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"She's taking the lights off her personal cars and she's not going to apply for approval," said Dan Andrews, spokesman for Marshall. He said Marshall would have the lights removed by the end of last week.
Andrews said Marshall had the lights put on her personal cars because she tends to drive herself to events at night or on weekends, and had been prohibited from going behind police barricades when in her personal cars.
"She was having trouble getting into events because of barricades and people not recognizing her, and she put on lights so it would be easy for her to get access to streets," Andrews said. "At a parade, for instance, she was waved off. One of the people she ran into told her she couldn't get into the block. I think she was grand marshal (of the parade), and couldn't get in."
Andrews said Marshall's lights were used only for gaining entry to certain areas, not to disregard road rules. "So these lights were not on in terms of speeding, but more for giving her a way of accessing streets that were closed to traffic for events that she had to get to," he said.
Marshall also has an official car, complete with driver, that is provided by the city.
The borough president learned about the need for police approval after Channel 2 WCBS reported on the story last week. She also told Newsday that she had been personally admonished by Mayor Bloomberg about her lights.
The mayor's office could not be reached for comment. Police were unable to say how approval is granted for the lights and siren packages.
For Memorial Day weekend, when Marshall had five parades to attend, Andrews said she would use her official car.
"Her driver is probably going to be pressed into service, given the fact it's a weekend that involves a lot of parades," he said.
Andrews defended Marshall's tendency to drive herself, saying that she saved the city an estimated $16,000 by not having drivers chauffeur her to every event she officially attends.
"She felt that it was a waste of time and money having them sit outside and wait for her. Sometimes at night she would have her driver take her to an event and leave, and her husband would pick her up," he said. "We've been told by the city to come up with innovative and creative ways to save money, and we thought it was a good way."
Andrews added, "We thought it was a good thing, and it turned out to be problematic."
Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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