Bill's Point of View:
We received a number of comments on the Gloucester City employee (s) not having to pay the fine for 8 parking tickets received over a seven month period. Because of a possible conflict of interest the case was heard last month before Brooklawn Judge Jeffrey Karl. The reason the Judge gave for dismissing the 8 traffic tickets, it couldn't be determined who was driving the vehicle at the time the tickets were issued.
The majority of those who responded to the article feel the City's No Parking law needs to be updated and or done away with altogether. "Brooklawn doesn't have a street sweeper, why does Gloucester City feel they need one? ", wrote one individual.
The No Parking ordinance originally passed, if I recall correctly, was put in place so the street sweeper could clean the streets. And in the beginning the No Parking signs placed throughout the City included the words Street Sweeper. Residents knew that no tickets would be given on sweeper day if it was raining or the street was covered with snow. It made sense, the inclement weather kept the sweeper from operating and so the police would not issue tickets. Likewise when the sweeper was broken tickets would not be given.
At some point in time our city fathers changed the law and the words Street Sweeper was removed from the signs. I think the law was changed in the 1990's but I am not sure. The police began issuing tickets to residents no matter what the weather. It was apparent the governing body found another way to tax residents in the disguise of a parking violation.
Here are some facts. *Since January until the end of August the Police Department has issued a total of 4,168 citations for parking violations for an average of 521 tickets a month. There is a $25 fine for violating the law. The City has collected $13, 025 a month (521 tickets x $25). Times that amount by eight months the total is $104,200. If that pace continues the City Police/Courts will collect $156,300 for the year from parking fines. Incidentally some time the fine for the violation is more so the estimated figure is on the low side.
As for the No Parking issue, for now I would like Council to change the law immediately so that tickets would not be given when the weather is inclement.
Mayor James told me before he was elected how difficult it was for his family to unload groceries on a rainy day when there was no parking on his side of the street. The mayor said he has to park in the library lot and carry the groceries across the street in the rain to his house. He had promised if elected, that once he took care of more pressing problems he was going to see about changing the No Parking ordinance.
Lastly if the City is going to continue with this "Parking Tax" the least they could do is erect new signs throughout the community. Some streets have none at all, and on other streets the signs are so faded you can't read them. Visitors to our community who receive a ticket complain they never saw the sign. And for them to fight it in court they would lose time at work. So they pay it and vow never to come back to Gloucester City.
Being a suspicious person I wonder if the conditions of the signs have been allowed to deteriorate on purpose. But that is just me.
What is your opinion?
*Information was received from the Gloucester City Court Administrator