City Council President Mary Pat Clarke is proposing that the duties of Baltimore's parking control agents be expanded beyond writing parking tickets to include fighting crime and issuing citations for sanitation and housing code violations.
"These ladies are mean machines," Mrs. Clarke said after introducing her bill in the City Council yesterday.
She said her aim is to tap the determination parking control agents show in writing tickets and use it to attack some of the problems dogging the city.
"Some of their diligence in writing parking tickets in commercial areas is going to have to be restrained for some of our business areas to survive," Mrs. Clarke said. "Also, I would like to see it harnessed so they can write a ticket to that guy who has a pile of trash beside his store."
Ms. Clarke also said that the city's 64 parking control agents could be used as "eyes and ears" of the Police Department. Finally, she said, the agents could be trained to do some housing inspection work -- a proposal that she acknowledged could cause problems because of the complexity of the city's housing code and the amount of court time it takes to process housing code violations.
Mrs. Clarke's bill says pay for parking control agents should be raised if their duties expand.
Though the bill was co-sponsored by seven of her council colleagues, at least one city department head dismissed the initiative as unworkable.
"This is typical Mary Pat," said Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III. "Ditsy."
Mr. Henson pointed out that the city's housing code contains about 400 pages. He said it would be impossible to train parking control agents on the code while maintaining their main function -- to write tickets.
In other business, the council gave preliminary approval to a bill that that would prohibit loitering, lewdness and repeated attempts by prostitutes to stop cars at designated street corners. The proposal provides for fines of up to $1,000 and jail terms of up to a year.