For a decade, New York Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and successor Michael Bloomberg have tried to enforce “quality of life” laws, says the Washington Post. They have thrown up concrete barricades to stop people from jaywalking, outlawed smoking in bars, and cracked down on cellphone-carrying middle-schoolers and beer-guzzling gents at the beach. The Post says that the jaywalking, cellphone-talking-while-driving masses are holding their own. Marijuana-possession arrests have dropped by nearly half from a Giuliani-mandated high in 2000, and taxi drivers and passengers persuaded the Taxi and Limousine Commission to drop recordings of celebrity voices commanding everyone to buckle up. At the gridlocked corner of Eighth Avenue and 54th Street, a reporter counted 14 out of 20 car and truck drivers on cellphones.
Some crackdowns go on. There were 1,697 jaywalking citations last year, up from 59 in 1995. Citations for excessive noise jumped from 4,866 in 2000 to 19,234 in 2005, but a reporter suspended two interviews for this article as a quartet of jackhammers and a car radio with a very insistent bass line threatened his eardrums with implosion. “The whole crackdown approach to policing has carried over to more and more aspects of life in the city, even routine school discipline,” said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union.