Friday, May 20, 2011

Is There A Gold Card With Indy's Parking Meter Deal?

The City of Los Angeles awarded a contract to ACS, the same company that received a 50-year lease to run the City of Indianapolis' parking meter assets, to process parking violations. City residents are now up in arms after learning the company has a Gold Card program for the privileged elite that allows them to resolve any parking fine disputes they might have unlike ordinary citizens. The LA Times reports on how the privileged are able to get their parking fines dismissed with the use of their Gold Card:

Los Angeles residents are up in arms over the existence of the "Gold Card," a plastic parking bureau card distributed to city offices that includes a special phone number.

The obscure Gold Card Services Desk allowed the mayor and other elected officials to expedite citation reviews.

On the back, the card notes that the holder may have an "urgent need to resolve any parking citation matter which requires special attention." It promises "you will be immediately connected to our Gold Card Specialist."

A report released Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel found that about 1,000 Los Angeles city parking citations were dismissed over a two-year period -- some without justification -- as part of the Gold Card operation.

The program was started about 20 years ago to permit officials and their staff to expedite constituents’ appeals of parking tickets and possibly have fines reduced or eliminated.

"I wish they did let us know about it," said Donny Legans, 55, who arrived at the city's parking enforcement office Thursday to pay an $88 ticket. "The system is so unfair. Sometimes the meters aren't even working and they give us tickets."

Most of those interviewed said they were angry about the program's existence -- and will be even more upset if it turns out that elected officials used the program to get special treatment for themselves and their friends.

John Torres arrived at the parking enforcement office in a fury. He said he got his ticket after the enforcement officer accused him of spending 90 minutes at a meter in the 1400 block of West Washington Boulevard.

Torres said he put money in the meter, and had been there for 10 minutes. Since being cited, his fine doubled from $75 to $150 because he had been away on business and didn't have the opportunity to pay it immediately.

Torres, who was surprised to hear about the "Gold Card Desk," said he'd like access to the program himself so he could contest his fine.
The Gold Card, by the way, has the ACS emblem emblazoned in bold letters in the upper right-hand corner. Under the contract signed last year, an ACS press release said the company collected $9.5 million annually in parking fines for the city. ACS boasts that it is the largest processor of parking violations in the nation, collecting $818 million for nearly 15 million parking violations. ACS has a reputation for winning coveted contracts to manage government operations through a well-connected team of political deal-makers the company engages throughout the country. The City of Indianapolis came under fire a few years ago for the practice of passing out parking placards to government employees, officials and well-connected persons that allowed thousands to park for free at metered spaces without being cited for a parking violation.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Don't worry, Gary, if they are pulling something, we just won't renew the contract when it comes up for renewal in 2060.

Downtown Indy said...

So people are now discovering the way this deal makes more money is by eliminating the possibility of even the slightest infraction being overlooked.

It's like if the city adding 500 new radar cops all over town nailing virtually everyone going even 1 MPH over the limit.

49 years and 8 months to go, folks. Thank you Mr. Mayor, may I have another?