NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- In some parts of New Haven, on the right street, parking spaces can become a hot commodity.
"The meters are so high, it's hard to park downtown," said New Haven commuter Shawn Nesith.
At $1.50 per hour, the city of New Haven collected more than $4.7 million since June 2012.
However, when a city alderperson needs to meet with voters or go to a city meeting, the city picks up the tab for their parking. Each alderperson is given a pass. The rules for the pass are pretty simple: As long as they are on city business, they park for free.
"A parking enforcement officer will not challenge an elected official whether they're on city business," said Jim Travers, Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking for the City of New Haven. "I think they do get a perk you can't get, if they're doing official city business."
Brenda Jones-Barnes is not only the Ward 13 alderwoman, she is also a fiscal assistant with the Comer School Development Program. Her office for that position is at University Towers. On four separate days, the News8 Investigators documented her car outside that office with a New Haven City Parking pass on display. The car was parked at a meter. On every occasion, the meter was expired.
Alderpersons are often ticketed for parking at expired meters. In the last year, the city has dismissed 57 tickets for alderpersons parked at expired meters.
Jones-Barnes declined comment on the story.
New Haven Board of Alderman President Jorge Perez issued the following statement when contacted about Jones-Barnes‘ parking.
"I expect every city official elected or appointed to uphold all city rules including the proper use of parking accommodations made to facilitate our attendance at meetings and for official city business..."
The city is now investigating.
In just the last year, Alderpersons had 89 tickets issued and dismissed. Many letters to the city to have the tickets dismissed do not specify what the alderperson is doing, only "conducting city business."
The city does not confirm any of that information.
"We really rely on the self policing of the person, or in this instance the alderperson, to use the pass for its intended purpose," said Travers.
The following statement was provided by Alderwoman Brenda Jones Barnes' attorney:
Alderwoman Brenda Jones Barnes has multiple responsibilities in the course of a day, some of which implicate her role as an Alderwoman and all of which involve the use of her motor vehicle. While she is an elected Official, she also serves in the private sector as an employee of Yale University and she is a member of the Executive Board and a Union Steward of Local 34, aka, UNITE HERE.
In all of these capacities, there is a record of the parking tickets that she has paid to the City of New Haven in accordance with the Ordinance.
She has become aware that the City is conducting an investigation into the use of Aldermanic Parking Permits, as the same pertains to her, and possibly other members of the Board of Aldermen.
She intends to cooperate fully with the City in its investigation. She further intends to honor the results of that investigation, wherever it may lead.
Attorney Patricia A. Cofrancesco, Counsel to the Alderwoman
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