Philadelphia has been the setting of A&E’s cable television show “Parking Wars” for three years, but the ticket-and-tow reality show may be coming to a parking spot near you.
According to city officials, “Parking Wars” has shown an interest in bringing their show to Hoboken for Season 4.
Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs said the show’s producer reached out with an offer to film in the city, but Sacs said there would be no monetary compensation for Hoboken.
Nonetheless, Sacs thinks the opportunity can shed some positive light on Hoboken.
For three seasons, the show has documented confrontations between ticket issuers, car booters, impound employees, and irate motorists in Philadelphia.
“In a way, it sort of exposes how things are not run perfectly.” – Dawn Zimmer
He said the city has many things to consider and he is working with Mayor Dawn Zimmer and other city officials before they make a decision.
Zimmer said the show could highlight the improvements being made in pedestrian safety in the city.
“You have to do it in an entertaining way,” she said. “ ‘Parking Wars’ may be an opportunity to do that, for free.”
However, it could open the city up to criticism or ridicule, as some Philadelphia officials have claimed it has done in their city.
“In a way, it sort of exposes how things are not run perfectly,” Zimmer said. The city is still in the process of improving the utility, and the attention could help, she added. “The positive outweigh the negatives,” Zimmer said.
Sacs said the parking employees have mixed reactions to the possibility of the show coming to their town. Some are hesitant to accept the attention, while others are giddy over the possibility of being on television.
Weathering the seasons like a mail carrier, but hitting people in the pockets with parking tickets, Sacs said parking attendants have one of the toughest jobs in town: “Second to the mayor.”
Hoboken, a mile-square city with more than 40,000 residents, is known for its parking problems. Visitors to town can park on most streets for only four hours unless they have a permit. (Exceptions include parking garages and metered spots.)
Turning around the utility
Several parking employees found themselves in trouble with the law last year, including parking head John Corea. He was recently indicted on theft and money laundering charges related to the parking meters (see sidebar).
Also, two meter attendants were caught stealing coins locally and another utility employee was arrested in a countywide cocaine ring bust.
Sacs took over when he was appointed by Zimmer during her stint as acting mayor and has been trying to turn around the department.
“I’m proud of the employees here,” he said. “I think it’s a tough job. [The show] could allow the public to see how good a job they do and how hard it is.”
The city is already the site of one reality show: “Cake Boss,” which features Carlo’s Bakery, located across from City Hall.
Permit rules cleared up
On a related note, Sacs has been working on a reorganization and clarification of the city’s parking permit rules, which were revised by the City Council last week.
The new rules clarify which documents can be accepted as proof of residency when obtaining a parking permit. They also change the cost of business parking permits, basing them on the number of hours per day that employees spend in town.
The rules are available on the city’s website, http://www.hobokennj.org/.
Current residents have been granted an extension for their permits, and reapplication letters will be sent out by the utility soon, officials said.
Sacs said the changes should make it easier for the residents and parking employees.
“People can find out exactly what they need before they come to the window of the utility,” he said.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at email@example.com.
Corea to plead ‘not guilty’
Former Hoboken Parking Utility head John Corea was recently indicted on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, official misconduct, theft by unlawful taking, and misapplication of government property for allegedly conspiring to split $600,000 of parking meter coins with a Toms River contractor.
Corea’s lawyer, Frank Cutruzzula, who runs a private practice in Jersey City, said last week that his client is prepared to fight the charges.
“This is a complex financial case,” he said, noting that originally the city thought they were missing only half of the $1.1 million alleged in the criminal complaint. “How did the shortfall double?” he asked.
The contractor, Brian A. Petaccio, 49, of Toms River, the owner and president of United Textile Fabricators LLC, pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to charges of stealing more than $1.1 million in coins from Hoboken’s parking meters, according to the state attorney general’s office. Prosecutors say he allegedly split the money with Corea.
His company previously paid back roughly $500,000 to the city; now he and Corea are being held accountable for the other $600,000.
Rumors have circulated that Petaccio was wearing a wire for the state, but Cutruzzula said he doesn’t know if that was the case.
“I don’t know if he was ever wired,” he said. “John maintains his innocence. We’re going to take it to trial.”
Corea allegedly steered three separate no-bid contracts to United Textile Fabricators in November 2005 to collect and count the coins, according to the state. Current City Council members Michael Russo, Theresa Castellano, and Nino Giacchi were three of the eight unanimous votes to approve the three contracts. Former Councilwoman Terry LaBruno sponsored the measure at the time.
Former Mayor David Roberts blamed former Corporation Counsel Joe Sherman for not properly vetting the company when the missing money was uncovered in the audit.
It also became known around that time that Petaccio had already been indicted on state Grand Jury racketeering charges on March 7, 1991.
Asked whether Corea would take a deal, his lawyer said, “I don’t know if they’re offering anything yet.”
The charges originated in Ocean County and the trial, if it comes to that, will be held there.
Corea and his counsel are scheduled for a pre-arraignment meeting next week, when a judge will most likely be assigned to the case and will set an arraignment date. – TJC