Howie column ping.
I will be around until late Tue., then will be “off”
from the 23rd through 29th. GQuagmire is nice enough to
do the ping list while I’m gone.
Pay to park? Do you know who I am?
By Howie Carr | Sunday, July 20, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com
What is it about state reps demanding to park for free? Actually, what is it about state reps demanding everything for free?
But first things first. Before going any further, you should know that the hack du jour, Rep. Demetrius Atsalis (D-Hyannis), denies saying Do you know who I am?
What he did do at the town parking lot at Veterans Beach a week ago Saturday was decline to pay $15 to park. He then put one of his State House business cards on the dashboard of his Audi.
Which is a lot like saying, Do you know who I am?
The local paper, the Barnstable Patriot, said Atsalis refused to pay his fair share. They quoted from the police dispatchers narrative, reporting that Atsalis exact quote to the attendant was: Just give me a ticket. They will laugh in your face.
Atsalis denied saying this. He didnt refuse to pay, he said, he just didnt have any cash on him, a strange situation indeed for a guy who had just come from the town parking lot he owns during what he describes as the busiest shift of the week. Who does he think he is, a Kennedy, walking around Hyannis without cash, demanding free stuff?
I paid the ticket, he said. Im out $25. Im probably out a couple of hundred from the parking lot while I was gone.
Dont you hate it when these cheap bastards sneak in and try to park for free?
As for the reps, their free parking on Beacon Hill has spoiled them. It offends their sensibilities when theyre asked to pony up, especially on the Cape. Two years ago it was Worcester Sheriff Guy Glodis, a former state senator. At another municipal lot, Glodis was accused of flashing a badge and claiming he was on police business (with his wife and kid). He denied it, but paid a $50 fine. These people arent reps, theyre recidivists.
By the way, free parking isnt Atsalis only perk. He also doesnt pay federal income taxes, or damn few anyway, on his $57,000 salary. See, he lives more than 50 miles from the State House - so, like one-third of his colleagues, not only does he get a per-diem travel allowance of maybe $70, he also gets to write off about $150 a day for every day the Legislature is in session.
Hey, I didnt write that law, Atsalis said. OK, back to last Saturday at the beach.
It was an emergency, he said. A friend had a problem on his boat in the bay and asked for help. Why you would call a state rep if youre in trouble, I have no idea - unless maybe youre being attacked by a platter of jumbo shrimp. So Atsalis abandoned his post at his own lot and drove down to Veterans Beach and all of a sudden there was this young girl asking him for $15.
She was 16 years old, he explained. She had no idea who I was.
So he drove on, parked and put his solons business card on the dashboard. He didnt expect to get a ticket. He knew somebody.
I was looking for a little help from a fellow citizen when somebody needs help out on the water. Id do it again.
I read the story from the Patriot on my radio show Friday night, chuckled and moved on to another topic. But then Atsalis called in. He wanted to explain. Beautiful, I thought. Keep talking. Keep digging.
And so he did. For a long time, he said, the lot was free for members of the Hyannis Yacht Club, to which he used to belong, until he let his membership lapse. And speaking of lapsed, the inspection sticker on his car was expired. But no problem, the cops didnt write him a ticket for that violation, because he wasnt present. Ill have to remember that one.
Since Atsalis does work the gate at his own lot, I asked him how often he himself gets the eternal do-you-know-who-I-am? question in a shameless ploy to beat the $15-a-day fee.
Just last week, he said. This Bruin, a former Bruin, pulls up. Hes going over to Nantucket for the weekend, and he says, Come on, gimme a break, times are tough. He was driving a Mercedes.
That ex-jock took a big risk. He could have been arrested for impersonating a state rep.
Now we know who he is.