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So Wellesley issued parking tickets to people parked in an MBTA lot in Newton

The Herald reports on what happens when you rely too much on technology.

Meanwhile, the Globe reports the T itself is cracking down on actual scofflaws at its parking lots.

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Comments

I just sent this letter to the editor to the Herald:

To the editor:

Wellesley Parking Clerk Bonita Legassie dispatched a parking attendant with a handheld computer Legassie knew was broken ("Driver finds survey ticket a wrong turn", Jan.10). The broken handheld issued parking citations which Legassie knew were bogus. Legassie did nothing to dismiss the bogus citations, even though handling problems like this is her job. Even now, when the problem has been discovered by the public and reported in the newspaper, Legassie hasn't dismissed the bogus citations, notified the victims, and refunded those who've already paid them.

Last time I checked, knowingly taking people's property on false pretenses is criminal theft. Is the district attorney investigating? Is the Board of Selectmen looking for a new parking clerk?

Jonathan Kamens
Brighton

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Although I find it hard to believe that the clerk cannot find out which tickets were written on what street. Ususally these systems have some sort of database where you can check how many tickets were written on which streets on which dates and times etc. Seems to me like you can get one of these bogus tickets, look up the address (or the time and date since Wellesley probaby doesn't issue that many parking tickets in a week) and then find out all the cars that were ticketed on that day/time or location.

But I don't think we want the DA investigating something like this.

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The clerk didn't just fail to take steps to fix the problem after the fact. She knew when it happened that bogus parking tickets were issued, and let it happen, and also did nothing about it afterwards. Sure sounds like theft to me.

I don't know whether the DA's the right person to be investigating, but surely somebody needs to investigate, to do something about the culture of invincibility which leads some government employees to think they can screw people over with impunity.

Incidentally, there is no doubt that the parking clerk could figure out which tickets were issued incorrectly. She knows which handheld and attendant issued them, and she knows when they were issued. That's more than enough information to find them in the system. She apparently just didn't think it was worth the effort to not send out bogus, illegal parking tickets.

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And I didn't get the sense that she knew bogus tickets were being issued, just that the machine was broken.

I don't think her intent was to screw people over, I think it is clear it was an honest mistake.

I do agree that there should be a way to find out when these tickets were sent out.

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From the article:

Once I got the problem fixed, I went down there and took the handheld after he had already printed 40 tickets,” she said. “They should have been dismissed.”

The way I read this, the attendant wasn't supposed to print any tickets at all. When the clerk found out that he had been printing tickets, she stopped him from printing any more, and immediately attempted to dismiss the 40 that he had already printed. This complaint is evidence that at least one of the forty did not get dismissed as intended. The article doesn't say whether or not she investigated the other 39 after she received this complaint.

So it looks to me like it could be incompetence, but not theft.

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The way I read, "They should have been dismissed," is as standard politician blame-shifting passive language. She should have dismissed them. She didn't say, "I tried to find and dismiss them and apparently I missed this one." I see no evidence that she attempted to dismiss any of them. If that's the case, then I will retract my claim of theft and acknowledge that it was, rather, incompetence.

If she knew that incorrect tickets were issued, and she didn't fix them, then it's stealing regardless of whether "the larceny statute" says so. Maybe she can't be charged with theft, but as I said before, somebody needs to do something to make sure the town of Wellesley understands that this is Not Acceptable Conduct.

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Of course you don't. You are getting your information from a damn Boston Herald Article.

This woman isn't a politician. She is a parking clerk for a small town.

Yea, if she ignored the issue and didn't care, that's pretty bad and she should be disciplined. If she honestly tried to delete and void the tickets but they went through anyhow without her knowing then it's probably an honest mistake.

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It's so charming how you give her the benefit of the doubt.

Thank you. I consider that to be one of my good qualities, one that I learned from my father, and I'm glad that you also admire it. I think that if more people had this quality, the world would be a better place.

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BTW, on the subject of incompetence, the world would also be much improved if journalists would ask some rather obvious questions and newspapers (or their electronic equivalents) would publish more details. If the Herald had done a better job with this article, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.

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Meanwhile, the Globe reports the T itself is cracking down on actual scofflaws at its parking lots.

How about cracking down on actual scofflaws at its thousands of bus stops? You know, the people who consider bus stops to be 15 minute parking?

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... local police must issue tickets, tow vehicles, and/or arrest violators in those instances where vehicles are parked at T bus stops. T Police, to be sure, can ask drivers who are present to move their vehicles, but it's the local folk who can actually mete out any punishment. T police, once notified or made aware of a situation, are supposed to contact the locals to do such stuff.

I'm willing to be corrected if anyone knows for certain that it's the other way around, but that's how I've heard it.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Info on Massachusett's 2009 Bus Stop Access Law, which increases the fine for blocking a bus stop to $100 and creates a unified citation system usable by MBTA, state, and local law enforcement officers.

And a Glob article from last year on how it's being ignored by many (including district court judge Severlin B. Singleton III, who insulted the MBTA advisory committee member who photographed him in the act of blocking access to the 69 bus in Cambridge).

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I got similar info to yours last night, from a good source, and would have fessed up this morning to having had out-of-date information, if you hadn't pointed it out here already. Appreciate the links!

By the way, what I also learned from my source is that revenue from ticketing is split 50/50 when T personnel write the ticket (that is, half to the T and half to the municipality) but 100% to the municipality when their officers write the citation. So, it appears it is in the best interest of both parties to get their personnel writing before the other shows up. You would think this would, indeed, result in more ticketing :-)

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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And now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I have seen an MBTA cop give out a ticket for a bus stop, but I know there isn't a uniform citation for these things. Each city would just add their own violation onto their ticket books.

It is true that towns get 100% of the revenue if their officers write tickets for MBTA bus stop violations.

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I got my information from someone on the T's Rider Oversight Committee. This person had been involved on the committee during the time period when the changes were being crafted, and it was one of that person's pet projects (having had major arguments with some municipal police, concerning enforcement of the then-current law, during the past.) The 50/50 and 100% figures were given me with no equivocation or doubt.

As with the previous comment from Jeff, if it can be positively shown that I'm wrong on this, I'll graciously admit that I was. You said, "I don't think...", Pete. Can you cite something definite? I'd appreciate it, if so.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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I just have never seen a transit parking ticket in the Boston area issued by transit officers for bus stops. I know cities and towns write these tickets and the 2009 law basically said they could up the fine to $100 (state law sets limits for parking fines).

I know a guy that does some fare evasion stuff for the T. I'll get back to ya when I get the answer.

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(depending upon the lot) from each commuter that uses their parking lots, yet they can't be bothered to use their own police force to enforce laws and write tickets on their own property. By all means, let's put that burden on local cities and towns instead.

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Read the article.

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But the underlying issues have very much to do with enforcement and ticket writing.

Although Wellesley was apparently using the ticket writing machines (which IMO are a gigantic waste of taxpayer money - but that's a different matter) for the purpose of conducting a transporation survey, the fact remains that the Town of Wellesley ended up issuing parking tickets for vehicles parked on MBTA property, and not on Town streets.

Because these tickets were not immediately flagged as bogus (because the location of the supposed violations were NOT on Town streets), it can be rightfully inferred that having local police write tickets for parking violations on MBTA property is routine procedure.

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... then you would have seen that the guy who complained about the bogus ticket complained that it said he was parked illegally *in Wellesley*. So your scenario is simply wrong.

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Do you really think a revenue department would use something that would cost them money?

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