Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fare Beaters To Take Fair Beating

The MTA has raised the fare evasion penalty on buses and trains from $60 to $100. This is just the first increase in twenty years. It’s strange how hikes for these petty turnstile criminals come less frequently than the fare increases for New York's paying commuters. Maybe some crooks at the MTA are more sympathetic towards them.

Cops Go From Good Guys To Better Guys

NYPD misconduct complaints have declined for the first time in seven years. 7,559 complaints were filed with the Civilian Complaints Review Board in 2007. Though that number is lower than in 2006, the CCRB states that total complaints are still at historic highs. Whether that’s the fault of New York’s cops or a more sensitive citizenry is unknown at this time. We should all be grateful for the overwhelmingly professional manner in which today's police conduct themselves. Also, for the fact that we as New York City residents have recourse to take if we feel that our rights have been violated.

Pothole Problems Multiply

Be very careful when you walk or drive in New York City. Pothole complaints rose a jarring 71.5% in fiscal year 2008 up to 17,612 in number. Street grievances include “jagged holes,” manhole cover issues and catch basin problems. City officials claim the increase is directly related to Mayor Bloomberg’s new Street Conditions Observation Unit (Scout program). This initiative records quality-of-life issues on handheld devices for greater accuracy and response. True or not, we’ll see if next years’ report shows at least a 71.5 % increase in the number of plugged potholes.

Diplomatic Immunity Shouldn’t Mean Financial Impunity

Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Queens) wants foreign diplomats to pay up or pay the price. Every NYC politician should support his position. For years, many foreign diplomats have ignored parking tickets and property taxes to the tune of $78 million! Gioia’s demanding they give us our due or face revocation of licenses, towing of cars, electricity shutoff and the like. He wants the federal government to withhold aid to foreign countries who owe New York City money. Why not? New York City is in the midst of another round of budget cuts. The US Supreme Court has ruled that New York City may sue countries that don’t pay property taxes. If the United States government won’t safeguard New Yorkers’ rights, we must take matters into our own hands.

The Jungles We Call Our Parks

A recent study found homeless people, junkies, pushers, illegal dumpers, prostitutes, chop shops and gangs residing or plying their trade in parks throughout every borough of New York City. According to testimony, numerous park workers have been “warned” not to go inside certain parks because they’re too dangerous. Have we been officially warned? Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe is seemingly unaware of the extent of the problems. He claims that his office doesn’t favor certain parks over others. Let’s see if that’s true by following the money. The city spends $10,694 per acre in Manhattan compared to just $2,104 in Staten Island. Keep in mind that parks in New York City’s upscale neighborhoods often receive large subsidies from conservancies or government-affiliated entities. They don’t need government funds as much as other parks do. So is this favoritism? Benepe says city parks are better cared for than ever before. There is loud debate on that. Even former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern admitted that some parks have been abandoned because of inadequate funding. Since 2002 under Mayor Bloomberg, the city has added 468 acres of new parkland to its existing 29,084 acres in 1,875 parks. It’s time that dollars were more equally divided for the care of all parks throughout our city. Furthermore, no parks should be abandoned to squatters or criminal types. Give them an inch and they’ll take an acre … or 29,804 acres. Our brave troops are not writing off land in Iraq. Our city government shouldn’t do it here either.