“Ghost parking tickets”

NEWS10's John McLoughlin reports

It's a secret list, so Albany VIP's only get “ghost parking tickets” and no fines – even when their cars are parked illegally.

How does it work? When the meter maid enters your license plate numbers into their computer, they come back as a VIP. There's no fine incurred, but the officer leaves a ticket on the windshield anyway just for appearances' sake.

This comes just week after the Times Union reported certain cars owned by police officers had so-called “bullseye” stickers on them and were exempt from fines as well.

The police union says about 200 parking tickets were issued in the past few years to Pamela Tobin, the executive director of the downtown Albany Business Improvement District – a private civic group.

Tobin, however, did not have to pay for the tickets because she is on the secret list of VIP's who do not have to.

A handheld computer tells the P.S.O., or public safety officer, that the license plate is exempt. A ticket still gets written, thought, in order not to draw attention to the “free ride”

City Councilman Corey Ellis (D) said he was unaware of the secret VIP list when he tried this week to subpoena the police union president to testify about the “bullseye” stickers that were issued to police officers to avoid tickets while on official business.

The union admits the “bullseyes” were abused by IST members and that the VIP list is costing the city far more than the “bullseyes” ever did.

The police union claims that it is being made the scapegoat because Corey Ellis and others may want to run for Mayor this year.

A spokesperson for Tobin says this was a special parking arrangement for her because she has so many downtown business meetings and there was no intention to do anything wrong.

Incidentally, in an interview Tobin did a little over a year ago, she acknowledged getting dozens of tickets and told the interviewer that she pays every single one of them.

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