Bob Brown the former Old Bridge cop turned lawyer, who unsuccessfully ran for the State Assembly this past year, is a friend of mine and I like to keep tabs on him to see what he has been up to.
Earlier today I was surfing the web looking for something interesting to post on the blog when I stumble upon Paul Mulshine’s blog that just so happend to be about Bob and his daughter.
Bob’s daughter Sarah, is a student at Rutgers University and is somewhat disabled due to a back condition, she needs to use crutches to get around and therefore qualifies for a handicap placard that allows her to use handicap parking around the campus and state.
It seems as though however her handicap placard is no good in New Brunswick because last Saturday night her car was towed from a handicap parking space while visiting a friend, she happend to discovered her car missing at 2 a.m when she went to return home!
Mulshine tells the story far better than I could so below is a reprint of his blog post:
I’ve heard it said that the Tasmanian Devil is the only animal on Earth that looks forward to being cornered.
Whoever said that never met Bob Brown.
I first met him last year when he was running for a state Assembly seat, unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Though Brown is a right-wing kind of guy, he ran as a Democrat in a safe Republican district. He likes to get into a fight for the pure fun of it.
Brown was a cop in Old Bridge until he got shot in the line of duty. He ended up becoming a lawyer, but one of those bullets is still stuck inside him. The slug seems to have turned a switch. It’s not a good idea to get him started.
Last weekend, the city of New Brunswick made that mistake. Brown’s daughter, Sarah, was visiting a fellow Rutgers student a few blocks off campus. She is handicapped due to a back condition that requires her to use crutches. So when she spotted a handicapped parking spot she pulled her new Nissan into it.
When she got back to her car a little after 2 a.m., it was gone.
“They left my daughter out in the cold on the sidewalk at 2 a.m.!” Brown said when he called me Sunday. He then unleashed a string of invectives that can’t be printed here.
For an invective-free opinion, I called Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, a Democrat from Jersey City:
“I never heard of that before,” said Quigley. “They’re never supposed to tow cars with handicapped placards unless they’re blocking a fire hydrant or creating some obstruction.”
Quigley should know. She helped write the law. Over the years, Quigley has established a reputation as the drivers’ friend in the effort to fight off public officials who ticket or tow cars for fun and profit.
But back to Brown. On Tuesday evening I visited the scene of the crime with him. Brown had spent the last three days obsessing on this outrage. He has every intention of working on it for the next 10 years, he told me. “I’m going after their federal funding, ” he told me. “I could do this til I retire.”
Brown said he will argue in court that New Brunswick violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Not only did they leave his daughter stranded on the street, they also deprived her of access to the medication she had left in the car, he said. The towing company that took the car is closed on Sunday, and she couldn’t get access to the car until Monday, he said.
As we drove, Brown handed me sheet after sheet of photocopied documents and pages from legal pads as well as a copy of his daughter’s state-issued handicapped ID, which he said was hanging from the mirror, next to a Rutgers handicapped placard when the car was towed.
We got to the spot and looked at the sign. It had the words “Reserved Parking” and the wheelchair symbol, like other such signs. It also had a small metal plate that said “Parking Permit P381367.”
“If it had said, ‘This spot is reserved for this house,’ then my daughter wouldn’t have parked there,” said Brown.
Of course, if it had said that, people might wonder why the residents of the house don’t just use the driveway. The house has a large one, as well as a garage. And Brown pointed out that the ordinance permitting the creation of these zones specifically precludes granting permits to people who have driveways and/or garages. So why did this house get to hog a precious parking space?
Lt. Antone Johnson of the parking authority told me he didn’t know. “This was done back in 1997 and I’ve only been doing this job for seven or eight years,” he said. Meanwhile, the mayor’s office questioned whether the state-issued ID was visible that night. A spokesman said in the call to police, the resident said the car only had a Rutgers handicapped placard visible. That will be sorted out in court.
Like just about every other Jersey driver, Brown wonders just how many of these permits are handed out as political favors.
Quigley told me Jersey City had to declare a moratorium on these permits.
“It became a bit of a scam,” said Quigley. “It looked like every doctor would write a letter saying this person or that person shouldn’t have to walk.”
But even in Hudson County, not exactly a font of good government, they don’t have the nerve to tow handicapped driver’s cars. Picking on handicapped people seems to be a New Brunswick innovation, one every bit as ill-advised as picking on a Tasmanian Devil.