Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor
An Open Letter to Mayor Bloomberg

FEBRUARY 12, 2004 --

Dear Mr. Mayor:
The photo of you with this letter was taken by me when you went to the VFW post in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago. Upon seeing the print, I felt that a cheap shot would be inappropriate.

Then I got another parking ticket on Feb. 3. I received it while I unloaded my scanner and took it to Desktop for another computer lesson. A few minutes later, after plugging the scanner in, at Desktop, along with my Mac, I went back to the car to put quarters in the meter and was utterly amazed to find a ticket on the windshield.

Of course I was determined to go to PVB in the Bronx, right after my training session. It was as I was sending an e-mail about this to a reporter at The Washington Post that I realized I should put the photo on-line, whatever the PVB action on my ticket.

Mr. Mayor, I think you should demonstrate that this photo does not indicate your feelings about those of us who receive per annum something less than a couple of million bucks.

I recall one of your early campaign brochures and how it seemed to show you bragging about growing up in, but leaving the inner city. The line in that campaign handout is consistent with the expression in this photo, I believe.

When I got to PVB in the Bronx, I asked to speak to a supervisor because I wanted to do some discovery, particularly about the training given the ticket agents. I was informed that there is no discovery at PVB - that this is an administrative hearing and that the accused do not have the chance to confront the accuser.

Last week, I attended the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association and one of the sessions I attended was a panel discussion on the Patriot Act, which has come under criticism from the head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Nadine Strossen, a member of the faculty of my law school, New York Law (not NYU Law!

(Above and below): Anthony Lewis, speaking at the New York Law School on Feb. 10, 2004.

How I wish Prof. Strossen could see what administration of law is like at PVB. The Schechter Poultry Corp case included one observation of the NRA under President Roosevelt, “This is delegation running riot.”

Perhaps from his seat at the celestial bench, Justice Cardozo would look at your performance as mayor, including your use of PVB as, more than ever, a municipal squeeze on the PWC class (people without clout) and remark: “This is rule application running riot.” I appreciate Prof. Stgrossen‘s concern about application of the Patriot Act. If only she were to visit PVB in the Bronx to see utter disregard of due process in action.

On the matter of PVB I am reminded of the lament of John Adams in the musical play 1776: “Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see things as I see them?”

When it got to be my turn, I explained the facts to the administrative law judge. I argued that the ticket was served in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. Also, I argued that service of the ticket in these circumstances was fundamentally unfair.
The administrative law judge thought otherwise. Noting that I was parked at a one hour meter, he said that by first going into the shop, I sought to extend my time by five minutes.

Mr, Mayor, I simply went to unload the car before putting the quarters into the meter. In your New York City, however, that is an offense punishable by $65 fine. And how effective your PVB is in swooping down on people minutes after they park. (This should prove how efficient the city can be, when it has a mind to.)

At the state bar gathering, I photographed James Carville, speaking to one section dining at Tavern on the Green. He began with self-deprecating humor that suggested to me it is he, not Al Franken, who should get a radio talk show. He also praised Senator Kerry and predicted that Senator Clinton would someday be on the national ticket.

New York’s Tavern on the Green.

James Carville, Mary Matalin’s husband, speaking at Tavern on the Green, near Central Park on Jan. 28.
(Above and below): Mayor Bloomberg outside a VFW post in Brooklyn last month.

Mayor Bloomberg speaking at a VFW post in Brooklyn in February.

On the following day, I photographed N.Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, at a section lunch - he noted that under New Federalism the states were flexing their muscles to the possible disappointment of neo-cons who had favored deregulation.
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, after speaking at a New York State Bar Association luncheon in New York City on January 29. (It was not LPR, upon information and belief, who provoked the smile).

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, speaking at the New York Bar Association Luncheon.

I saw a college friend at that lunch-- Larry Goldman, who presented the award given to noted defense lawyer Ira London (not that Larry is not noted in the criminal defense bar in NYC. His firm is Goldman & Hafetz). But after my experience, February 3, all I can think of is getting the state bar association to apply strict scrutiny to your use of fines as an alternative to taxation. These are not small sums that you are exacting from the people and under pain of confiscation of property.

Larry Goldman, of Goldman & Hafetz.

From a brief sampling, February 3, you are not likely to be re-elected unless, of course, you drive out all those who would vote against you. One man at PVB told me he was moving to Pennsylvania to get away from your rule.

Just as I expected, the PVB administrative law judge is paid by PVB to impose fines of $65 on people who unload cars before putting quarters into the meter. I expect you will ignore pleas to end your squeeze on the common people of New York.

Pharaohs tend to ignore such pleas. Pharaohs also are antithetical to the system of government established by the Founders.

If you, and Gov. Pataki - who joins you in your use of squeezing the people by disproportionate fines imposed by disregard of process - continue with rule-imposition running riot, we shall have to appeal to Congress to restore rule by Constitution to the people of New York.
Or maybe we might just appeal to the Republicans who gather in the city for their national convention, this summer. (Republicans, I would think twice before bringing cars to NYC.)

David R. Zukerman