The validity of tickets served by three Anna Maria parking enforcement officers has come into question.
Angela Albrecht, ousted code and parking enforcement officer and administrative assistant — fired Jan. 24 without what she believed to be proper explanation — alleged in a Jan. 29 interview with The Islander that the city knowingly allowed three parking enforcement officers to issue tickets without certification.
A records request by The Islander for personnel records of parking officers during the past two years supports Albrecht’s claim, with three people lacking certification from the state.
Florida law requires that parking officers must either be sworn law enforcement officers or complete a training program approved by the state Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to become certified and write citations.
John Carrion, Tonya Shaw and Christopher Elbon were each hired as code and parking enforcement officers before receiving certification to assess tickets.
Carrion, who was hired Sept. 1, 2017, and remains employed with the city, did not receive certification to assess parking tickets until Feb. 13, 2019.
Mayor Dan Murphy told the Bradenton Herald that Carrion issued 25 tickets before he stopped serving them and began the certification process.
Shaw was hired May 15, 2017, and had not achieved certification before quitting Aug. 8, 2017. She had previously worked as a deputy for Hendry and Glades county sheriffs, but was not a sworn law enforcement officer during her tenure in Anna Maria.
Elbon, who started work in Anna Maria May 12, 2017, also lacked certification during his employment, which ended Feb. 24, 2018. He was a code enforcement officer for the town of Longboat Key when he was hired, and currently works as the town’s code enforcement department manager.
City clerk Leanne Addy wrote in an email March 1 there is no documentation for the number of parking tickets issued by Carrion, Shaw and Elbon during their employment with the city.
At a city commission meeting Feb. 28, Murphy said he knew Carrion lacked certification, but only learned Shaw and Elbon were not certified Feb. 25, when The Islander’s record request was fulfilled.
However, former building, code and parking manager Pamela Gibbs, corroborating Albrecht’s allegation, indicated to The Islander that Murphy knew of the parking ticket issues.
The Islander reported Jan. 31 that Gibbs said, “I do know that I had hired people that were to do parking enforcement that were not licensed to do it yet, and I would say ‘Hey, we’ve got to get these people licensed in order to do this.’ But, according to what I was told, the mayor was like ‘Well, I’m the mayor and we’ll do it my way. We need to get them out there and we need to get things done.’”
Regardless, questions surround the law when it comes to the Municipal Home Rules Power Act.
“The question is, do they need to be certified?” Murphy said. “The case is, we could present a reasonable case that they don’t have to be certified based on home rule.
Putting that aside, though, it’s always been my intent that everybody should be certified.”
The Florida Bar Journal’s interpretation of the home rule act is that cities cannot ignore state laws, however, the statute does state, “Both the Florida Constitution and the state statutes express a preference that, absent some necessity for a statewide enactment, local officials should deal with their problems relating to the health and welfare of their citizens.”