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City Council’s “Grace Period” Sparks Parking Agent Assault. What’s Next?

12:43 PM EST on December 7, 2009

slashgrab.jpgA serial tire slasher, shown here in a video still, has targeted the vehicles of TEA agents. What effect will the meter "grace period" have on what is an already volatile environment? Image: Daily News

Before it's even signed into law, the City Council's inane parking meter "grace period" is already making the job of traffic law enforcement that much harder. Last week a Bronx TEA agent was allegedly assaulted by a 23-year-old motorist named George Collazo, who was under the impression that the new rule had already taken effect. The Daily News reports:

When [Collazo] returned to his parked car in Westchester Square on Thursday afternoon and found an agent about to slap a ticket on his windshield he allegedly went nuts.

Collazo wrestled a hand-held computer out of agent Sophia Sewer's hand, bending her finger back as he shouted that he couldn't get a ticket, authorities said.

"I get a five-minute grace period. It was in the media, today on the news," he yelled, according to court papers.

Collazo, who allegedly threw the computer to the ground, has been charged with menacing and assault.

Just as area merchants tried to justify recent acts of TEA vehicle vandalism in Westchester Square, even in such a clear case of motorist aggression, the News (which dubbed the TEA tire slasher a "Rubber Robin Hood") can't resist an attempt at rationalization.

A witness to the incident said Collazo had just bought parking time at a muni-meter and was bringing the ticket back to put on his windshield when the agent swooped in.

"That's why they need a grace period," said Aurora Susi, an employee at nearby Metro Optics.

With parking enforcers already subject to regular harassment and physical attacks, expect more confrontations between emboldened drivers and "swooping" TEAs once the latest giveaway kicks in, most likely with the continued tacit approval of city media. Nice job, Chris Quinn and City Council.

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