Monday, July 30, 2012

New York is “Fine City," unless you recklessly kill somebody with a car. In that case, there’s no arrest, not even a fine. Have a nice day.

Mad King Ludwig
Michael Bloombrg

Above, portraits of two crazy people who might almost have been separated at birth. I’m not going into crazy Ludwig’s history of off-kilter activities. You can get an executive summary right here

Suffice it to say it’s a coin toss whether Ludwig or Mad Michael Bloomberg is the crazier of the two. 

Today’s case in point – enforcement of petty violations vs. inforcement of vehicular homicide in New York.

If you were a sane mayor, which would you focus on enforcing? Well get this:

The city's Public Advocate, Bill DeBlasio, is resorting to suing the mayor for information that city hall won't release about who’s getting fined, how often, where, and for how much.

It seems overzealous enforcement of petty regulations is a Bloomberg-directed attempt to make up for the city's income shortfall. The zeal comes “without regard for the impact this policy is having on the city’s small-business owners,” according to De Blasio

“Stonewall” Bloomberg

DeBlasio, an elected public official, says the city is stonewalling him in his quest to find out how municipal income for fines have managed to double from less than a half a billion dollars to nearly a whole billion since Bloomberg became mayor.

Meanwhile, according to the city’s elected Public Advocate, small business owners…

“…have been forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines for nuisance violations that could be easily addressed through education. By levying hidden taxes and increasing the cost of doing business, the City is undercutting New York’s small businesses and making it more difficult for them to grow and create jobs. 
 “For example, small business owners in the Bronx provided the Public Advocate with a letter from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding fines, that warns (a) if one contests the fine, the business may have to pay more and (b) if one contests the fine, the small business owner may have to wait around for hours before a hearing is granted. This letter is a strong message to small business owners to simply pay fines without asking questions, instead of seeking to resolve legitimate misunderstandings.’ 
What kinds of terrible offenses have these fined small business owners committed? Well, according to the Public Advocate's website:

Owners of a family-run grocery store in Flatbush, Brooklyn thought they were going above and beyond what the law required by printing their return policy on every receipt, but regulations require return policies to be posted on signs next to each cash register. During an August inspection, the store was unexpectedly hit with three $250 fines—one for each of the cash registers lacking a return policy sign.
• In Manhattan, “when a health-department inspector visited XES Lounge in Chelsea ... he gave general manager Tony Juliano a ticket for having unwrapped straws on the bar. [The] straws [had] been there for nearly eight years, but this time it was deemed a $400 violation.”

“If you snitch, we’ll break your bank account”

Don't get any smart ideas, either, about secretly recording the outrageous visits of Bloomberg’s “inspectors” in search of an out-of-place sign or an unwrapped straw, all in an effort to get you socked with a brutal fine. If you get caught recording evidence of how unreasonable the mayor’s shakedown racket is, you’re really in deep doo-doo. Says the elected Public Advocate's website...

The owner of the popular downtown diner George’s — where Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have dined — wound up in hot water after he tried to skewer a city health inspector by recording his visit on an iPhone. When the inspector spotted owner Bill Koulmentas’ cellphone scheme, he quickly hit George’s with a slew of violations — totaling 65 points. Koulmentas was accused of everything from having cracked eggs to keeping cold food too hot and hot food too cold .... Having experienced a similarly overzealous inspection a month earlier, Koulmentas said he decided to document what was happening

But hey, killing people with a car? That's OK!

One of the reasons I bring this up is that every year in New York, approximately two thousand people, on foot or on bicycles, get run over, crashed into, crushed, slammed into the air, and sometimes killed by recklessly-driven automobiles, trucks and taxis. 

And what does Mayor Bloomberg, his Popeye-lookalike police commission Ray Kelley, and the rest of the city's bureaucracy do about it?

You were right when you guessed they do next to nothing.

"It's a perverse system," said Councilmember Greenfield today. "Currently, we're saying to the drivers of New York City: Be reckless, drive drunk, unlicensed, run people over, and nothing is going to happen to you. On many nights there is one AIS police officer in the entire city conducting investigations. God forbid you have two accidents in one night! The NYPD has a budget of $4.5 billion a year. If the NYPD wants to put more people on the ground to hold reckless drivers accountable, they can do it." 

So by all means, feel free to drive into New York drunk and run over the first little old lady or  cyclist you see. Or if you’re blind drunk, you don’t even have to see them. We won’t hold any of that against you here. But do you plan on doing business in New York?

Then have a fine day.

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