Council wants ticket scam details
By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff, 4/15/2004
Raising questions about a parking ticket-fixing scam and whether it goes deeper than officials acknowledge, two city councilors have asked the city to release full details of its investigation.
A measure by councilors Felix Arroyo and Maura Hennigan asks for "any written document" used to conclude that two parking hearing officers dismissed tickets, without cause, from January to March for seven city employees. The order, approved by the full council, gives the administration seven days to respond.
Arroyo and Hennigan said a city investigation concluding that at least 28 parking tickets were dismissed raises the possibility of a wider problem.
"It's hard for me to understand how these hearing officers decided on their own to start doing people favors," Hennigan said after the meeting yesterday. "It had to come from somewhere that this would be OK, that they wouldn't get in trouble. "
Mayor Thomas M. Menino insisted that police thoroughly investigated the case. But he said the city has retained the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to look for problems in the office.
Menino, meanwhile, continued to guard the names of some city employees involved, saying they had only a few tickets dismissed. "I'm not trying to hide anything," he said. "They're good people, and they just didn't use good judgment."
Hennigan, noting that problems like parking ticket-fixing are rarely isolated events, said the council needs to examine investigation documents to determine how thorough the inquiry was and whether it could have missed additional incidents.
"People want to feel that there's an even playing field, that government is transparent," Hennigan said. "This is very important to get this information to the public."
City officials said on Monday that seven employees had been disciplined for having tickets dismissed. They named two: Michael Kelley, who works at the city's Rental Housing Resource Center and was Menino's campaign manager in 2001, and Peter C. O'Sullivan, who runs the city's street furniture program.
Yesterday, two sources at the departments where the employees worked named several others: Boston Redevelopment Authority employees Anthony Gilardi, who had two tickets totalling $20 dismissed, and Lara Valentine, who had one $45 ticket dismissed; and Department of Neighborhood Services employees Jeffrey Drago, who is the mayor's liaison to East Boston and had two tickets totaling $115 dismissed, and Allison Rogers, the mayor's liaison to Jamaica Plain, who had $131 in fines for three dismissed tickets.
The employees were suspended for one day without pay for each dismissed ticket, and they must pay their tickets, along with late fees and interest. The hearing officers, Hayley Snaddon and Karen Rencus, were fired.
Andrea d'Amato, Boston's transportation commissioner, said transportation department authorities grew suspicious when they discovered irregularities while performing routine reviews of department records.
Globe correspondent Kevin Joy contributed to this report.
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