BUZZ Blog: Councilor explains more on the parking ticket controversy
Peter Passi and Brandon Stahl cover issues related to the city of Duluth. Follow BUZZ on Twitter.
Two tickets to paradise
Being a city councilor has its perks, but one thing it won't get you: a pass from parking tickets.
Todd Fedora and Jim Stauber found that out when they spoke at the Chamber Forum last week, and because they were parked at one-hour spots and the event lasts for a bit longer than that, they both got tickets. They could have parked in the Tech Village garage to avoid those tickets, or, apparently they could have been city employees.
Stauber said that he was parked next to three city vehicles driven by the same employees who attended/the one who spoke at the Forum. None of those vehicles got tickets.
He brought this up during last Thursday's agenda session, to which city CAO David Montgomery said he didn't believe it was right that the vehicles weren't ticketed.
But, city attorney Gunnar Johnson sent an email to the council Friday saying it was his understanding that "city vehicles on official business do not receive parking tickets."
That begs the question: were the employees there on official city business? Economos, a speaker at the Forum, said he was coming from a job site and would return to it at the end of the Forum. The other city workers at the Forum seemed like they were there to support Economos -- they were all part of the AFSCME bargaining team.
It begs another question: how many comments will I get on this post? I'm putting the over/under at 35.
UPDATE: The following email was sent to the city council this morning:
Dear Mr. Montgomery,
I read with interest a post by Brandon Stahl on the Buzz Duluth blog titled “Two tickets to paradise.” I found this particular post by Stahl interesting because I was one of the Basic Unit employees who attended the Chamber of Commerce forum regarding the cost of government. Stahl’s piece was filled with inaccuracies if not outright lies.
There were six Basic Unit members in attendance at the Chamber’s May 4th forum. They were Dave Wiesen, Scott Stewart, Jim Drier, Robin Davis, myself, and guest panelist Nick Economos. All six of the Basic Unit members in attendance were there on their own time using management approved vacation or personal leave. All six members traveled to the Tech Village in private vehicles and paid for their own parking.
It is unfortunate that Councilors Fedora and Stauber attempted to use City vehicles and employees to divert attention away from the fact that they broke the law. If Stahl’s blog has any truth to it, which may be a stretch, it is even more unfortunate that Councilor Stauber raised this issue during a City Council meeting. In my opinion this was nothing more than another mindless smear against the Basic Unit in a very public arena by Stauber. The idea that Stauber would waste the public’s time, the Chief Administrative Officer’s time, and the City Attorney’s time over a parking ticket truly is a sad commentary on Duluth.
UPDATE II: Called Stauber to ask if he had a response to Lange's email. He said he didn't, other than "I think he's perhaps misinterpretating what has gone on."
I also asked why he believed the city cars belonged to Economos and the other city workers at the Forum .
"That was a leap on my part," he said. "They were right there in the same area as my car and Fedora's car. There were five employees at the event, they were smaller cars, staff cars. It must have been some other city function."
He also noted that he brought the issue up as part of a resolution he proposed at the agenda session regarding the one-hour parking limits at some places downtown. He put forward a proposal to stretch those spots into two-hours, in part, he said, because of the frustration of being only able to park at those spots for an hour. That proposal was essentially sent to the city's parking commission for review.
p.s. We're at 34 comments now.
p.p.s. Let us never talk about this subject again.