By Suleman Din
A storm of controversy is washing over a grey Mercedes with a temporary handicap permit parked outside the business building.
The whale of a car, a 1990 560 SEL Mercedes Benz, with plush leather interior and walnut trim, is owned by Lee Maguire, interim associate dean of business.
Some students see him as a corporate pirate, but Maguire, a lover of the sea and part of the naval reserves, insists he’s just an honest sailor.
Maguire usually parks his Mercedes, bearing the personal license plate “TENDR2”, in front of the business building at 285 Victoria St.
It’s a no-parking zone, but Maguire has a temporary disabled parking permit so he can park there without worry.
Maguire jokingly said parking his car in front of the school “give business students a goa, something to strive for.”
“It’s an ad — why you are in business school,” Maguire said, chuckling.
The real reason he parks in front of the building is because he can’t walk far after back surgery last December.
It was Maguire’s third operation to correct a back injury he suffered at 19. He was going down a hatch on a boat when he fell more than three metres, landing on his tailbone.
Despite the mishap, Maguire remained part of the naval reserve, eventually commanding a minesweeper.
Following his recent surgery Maguire wanted to return to work, and was given a temporary disabled parking permit on the condition that he doesn’t walk outside.
“I can’t park in the garage or else I can’t come to work,” said Maguire, who has been teaching at Ryerson for 31 years.
David Steele, RyeSAC’s VP administration, thought Maguire was trying to “scam free parking” because Steele said, “visually there is no disability.”
But Maguire lifted up his shirt to show this reporter a nine-inch scar that runs from the bottom of his spine.
Steele said it’s unfortunate Maguire had the accident, but takes issue with his parking spot.
“It’s a bad judgement call,” said Steele. “You don’t necessarily want to flaunt you affluence in a climate of student debt — students will resent it, as I have.”
Steele said he first noticed Maguire’s car on Jan. 28, during the Student Day of Action protest.
“Here’s this symbol of the establishment, littered with huge disabled signs all over, parked in the middle of our protest,” said Steele.
He isn’t bothered by the criticism. “I understand how the students feel. They have a right to ask questions.”
Maguire has three years left at Ryerson, and will apply for the associate dean of business position. After that, Maguire will retire and “go sailing.”