The second Princeton parking meter enforcement officer who was suspended without pay for four weeks has been reassigned to the municipal parking garage, town officials said today.
Enforcement officer Jon Hughes met with Administrator Robert Bruschi and Princeton Police Capt. Nick Sutter on Wednesday to discuss his employment with the town, and has been warned that his demotion is a “last chance provision.” Any future disciplinary action will result in termination.
In an email, Bruschi said the disciplinary action for Hughes was different from the action taken against enforcement officer Chris Boutote, who was suspended without pay after Planet Princeton broke the story about the parking abuses and was terminated this week. Bruschi said Hughes was disciplined for another issue unrelated to the parking meter scandal that some residents have dubbed “play to park” and others have referred to as meter-gate.
Hughes, who earns $44,000 per year, was moved to the parking garage because he allegedly didn’t follow proper internal procedures when it came to processing a single ticket that was going through the court system.
“It was a single incident but we felt that a very strong message had to be sent that our procedures need to be followed by the letter of the law,” Bruschi said in an email. “The ticket was one of the items that helped us gain further information as to what was taking place with parking enforcement officer Boutote in one of the downtown establishments. Jon was cooperative with the investigation and nothing in the investigation led to any similar conduct by Jon.”
Town officials are looking at administrative changes they say will lead to a better system when it comes to parking meter enforcement personnel, such as rotating routes. Employees and some owners of several downtown businesses were allowed to park their vehicles at expired meters all day and in two-hour parking zones for eight to 10 hours or more without getting ticketed, in exchange for food and other goods. Employees placed items on their car dashboards such as menus, business cards, stickers, coasters and shopping bags to signify which business they worked for so that enforcement personnel would not give them tickets.
Many days there were more than 16 vehicles parked along streets like Humbert Street and Greenview Avenue. Residents on those streets said their visitors who parked in the few remaining spots were aggressively ticketed.