Meet the City’s Pothole Patrol
Turns out those frequently maligned parking checkers do more than issue tickets.
Do the city’s parking enforcement officers, roaming the city’s streets in Jeeps, do more than issue tickets?
The Common Council’s Public Works Committee, led by Alderman Robert Bauman, raised the issue Wednesday morning. “They’re equipped with computers and smartphones, could they not be given additional responsibilities of reporting obvious things they see when traversing the city?” asked Bauman in response to what he said was a constituent suggestion.
Turns out, they’re already on the job. “They do report parking signs that are missing, stop lights that are out, stolen vehicles and potholes,” said city parking services manager Thomas Woznick.
“They do that now?” asked Bauman. “Absolutely,” responded Woznick. But exactly how many are reported is unclear at this point, something Woznick hopes to rectify.
The reports are submitted generically at this point, similar to how a citizen would file a service request. But Woznick said the parking checkers would begin using a unique identifier which will allow specific requests and department-wide totals to be tracked.
Bauman asked if there are any financial incentives given to employees who report problems. Woznick said they can’t give city employees bonuses, but added, “We do commend staff.”
Bauman, Ald. Nik Kovac and others praised the department’s work to reduce potholes at this meeting, but also noted that plenty of work remains to be done.
Council members Mark Borkowski and Cavalier Johnson suggested parking checkers should be getting out of their vehicles more. “I would like to see us do a little more to highlight where these holes are,” said Borkowski. He said he was pleased when a cone was placed in a particularly deep pothole, only to see the cone itself crushed within five hours. “I don’t know where these drivers are coming from,” said the south side alderman.
“I’ll touch base with our city engineering group and see what we can do,” said Woznick in response to a question from Johnson about spray painting around potholes.
The city’s 2019 budget includes funding for 58 full-time parking enforcement officers and four lead parking enforcement officers.
The difficulty of the job’s core function, enforcing the city’s parking rules, was dramatized in early April when a male parking enforcement officer was stabbed in the middle of the night by N. 67th St. and W. Villard Ave. Two individuals were later charged.
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