The hold that local businessman Anthony Iannucci has on Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa has entered the realm of bizarre. So, too, has the cash-strapped city's willingness to forgive its debtors.
Iannucci is the president of Warren Redevelopment and Planning. Many years ago the city, against the advice of Municipal Court Judge Thomas Gysegem, contracted with WRAP for parking control. WRAP then subcontracted with a company from Michigan, with City Council approval and, again, against Gysegem's objection.
In 2009, when the city stopped using the Michigan company, Warren Municipal Court received from Iannucci a list of parking scofflaws.
After receiving the list and sending notices, the court began hearing from people who produced canceled checks and receipts for their paid fines. Warren Municipal Court Clerk Peggy Scott said she received so many complaints from people who said they already paid the Michigan company that she scrapped the collection attempt.
Scott could not say how many fines were forgiven and how much money they totaled, but a 2011 report listed more than $94,000 in outstanding parking fines.
Now, four years later, there is no indication that the city has made any attempt to investigate possible fraud and/or theft, even though records suggest that tens of thousands of dollars in parking fines were paid to WRAP's subcontractor and never forwarded to the city. Now, four years later, the city has a contract with Iannucci's Warren Parking Systems to continue issuing tickets. Now, four years later, the city also has contracted with Iannucci's company to manage the municipal parking deck that has deteriorated for lack of maintenance.
All this is on top of Iannucci's Sunshine Inc. being swept up in controversy over questionable spending, tax delinquencies and contributing to the city's blight. All this is on top of Iannucci's Sunshine failing to repay millions of dollars in loans to the city.
Like the parking tickets, the city is considering forgiving the Sunshine loans.
Warren has struggled so much financially that it has to borrow money to pave roads and has deep furloughs in the police department. Yet, the city's leaders turned their backs on the outstanding parking fines, they want to forgive Sunshine's millions of dollars in loans, they for years failed to collect rent on the Avalon golf course lease and they annually fork over about $400,000 to Packard Music Hall without question.