, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

February 24, 2009

PA councilman says silver lining in parking ticket

By Sherry Koonce

The News staff writer

A police department ID apparently wasn’t enough to convince a city councilman’s wife that the elderly man issuing her a ticket for illegally parking in a handicap zone was performing the job he had been trained to do.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Martin Flood said he thought the mostly elderly volunteers who have taken on the task of patrolling stores looking for handicap parking offenders needed better identification.

“They need to have lanyards or an ID, or a vest,” Flood said. “These are elderly people we are asking to do this.”

Flood said his wife had dropped his 75-year-old mother off at Wal-Mart iand was getting ready to back out of the handicap space when she noticed a man standing behind her vehicle taking photos.

Because the man had on civilian clothing, and no visible identification, Flood said his wife became frightened, thinking the incident could be connected with a previous one.

About two weeks earlier, Flood said his wife was followed by a man into the restroom at the mall.

“She thought this could be the same person who followed her into the mall, only now was taking pictures,” Flood said.

For the past two years, about 20 to 25 volunteers from the city’s neighborhood action committees have issued 317 citations for illegally parking in handicap spaces without incident until Feb. 11 when Councilman Flood's wife was cited for the offense, said Terry Bearden, president of the Port Arthur Neighborhood Action Council. The council supervises neighborhood action committees in Port Arthur.

According to Bearden, an elderly volunteer in his 70s saw a car illegally parked in a handicap space at the Port Arthur Wal-Mart.

When the volunteer took a photo of the vehicle to show there was no handicap placard, the driver exited the vehicle and became confrontational.

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