Q. My mom no longer drives, so I take her where she needs to go, and I use her handicap placard. Is it legal for me to drop her off at the door and park in a handicap spot? We need the spot for when we come back to the car, but I'm told that if the handicapped person isn't in the car when you park, you could get a hefty fine. Please set me straight.
-- S.L., of Shiloh
A. Pat yourself on the back for being a devoted daughter, and keep using those handicap spots. If you read the fine print on the back of the placard, you'll see what you are doing is perfectly legal, Bill Bogdan says.
If anybody has a right to rule on your question, Bogdan does. The disability liaison to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has been using a wheelchair for 43 years, so he has either seen or heard of every abuse of handicap parking privileges you can imagine.
You definitely are not among those abusers, he says.
"The law basically stipulates -- and it is stipulated on the back of the placard -- that the authorized holder of the placard must enter OR exit the vehicle at the time the parking privileges are being used," Bogdan said. "As long as the person is walking back to the vehicle and is going to enter the vehicle, then it would be a valid use of the card."
What might be illegal would be for you to drop your mom off and park in a handicap spot when you intended to pick her up at the door afterward. But even this scenario has a gray area. If, for example, your mom tires while she's in the store, you may wind up picking her up at the door when you hadn't intended to.
Bogdan says officers are encouraged to show discretion in this case -- unlike cases involving fraudulent placards or the use of a deceased person's placard, which now are class A misdemeanors.
"I find most officers do not want to write tickets unless they absolutely have to," Bogdan said. "Even when I do all the law enforcement training I tell them to try to give the person the benefit of the doubt until they can prove otherwise. So if this woman is ever stopped, I would highly encourage her just to get in contact with her mom and show that she's there."
Unlike the case of one Chicago woman whom Bogdan learned of. After an officer asked her why she was parking in a handicap spot, she told him she had dropped her mother off at a doctor's appointment. When the officer asked to speak to her mom, the woman led him on a six-block hike, figuring the officer would give up.
They finally reached an office building where the woman exclaimed, "Oh, my God, I forgot where I dropped my mother off!" Finally, when the officer hinted at obstruction of justice charges, she confessed that her mother was sitting comfortably at home.
Even Bogdan has experienced blatant disregard for the law -- right here in the metro-east. Arriving at the Fairview Heights MetroLink station to give a speech in Belleville, he found that the station's security guard had parked his personal vehicle in a handicap spot.
"He was like, 'Oh, well, I got approval from management to park here because if there's ever an emergency, I need to get to my car quickly,'" Bogdan said. "So I called management, and they said they had kept telling him not to park there. That's why we work at strengthening the laws and making changes to them."
Q. In a story last Thursday about your sportswriters' Hall of Fame voting, why were there different names on each person's ballot? -- Rodney Fant, of Swansea
A. I always hate to publicly chide my colleagues here because invariably I'll make a glaring booboo the next day, but in this case we simply didn't word something as clearly as we should have.
As you noticed, under each writer we had the category "Players on his 2013 ballot." This is what likely gave you the mistaken impression that the names which followed were the players from whom each writer chose.
That wasn't the case. Every writer in the country was given a ballot with the same 37 names. So, that part of the listing probably should have been labeled "Players I voted for." For example, all three voted for Biggio, Morris, McGriff, Smith and Raines but only Warren Mayes voted for Martinez while David Wilhelm and Joe Ostermeier voted for Bagwell and Ostermeier also voted for Murphy, Piazza and Trammell as well.
I hope that makes sense -- and that I haven't made an error in the process. For a detailed analysis of the nationwide voting, go to www.baseball-reference.com and look under "Awards" and then "Hall of Fame Inductees."
Who was the only first lady born outside the U.S.?
Answer to Wednesday's trivia: At 6-foot-4, Cal Ripken Jr. was a big man in baseball -- both literally and figuratively. Not only was he inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, he also is thought to be the tallest regular shortstop in history.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org