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Latrobe motorist's unpaid parking tickets mystery solved

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

City Manager Alex Graziani has solved the case involving two dozen parking tickets dismissed for a motorist in Latrobe.

An unwritten practice of dismissing tickets on a case-by-case basis came under fire after Jim Gebicki, a former mayor, asked at this week's council meeting for an explanation of the practice and the number of tickets dismissed.

Councilman Robert “Stuffy” Forish reviewed records for license plate numbers and questioned the listing of one plate 24 times.

In an email to council members Friday, Graziani explained that those tickets were listed after a woman appeared before the magistrate because of 26 unpaid parking tickets.

She served 24 days in jail, then the tickets were dismissed, Graziani said.

“They are, in essence, excused because of the time served, which acts as the penalty,” he said.

Officials questioned a discrepancy between records the city manager provided, accounting for tickets he dismissed, and police records.

Graziani said, like an accounting ledger, the police records include not only tickets dismissed at city hall, but also those dismissed by the magistrate's office, tickets voided by police officers who made transcription errors, as well as tickets issued in the area around Excela Latrobe Hospital, which are sometimes issued by hospital staff.

“The goal is, like you would imagine with accounting, to record every ticket,” Graziani said.

His own dismissal records indicate that out of about 4,500 tickets written so far in 2013, about 350 tickets have been dismissed, or 7.7 percent.

Through 2009, an average of 6 percent of tickets has been excused.

A policy has never been formalized by council, but Graziani has taken steps since last year to better track the practice. He developed a form that can only be used if the violator failed to properly display a handicapped parking placard, was completing business-to-business loading or unloading, experienced technical glitches in the online Pango mobile parking application, or had a medical emergency.

Until council votes on a policy, Graziani has issued a memorandum directing all appeals to Unity District Judge Michael Mahady.

While Forish said after reading the correspondence from the city manager that city records need to be as clear as possible. “All's we've got to go on is the public record, what we've got in front of us,” he said.

The councilman commended Graziani for answering council's concerns.

“I'm proud of him for doing that,” Forish said. “I'm glad he did it, tried to clarify the facts.”

He supports sending all ticket concerns to the magistrate in lieu of a formal policy.

“It's something that needs to be sat down and discussed with the (police) chief and council,” Forish said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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