Getting Mugged By The City Of Milwaukee
It really is unbelievable how out of control the City of Milwaukee is. Here's an e-mail I received from a listener detailing a parking scam being run by crooks and seemingly aided and abetted by the City of Milwaukee:
"Jeff, I love listening to your show and I know you sometimes get a kick out of how ridicules things can get. I thought that I would share my story.
I attended a show last evening (Sunday evening Trans Siberian Orchestra) at the Bradley Center. Just north of the BC is a vacant lot where the freeway extension used to be. At this location three guys were taking money ($10) and parking cars on this lot. Upon leaving the show at the BC, my car, along with approximately 100 other cars had a $30 parking ticket on our windshield.(Violation code 766, PARKED IN PUBLIC PROPERTY, NO PERMIT. Citation location: 324 W Juneau Ave.) Apparently we all had been duped. The guys parking the cars, including two that were using yellow sticks to direct traffic, were not legitimate at all. (I was surprised that these three were able to pull this off considering this is a heavily patrolled area near the Police department main headquarters and there were two Milwaukee Police squads within a half block; emergency lights on, watching traffic. Also, given the terrible weather conditions, rain and wind, these guys were working in some rather bad weather).
Upon arriving back home, I was even more surprised to learn the position of the City. I called the police, and informed them of the problem, but they were completely indifferent. They absolutely did not care. I was switched around to two different police stations, and told that if I wanted to file a complaint that I needed to meet an officer on site. They also informed me that if I wanted to contest the ticket I had to call the Department of Public Works, since parking enforcement is not part of the police department. (The citation lists Officer FOWLER as the person issuing the ticket from District 5)
The DPW folks were even more belligerent. No one ever answered the phone last night. It is one of these places where answering the phone is virtually non-existent and callers are expected to "stay on the line" for very long periods of time (I waited 20 minutes) finally this morning, when a caller is able to talk to "Operator #27", they treated me like I was an idiot. They also claimed that this had never happened before.
Finally I called the mayor's office and the very nice lady said that this has happened quite a few times before and she would have someone at DPW get back to me. She said by noon, still waiting.
So what kind of money is involved? I would guess that at least 100 cars were parked in this lot. At $10 per car, the crooks made $1,000. DPW parking enforcement charged $30 per car and made $3,000? I don't know how long this has been going on but my guess is that last night was not the first time this occurred. Sure it's only another $30, but I seriously question if the City of Milwaukee wants to stop this activity. Even if they charged $20 per car they would have to hire lot attendents, or hire a company to manage, and they would make much less.
By the way, at one time I managed a business in the city. The only way that I could prevent cars from being illegally parked in our lot was to post the property with no parking signs and install a barrier to prevent the cars from parking. IE install a chain across the entrance. This lot has neither.
I would be happy to discuss further. [Contact Information Deleted]"
Our News Department has confirmed that this is precisely what happened yesterday and that a total of 59 tickets were issued. I'm told that this is not the first time that this scam - and the subsequent issuance of tickets - has occurred in this lot and other nearby lots.
This raises a number of troubling issues. First, why are the cops in the vacinity of the Bradley Center waiting until the lots get filled (and the criminals escape) before tickets start getting issued? You would think that one of the numerous officers on duty in the area around the Bradley Center would notice three guys illegally parking cars in a public lot!
Of course, it's more proftable for the City to allow the lots to fill and issue tickets then it is to stop people from being scammed in the first place.
Second, if this has been going on for quite a while, why haven't authorities shut it down? Of course, there's more money to be made by allowing the scam to occur and issuing parking tickets then there is in shutting it down - but I repeat myself.
Third, if there is no private parking in these public lots, why isn't this fact clearly disclosed? Again though, it's more profitable to allow people to park and issue tickets then it is to warn them against illegally parking in the first place.
The City of Milwaukee counts on revenue from parking tickets to help balance the budget. I guess this is fine as far as it goes. However, when the City effectively aids and abets criminals in order to fill its parking coffers, something is very wrong.
It's the functional equivalent of being mugged by the City.