It’s a Muni-Meter mystery.
Assemblymember William Colton is the latest in a long line of city residents to receive an unjustified parking ticket, which was left on his car, parked legally at a Muni-Meter spot just about three weeks ago, despite the fact that a time-stamped receipt—which was still valid—lay face up on his dashboard.
The assemblymember — who had parked near Miraglia Funeral Chapels at 86th Street and New Utrecht Avenue – not surprisingly pleaded not guilty, mailing in documentation to support his plea, including statements from two of his staffers who were with him at the time.
As of this writing, Colton is still waiting to hear whether the city will let him off the $35 fine.
The only communication he has received so far from the city is a boilerplate reminder to pay the ticket.
“I received an automatic notice that the city hadn’t received payment yet,” Colton explained, “asking me, if I am pleading not guilty, to fill out pages three and four [which contained a list of possible defenses, but not the one he was submitting, that he was ticketed when he had time remaining].
“I think a lot of tickets just don’t make sense; it’s almost a gotcha situation. Very often, the city seems to be more into getting revenue,” Colton said.
Bensonhurst businessman Lou Gellman, owner of Hilna Tires at Stillwell Avenue and 86th Street, is also feeling the burn, telling this paper that he recently got a ticket while he was getting change to pay for time at the Muni-Meter, and noting that several of his customers had also had similar experiences.
“I got one when I went to get money to put in the meter,” Gellman said. “The guy was standing next to me, writes the ticket, and then tells me not to worry about it because I can plead not guilty.”
Gellman says he has heard “a whole bunch” of identical stories from his customers.
“They put you in a position where you have to put all this energy into fighting unfair tickets,” Gellman continued. “I’ve been hearing all my customers telling me the same story. For some of the older people, this is very, very upsetting and difficult.”
Their plight doesn’t seem to be moving the powers-that-be.
An attempt to learn the protocols followed by traffic agents when writing Muni-Meter tickets was referred by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to the Police Department whose office of public information did not answer the questions that were asked, with an NYPD spokesperson responding only, “Any individual that is issued a summons is afforded the opportunity to plead not guilty and offer evidence in support of this plea at a court hearing.”
The NYPD spokesperson also did not respond to questions about the protocols followed by the city after a determination is made on a not guilty plea.
Currently, in Brooklyn, Muni-Meter tickets set motorists back $35. According to the DOT, “Drivers get a 5-minute grace period past the expired time on Muni-Meter receipts.” There is no grace period listed on the agency’s website for the period preceding the purchase of time at a Muni-Meter.