From Tastie Fish

Report: Tastie Fish’s investigation into Traffic and Transportation is widening

From Tastie Fish

Tastie Fish has spent the last few weeks examining the business of traffic and transportation in New Haven.

The journey to obtain those records is well documented, and worthy of review if you have the time.

Traffic and Transporation director Doug Hausladen, after somewhat of an engagement, turned over the revenue records for the years 2011-2016 several weeks ago.

 

After fully examining the records, and the disk drive they were delivered within, we reached the following conclusions.

In our estimation, Doug Hausladen misrepresented the average amount of money the city brings in on traffic meters by roughly $500,000 to the New Haven Register in 2015, the numbers are rough because Passport Parking Inc executed a contract with the New Haven in 2014 that actually removed the revenue split that was in place with Duncan Solutions.

A fact unknown to this magazine the last time we filed copy on this matter.

While not knowing the exact amount, when Tastie Fish announced that we were investigating whether or not Mr. Hausladen misrepresented the revenue brought in by parking meters in 2015, the Traffic and Transportation director questioned the integrity of our reporters, and embarked on a memorable twitter rant.

From Tastie Fish

We concluded that Parking and Transportation did increase it’s total revenue between 2011-2016, the uptick seems tied to the private contractors, which would make the addition of these parking meters we see everyday helpful to the city.

The vigilant workers for the department do a great job of keeping all of us within the scope of the parking regulations, they generate millions of dollars in revenue.

Despite the uptick in revenue since 2011, the department rarely reported a surplus against the city budget, and that even applies to the different sub categories of revenue of which we will explain shortly.

From 2011 to 2015 the Traffic and Transportation department reported serious deficits, and only in 2016 did they actually report a surplus, and that was minimal in the grand scheme of these numbers.

From Tastie Fish

The random nature of the total deficits year to year could be due in large measure to the inconsistency of the city budget revenue projection, often it seems the city is expecting more money than the department is capable of producing based on the averages.

We wish to advise our readers our numbers will remain less than exact until we can review the audits.

Between the 2011-2016 the department of Traffic and Transportation averaged $10,234,470 in revenue against an average budget $10,873,361.

Over a 7 year period, the department only reported a surplus once, and that was in 2016.

But there is some questions we could not answer.

The records submitted to us were broken down into specific categories, meters, tags, residential, and total revenue.

From Tastie Fish

The tables of which we have attached to this report for your viewing pleasure.

We examined the meters, and came to the conclusion that Mr. Hausladen inflated the actual revenue collected by the meters in an interview with the New Haven Register in 2015.

He has yet to dispute our position.

Nothing new there.

Parking tags raises it’s own set of questions, but we can save that for the interview.

From Tastie Fish

The residential table caught our eye for a different reason, and that’s because the numbers don’t make sense.

The revenue in 2012 does not line up mathematically with the rest of the table, it defies trends, and other basic laws of probability and statistics.

It also represents a potential increase and decrease in population within one calender year, a dramatic increase, which seems sociologically impossible without a natural disaster, or something that greatly alters the atmosphere within the city limits.

2012 renders that entire table void unless we can secure a valid explanation from Traffic and Transportation, it will be difficult to accept the records in total until this is clarified.

Perhaps there is an explanation, but that particular submission required experts, and analysis, and still is puzzling.

Because the records to us do not really paint the full picture, we have requested the actual audits conducted by Duncan Solutions between the years of 2011-2013 along with the audits from 2014 to present that took place under the second private contractor over the 7 year period.

From Tastie Fish

Tastie Fish has learned that in 2014, the City of New Haven executed an agreement with a new contractor named Passport Parking, why they did not renew with Duncan Solutions is among the questions we plan to ask Traffic and Transportation director Doug Hausladen.

Duncan Solutions has been rife with equity sales, and accusations of improper conduct since 2011, but it’s not immeditaly clear if that played into New Haven’s decision to part ways with the company.

Passport Parking Inc is one of the best tech based parking platforms in the country, the company has highly regarded investors with Grotech Ventures and Relevance Capitol involved in rounds of funding.

Passport Parking is deployed in 1000 locations in 46 states according to Parking.net, the size of the network is impressive.

The Passport agreement, negotiated under Mayor Toni Harp, and administered by Doug Hausladen, is a much more advantageous contract for the city of New Haven, and has provided cumulative returns in it’s first 3 years.

Passport Parking appears to be a more advanced private contractor then Duncan Solutions, and that goes beyond the Atlanta based lawsuits against Duncan Solutions, this is more about the tech behind the app.

Tastie Fish has made contact with Passport Parking, and is still awaiting comment as of Monday afternoon.

City attorney Kathleen Foster was kind enough to forward the master agreement, and upon review, its clear the uptick in revenue is most likely aligned with the new agreement.

Duncan Solutions did increase revenue, but Traffic and Transportation reported it’s first surplus in 6 years under the Passport Parking agreement.

You can read the full agreement here, but we still figured we would post some highlights.

  1. The agreement is very similar to the contract with Duncan solutions, many of the contract points, stipulations, and liabilities that were in place with Duncan Solutions are also present in this agreement with Passport Parking.

2.     The agreement has been renewed 2 times, we are still looking for altered provisos here and there.

3.      The City of New Haven agreed to Pay Passport Parking a flat rate not to exceed $350,000, and the city has the contractual right request additional information before remitting payment. Payment covers a wide range within the general service, salaries, consultants, costs of materials and supplies along with other ancillary components. How much money was actually paid to Passport Parking over the 3 year period should be somewhere within the audits, and is currently unknown to this magazine.

