The saga of State Auditor Beth Wood and the city-issued parking tickets took another twist Tuesday afternoon.
Councilman Thomas Crowder called on the City Council to apologize to Wood for how her case was handled, saying it's clear that Wood was not responsible for incurring the tickets. However, Crowder did not get any support, and the council moved on without any discussion of the issue.
For those unfamiliar, here's a quick recap: In May, my colleague Bruce Siceloff spotted a state-owned silver Dodge Avenger, immobilized by a heavy orange boot, with the license number "6." As Bruce reported, this discovery suggested that a senior elected official stiffed the city on old parking tickets and now had been brought to justice.
But Wood, to whom the “6” tag is assigned by law, said the tickets aren’t hers. They date from 2007 and 2008, when her predecessor used that license number. Still, after hours of failed negotiations with city officials, Wood pays $245 to get the car unbooted.
At an appeal hearing a few weeks later, Wood gave Michael Mise, the city’s adjudicator, a stack of documents to show that neither she nor her predecessor, Les Merritt, had incurrerd the tickets.
Mise ruled against Wood's appeal, saying: “I do not believe that Beth Wood is responsible for the unpaid tickets; however, she took responsibility and paid them,” Mise ruled. “She should therefore seek reimbursement from the State of North Carolina Department of Administration to whom the license plate is registered and not the City of Raleigh."
Mise's ruling did not sit well with Crowder, who raised the issue Tuesday during the portion of a City Council meeting when members share concerns and suggestions.
Crowder said the ruling was "very poor."
"It was not her car" that was responsible for the tickets, he said. "I think she deserves an apology."
Hold on a minute, City Manager Russell Allen said. Before issuing public apologies, the City Council should be careful to review all the evidence, said Allen, who did not elaborate on the evidence he had in mind or how it might prove helpful.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she and City Attorney Tom McCormick plan to host Wood at City Hall to talk further about the dispute. McFarlane did not give any indication whether she intends to apologize to Wood at that private meeting.