Corrections Officials Told to Pay Parking Tickets: $13,000 in Citations on D.C. Vehicles Date Back to 1994

Article excerpt

Eighteen officials with the D.C. Department of Corrections are responsible for more than $13,000 in unpaid parking tickets slapped on taxpayer-owned cars dating from 1994.

In a Sept. 17 memorandum obtained by The Washington Times, Calvin R. Edwards, interim director of the department, told the employees they must contest or pay the tickets by tomorrow, though it does not say what will happen if the tickets go unpaid.

The 18 persons who had taxpayer-owned cars assigned to them include three wardens, a court-appointed medical receiver and the deputy director for management reform.

Mr. Edwards said yesterday he is unsure if those persons received the tickets or if their staff members received the tickets. Either way, the 18 persons are on the hook for the bill, he said.

"I think it's very serious," Mr. Edwards said of the unpaid tickets. "They should have taken the initiative to have them adjudicated and not have a stack of tickets laying around. It's very serious." In his memorandum, Mr. Edwards wrote:

"You were assigned a take-home vehicle and effective December 15, 1997 . . . official vehicles could no longer be used for transportation to and from your place of residence. However, you are and were personally responsible for ensuring that these vehicles are parked in legal parking spaces. The Department is not responsible for payment of these parking infractions."

On Sept. 21, Mr. Edwards also ordered all employees to return keys to department vehicles and tightened regulations for borrowing cars, according to a memorandum obtained by The Times.

City employees are responsible for paying tickets they receive while operating city vehicles, said Linda Grant, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works, which issued the parking tickets.

City vehicles, however, are exempt from being ticketed for two of the most common violations. They do not have to pay for meter parking and do not need zone stickers, Ms. Grant said.

Other violations, such as parking in a handicapped spot or in a rush-hour lane, can be ticketed for city vehicles. Ms. Grant did not know why any of the corrections officials had been ticketed.

Mr. Edwards said he learned of the unpaid tickets while reviewing records of the department's 360-vehicle fleet.

He said he is reviewing the range of disciplinary actions he can take against those responsible for the tickets, but did not say whether anyone would be disciplined. The matter remains under investigation, he said.

Like the rest of the city's agencies, the Department of Corrections is undergoing a radical overhaul. …