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City Council Squares Off With Bloomberg Over Parking Grace Period

Mayor Shoots Down Plan, But Speaker Quinn Promises Override
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Parking Meter (credit: CBS 2)

Parking Meter (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Who wouldn’t want their parking ticket torn up on the spot?

The New York City Council wants to give drivers a 10-minute grace period at muni-meters, but the ticket-happy Bloomberg administration has said not a chance.

Some people might think that Derrick Caldwell went above and beyond to obey the law and pay for parking in lower Manhattan.

“This muni-meter right here was inoperable. I then traveled across the street to the next block to that muni-meter and then walked back,” Caldwell told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

But city traffic agents weren’t impressed. They slapped Caldwell with a $65 ticket faster than you can say “Michael Bloomberg.”

“I didn’t want a ticket. That’s why I did it. I was doing everything to avoid getting a ticket because they’re very pricey,” Caldwell said.

Riding to the rescue is the City Council, which has introduced a bill to force traffic agents to cancel tickets on the spot if the driver can show a muni-meter receipt time stamped within 10 minutes of the ticket.

“The legislation is really about common sense, fairness. You can’t mental telepathy your money into the muni-meter,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

“There are too many tickets where motorists feel: ‘oh boy by a minute or so I gotcha’ or ‘I just turned my back. I’m in the process of paying. I got a ticket.’ That’s an ‘I gotcha’ ticket. We want that stopped,” said Councilman James Vacca, D-Bronx.

The mayor, who has seen ticket revenue increase from $300 million to $800 million on his watch, sent the city’s top traffic cop, Ins. Michael Pilecki, to oppose the bill.

“We are unable to support its enactment,” Pilecki said.

That led to harsh questions about tickets as “cash cow” revenue and quotas. Inspector Pilecki denied that there are quotas but admitted agents are rated based on their productivity.

Councilman Vacca asked, “Isn’t the number of tickets they give part of the assessment?” Pilecki responded, “Yes, it would be part of the assessment.”

“Any time you’re going to have a situation where you’re doing an evaluative process of the number of tickets that are issued we call that in layman’s terms … that’s a quota,” said Councilman David Greenfield, D-Brooklyn.

The council speaker said the mayor’s objection to the bill doesn’t matter as she intends to pass the bill and override if the mayor vetoes.

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports: Christine Quinn plans to fight unfair parking tickets

There are 63,000 parking spaces in the city. The city hopes to have all of them regulated by muni-meters within 18 months.

Another bill would require the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to publish a map online indicating street closures and temporary parking regulation changes – due to filming, street fairs construction or suspension of alternate side parking.

On Wednesday, Brooklyn Councilman Greenfield will introduce a bill to ban sanitation workers from slapping neon green shame stickers on cars that violate alternate side parking rules.

Do you think the Bloomberg Administration has gone too far this time? Do you think the City Council has your back? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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