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Privileged Parking?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Privileged Parking?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 28, 2008

White Chevrolet Impala

This afternoon I stopped by the McHenry County government center administration building (whew! that's a mouthful) to vote early. Or, since it was 4:00PM, to vote late. :) When I pulled into the parking lot, I couldn't help looking at a shiny, white, Chevrolet Impala parked in a handicapped parking right in front of the building. My, what a fine, shiny, clean car on a day like this.

My attention was first drawn to it by the manner in which the driver had pulled into the handicap parking space. He must have been in one terrible hurry to get to that special little room inside, because he didn't quite making it all the way into the parking space.

Aha! Then I noticed the license plate: CTY BD 6. My, my, what could that possibly mean? Except County Board (District?) 6? Or the sixth plate issued to CTY BD? A vanity plate on a private car and not a handicap parking plate. Nor was there a handicap placard hanging from the rearview mirror or even laid on the dashboard.

I approached the guard inside and asked him to contact the police to have the parking violator cited. Hey, if I park there, I would get to pay $250 for the privilege. He refused and handed me the phone. When I asked why he wouldn't call, he said a citizen has to complain.

What good is it to have a guard at the front desk if he won't protect County property so, after I voted, I paid a visit to Peter Austin's office. He's the County Administrator and the one with the authority to tell the guard to make the call, if a citizen complains about a parking violation.

I spoke with Mr. Austin's administrative assistant, and she directed me to the Court Security officer, who was not available. His assistant explained that guards are instructed to tell citizens to call the police themselves, and I left a message for him, suggesting that policy needs to be revised.

Oh, did I mention that the Woodstock Police were summoned to cite the violator, but (wouldn't you know it?) it was 4:00PM shift change? By the time I voted and walked to Mr. Austin's office, CTY BD 6 was gone (or had been moved). To save an officer a trip, I canceled the call. How long will I wonder if the guard notified the driver that he'd better hotfoot it out to his car and move it?

I also wonder whether a deputy passing by would have cited the vehicle for being illegally parked in a handicap spot. Maybe - - if it was his last day before retirement or the new job in Arizona. And would the Woodstock cop have cited what is probably the car of a County Board member? If he were to do his duty, he'd do it without batting an eye.

Handicap parking spaces are to be respected by all. If that car does belong to a County Board member, wouldn't you think he'd be the first to respect the signs and park legally?

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