NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The city says it's considering disciplinary action against some employees of the parking control division after a new report from the inspector general.
The IG found some employees sat around for hours - on the taxpayer's dime - and often wrote meaningless tickets. They are public employees paid with taxpayer money to enforce traffic laws, but the inspector general found that all too often, that money was wasted.
"The city needs to get rid of employees not doing their job. There needs to be a work ethic," said IG Ed Quatrevaux.
An investigation found that in May of 2014, parking control officers sat for hours inside a downtown CC's coffee house, "consuming outside food and beverages, using free Wi-Fi and talking on their personal cell phones," the report said.
"We have means, and we caught them," Quatrevaux said.
The report comes as no surprise to Deshontrell Mariani, who says she witnessed two uniformed parking control officers shopping in the French Quarter a couple of weeks ago.
"They were just buying clothes. I thought it was crazy. I posted it on Facebook," Mariani said.
The IG report detailed allegations of parking control officer abuse in two locations, one on Poydras Street and another on Magazine Street.
In August of 2014, the IG found one senior officer sat for two hours in Starbucks using her cell phone.
"Every other city employee who sees these people not doing their jobs - it has a bad effect on morale," Quatrevaux said.
The report also says that parking officers wasted time writing dozens of tickets against law enforcement officers with "on official duty" signs in their windows. Those citations are almost always dismissed.
"They write the ticket, their production looks good, but the ticket doesn't happen," Quatrevaux said.
To make matter s worse, the IG says his investigators were stonewalled. He said one parking administrator failed - for five months - to respond to requests for information.
"The division wasn't cooperative," he said. "[But] we kept it up."
This afternoon, City Hall put out a statement, saying it's "investigating the appropriate disciplinary action." It also said since the IG investigation, the department has new protections that allow supervisors to monitor employees more effectively, something that some say is long overdue.
"Whoever is running that part of the city - they need a tighter rein," Quatrevaux said.
The city says it is now routinely reviewing ticket times and asking for an explanation if there's any gap in time of more than 60 minutes between tickets.