Baltimore's chief parking enforcer has been issued a parking ticket. And he's hopping mad about it.
George G. Balog, one of the most powerful officials in the city, who commands 6,000 employees and oversees his own police force, has no other recourse but to fight the $40 citation in court.
Although the director of the Department of Public Works controls a force that wrote 268,615 parking tickets last year, Balog was cited by a Mass Transit Administration officer -- an employee of the state who doesn't have to answer to City Hall.
Balog was ticketed after an MTA bus rear-ended his city-owned Buick -- designated as an official emergency vehicle -- which he had parked in a bus zone in Highlandtown.
The man known as "The Boss" said he was trying to sort out a parking mess caused by his closure of Eastern Avenue for a Sunday afternoon festival. He said the bus driver got upset because she couldn't maneuver around his car.
"She started yelling at me for parking there," Balog said. "I showed her my Department of Public Works tag. I told her who I was. I told her I would move my car. She became irate, closed her door and rammed my car."
The incident remains under investigation, said MTA spokesman Frank Fulton, who confirmed that the only person cited is Balog. City police say that a driver who hits another vehicle -- even one that is illegally parked -- is usually ruled at fault.
MTA police declined to comment and would not release a copy of the accident report. Fulton would not identify the officer who wrote the ticket or the bus driver. He described the incident as a "minor collision between a bus and [Balog's] car."
Hot tempers weren't limited to Balog and the bus driver. A trash hauler who happened by the incident apparently didn't like what what he saw and confronted his boss, Balog.
DPW spokesman Bob Murrow would say only that the city worker "got inappropriately involved in the matter" and "will be dealt with."
Balog, a 57-year-old engineer and lawyer who has been painted as a tyrannical bully by former employees who are suing him, acknowledges throwing his weight around during the incident.
"I don't look at it being a funny matter," said Balog, who implied the crash was no accident. "I was horrified that someone would go ahead and hit my car. I told her she could lose her job over it."
Balog oversees a $500 million budget. He controls the city water supply and is responsible for everything from landfills to flower boxes at the Inner Harbor.
He is one of a handful of civilian city employees who enjoys emergency parking and driving privileges. He has a flashing red light in his car, which he last used to respond to a tornado that touched down in East Baltimore in 1994.
"I'm authorized to park there," Balog said of the bus zone.
About all he can do is argue his case before a judge.
Pub Date: 10/22/98