City watchdog John Marshall Lee shares this commentary about a woman’s nightmarish encounter with government bureaucracy at a hefty price tag.
A Bridgeport homeowner taxpayer owned a vehicle parked in front of her home on Freeman Street. The vehicle was moved regularly as used. That is not the pattern with some other autos on that street. Some sit in one place month after month. The resident was figuring how to pay her house taxes timely in that first week of June, 2018. On June 5 her Econoline Van received a sticker that marked it as ABANDONED. She knew the vehicle was registered (CT 151 YNC), covered by insurance, plated and with taxes paid. Yet the following day the vehicle was towed despite the above.
An ABANDONED sticker does not identify the person who placed it there. If there were a complainant, for any reason, that info is unavailable. Questioning the Police found that the vehicle was at Jim’s Garage, 1250 Kossuth St and could be rescued initially for $250 fee. That fee did not fit with getting her property taxes fully paid on time. Anyway, why pay for an unfair City process she had suffered?
Less than two weeks later, Linda Lee, the owner, came to the June 18 City Council meeting prepared to tell her story. I met her before the Public Speaking Session. Seeing that Acting Chief A.J.Perez was present, I introduced the parties. In the next ten minutes she related her story and the Chief said, “I will release the vehicle tomorrow.” So she told the Council about her words with the Chief. “I can wait for a positive outcome,” she pledged, “If the car is not returned, I’ll be back.”
What she discovered was that nothing happened. She returned to the July 2, 2018 Council meeting claiming that the towing, storage and other claims are bogus for a vehicle that is registered, plated, with insurance coverage and taxes paid. $25 per day builds each day. No word came from the chief despite her many follow-up calls to his office. His assistants kept saying she would get an official response. And on July 29, the vehicle no longer appeared at the parking lot.
A call to the lot indicates that a vehicle not redeemed within 30 days, faces an authorization from the City to crush the vehicle. What are the financial details? Does any money change hands regarding such towing, parking, crushing, etc? It would appear that the City Grand List is diminished at a minimum.
How is taxpayer property worth thousands confiscated without explanation and held ransom for a period, during which the Acting Police Chief makes a promise to perform but fails to act or communicate apparently? Why is there one vehicle on the street in the same place located during my previous visits to Freeman Street? Why were vehicles not marked ABANDONED and towed, before or since? What can the City Attorney office tell us about the Law and City process? Is Ganim2 receiving a Full Time salary managing the City today? Is this current story indicative of Acting Chief Perez serving all? Time will tell.