Is New York City’s new attack on “quality of life” offenses going too far? The Los Angeles Times lists a few questionable cases: a pregnant woman got a $50 fine for sitting on steps in a subway station stairwell. A man sitting on a milk crate outside the Bronx hair salon where he works and was fined $105 for “unauthorized use of a milk crate.” An Israeli tourist got a $50 citation for taking up two seats on an empty subway train. A Manhattan resident was fined $50 for feeding pigeons in a park. A Greenwich Village merchant got a $400 citation for having many words on the awning over his small store.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says the city faces an economic crisis–an estimated $4-billion budget deficit next year–and is simply stepping up its enforcement of existing statutes. A police union official says that cops are under pressure to meet daily quotas for new citations, and have been pressured to crack down on every imaginable offense.
Bloomberg blames “the sensationalist press” and other adversaries for the growing furor. Under pressure to raise revenue, the mayor has proposed hiring 300 more police officers next year to write up an increased number of traffic tickets. The goal is to generate an additional $70 million during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. New York collected an estimated $379.6 million from parking and traffic violations last year and issued 8.1 million traffic summonses.