Open Your Eye's & Your Mind's
Electric Car Controversy

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The Sparrow

Recently the City of Boca Raton has decided that the above vehicle is considered commercial and cannot be parked on city streets at night. This of course is ridiculous as anyone can plainly see that it is NOT a commercial vehicle in any way.

Below are e-mails & letters that we have received on the car.


   I saw the article in the Sun-Sentinel on your electric vehicle. Boca is nut's. Your electric Sparrow is the coolest thing in South Florida. It is certainly not a commercial vehicle just because you put the web address of your fine organization on it's sides. I have followed what you have done and think more people should give as much to the community as you have. Don't take the lettering off and tell Boca to go to hell.

Darren F. 

Mr. Newman,

   I have seen your vehicle around town and wish I could get one. There is NO way that any reasonable person would think that it's a commercial vehicle. I hope you don't give up your fight with the idiots at city hall. They should commend you instead of hassling you.

Bea H.

Hi Rick:
   As usual, thank you for your very generous offer (to lend the school a generator after the hurricane).  Fortunately, the power has been restored.  Basically our trees and shrubbery encountered most of the damage. 
   Just finished reading the article about your electric car.  I agree with you.  It's hard to understand why the sign on the car can create so much havoc.
Good Luck and thank you for always thinking of us.
Devarn Flowers, Principal
Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School
    Saw the article in the Palm Beach Post about the city of Boca harassing you about having your web site on the car. Ask them about the on all the new license plates?

 Seems its okay for the state to advertise on your vehicle without your permission.

Very truly yours,
Joseph M.

    I saw today's paper with the article about Rick Newman. While I am not versed in the laws and regulations of the City of Boca Raton, I can at least say that Rick Newman's personal commitment to helping this Science Museum over the years has been unwavering.  He has brought artifacts of science and technology for display here that we would not have obtained elsewhere.  Palm Beach County has benefited significantly from his commitment to education.

 Jim Rollings, Pres/CEO

South Florida Science Museum
Dear Mayor Abrams,

    I just learned that Mr. Richard Newman's electric demonstration vehicle was cited by the City as a commercial vehicle for having "" on the door.  I understand the need for controlling the parking of commercial vehicles overnight in the city, but I don't understand how his car could be considered a commercial vehicle since is not a business, and the car is not used for commercial purposes.  On the contrary, in these times of skyrocketing fuel prices, Mr. Newman's electric car serves as a significant example of clean, cheap, alternative transportation featuring a website on the door for more information.  He has no connection with the car company, he is merely willing to share science and technological information for free.

   Mr. Newman's passion is science.  My school, the South Florida Science Museum, and several other schools have benefited from Mr. Newman's generosity in the form of donated computerized weather stations and extensive, priceless space exhibits for our display cases.

   I hope that the city can find a way to make an exception or provide a variance in this case, since Mr. Newman is providing a free public service by generating interest in alternative transportation.

Allen Rice
Assistant Principal
West Boca Raton Community High School

From the editors of the Sun-Sentinel     Published 9/2/05

Driveway Drivel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

A car in a driveway raises hackles in Boca

   When is a "commercial vehicle" not a commercial vehicle? When it's not selling anything. So what's Boca Raton's problem with Richard Newman's car?

   Newman has run into a code compliance problem because he has an electric car, described by the city as a commercial vehicle, parked in his driveway. On the sides is the address for the Web site of his nonprofit scientific organization. The city wants him to remove or cover the lettering, or face a fine.

   Newman could easily cover the address and make the issue go away, of course. But the city should first have to explain what linguistic perversion leads it to consider a nonprofit informational Web site to be a commercial enterprise. Better yet, it should simply drop the matter.

To: City of Boca Officials,

   It appears that he should be exempted from enforcement of the ordinance. What do you think?

Barry E.

Dear Mr. Mayor,

    I'll save my outrage for the people that are employed by the City of Boca Raton re: the continued harassment of a fine man, a philanthropist, and a friend.

   The city maintains that the car, owned by science philanthropist Richard Newman, is a commercial vehicle because of a Web site address displayed on both sides. 

   I will not be the least bit surprised to see the Sun Sentinel chime in on Mr. Newman's behalf.

   As you can clearly see from the above letter from the head of the code department, the vehicle Does Not fit into Any of the categories that Mr. Massalone has spelled out. The electric motorcycle is obviously NOT a bus, truck, pickup, or truck tractor. It also could NOT be considered an agricultural or construction vehicle, there are no tools or other equipment inside of it, nor does it carry any building materials. It also does NOT advertise "a trade, business, industry or other activity for profit, or a product, commodity or service". 

   Please see if you can find more suitable employment for the people on the tax payers payroll who are wasting our time & money.

   Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Steven A.

   The City of Boca Raton should find better things to do. I live in the
general vicinity of Mr. Newman's home and I can tell you I would rather look
at his little electric motorcycle with the lettering on it than have the
eyesore and noise pollution of a large dual axle pick-up truck with a loud
diesel engine parked in many of our neighbors driveways. These large
pick-up trucks are obviously commercial vehicles, given the known
professions of the homeowners who park them there. Despite the fact they
lack lettering, they are still out of place in a neighborhood of homes in
the $500,000 to $1.5 million range and much more likely to hurt property
values than Mr. Newman's vehicle. Just because a vehicle has lettering on
it does not make it a commercial vehicle, and vice-versa.

