JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CN) – Jersey City Mayor Jeremiah Healy ordered the city’s parking director not to issue tickets after 6 p.m., to curry favor with voters during Healy’s re-election campaign, and had the parking official fired when a few of his officers violated the illegal order, the former official claims in Hudson County Court.
Former Jersey City Parking Authority Director Mark Russ claims that several city officials, including Mayor Healy, told him to not issue tickets to cars parked illegally after 6 p.m., to help Healy get re-elected.
Russ sued Healy, Parking Authority Chairman Michael Holloway, and the City of Jersey City in Hudson County Court.
Russ claims that Healy himself told him to “not issue summonses after 6:00 p.m. and to move all evening parking enforcement personnel to the day tour,” an order Russ refused because he believed it to be illegal.
Russ claims that Healy issued the order in “an effort to curry favor with citizen voters so that they would vote for him in the May 2009 election.”
After Russ refused, Healy and other city officials circumvented him and “repeatedly informed employees of the JCPA” about the new policy, according to the complaint. Russ adds that after Healy ordered the no-ticket rule, another director acknowledged that “cars were parked all over the place at night because there was no enforcement and word spread like wildfire.”
Despite this, Russ says, some officers did issue a few tickets. He says Healy became “livid” when he heard this. He claims the mayor was “eating at a local restaurant and witnessed parking tickets being issued by enforcement officers” after 6 p.m. and had another city employee leave a voice mail on Russ’s phone, saying that the mayor was “pissed.”
Russ says the City Commission then voted unanimously to fire him “and replace him, in an interim fashion,” with someone else.
Russ seeks punitive damages for discrimination, civil rights violations, and breach of contract. He is represented by Ty Hyderally of Montclair, N.J.
Healy was re-elected.