Privileged parking: Alderman blows top over $50 ticket in no-park bus zone

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No parking sign for city bus transport posted on Elm Street next to a large white rectangle on the street designating where not to park. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Editor’s Note: Story has been edited to include new comments provided by Alderman Levasseur, post-publication.

MANCHESTER, NH – A parking control officer filed a complaint last month against Alderman-at-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur who she alleged verbally accosted her after she issued a $50 ticket for him parking his car in a zone reserved for city buses on Elm Street.

“What the fuck are you doing?  I can’t believe you’re doing this.  Do you know who the hell I am?” an alderman is quoted as asking the parking control officer in a report filed with Manchester Police on Jan. 28, two days after the alleged incident. 

The alderman’s name is blacked out in the report obtained by Manchester Ink Link on Thursday after filing a Right to Know request.  In filing the request, Manchester Ink Link specifically requested any complaint in the past three months filed against Levasseur involving a parking ticket. The parking control officer’s name is also blacked out.

Levasseur on Thursday disputed the employee’s account and said he paid the ticket.  Denise Boutilier, parking manager, confirmed the ticket was paid.

According to the police report taken by Officer Morgan Lovejoy, the incident took place on Jan. 26 at 2:31 p.m. in the area of the Bridge St. Cafe, 1117 Elm St.

A parking control officer wrote a $50 ticket for a vehicle that was parked in a no-parking zone, one reserved for City of Manchester buses on Elm Street. 

After she placed the ticket on the windshield, she began taking photos of the vehicle, which the city requires anytime a ticket is issued.  

She told police a man came “flying” out of The Pint, 111 Elm St., and began yelling, swearing at her and pointing at the aldermanic placard on his dashboard.

The city, through the city clerk’s office, issues all aldermen a placard identifying them as an alderman.  The placard is placed on the dashboard exempting them from paying parking fees while on official city business. 

Manchester Police Capt. Peter Marr of the Legal Division said he believes the placards only pertain to actual parking spots.

Manchester Ink Link was unable to reach City Clerk Matthew Normand for further information regarding the use of the placards.

As Levasseur and the parking control officer were talking, a city bus was trying to load passengers but it was partially obstructing traffic on Elm Street because it could not pull all the way into the designated bus parking zone because of the illegally parked vehicle, according to the police report.

The parking control officer said she repeatedly tried to explain to Levasseur why she issued him the ticket but he kept yelling at her.  She said there was “no way to reason with him.”  He asked her about five times for her name, but the city’s policy is not to give out names. She did repeatedly give him her badge number.

She said Levasseur then took out his cell phone and began taking photos of her, asking her how she liked having her picture taken.  He said he was going to post it on Facebook. 

The parking officer told him she was not taking photos of him but of his vehicle.  

When Levasseur began taking her photo, she walked away and headed to her office at the Victory Parking Garage, 25 Vine St., where she reported the incident to her supervisor and completed a formal complaint.  Levasseur did not follow her.

The parking control officer said she was intimidated by the alderman and worried about another interaction with him should he see her out and about.  She said she was worried, describing the alderman as “nuts.”   

She told police she was scared and nervous because she works for the city, as does her son, and also works another job, and because Levasseur made the comment about putting her photograph on Facebook. 

When asked, she said Levasseur did not make any direct threats to her or about taking her job and never got closer to her than a couple of feet.

Another side of the story

Levasseur on Thursday said he did not see the no-parking sign, and he disputes the parking control officer’s version of what happened.

Because he has the aldermanic placard and was meeting with former alderman Tim Baines at his restaurant Mint, where he intended to order food, Levasseur said he decided to leave the take-out parking spaces to other customers and parked further up.  At the time, he said, he did not see the “no parking” sign.

He said he was in the restaurant for about 15 minutes but got no food because the cook wasn’t in yet. 

“I went in hungry, came out hungry and got a $50 ticket,” he said.

When he came outside, he said he saw the parking enforcement officer taking a selfie in front of his car.

He said he did not swear.  He asked her what she was doing and pointed out the aldermanic placard on his dashboard.  She said she didn’t know anything about the placard and didn’t know he was an alderman. 

Levasseur said he asked for her name and she said she was, “M1,” although he is not certain if that is exactly what she said because both were wearing masks.

“I asked her if she thought she was James Bond,” he said.

Levasseur said he paid the parking ticket because he later realized he had parked in the no parking zone.  

However, he believes if he were any other alderman he would not have been issued a ticket. 

In her report Officer Lovejoy wrote that it was clear the woman was intimidated by Levasseur’s behavior and actions but “that there was no criminal aspect associated with this complaint.  (The parking control officer) was not threatened or assaulted during this incident and once she walked away, this ended the interaction,” Lovejoy wrote.