Sunday, June 7, 2009

Smell? What Smell? The Moral Authority of Michael Bloomberg

On May 5, George Morales left his apartment in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, borrowed a friend’s Chevy Ventura minivan, and drove off to Long Island. That was the last his family saw of the 58-year-old handyman, who was diabetic and suffered from a heart condition.

Morales was found on June 3, in the back seat of the van which was parked on 34th Avenue in Queens, beneath an overpass of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. He was dead. A window on the van was slightly open, assaulting passersby with the stench of bodily decomposition.

But New York City traffic officers, who ticketed the illegally parked van on a weekly basis, apparently smelled nothing wrong. Nope. Nothing to smell here. Just stick another summons on the windshield and move along. Morales’s lifeless body was noticed only when a city marshal was preparing to tow the vehicle.

Anyone who watches the local news in New York is familiar with the disgraceful practices of the city’s traffic cops. They pile ticket after ticket on obviously abandoned cars. They ticket civilian cars while ignoring illegally parked city and official vehicles on the same block. Thousands of tickets are printed from handheld computers on the very first minute of violation—aggravating people who return to their car a few seconds later.

Organizations take their cue from the top. Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office, the number of parking tickets handed out in New York has climbed by 42%. Here’s Gothamist on the game being played:
During the last fiscal year, the city raked in $624 million in parking fines, which is more than the city spends to run the entire Department of Transportation. Officials, maintaining a straight face, insist the parking enforcement is not driven by revenue goals.
Something stinks here and poor Mr. Morales’s corpse is the least of it.

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