An Italian politician, Antonio Piazza, did not just park his Jaguar in a parking place designed for individuals with disabilities near his office for three years. This past August, Giuseppe Scuderi, whom the Telegraph describes as a “local man with 85 per cent disabilities,” asked him to vacate the spot. Piazza and Scuderi reportedly argued, the police were summoned and Piazza fined 80 euros.
Scuderi parked his car, a Renault, in the place. Half an hour later, Piazza returned and slashed the tires of Scuderi’s car; he had apparently forgotten that a CCTV camera was filming him.
Piazza, a member of the regional branch of the People of Freedom party which was founded by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, offered to buy Scuderi new tires. He also tried to appeal the fine, saying that he had “given a lift to a disabled person,” says the Guardian. But Piazza has now had to resign from his position as head of Aler, a corporation that manages public housing in Lecco, and also as a senior member of the People of Freedom party.
Indeed, Piazza seems to think it is he who has been wronged. “I made a mistake, but there are people who behave even worse,” he has claimed. His slashing Scuderi’s tires has nothing to do, he insists, with his political career.
But to Italians contending with a worse than predicted recession and an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, Piazza’s behavior was yet another example of endemic corruption and “arrogance” among government officials. Italy’s politicians have been caught in scandals involving embezzlement and using public money for lavish parties, says the Telegraph. Among these is the recent arrest of the head of a tax-collecting agency, who may have embezzled as much as 100 million euros for use in some decidedly not-on-a-budget galas.
Moreover, a new report cited in the Guardian emphasizes the extent of tax evasion in Italy. Psychologists fail to disclose 40 percent of their earnings and lawyers, 42.7 percent; they make Mitt Romney look as if he’s revealing all, for all his recalcitrance to open up his tax returns.
Even without the ramifications for politics in Italy, I was deeply irked by Piazza’s arrogance and cavalier attitude towards the law and towards individuals with disabilities. There have been too many documented cases of people (including football players from UCLA and basketball player Andrew Bynum) abusing the parking placards and spaces for individuals with disabilities. One person with disabilities whom I know said that she’d rather carry a separate plastic placard and display it when she parked her car than have a wheelchair icon on her license plate, for fear that someone would steal it.
Piazza had a lot of nerve not only to claim that he had attempted to give a person with disabilities a ride, but to say that other politicians have done things “far worse.” Isn’t deliberately ignoring the rights — civil rights, human rights — of anyone and certainly of an individual with disabilities a reprehensible crime in and of itself?
Related Care2 Coverage