Draconian Meter Maids on Galt Ocean Mile Exploit the Dive Bar Staff
"We all have gotten tickets," The Dive Bar bartender Jo-Jo sighs. "The cooks, servers, everyone. It has a three-hour limit and if I got the bar full, I can't leave and go put coins in the meter at the same time."
The meters expire at 6 p.m. and Marcotte and his staff have never received a ticket after that hour. However, citations have been issued at 5:44 p.m. and 5:47 p.m. "We have a contest amongst customers and employees to see who gets the tickets closest to 6 p.m. that day," Marcotte says.
According to Marcotte, the parking war started in late 2011, when he complained about construction workers parking and sleeping in their cars next to the meters in front of his bar. He noticed that meter maids weren't ticketing them even though they weren't paying for parking.
"I saw they weren't putting money in the meter and spending like 10 hours at a time at these meters," Marcotte said. "I asked why they weren't being ticketed and someone told me that contractors didn't have to pay, and that meter maids were told not to give them tickets."
Marcotte then called parking enforcement to complain. Allegedly a man named Hector said he couldn't help, and warned Marcotte against appealing to the city manager. When Marcotte told him he would, Hector ominously replied that Marcotte would regret doing so.
Calls to the parking office to confirm the story were unsuccessful.
It isn't the first time Fort Lauderdale's parking enforcement specialists have been accused of intimidating civilians. According to the Sun Sentinel, two parking enforcement officers were fired after an internal investigation found they had issued a bogus ticket after an altercation in May 2009. Allegedly Parking Enforcement Specialist Thankachan Kanjookaran got into an argument with the motorist, Alfredo Chulluncuy, and then called on his buddy, Byju Varughese, also a parking enforcement specialist, to issue a fraudulent ticket in retaliation.
After being interviewed, Marcotte called back this writer to say he fears that speaking out will only make matters worse for his employees. "For me it's a game with them," Marcotte says. "But I can afford it. At a bartender's wage, a $32 fine every shift is a lot. I don't want them getting any more tickets than they get already."