ELIZABETH—After some friends distributed leaflets asking residents to participate in a toy drive he was conducting in the weeks before Christmas, Carlos Lucio, a popular Elizabeth public school principal, received a summons in the mail from City Hall demanding a $250 fine for littering.
According to the ticket, which sources say was issued at the request of Second Ward Councilman Nelson Gonzalez, whomever was distributing the leaflets posted some on car windows.
Lucio says he is shocked that the city government is using its resources to persecute people celebrating the Christian holiday with the spirit of giving.
“I volunteered to gather toys for needy children whose Christmas would have been gloomy without the generosity of me and my neighbors,” said Lucio. “I am stunned that City Hall has time to attack civic and religious minded people for ‘littering’ while the mayor and city council ignore criminals who gun down citizens in our streets and traffic drugs to children.”
Lucio says he intends to contest the summons in court rather than pay a $250 fine for the charge, which City Hall sources say has never before been enforced.
“I am very conscientious about the environment and I certainly did not do anything that could be considered littering, so I intend to fight the charge and earn vindication,” said Lucio. “I won’t be pushed around by someone playing politics.”
Sources say Mayor J. Christian Bollwage encouraged Gonzalez to seek to intimidate Lucio because residents who are unhappy with the direction of the city have mentioned him as a possible candidate for city council.
The summons was issued by Nicholas Mancini, a close ally of Gonzalez who represents the Second Ward’s Fourth District on the Democratic County Committee and whose salary in 2008 as an employee in the Central License Division at City Hall was $47,520.
If that is true, the stratagem backfired because Lucio said the gesture has prompted him to seriously consider running in the Democratic primary election for city council.
“I was flattered when people suggested that I run for public office, but it I felt awkward about engaging in self promotion because I don’t have an inflated ego,” said Lucio. “Unfortunately, we have politicians trying to prevent people from doing good deeds by turning Elizabeth into some sort of police state, so I guess I really may have to do something about it.
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