How should we repay an elderly veteran taking an ill friend out for a cup of coffee? For Michael Salzano the answer was with a parking ticket.
On Saturday, May 30, Michael Salzano, a former Marine and part-time security guard for Co-Op City, wanted to cheer up an old friend who had recently undergone open-heart surgery by taking him out for dessert.
“I was just looking to take out my friend, he is 89 years old and just got out of surgery,” said the 74-year-old Salzano.
Salzano pulled over by a bus stop on Morris Park Avenue, between Tomlinson Avenue and Williamsbridge Road, to let his fragile friend out in front of the store. With his car still in forward gear and his friend still in the car, a traffic enforcement agent appeared out of nowhere to issue a parking summons.
In his surprise and shock, Salzano ordered his friend to close the door, in an attempt to escape the summons.
“My friend was trying to get out of the car. He had just opened the door, and the agent started writing the ticket, so I just drove away. I didn’t even stay to get the ticket. It all happened so fast,” said Michael Salzano. “You can’t own a car in New York anymore. No matter how you twist and turn, there is nothing you can do.”
Returning home, without any coffee, Salzano reached out to Councilman Jimmy Vacca for assistance.
“We are elderly people and we have never been in trouble with the law and have never done anything wrong. We pay our bills as soon as they come. And we are being penalized anyway,” said Salzano’s wife, Louise Salzano. “I didn’t know what to do, we never got tickets before. I got so nervous that I just wanted to write the check and pay the ticket.”
Vacca helped the couple, who did not want to go through the hassle of fighting the ticket. By paying online the fine was reduced from $115 to $90.
“I think this is another case of a ticket that didn’t have to be issued and a ticket that shouldn’t have been issued. Rather than using the slightest bit of discretion or common sense, this agent saw a car pulled over, zapped the windshield, and that was that – no questions asked,” said Vacca. “That’s why I’m fighting for a bill that would require ticket agents to take pictures of all offenses, so we can see who’s sitting in the driver’s seat and if there’s a passenger being dropped off. Maybe then these agents wouldn’t be so quick to pump out tickets.”