City Councilor Michael Flaherty (at large) says he has the solution to many of Boston's parking woes: No, not making people pay for residential parking permits, which he opposes with the blinding fury of 10,000 suns, but making people with handicap placards pay for metered spaces - and then ticketing them if they stay more than two hours.
Flaherty says abuse of the handicap placard system is rampant and too many perfectly able people get doctors who don't give a damn to sign off on prescriptions to get the placards, which currently let them park at metered spaces for free.
Flaherty has been on a tear about this, but at a hearing yesterday on the Boston Transportation Department's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, he said he's grown tired of waiting for the state to do anything about the problem - especially when it comes to burly construction workers from out of state, "capable and able-bodied folks coming from New Hampshire and Rhode Island with their pickup trucks and all their heavy equipment and tools coming to a downtown area to work on a construction site and sit there for 12, 14, 16 hours a day" - and not just in prime downtown spaces, but all over the city, taking "a very precious parking spot for someone that has been waiting for it or someone that has legitimate disability or handicap that has to get in line behind someone that's a fraud, and that's pretty disgusting."
Making placard people pay - and worry about tickets - would end the problem just like that, he said. "Circling the block, double park waiting for spots, that's going to be eliminated," he predicted, because all those construction workers, "they'll take public transportation, they may car share, they most definitely won't be driving into Boston, slapping the placard on their windshield, and ignoring the parking laws and not paying the meters."
Flaherty discusses handicap-placard abuse: