Monday, March 06, 2006

"Law Says No, Pix Say Yes"

These are the responses to my March 3 article, "A Passel Of Laws Unenforced Is An Issue For The Justice System. Can Law And Reality Reconcile?" Thanks to all, please continue to provide us with your feedback


  1. Thanks to the Parks Department's selective enforcement of the leash laws under your tenure, I had my ankle broken by two dogs off the leash who were chasing one another. (I was jogging; they ran at me crosswise and one of them hit my ankle which shattered on impact, requiring surgery to insert two pins and a plate). When I wrote to complain about the scofflaw behavior you had allowed to fluorish, you (or one of your representatives) wrote back to inform me of the hours in which you chose not to enforce the law. Your cavalier attitude on this has troubled me for years.

  2. yes: get rid of dumb laws and enforce the rest. like, um, royalities on books and films.

  3. Surprised the long=serving former Parks Commish forgot to mention the
    speeding bikes on the footpaths in Central Park (and elsewhere) that the authorities ignore. Keep up the good work

  4. The tendency to pass laws that are only episodically or selectively enforced, or for some to benefit from selective non-enforcement of generally enforced laws, is a serious issue, and I'm glad you are addressing it.

    More examples, if you need one:
    Renting out your home or apartment to a transient as a bed and breakfast is illegal everywhere in New York City, but one can find services to direct you to apartments for rent. The hotel tax is, one would assume, not collected.
    Three-family homes are subject to much more stringent fire code rules that two-family homes. Some believe the line should be drawn between three and four, but that is politically difficult, do there is general non-enforcement against the "illegal three." This, of course, has given rise to the illegal four fiven and six.
    Virtually every sign on every local commercial street is illegal. Awnings are permitted to include the name and address of the business, and nothing less. All the billboards are illegal, but only subject to tiny fines. The billboard industry donates millions to the City Council to keep it that way.
    Every wood deck in the city, except on Staten Island, is illegal for fire code reasons if on an attached house. There are tens of thousands.
    I wrote in and suggested that the new noise regulations make distinctions by zoning district. My advice was not taken. The Coney Island Cyclone is a noise violator. Just need a few yuppie lawyers to move nearby and it will be closed down.
    Etc. As a public servant, I wanted to fix these things, but I now realize the politicians love them. Because for politicians people are not equal. And since you can't pass a law that baldly says they are not equal, variations in enforcement is the best alternative.

  5. The most common of the ignored laws in NYC is jaywalking.

  6. Is there any reason why you did not mention Village Voice, NY Magazine, NY Press, et al as periodicals you alluded to in your essay on the dichotomy between laws and their enforcement?
    I do not object to the ads (and I don't think the publications would care); I'm just curious .

  7. The answer is "NO" and if we would just come to realize that a better system is needed. We need to stop wasting money trying to accomplish the impossible and spend it were some good can come of spending money in the right place.

  8. Wonderful piece. Thank you for sending it along.

  9. As an artist who has displayed his own artwork in the public areas of NYC I agree with your stand against the selling, and vending of copyright stolen art. Whether it is illegal copies of photos, lithos or an entire film, CD or script – the illegal copying and marketing of this stolen artwork is an assault on the entire creative community - and in more than one way !!

    The theft of the rights of an artist’s work is totally wrong on it’s face. However the legions of illegal vendors who market this stuff in public take up huge amounts of street space that legal vendors or original artists could use to display their own artwork, or legal goods. This phenomena compounds the negative nature of the bootleg industry – and this in turn harms us all.

    We should know by now what huge sums of illegal $$$ means. It is just like dope - profit over rules common sense almost every time. That makes it damn hard for law and reality to even come close to reconciliation.

  10. I agree 100% with your campaign against street vendors. However ,is there any way of getting rid of those large tables of books? These vendors claim that it is their first amendment right to sell books. I would think that this NOT apply if they were GIVING out written material.

  11. Wow++you can see the distinction between prostitution arranged in
    private places but cannot distinguish between the release of a rapist
    and a vendor selling soda pop!

  12. There is another dimension to unenforcement (or selective enforcement) of the types of laws you describe: the result can lead
    to less respect for related laws that are clearly in the public's interest. Example: many people believe that speed limits are
    unrealistically low on many roads; consequently speed limits are
    regularly exceeded by most drivers (except when they see a police car
    traveling the speed limit). Perhaps such disrespect for speed laws leads to other common traffic transgressions, such as squeezing
    through a yellow light changing to red, not signalling when changing
    lanes, etc. All of which can be downright dangerous.

  13. The European answer is to sell licenses and require that the license number be displayed in advertising and where the service is provided. In this way the practice is controlled, the consumer is protected and the government receives revenue. Ticket scalpers, sex service providers, pot vendors, street merchants etc. are going to continue regardless of laws that are only selectively enforced. Licensing works. Visit old Amsterdam to see what should be done in "New Amsterdam."

  14. Amen Amen- Hypocrisy is what law and order is all about with a serious dose false piety. Whether it is NYC or Washington it is all the same.

  15. Your note on unenforced laws about quality of life offenses is well-taken. You rightly note the difficulties in enforcement.

    But in some cases, that difficulty can be lessoned by careful and concrete specification of just what the offense is.

    Take horn-blowing.: the purpose of the horn is to warn pedestrians and other drivers of a hazard.. So unnecessary noise is an offense if there is no hazard. And, practically, how can necessary be defined.?

    A simple way that I think is the rule in the UK is this: it is an offense to sound the horn if your vehicle is not moving. Compliance with that rule would end upwards of 95% of all noise from horns in this city.

    Another move is appropriate: apply penalties that, almost by definition will reduce the number of offenses. If the mandatory fine for running a red light is $500--with the vehicle towed to a pound..If that results in fewer cars period, good. If the mandatory punishment for johns is a night in the Rikers hotel, with a high room rate when the john checks out, the deterrent is obvious.

    If measures like these are unacceptable, it signals that the community really is indifferent to the offense.

  16. You get the prize for common sense. Half way thru I was going to respond anyway and then read your last "boffo" sentence!! I visited your office about 10 years ago to discuss the hard left's activities in Chelsea. The Reform Dem. club was the only one in the country to target Israel as the aggressor in the "Six Day War"-1967. Ray Gunther had to bring in Sen. Ohrenstein and Assemlyman Kretchmer to muscle them out of it.
    Having observed them while our side was losing battles for almost 40 years, I have come to the unhappy conclusion that instead of only setting up front splinter parties, for the first time in US history the "Americanized" CP (without ever apologizing for Stalin or Gus Hall) has penetrated the Dem. party, and not only in NYC!

  17. No discussion of unobserved, or selectively enforced laws, would be
    > complete without discussing parking violations and bogus or
    > used permits. Take a walk near City Hall and you'll see dozens of police,
    > fire, DoH, etc. permits, which are used to park anywhere, indiscriminately
    > (i.e., not just in the spaces where they are expressly permitted). Not to
    > mention parking without paying at meters, in no-standing zones, etc --
    > which decreases the spaces which can be used legally by regular or
    > commercial vehicles. I know some people who work a traffic enforcement
    > agents, and I know they steer clear of permits -- even ones which are
    > clearly not valid where the vehicle is parked -- simply because they don't
    > want to have a problem with the motorist, who may have connections. My
    > friend, Danny Burstein, had a good solution to this problem: all traffic
    > agents should be instructed to ticket all cars which are parked illegally
    > -- then let the permit holder sort it out later.

  18. The law versus reality:

    Prime example -- smoking in bars/restaurants.

    Reason for law -- to protect health of workers in those places despite the fact that the workers are no less healthy than any other comparable group of young New Yorkers.

    Guilty charges against -- the bar owners, not the smokers.

    Fallout -- huge increase in street disturbances, more police to calm down the noise etc.; loss of business in bars (sales of beer are down dramatically and most of that due to sales by the glass declining).

    Good results -- who knows?

  19. Headlight11:42 AM

    don't you find more reprehensible activities to denounce?
    In my not-so-humble opinion, I'd rather see NYPD and other city or federal agencies deployed to apprehend drug dealers than faux Vuitton handbag street merchants!

  20. Jaywalking is a similar issue. In Chinatown, pedestrians flow like rivulets of water through an avalanche of hard moving objects. Should we train motorists to observe and preserve this fragile ecosystem and ponder its roots in zen Buddhist philosophy and a certain view of life? Or do we invest in herding, cracking down and making the sidewalks and roadways completely unmanageable? Interesting choices.

  21. When you say "we" in all your articles, to whom are you referring? Do you have an editorial board? I thought you wrote all your own pieces, Star.

  22. Starquest,

    I saw your post
    regarding leads .

    You are welcome to place a link to
    your blog or website on our high
    traffic website for free. See:

    We have a specific category for leads .
    Your listing will be indexed in the search
    engines under leads . It will
    also be a permanent link.

    Thank you,

    Get 10,000 free opt in leads right now..

  23. Anonymous9:57 AM

    Dear friends, here is a really cool site that gives you a lot of FREE information that you can really use. Get FREE Daily and Weekly Foreign Exchange Outlook, Rates, Trends and Currency Shifts. Click here: FOREX

  24. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Poor, struggling Hispanic immigrants are being victimized by their own people. Sham groups such as the Movement For Justice In El Barrio and its notorious leader, Juan Haro, aided and abetted by a citywide umbrella group of like movements called Housing Here And Now, are systematically sucking the life out of their countrymen under the guise of organizing them against their landlords. One has only to go to the Housing Here And Now website called nyc worst landlords to see that it is nothing more than a total rant against all landlords and they will support any group that claims to be fighting against their landlord. The manner in which these people are victimized is shameless. They are packed 15 - 20 people at a time into tiny apartments meant for a few people, children and all. What’s worse is that, even though it is illegal and dangerous, the city of New York tacitly sanctions the overcrowding. Landlords are complaining to HPD, DOB and the FDNY with no response. Inspectors from all of the city agencies refuse to issue violations for overcrowding and judges refuse to give evictions without the violations. It’s a vicious circle that leaves the poor tenants sitting in the middle, with no place to go. Instead of ranting against landlords, the legitimate groups should condemn the people who rent the apartments and then sublet them illegally to a dozen or more others. All they are trying to do is deflect the blame from themselves and direct it at the landlords, who make a convenient target. What is even worse, the people doing this, like Juan Haro, are being legitimized by their misguided NYC councilwoman, Melissa Mark Viverito, who is under pressure from people like Sister Kathy Maire, from St Cecelia’s RC Church, to back their schemes. Instead of helping the poor immigrants find decent housing of their own, they are perpetuating the overcrowding by rallying them against their landlords. Who in their right mind would condone herding people, like animals, into tiny packed apartments, except someone who had something to gain by it; something like votes or donations or dozens of rents from each apartment.