Writer Christopher Hitchens of the magazine Vanity Fair says New York City’s vaunted “quality of life” laws are not well enforced. Newsday says that “wearing a disheveled suit and shades, Hitchens squatted on a milk crate in the subway, rode a bike without his feet touching the pedals, fed Central Park pigeons, and puffed his way across the city in wheezy protest of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s smoking ban.” He did not get so much as a warning.
Bloomberg’s aides noted that most of the laws Hitchens ridiculed were passed before the mayor took office in 2002. Said spokesman Ed Skyler: “Ninety-nine [percent] of the laws mentioned were on the books before the mayor took office which makes this so-called story nothing other than the latest hit piece commissioned by [editor]Graydon Carter.”
The critique was inspired by these incidents, says the New York Post:
* Jesse Taveras, who sat on a milk crate outside a hair salon where he works and was fined $105 for “unauthorized use” of the crate.
* Kim Phann and Bruce Rosado, fined for “loitering in front of a business” while taking a smoke break outside the Bronx barber shop where they work.
* Pedro Nazario, 86, hit with a summons for feeding pigeons.
* Yoav Kashidia, an Israeli tourist, fined $50 for falling asleep on the subway and occupying two seats.
* Crystal Rosario, a pregnant Brooklynite, ticketed for resting on a subway step.
* Brian Bui, restaurant owner, twice fined $200 for allowing a customer to smoke under a retracted awning. He fought the second ticket and won after spending $3,000 in legal fees.