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parking tussle with former
Lorain, Ohio--Although the mayor who banned parking in front of his bar has left office, the owner of Tim’s Place says the city is still hurting his business by violating its own parking ordinance.
Former Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin posted “No Parking” signs along five blocks of Broadway in 2005 after the four-lane road was resurfaced.
Those signs are still there, said bar owner Tim Draves, although they are joined by one in front of his bar that says street parking is permitted between 6 pm and 3 am.
The new sign was produced by an ordinance passed by council in February. It is almost in keeping with the measure, which says parking is allowed until 3:30 am.
The ordinance was passed for the benefit of the bar and other businesses along Lorain’s main thoroughfare, replacing an earlier measure saying essentially the same thing.
Meanwhile, Foltin resigned his office in August to take a job with Cuyahoga Community College--and Draves is suing him for libel and invasion of privacy.
Tim’s Place is most affected by the parking situation, Draves said, because it is the only business in that stretch of Broadway that doesn’t have an off-street parking lot. The remaining “No Parking” signs cause other problems as well.
“My employees won’t park there because a bartender’s car was rear-ended,” said Draves.
“Because the old signs are still there, people think it’s a no-parking street, so one day this summer, a woman talking on a cell phone who thought the area was a no-parking zone got surprised and hit the car,” said Draves.
The sign situation also puts the city parking ordinance at odds with a state law that says parking is illegal anywhere a sign is posted saying so.
It was never clear why Foltin decided to ban parking in front of the bar.
In February, Foltin told the Gay People’s Chronicle, “I don’t know if [the new ordinance] is enforceable” but gave no reason other than that for his non-compliance with council’s action.
Law Director Mark Provenza said council never gave authority to control parking to the mayor, and advised him to follow the law. Foltin ignored that advice, too.
Draves said Foltin, a Republican running for the U.S. House of Representatives at the time, was targeting him and his bar because Draves was vocally critical of him.
Draves installed a sign on his building that said, “Mayor Foltin does not care about Lorain’s small businesses.” He also began to approach city council for help.
In December, 2006, at the request of Draves and other establishments on Broadway, council passed an ordinance allowing parking between 6 pm and 3 am along the entire stretch of road where parking had been prohibited.
Foltin vetoed the ordinance, and in a letter to council explaining the veto, wrote, “In addition, there have been many improper accusations and twists trying to tie this important safety issue of not parking in front of the bar in dispute into a matter of not supporting local business.”
Foltin continued in his letter, “It is important to note, that the Treasurer of the City of Lorain has no record of any taxes being paid or filed under the names of Tim’s Place, Mr. Draves’ name, the address of 2223 Broadway, or Villa Capri, under which the business is incorporated. I urge the Auditor, Treasurer, and City Council to investigate under what name this business is filing taxes under.”
Foltin did not explain the connection between taxes and traffic safety, and the statement was not true. All personal and business taxes of Draves and the bar were paid.
Because the letter was to city council, it became part of council’s minutes, which are public record. A day later, the local Chronicle Tribune newspaper published Foltin’s allegation that Draves didn’t pay taxes.
In another report three weeks later, the newspaper noted that the “issue was dismissed by the city’s Department of Taxation, which said Draves was in compliance.”
Draves sued Foltin in Lorain County Common Pleas Court on September 4 seeking at least $25,000 in damages.
The suit is against Foltin in his individual capacity, not an official one.
Foltin was granted an extension until November 23 to file an answer to the suit. He is represented by attorney Todd Raskin of Cleveland.
Draves is represented by attorney Randi Barnabee of Bedford.
The matter is before Judge James L. Miraldi.