During State Representative Aaron Bernstine’s electric press conference yesterday, nearly a dozen attendees, including both he and another state representative were issued parking tickets for parking arguably legally.
The conference took place at a residential home on Wampum Avenue – a street that has parking prohibited signs posted along the west side of the street but no signs and no yellow curb present on the opposite side.
According to the officer, parking on the side of the road the cars were parked along was illegal due to obstructing a fire lane; however the only no parking sign along the road reads “emergency snow route, no parking during emergency.”
The responding officer could be seen talking to Council President Connie MacDonald and Councilman Brad Ovial shortly before exiting his vehicle to write tickets, which was also illegally parked with the lights off.
After a concerned citizen noticed he was writing tickets and performing the same illegal act he backed his car into a neighboring driveway belonging to the Squicquero’s, who had not given the officer permission to utilize the driveway.
Residents John and Debra Squicquero, who were sitting on their front porch during the conference, stated they have lived on the street for 18 years and had never seen anyone get a parking ticket.
“There are no signs posted, people park on the street all the time. This is just another form of harassment,” former officer John Squicquero stated.
Bernstine speculated the problem was a direct correlation to the attending council members.
“It’s unfortunate that council is using the police, who I might add are funded by the massive electric bills, to try and intimidate those who are expressing their first amendment rights,” Bernstine said. “We will not be deterred.”
MacDonald stated he nor council had anything to do with the parking dispute and did not call in a request to order tickets.
Mayor Court said officers were sent to the street because the police department had received several complaints from residents about the parking.
According to Mayor Court, it is legal to park on that side of the street as long as cars are close enough to the curb – meaning each parked car was over 12 inches from the curb.
“The issue yesterday was due to being too far from the curb, it causes obstruction.”
The issuing officer did not make any attempts to ask the spectators, who may have been parked illegally, to move their cars before ticketing.
Bernstine offered to pay for the tickets.
Several discussions about the incident, including photos, have been added in the Facebook group Standing Up to Ellwood Electric.