Boston City Councilor Michael P. Ross Fined $2,000 for Abusing his Parking Ticket Privilege
The Massachusetts State Ethics Commission fined Boston City Councilor Michael P. Ross $2,000 for violating the state's conflict of interest law, M.G.L. c. 268A, by using his right to have parking tickets "administratively dismissed" if the violations occurred when the councilor was performing official city business to have approximately 35 tickets he received when he was conducting personal business dismissed.
According to the Disposition Agreement, between January 2002 and February 2006, Ross had approximately 105 tickets dismissed. Most of the tickets involved parking violations resulting from a failure to pay parking meter fees ($25 per ticket) and/or parking without a permit in resident-only parking spots ($40 per ticket). Although Ross is a resident of Boston and eligible for a resident parking permit, he did not obtain such a permit. Approximately 35 of the tickets, with an estimated value of $1,000, were issued while he was engaged in personal rather than City business. After the Commission initiated its investigation, Ross reimbursed the City $1,000 for these tickets.
Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a public employee from using or attempting to use his position to secure for himself or others an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By using his City Council position to obtain dismissal of approximately $1,000 worth of personal parking tickets, Ross violated § 23.
"Elected officials are in office to serve the public, not themselves,"said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "The privileges that they receive because of their duties and responsibilities may not be used for personal benefit."