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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Valet with a gun: Detective holds parking spot for N.J. Waterfront Commissioner Barry Evenchick

New Jersey Waterfront Commissioner Barry Evenchick finds primo parking spot in lower Manhattan held by detective

A big shot with the Waterfront Commission has found the perfect way to find parking for his luxury sedan in lower Manhattan - a valet with a badge and gun.

Just one year after the state inspector general warned that assigning detectives to hold parking spaces was an abuse of public resources, they're at it again.

For more than an hour Tuesday, a detective in an unmarked commission vehicle guarded the prime spot - one of three on Broadway near Beaver St. set aside for the commission - until New Jersey Waterfront Commissioner Barry Evenchick arrived at 8:37 a.m. in his sleek black Audi.

Evenchick flashed his headlights and the commission car immediately pulled out. Mission accomplished for an $80,000-a-year detective whose job description is supposed to be catching criminals and mobsters on the waterfront.

Confronted by a Daily News reporter about the parking detail, Evenchick went into denial mode.

"Nobody was holding my spot," he insisted.

Informed that there were photos to the contrary, Evenchick stuck to his story. "All I know is that this is where I park so this is where I come," he said.

"Send me a picture so I can show it to my granddaughter," he added.

The commission's three spots are marked with a red "No Standing" zone sign.

Another agency big, New York Waterfront Commissioner Ronald Goldstock, pulled his blue Lexus into one of the three spots at 7:06 a.m., about 23 minutes before the detective who held Evenchick's space even arrived.

In a response to the inspector general's scathing report documenting misconduct and corruption at the agency, current Executive Director Walter Arsenault had pledged the parking detail was abolished and "professional courtesies have been eliminated."

The commission's general counsel, Phoebe Sorial, said yesterday that the inspector general referred to the previous regime's Monday-through-Friday parking detail, which was a "vastly different practice" than holding a spot for Evenchick twice a month when he comes into Manhattan for the biweekly public meeting.

"It's done very rarely now as opposed to a regular practice [in the past]," Sorial said.

Asked why Evenchick doesn't use the subway, Sorial responded: "I'm not going to put it on him whether he should come in on public transportation."

Under a compact approved by Congress, the governors of New York and New Jersey appoint the waterfront commissioners. Evenchick, named by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, replaced Michael Madonna, who was fired by Corzine last year.

Sorial also argued that it would inconvenience members of the public who attend a hearing if the meeting were delayed because Evenchick couldn't find a place topark.

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