On Dec. 16, Mary Kisel, a city parking officer for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, was patrolling her beat, keeping an eye on the pre-holiday crush that jams downtown streets and fills up curbside parking spaces.
A few minutes after noon, Kisel noticed a 2005 Toyota Prius parked on Southwest Salmon Street between Park and 10th avenues, just around the corner from the Portland Art Museum.
The Prius didn't have a $1.60-per-hour parking receipt in the curbside window, as city rules require.
Digital photos taken by Kisel of the car and reviewed by WW show no receipt displayed anywhere on the vehicle.
That was unusual because the Prius was not a state police car, nor was it a government vehicle.
Instead, it's registered to Cylvia Hayes, Gov. John Kitzhaber's longtime companion. (Although Hayes, 46, and Kitzhaber, 66, are not married, the governor's office and her state website refer to her as âFirst Lady Cylvia Hayes.â)
Portland and other cities have for years battled the fraudulent use of disabled parking permits. It's less common for a civilian to get dinged for using a police parking credential.
City rules on such permits are clear.
"Government parking permits are not intended to serve as substitutes for off-street parking or to make ordinary parking simply more convenient," the Bureau of Transportation's website says. "Permits are to be used to accomplish official government business that could not be accomplished without a special parking permit.â
Hayes referred WW's questions to Kitzhaber spokesman Ian Greenfield, who says Hayes was on official business that day, giving a lunchtime presentation on prosperity to 150 Christian business people and their spouses at the Arlington Club.
The Oregon State Police provide protective services to the governor and his immediate family, including driving Kitzhaber and Hayes to events in state vehicles.
Greenfield says Hayes had traveled with a state police bodyguard to the lunch but took her Prius because she had personal business later.
He also says Hayes has had two parking passes since Kitzhaber entered office in 2011—one from the state police and one from the city of Portland. Greenfield says Hayes simply put the wrong one in her window.
"It was a mistake," he says.
Even it she'd used her city permit, Hayes would be on thin ice, however. City rules say "permits are to be issued to government-owned vehicles."
Anyone else trying to do what Hayes did might have a bigger problem.
Oregon law makes it a class C felony if "a person commits the crime of criminal impersonation of a peace officer if the person, with the intent to obtain a benefit or to injure or defraud another person, uses false law enforcement identification.â
A retired career state prosecutor, speaking on background, says the law is typically applied only in cases in which perpetrators use a police badge or uniform to commit a more serious offense than skipping out on paying a city parking meter. For Portland parking officers, however, the only relevant question is whether a vehicle parked in a metered space displays a valid parking receipt.
For Kisel, the parking patrol officer, the answer was simple.
"The vehicle has no receipt," Kisel wrote in the comments section of the $60 ticket she issued to Hayes. "Laminated card OR ST police. Not valid for parking."
Hayes has not yet paid the ticket.
"OSP has contacted the city for guidance on what to do about the ticket," Greenfield says. âIf the city wants it paid, sheâll pay out of her personal account.â