Scottie’s lawyer: We will fight


An attorney for hot dog vendor Gene Scott said last week that he hasn’t seen the official… An attorney for hot dog vendor Gene Scott said last week that he hasn’t seen the official paperwork for the removal of Scott’s cart from its location in front of Hillman Library, but described the removal as “an oppressive act that is hopefully not representative of our democracy and right to due process,” last week.

Joseph Chester, Scott’s attorney, added, “We are going to fight judicially and maybe even a direct petition to the people.”

According to Chester, Scott (Scottie to most students) had requested a peddling license and a vending license to operate at the corner of Bigelow Boulevard and Forbes Avenue, but was refused both.

“He just wants to sell his hot dogs and to be left alone,” Chester said.

By contrast, Ben Carlise, the public space manager for the Pittsburgh Department of Public Works, said that Scott was given numerous chances to move, and that even though he was found to be in violation about four years ago, the city only started citing him within the last few months.

“We realize that this is someone’s livelihood, it’s not a hobby,” Carlise said. “But he chose to do this, this was his decision.”

Chester said that the city is cracking down on Scott because of pressure from Pitt.

“I guess the University is like the 800-pound gorilla in the bedroom of Oakland,” he said. “In this case the city has deferred to the 800-pound gorilla that is the University.”

Carlise denied that there was any pressure from the University and said that most of the pressure came from other vendors.

He also said that Scott’s refusal to cooperate in finding another location played a role in the decision.

“Other vendors were complaining that they had to obey the rules, and Mr. Scott doesn’t,” Carlise said.

John Fedele, of Pitt’s Office of Public Affairs, said in an e-mail that Pitt was not involved in the city’s actions against Scott.

“His issues are with the city, not with the University,” Fedele said.

Chester said that he believes that Scott has a defense in that the city would not grant him a license to operate on the corner, despite Scott’s attempts to obtain one.

Last Monday, city workers removed Scott’s cart from in front of Hillman Library. Carlise said that Scott was allowed to pick it up from impound without a financial penalty.

A few hours later Scott was selling his usual hot dogs and chicken. Still later the same day city workers once again removed Scott’s cart from its usual location and placed it in impound.

On Thursday, Scott was vending again with a different cart, and that too was removed by city workers and placed in impound.

“We will impound it until he can produce a court order that allows him to be there,” Carlise said.

Carlise outlined the procedure that vendors go through to sell food at a fixed spot. First, someone must nominate a site within the city, then the nomination is sent to a committee for approval.

If the committee approves it, the nomination is sent to city council.

If city council approves the site, then the Department of Public Works advertises the site and accepts applications. It holds a lottery and the winner is allowed to operate at the chosen location.

“If they decide they don’t want the site anymore, we move on to the next person,” Carlise said.

Carlise pointed out that because Scott does not have a license to operate, he also does not have a health permit that all food vendors are required to have by city law. He added that the city has to be able to regulate the location of vendors.

“If we couldn’t control what was on the right of way, the sidewalk, we could have a thousand vendors vending there,” Carlise said.

A vending license costs about $500 for a typical location, but licenses for areas near PNC Park and Heinz Field may be more.