City Council: Unauthorized Tickets May Be ‘$1M Mistake’
DENVER (CBS4)- The Denver City Council began pressing for answers Wednesday about nearly 31,000 parking tickets handed out in the last two years by unauthorized parking agents. The debacle was revealed Monday night in a CBS4 investigation (Full Story).
“Come on, you can’t do this,” said Councilman Charlie Brown on Wednesday. “This is significant. It’s hurting the credibility of the collection department.”
He characterized what the CBS4 investigation revealed as potentially being “a million dollar mistake.”
The CBS4 probe revealed that Denver vehicle control agent Bill Shirland’s authority to hand out parking tickets as a “special police officer” expired in January 2009. Yet he was back on the streets, writing 30,030 citations through December 2010.
Another vehicle control agent, Paul Lucero, never received authorization as a special police officer. Yet he was put on the street in 2010 and wrote 694 tickets in just under three months.
Both men have now been pulled off the streets and placed in jobs that do not involve issuing tickets.
Assuming some of the citations were paid late, the value of the tickets in question could approach $1 million, money the city is now considering refunding.
James Mejia, a former city official and current candidate for Mayor, said Wednesday the issue is black and white.
“I’d like to see the city refund the tickets that were given,” said Mejia. “It’s about playing by the rules. If citizens have to play by the rules the city has to play by the rules as well. Give back the money you’ve collected if the people were not authorized to do so. It’s as simple as that.”
At a City Council committee meeting Wednesday, Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz asked the city attorney’s office for answers. Were the tickets valid, and if not, how much might the city have to refund?
City Attorney David Broadhurst told Faatz the tickets are “currently under review.” He said the issue is “up in the air at this point.”