Investigator | Parking ticket deadbeats costing us all
Some say their job is hopeless. Others say they're flat-out lazy. Regardless, millions of dollars are owed to the city of Cleveland, and no one is collecting from these deadbeats, including some politicians.
Earle Turner, the Clerk of Courts for Cleveland Municipal Court, has failed to collect $42.5 million in unpaid parking tickets since the year 2000. Some of those parking ticket deadbeats include three Cleveland city councilmen: Kevin Conwell, Brian Kazy and Zack Reed, who's running for mayor of Cleveland.
When they heard the Investigator Tom Meyer was looking into the unpaid tickets, all three paid their fines.
Obie Shelton, spokesman for the clerk's office, said Meyer was the city's best collection agency. Reed paid a ticket from 2014. Conwell finally paid his ticket from the same year. Kazy erased his debt by paying his ticket that was issued in November of last year.
Reed blasted the clerk's office for failing to collect the nearly $43 million in unpaid fines, but Shelten wanted to know from Reed what more it could have done to collect his fine. The office sent the councilman two notices, which Shelten said Reed ignored.
Clevelander Brandi Lee is among the top parking ticket deadbeats in the city. She told the Investigator that she has 96 tickets in just 15 months for nearly $4,400 in unpaid fines.
"I can't afford to pay," she said.
Lee had her car towed since city policy calls for a tow for failure to pay five tickets. To get her car back, she would have to pay the entire debt off.
"If I could pay it all at once, do you think I would have accumulated that many tickets?" Lee asked.
Channel 3 News wanted to know what the city could do with $42.5 million if it was collected.
The money could pay for:
- 1,100 police cars
- 215 EMS ambulances
- 71 hook and ladder fire trucks
- 473 police officers
- Repairs to about 1.7 million average-sized potholes
"We're raising peoples' fees. We're raising their taxes, instead of getting the money that's already there," Reed said.
He criticized the clerk's office for failing to collect the money.
"It's just plain old-fashioned laziness," Reed said.
"We're absolutely not lazy," Shelton said. He explained they employ collection agencies, block license tag renewals and offer payment plans to collect the cash.
Reed said he would recommend some kind of amnesty program for offenders.
"Getting some of that money is better than no money," Reed said
Reed said he would spend the $42.5 million on 400 new police hires. His opponent, Mayor Jackson, chose not to respond.
Everything you want to know about Cleveland parking tickets and the top violators list can be found here.
The top violators are (click here to expand list):