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June 18, 2013

Review finds lax oversight at garages

(Continued)

Collections dropped to $18,963 in August, then plunged to $7,370 in May. The FBI and state police began monitoring collections at the garage in March.

Nunes’ report does not comment on the drop in collections at the garage, but calls for “a comprehensive, independent, outside forensic audit.”

Yesterday’s report was Nunes’ third in three years detailing broken systems at City Hall. In December 2011, after Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla arranged the swap of 13 city vehicles for four owned by a politically connected car dealer, Nunes ordered the police department to tighten its procurement policies. In October, after the discovery that building inspector Lawrence Hester had failed to inform tax assessors of $33 million in new development he approved, Nunes ordered reforms to the way the Building Department does business.

The latest report suggests Lantigua inherited several of the alleged deficiencies in the parking system, although he appears to have done little to correct them since taking office in 2010, even as he more than doubled the number of parking employees, to 21.

For example, Nunes said the city has never enforced a 26-year-old contract with the Jackson Street Housing Associates, which provided it with 276 free parking spaces at the Museum Square garage for the first five years of the contact to compensate it for construction costs at the garage, which the company built. Today, 21 years after the city could have begun billing the company for the parking it provides its tenants, the company has never received a bill, Nunes said.

At least six other companies who have parking contracts with the city were a total of $60,937 behind in their payments by yesterday morning, although one — described only as the Blakeley Building at 467-470 Essex St. — paid its overdue $4,898 bill later in the day.

The biggest of the alleged deadbeats is Matthew Abrams, who owns the Gleason Building at 349-51 Essex St. He owes $40,940, Nunes said.

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