State comptroller releases ghost ticket report

bulls eye sticker

One of the infamous bulls-eye stickers.

Update: We pulled the lists of people who received ghost tickets from the report.

The state comptroller's office has posted its report on the Albany ghost ticket investigation.

Here are a few highlights (if that's the word)...

+ Between 2001 and 2008, the city issued 57,420 no-fine tickets. It's hard to say how much revenue was lost because the comptroller's office couldn't tell how many of these ghost tickets were issued to cars on official business.

+ During that same period the city canceled 30,857 parking tickets. The comptroller's office says the majority of these tickets were cancelled with no stated reason. The report states that there are "significant deficiencies in the ticket cancellation process"

+ 214 vehicles received 50 or more ghost tickets because they had a bull's-eye sticker or some sort of other marker. The comptroller's office says many of these vehicles were registered to individuals or businesses.

+ The director of the parking violations bureau received 34 no-fine tickets -- and his wife received 121 of them.

+ The spouses of at three city employees or officials received ghost tickets.

+ The separate VIP list accounted for 6,615 no-fine tickets.

+ Four members of the Downtown Albany BID got 980 of these tickets -- the org's executive director racked up 736 of them.

+ The investigation concludes that the VIP list cost the city and state "hundreds of thousands of dollars in both parking ticket fi nes and surcharge fees"

+ The report also criticizes the cities use (or lack of use) of information technology. It says the parking ticket system has "no audit log capability" nor does it have a way to "generate a list of the users and their level of access within the program." The system can't even report if a ticket record has been deleted.

+ On the origins of the bull's-eye stickers: "we determined that the bull's-
eye sticker system was initiated and operated by the [Albany Police Officers Union], which distributed the stickers that came to be used as a means of providing free on-street parking to police offi cers and others. However, we found no evidence that such a system was ever authorized by the Common Council or the Mayor's office."

+ The whole ghost ticket situation is attributed to "a lack of management control."

+ About whether officials for the city of police department might have known about what was going on, here's the full section from the executive summary:

The fact that there are no written policies or procedures for bull's-eye stickers, and that the information on no-fine ticket activity is not transmitted to City Hall, provides plausible support that other City officials outside the Police Department were not aware of the inappropriate use of bull's-eye stickers as a means for providing preferential treatment for an ever-widening group of individuals. However, officials inside the Police Department had clear evidence available to them that such a system existed.

[report link via ACO]

Comments

Net result: a very serious finger wagging at the naughty Albany Police Officer's Union.

We can add the cost of bothering to do this investigation to the thousands of dollars given away by the city of Albany.

You know how when a whole situation is FUBAR, it's the little details that can be the most irritating? For example "The director of the parking violations bureau received 34 no-fine tickets -- and his wife received 121 of them". THE DIRECTOR!!! OF THE PARKING VIOLATIONS BUREAU!!! COME ON!!

If you leave your car parked long enough in one spot, they will come back and issue more than one ticket.

For example, I parked my car in Washington Park and left it there all day. I looked up and down the street -- there was no sign indicating parking rules.

During that time, I was ticketed TWICE by two different folk. When I went up to city hall, they cancelled one of them.

But the bigger problem? There are NO parking regulation signs on the internal streets of Washington Park. They only appear on the outside edges of the park -- Washington / Madison / S.Lake / Willett / State.

A criminal money making scheme, if you ask me.

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