From Tastie Fish

4.    The scope of services page is incredible , Passport Parking may be an independent contractor, but they have the power of a government agency within the city. They have access to millions of public dollars, endless amounts of private information, and advanced technology that creates human footprints every single day down to voice recordings. They are also tapped into the DMV, and the Finance Department’s tax records. These are very intrusive databases. The contractor can tear someones life apart at about the same rate the police can.

5. Because of the scope of services, Passport Parking has a vast and interactive data base that underwrites the collection efforts, from citizen’s addresses to pictures of their cars. The on site officer, the ticket issued, the fine assessed, all of that is thrown into the cloud, and there is no indication that Passport Parking has to dispense of that information. Passport Parking is prohibited from using the information outside the scope of the contract, and is required to turn over records,  but there is no indication they have to erase any aspect of that database after the fact.

6. The data base contains prolific revenue records according to the contract, the advanced nature of Passport’s cloud based system allows them to track revenue down to the second, the press of a button according to engineers that have spoken to Tastie Fish. The city of New Haven can order an audit at any point in time over the life of the contract, as with Duncan Solutions, those audits are real time, which is why Tastie Fish expanded it’s FOIA request last week.

7. Passport Parking is required to provide “a variety of managerial reports”, including but not limited to revenue collection data, which seems to imply that Traffic and Transportation director Doug Hausladen (or the Fianance Department Controller) is forwarded revenue collection data in the form of a report on a pretty regular basis, so his behavior last week is raising questions. Someone is given access to audits via managerial reports without request, but this magazine was told by Doug Hausladen that the Finance Department is the division that orders and is in possession of the audits.  This contract has been in place in 2014, there is a trail of managerial reports aside from other contractual audits.

8.  There is another section that caught our eye, Passport Parking has to provide comprehensive reports on a monthly basis, section 17 of the scope of services commands the contractor to provide detailed reports every 4 weeks, those reports are to include enough information to conduct a complete audit of all parking ticket collection operations, which includes revenue. That is 3 different parts of the contract that give the city the right to do a full accounting of the revenue, 2 sections do not require the city to make an official request

9. Yale appears in the contract because of the fleet based vehicles, Passport Parking has to work with Yale to accomadate “viewing of any citations issued, and subsequent payment of those citations”. Yale’s inclusion in the contract was unexpected.

10. The collections system is efficient. After getting a ticket you are sent a letter every 15 days, and Passport Parking is somewhat motivated to collect the money because they see 5% of the revenue on all tickets paid within the first year, but they see 15% of the revenue on all money collected after the 1st year

From Tastie Fish

After reviewing the revenue records, and the updated agreements with Passport Parking, it’s clear there is a trove of information that we have not been given access too, there is no way to confirm the veracity of the revenue tables submitted to our newsroom, and why Traffic and Transportation would go to the trouble of creating an entirely new file as oppose to just turning over the audits, and managerial reports is unknown to this magazine.

The disk drive that was delivered to our offices several weeks ago contained files that have been created, or modified days earlier, the problem is some of these records are years old, there is no need to modify files that were generated years ago.  Turning over the real time audits would have created less work for Traffic and Transportation, Mr. Hausladen complained on twitter that because of our FOIA request, the government will “now have to spend hours” working on the project, when in reality, turning over managerial reports along with the monthly audits would have saved everyone time.

From Twitter

He sent us copies of the city budget, revenue tables,  but the audits would have sufficed.

We do appreciate the increased cooperation from the director, this more about needing more information to inform the inquiring public, we understand the director has other objectives, and obligations, but we are invested in the public interest at hand.

The revenue records submitted to this magazine are insufficient, and the length of time it took for them to be delivered to us is inconsistent with the audit schedule in the contract.

Tastie Fish also has questions about the year 2012 as it relates to residential parking, and the unnatural jump in revenue that does not line up with the rest of the table, or basic elements of social science.

Because of these questions, and many others, we submitted an interview request to Doug Hausladen last week, in an email response he asked that we go through city hall channels to set up the interview, and informed us the ever helpful Michael Pinto was going to look into our request for audits with the finance department.

From Twitter

This is the second time we have requested an interview.

Tastie Fish first inquired about interviewing Mr. Hausladen on the record roughly 4 weeks ago, in that time, he stalled releasing the records in the face of a legitimate FOIA request, gave us the run around, scolded Tastie Fish on Twitter, turned over records that were not the official audits including a table that is difficult to manage, then this week told us the finance department handles all audits when the master agreement clearly indicates someone has access to those audits via managerial reports.

That is firm documentation, that could be distributed in PDF format much in the manner the master agreements have.

We cannot imagine anyone other than Doug Hausladen or Finance Controller Daryl Jones receives those reports, Mr. Jones could not be reached as of Monday afternoon after numerous phone calls.

Tastie Fish is still awaiting the opportunity to interview Doug Hausladen, and get to the bottom of all these questions.

For whatever reason, Traffic and Transportation has opted to not respond to lines of questioning, or interview requests.

from City of New Haven, Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking

The odd part, is this magazine had no intention of this story becoming an investigation, we are stunned this narrative has become so compelling.

We will check back in once we have secured an interview with Doug Hausladen, and the official audits that will give a clear picture of how much public money was collected over the years under examination.

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