|New Haven Register
May 21, 2008 Wednesday
City ID card worth $1,000 off a car
Maria Garriga, New Haven Register, Conn.
NEW HAVEN - City Hall Tuesday sweetened the deal for holders of the controversial Elm City Resident Identification Card by adding discounts of up to $1,000 for used cars, numerous retail discounts and cash vouchers.
"This card offers residents a multitude of services and benefits that we hope will motivate more residents to come down to City Hall to obtain theirs," city Community Services Administrator Kica Matos said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
The city launched the card May 31, 2007.
"This card is for all residents and offers more convenience," said Jessica Mayorga, spokeswoman for Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
Cardholders qualify for a $1,000 discount on used cars and a $500 discount on new cars at Barbarino Nissan in Wallingford and Bob's Dodge in Naugatuck.
The Mohegan Sun bus will give free $20 entertainment vouchers and $10 food vouchers for use at the casino, as well as a 10 percent discount on bus tickets; retailers Rendezvous, Jimmy's Hip Hop, Modell's Sporting Goods and the downtown Subway will offer cardholders 10 percent discounts; Video Game Plus will offer 6 percent off used games and DVDs; Foot Locker will give discount coupons.
In addition, C-Town grocery stores joined businesses that accept the card as a debit card.
Nearly 6,000 people have signed up for the card, which can be used for cash transactions at some vendors, to feed parking meters and as identification at city libraries.
Darnell Goldson, the only declared opponent to DeStefano to date in the next election, said the added perks show the card has not generated the enthusiasm City Hall expected.
"They are doing this because they didn't get as many people as they hoped," he said. "How are they funding this program? I'm tired of the taxpayer paying for charity. Let me keep my money to pay my mortgage."
The card already entitles holders to use of Lighthouse Point Park, for which the city charges a $5 fee, as well as city libraries and city trash station. Cardholders can load cash on the card to pay parking meters and various vendors.
City officials believe the card can reduce crimes against illegal immigrants who hold it, as it can be used as identification to open bank accounts or to give police in the event of a crime. Illegal immigrants are believed to be targets of thieves because they would carry cash in lieu of opening bank accounts, and would not report the crimes because of their illegal status.
Immigrants can only use the card if they have documents verifying their identification from their country of origin.
Matos said local businesses who offer discounts to cardholders have shown support for the controversial program, which has been contested by many groups opposed to illegal immigration. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hit New Haven with raids after the City Hall announced the program; the agency denies there was a connection.
Now the city is fighting a Freedom of Information request for the names of cardholders.