parking102016.jpg

A parking enforcement aide has been reassigned after residents complained he was writing too many tickets. | Sun-Times file photo

City worker yanked out of NW Side after writing thousands of tix

SHARE City worker yanked out of NW Side after writing thousands of tix
SHARE City worker yanked out of NW Side after writing thousands of tix

Is there such a thing as doing your job too well or producing too much volume with too much zeal? Apparently so, if your job is to write Chicago parking tickets.

A parking enforcement aide has been yanked out of a Far Northwest Side ward after the office of Ald. Marge Laurino (39th) fielded a barrage of complaints about over-the-top ticketing.

Andrew J. Petersen infuriated local residents by bragging about his ticket totals in an almost taunting string of Facebook posts.

Laurino stressed that the transfer “wasn’t my call.” She simply passed along “multiple complaints” about what she called Petersen’s “unprofessional behavior” to the city’s Department of Finance, which employs the city’s army of parking enforcement aides.

“The complaints that came into my office had to do with him arguing with neighbors and giving people multiple tickets at one time,” Laurino said. “I don’t generally get these kinds of complaints. People are not happy about getting a ticket. But when I get multiple complaints over the course of a week about one individual, I feel that it’s my responsibility to share that information with the department.”

petersenfb_4.png

When Chicagoans complain about city employees, it’s usually for doing something wrong or slacking.

Was Petersen punished for doing his job too well? “Maybe. Wouldn’t that be something? You said that. I didn’t,” the alderman told a Sun-Times reporter.

North Park resident Jeanne Olson said it wasn’t the volume of tickets that bothered residents. It was the demeaning and threatening way that Petersen treated his victims.

During the first week of March, Olson said she pulled over to answer a call near Northeastern Illinois University on her way home from work when Petersen suddenly appeared and started screaming at her for parking illegally in a spot reserved for residents with disabilities.

“All of the sudden, this face pops up in my window and says, `You’re parked illegally. I could arrest you right now or give you a $2,500 fine.’ Then, he walked away without ever asking for my name and ID,” Olson said. “And I later found out I wasn’t the only one. He’s been treating citizens really poorly.”

Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance, noted that parking enforcement aides are “rotated on a weekly basis to one of the 81 different community areas” and are “not assigned to one community area” permanently.

“The alderman’s office relayed some concerns from the community regarding this [parking enforcement aide], and the department evaluated the situation and decided to remove this community area from this PEA’s weekly rotation. The PEA continues to write violations in other areas,” she wrote in an email. Poppe did not say where Petersen was reassigned.

Manuel Galvan, a spokesman for Laurino, said the alderman’s office was notified of Petersen’s reassignment on March 8.

“They’re picking their kid up at school. Blinkers on the car. They go to the door. The guy writes a ticket. The guy writes 100 tickets a day. That kind of thing,” Galvan said of the complaints Laurino’s office received. “We didn’t ask for anything. All the office did was just send the complaints, just like when people call to say there’s a pothole at this intersection.”

Petersen couldn’t be reached by telephone or through Facebook. A reporter went to Petersen’smost recently known address on Wednesday evening; a man who answered the door said Petersenwasn’t home.

Petersen, whose city salary is $47,316 a year, bragged about his ticket-writing skills in a series of Facebook posts. He made $824 in overtime last year.

“774 tickets issued by computer. About 20 handwritten tickets. Call the first 5 days of work for the month: 794,” Petersen wrote last summer.

“I’ve written more tickets in 5 days than some people in my department write in a month. 744 tickets equals $62,905 in generated revenue for the city budget.”

petersen_fb22.png

Last month, Petersen was warning motorists again that he would be on the prowl.

“Yes, I’m going to troll around churches and mosques and temples on Sunday,” Petersen wrote.

“Chicago, you have been warned. I’m working Sunday. Don’t park illegally when you go to worship your God of choice.”

Petersen even bragged that a bike accident didn’t slow him down.

“Bad knee. No other problems. Bike in shop for repairs. Should have it back by next week. Still managed to write 85 tickets for today’s overtime shift with 2 of them after I got hit by the jack-ass hit-and-run driver,” he wrote in December.

In an October Facebook post, Petersen bragged, “I wrote 203 tickets from 8:40 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. today. [8-to-4 shift and travel time to Area of Operations]. That’s 33.33 ticket-per-hour.”

The complaints about Petersen’s tactics were first reported by DNAInfo Chicago.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported last fall that booting was up by 10 percent while the number of parking tickets issued by the city was down by 5 percent. Earlier this month, the newspaper reported that a crackdown on illegal weekend parking in the downtown and River North areas has led to nearly 4,500 additional tickets being written so far this year.

Contributing: Nader Issa

The Latest
Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.
The team will celebrate its 2021 WNBA championship with a ceremony at Wintrust Arena.
Patrick Wisdom has homered in four straight games, a feat no Cub has accomplished since Anthony Rizzo in 2015.
Our children have a right to expect more from our leaders, especially in the home of the world’s first juvenile court.