LOGANSPORT — Mayor Ted Franklin said the recent parking ticket debacle that has garnered the city some unwanted nationwide attention stems from a personal problem between him and former Police Chief A.J. Rozzi that has caused a distraction he hopes has ended.
He told the Pharos-Tribune Friday that he would turn his newly created parking spot into a handicapped parking spot to make the City Building more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It's become a distraction,” he said. “It's been hard to get focused on work today. I’ve had a few phone calls, a few visitors from here in town, some of them offering prayer, others offering advice.”
Franklin’s millennium yellow Corvette was ticketed July 20 for being partially parked in a no-parking zone along Sixth Street between Market Street and Broadway.
Police received a call about the car around noon, and the initial officer did not ticket the vehicle, but contacted the mayor’s office to have it moved. More than 3 ½ hours later, the car was still there, so Patrolman A.J. Rozzi, who was the police chief under Franklin’s predecessor, issued Franklin the $20 ticket shortly after 4 p.m.
Franklin paid the ticket Monday and ordered the city’s public works department to paint a 400-square-foot parking spot that effectively took up two spots in the police parking lot. He also had a chain and post placed between his spot and the parked police vehicles.
“My reaction to the parking ticket on Friday was probably an overreaction,” Franklin said. “But at the same time, I think everybody, including me, has a point in time when they say enough is enough.
And I was at that point.”
The story caused an uproar online, gaining notice from msn.com and Yahoo! in addition to corvetteonline.com and a number of bloggers.
Some criticized the move as a show of power and a sign that Franklin considered himself above the law. Franklin said that’s not the case.
“I’m in here trying to do the work of the city,” he said. “I’m not above the law, and I’ve acknowledged that. I paid the parking ticket. I knew that as soon as I got the parking ticket, the right thing to do was to pay it.”
Franklin contacted the Pharos-Tribune Friday to get his side of the story to the public.
“Before we go on to the next step, I want people to understand the history,” he said, adding he had spoken to random callers from all over the nation and some local residents Friday.
“When I tell them the back story, and give them a picture of what’s actually taking place, we’re on the edge of harassment at this point in time with the officer who so eagerly wrote the ticket,” he said.
Franklin was referring to Rozzi, who is on vacation and could not be reached for comment Friday or Saturday.
Franklin rejected hiring Rozzi’s son, Jason, in January. Franklin said it was because the police pension board had given him only one name to consider for the opening, and he wanted more.
Franklin admitted that creating the parking spot might not have been the right decision.
“It was probably the wrong thing to do at the time, but at the same time, we’re going to send a clear message and I’ve said it before, we’re not playing this game,” he said. “I’m going to meet these challenges head on, and it’s time to stop it.
“The police department has a job to do. Ninety-nine percent of the officers are good guys and just want to come to work and do their job. There’s a few of them that are a little disgruntled. They’re a little bit bitter. They lost some of the toys that used to be in the sandbox, and I look at this as an attempt to get even at any cost, and I’m going to try to rise above that.”
Franklin said he received some advice Friday that was helping him to get past the parking issue.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of man you were yesterday,” he said.
“What kind of man you’re going to be today is what matters, and I’m trying to get over this. I’m trying to put this all behind us for the good of the city.”
• Jason M. Rodriguez is associate editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.