.
The City Council accepted the recommendation and approved the ordinance on July 5, one business day later, moments after a two minute public hearing on the subject.
On July 6, the Mayor held a press conference, joined by members of the Bridgeport Business Council, heralding their product, the new smart meters, as the best thing since sliced bread.
No wonder sausage makers are insulted when their work is compared to making laws; a special thanks to DeYulio’s for helping me understand their reasoning.