The owner and operator of Jin’s Chicken and Fish may be forced to cease vending from his usual site on Library Mall if City Council approves a proposal approbated Monday by the city’s Vending Oversight Committee.
Jeffrey Okafo, who holds the vending license for operating the cart, received a suspension of his street vending license in 2008. Following this, Okafo continued to operate in violation of his license suspension. Since the 2008 suspension, he has gone on to receive seven citations for violation of vending ordinances.
“This is not going to go away. I think he’s laughing in our faces,” committee member Tori Pettaway said. “At this point, this has been going on for more than three to four years. It’s time. It’s just not fair to everyone else who follows the rules.”
The meeting was intended to bring Okafo before the committee and Assistant City Attorney John Strange to determine the best course of action to address his repeated violations. Okafo failed to appear at the meeting.
Strange called two witnesses, Madison Police Department State Street Officer Chanda Dolsen and Street Vending Coordinator Warren Hansen, before the committee to give testimony pertaining to the violations.
Dolsen noted an incident in January of this year in which Okafo drove a pick-up towing the JD’s food cart, with whom he had been employed at the time, and backed it into the FIB’s food cart.
The parking lot in which this incident took place is often used by vendors to store carts, Dolsen said, but surveillance footage of the incident showed Okafo exiting the vehicle, examining the damage, reentering the vehicle and driving off without leaving a note.
As a result of this, Okafo was issued citations for both hit and run and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
Hansen noted Okafo has himself accounted for a significant portion of punitive actions by the committee.
“It’s very unusual. Since I’ve been doing this job, four licenses have been suspended,” Hansen said. “This particular vendor had his license suspended for 30 days and then for six months.”
The committee voted to put a recommendation to City Council to revoke Okafo’s license for one year.