The administration of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been under attack from critics who claim the city is trying to fix its fiscal problems with a ticket blitz that has swept up people for violating obscure laws, the New York Times notes. A pregnant woman resting on subway steps was handed a $50 summons for blocking commuters. A Bronx man sitting on a milk crate on the sidewalk was given a ticket for unauthorized use of the crate.
The individual anecdotes may be accurate, but the overall story is incorrect, say Bloomberg and his aides. The overall number of summonses has not gone up. Silly summonses for minor offenses can be highlighted by the news media at any time, they said. The city is not making any special effort to bring in revenue from summonses because with the exception of parking tickets, writing tickets is a money loser.
Edward Skyler, Bloomberg’s press secretary, said that “the numbers don’t lie.” Overall summonses for blocking subway movement are down 29 percent for the first months of this year. Parking tickets were down by 17 percent and moving violations were down by 7 percent. “If we relied on tickets to balance our budget, the city would have gone out of business a long time ago,” Skyler said. “It just doesn’t add up.”
Some analysts say the mayor has relied too heavily on numbers and reason in defending himself, instead of focusing his own outrage at reports of the more dubious tickets. Behind much of the controversy is the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which is trying to portray rank-and-file officers as overly burdened with excessive ticket writing.