NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)-- If a private citizen parks in New Haven handicapped zone, without a handicap tag, it is a $150 ticket.
In the past year, two New Haven Aldermen have gotten ticketed, and had tickets dismissed for parking in handicapped zones.
They are two of 89 dismissed citations given to New Haven Aldermen.
Ernie Santiago was ticketed in May 2013 for parking in a handicapped zone. He was also ticketed for parking within 10 feet from a fire hydrant.
Alderpersons are given passes to park for free on the streets of New Haven. They are meant to stop them from getting tickets while they are conducting city business. That is why Santiago asked for his tickets to be dismissed: Because he was conducting city business.
The same is true for Jacqueline James. She had more tickets dismissed than any other alderperson: 15 since June 6, 2012.
She declined our interview requests, but issued the following statement:
"In response to your inquiry, the tickets you referenced were improperly issued at times I was attending to city business downtown or constituent visits. For whatever reason, the meter clerk did not see my permit. "
Brian Wingate was ticketed for parking in loading and handicapped zones.
He declined comment outside an Aldermen meeting.
Current officials are not the only ones getting tickets dismissed. Former Aldermen Alrene Depino and Darnell Goldson left office in 2011. In 2012, they both had tickets dismissed. After they left office, they were called in to volunteer for tax abatement and charter revision meetings.
While inside city hall at those meetings, they were ticketed, and Albert Lucas, the Director of Legislative Services for the City of New Haven asked that their tickets be dismissed.
Both Depino and Goldson said they paid for metered parking while they were at other meetings.
Lucas, in an email said the two were conducting “city business.”
News 8 reached out to Mayor John DeStefano about parking issues among aldermen, but our requests were denied.
The mayor's office issued the following statement:
"The statement made earlier today in a story by WTNH reporter Iversen that the Mayor had no comment because the matter was inconsequential was factually incorrect. The expectation placed upon all elected officials and City staff is adherence to all rules, ordinances and laws. Members of the Board of Aldermen are afforded parking permits in furtherance of their Aldermanic duties and constituent services they each need to preform. The parking permits are not issued as free parking passes for anytime use. That being said, Aldermanic members also have a contestant process, the same as the general public, if they feel they have been wrongly issued a parking infraction. The City is reviewing the matter and will take the appropriate steps warranted if misuse is found in this case."
The following is a statement from former Alderwoman Arlene DePino:
"The facts are as follows: I am a former alderwoman. I was asked to serve on a voluntary basis for the Charter Revision Committee which is mandatory every ten years. I was at meetings downtown on at least eight different occasions, each time paying for parking out of my own pocket. One particular time, the meeting ran in excess of the meter and I was given this ticket. The ticket was forty dollars. I would have gladly paid the ticket if I was not on volunteer time conducting city business. I feel I was wronged. The story was not properly investigated. I was not reached to provide all the facts in my particular case and I do not appreciate the light in which I was portrayed. This is appalling and insulting. I would hope in the future that both sides are investigated before broadcast."
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