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Department of Finance

City’s ‘Parking Ticket Advocate’ is Helping Scofflaw Drivers Win Dismissals

6:00 PM EDT on May 1, 2019

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

The city's new "parking summons advocate" is helping scofflaw drivers get their tickets dismissed at a rate nearly twice the normal rate, city officials admitted this week.

Department of Finance director of Intergovernmental Affairs Sheelah Feinberg, testifying at an unrelated City Council hearing on Monday, revealed that the year-old advocate's office has helped drivers dispute 381 parking summonses and won 321 dismissals, a reversal rate of more than 84 percent.

That's almost double the 45 percent dismissal rate that drivers are currently enjoying when they dispute a ticket before a parking violations judge, Finance Department Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Shear said earlier in the hearing.

When asked whether that 45-percent rate is too high or too low, Shear said it was "about right," given the city's desire to offer drivers a "fair hearing."

Apparently getting the advocate on your side offers a lot more "fairness."

The office, which was created in April with Jean Wesh in the $120,000 position — got off to a slow start, with the Post reporting in December that there was no way to even contact Wesh. It did not appear that his office was doing anything.

But all that has changed. The 321 dismissals that Wesh has won for drivers have cost the city $33,736, Department of Finance officials testified on Monday.

"He helps with specific appeals because of the complicated process," Feinberg said.

Members of the Council did not react to these particular Finance Department numbers, which were part of a hearing that covered multiple topics. But many people are wondering why the city has hired a person to help dispute tickets written by the city to enforce crucial parking rules — dismissals that cost the city in two ways: In Wesh's salary and in the lost ticket revenue.

"Even as a frequent driver in New York City, I am largely unsympathetic to other drivers," said urban planner Ed Janoff, a former Department of Transportation planner. "They coast around the most populous area of North America for free in a gas-powered chariot, and then act like they are beleaguered because the city enforces rules designed to make streets safer and operate more efficiently. Why is there not such an office for cyclists — a bicycle ticket advocate for when you get harassed by the cops?"

Transportation Alternatives' Co-Deputy Director Marco Conner followed up on that point.

"Where is the mayor's appointment to assist food delivery workers with illegal $1,000 ticketing and confiscations of their bikes — tickets issued by the NYPD at the Mayor's direction?" he asked.

The Department of Finance did not get back to us by deadline.

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