Michael G.
    The bureaucrats have declared their position publicly. Now they cannot back down without a fight. They are wasting everyone's time and money on a ridiculous issue. Your great donations to our youth alone should make this a moot point. You have given so much to the community and education that the City of Boca should be ashamed of itself. My hat's off to you and please keep up the good work.

Robert A.


    At a time when electric cars should be newest thing to have because of the gas prices, you can see the hand of those who do not want us to have electric cars reaches all the way to you.  I have been there.  They would not pass me for emissions back when that was an issue.  I sold my Electric Minivan back when gas was still less than $1.50 a gallon.

     Good luck with your challenge to the city code boys.

David N.

Dear Mr. Massalone and the City of Boca Raton
   There is no way that any reasonable individual would think that the lettering on Mr. Newman's vehicle ( is commercial. It ONLY has the web address of an organization that has helped thousands of kids. I have reviewed the site, and it does NOT sell any items, services or products. If city code deems that this is a commercial vehicle, then the code needs to be changed and Boca should stop wasting tax payer's money on such utter nonsense. Any code enforcement officer that thinks that his vehicle is commercial should find a new carrier. Only an idiot would believe that it's anything but a nonprofit organization and they should STOP wasting everyone's time. In fact, I believe that your starting to cross the line as far as constitutionality is concerned. Everyone has the right to express their opinions and speak freely, except (according to your silly code) in Boca.
   Mr. Newman has donated his time, money and energy to a great cause and the city should be thanking him, not fining him. I'm even considering placing similar lettering on all of my cars just to show support for him and to let others know just how stupid & silly city hall can be. This is NOT what I want my tax dollars to go to. Let the issue go and move on to more important things.
 The neighborhood stands behind Mr. Newman and his endeavors 100%.
Very truly yours,
 Charles C.
Hi Richard,
   I read your article in the post a few weeks ago and got furious. That just shows how stupid and power hungry those code enforcement idiots are. I have been to special masters meetings before and I can tell you that that dude is cut and dry. About all he will ask you is how long you will need to be in compliance with the code. The best advice I can give you is to read the ordinance, law, or whatever thoroughly that he's nailing you with. You may be able to find a hole in
it. For example; if any and all advertising on a vehicle makes it a commercial vehicle then what about the car dealer emblems, or bumper and window stickers
advertising radio stations, restaurants, rock bands, etc. And what about political campaign stickers and signs on cars? Your best chance is to show that your sticker is no different than any other sticker that is currently on thousands of cars in the city.

   If you want to know some truth about politicians, they HATE electric cars and other fuel efficient vehicles. If you remember years ago a Geo metro got 58 mpg and a Honda Civic got about 52 mpg. Now they get a lot less like 35 or 38. The reason is, politicians were pushing for higher fuel economy until they realized that if everybody had fuel efficient cars, they would be collecting less and less in tax money because the tax is based on each gallon of gas sold, not per dollar spent like other sales tax is collected on all other items we buy. So they probably told the EPA to cool it! Electric vehicles present the worst of all problems to the politicians because they would be collecting no tax at all from anybody that drove one. I even heard of them wanting to install sensors in the roads and in cars that would count how many miles you drove which would tell how much tax you owed. As if they don't get enough money from us already. Just imagine what kind of mileage Honda Civics would be getting now if the politicians continued to push for higher efficiency. Their greed stands in the way of progress time and time again. My favorite saying is; "Yes God, you were right. The love of money clearly was the root of all evil."

Good Luck Richard,

   Dear Mr. Newman,

    I read the article on your Sparrow electric car and the problems it has caused you because you park it in your driveway. First of, there is NO WAY that it is a commercial vehicle. The city is crazy. I would be proud to have you park it in my driveway. You and your organization has done such terrific things that the city should drop the issue and do more important things with the tax payers money.

  I hope you continue your fight with code enforcement and I support you 100%.

Best of luck.
Dennis K. 

   The comment that you could be "potentially" eroding their code is ridiculous. They cant make up a code that isn't there or apply one because it has potential whatever in their infinite opinion.   A court would throw it all out. If you put "I love Lucy" on the side, would that apply?  What about "Indi 500 official pace car."

Barry P. - Science Teacher

Mr. Newman,

   I read the article in the Boca News about your electric cars. It brought back a flood of memories of my own experiences of building an electric hybrid about 22 years ago.

Best of luck to your battle to keep your web site on the side of your car.

Mark K.
Dear Sir,

   I see that you still have your Sparrow parked by your establishment. Good for you. Don't let the idiots in Boca tell you anything. It's a great vehicle and NOT commercial in any way shape or form. More people should own them and I hope that because of you, more people will. It's great for the environment and cost way less then a conventional car to operate.

Michelle S.

Here are links to newspaper stories written on the subject:

Palm Beach Post Article     Sun-Sentinel Article     Boca News  would like to thank each and every person that has taken the time to write us and/or city hall with regards to our electric vehicle. We very much appreciate the support that you have given.

Richard Newman

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