Friday, April 11, 2008

Several hundred Miami Airport workers illegally use accessible parking spots

Surveillance video showed the airport workers using
illegal handicapped parking permits
when they were clearly not disabled.

Both The Miami Herald and The New York Times reported April 10 that as many as 227 airport workers had been using illegally obtained parking permits intended for people with disabilities as many as 500 times since 2005.

Investigators from the county Inspector General's office set up round-the-clock surveillance cameras for the past three months to catch the offenders and "spotted a uniformed federal officer parking his Mercedes in a disabled spot and strolling through the garage, though his permit says he cannot walk without assistance," according to The Miami Herald. "They caught baggage handlers carrying bulky bags through the garage and into the terminal, despite permits that say they cannot walk more than 200 feet. They saw one worker with a disabled permit washing her car in the garage, another repeatedly working under the hood."

In addition to the obvious problems caused by this to people truly disabled who need those parking spots, the Inspector General's office says the offenders' illegal permits meant the county lost an estimated $1 million in parking fees last year.

The Inspector General's office said a follow-up investigation is scheduled to look into chiropractors who issued the permits and exploring the "possibly fraudulent obtaining of these placards.''

The New York Times reported that "while the inspector general stopped short of calling the most egregious offenders liars, cheaters, lazy or cheap and it was unclear how employees faked injuries, the report said that none of the observed workers 'required the use of specialized equipment to move about.'"