Parking the Perks

New York Daily News | January 6, 2008

Okay, folks, you can put down that brick. You know, the brick you were thinking about smashing into the windshield of the car with the official - or official-looking - permit that has been parked in flagrant disregard of traffic laws that apply to mortals.

Here's why, in the words of Mayor Bloomberg, you can rest easier: "The City of New York, as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion, decrease the city's carbon footprint, encourage the use of public transportation and reduce the demand for curbside parking in connection with city business, is implementing a comprehensive program to reduce the number and misuse of government parking placards."

Way to go, Mayor Mike.

Henceforth, all city agencies will reduce parking placards by at least 20%; the NYPD and Department of Transportation will take command of issuing placards, and the NYPD will create a special enforcement unit.

Those measures are aimed at curbing an obvious and entrenched example of runaway bureaucratic self-pampering. For far too long, drones in every reach of municipal government have been declaring themselves and favored co-workers worthy of parking wherever.

Mass transit? Not for them. They are important, you see.

The proliferation of placards is so unchecked that City Hall can only guess at how many are out there. The mayor's office estimates a gargantuan 70,000. But watchdogs at Transportation Alternatives say 150,000.

Parking privileges are supposed to ease the way for civil servants to serve civilians. But they've become a perk for commuting and shopping, as well as a pass to vacation parking.

And they help choke the streets with tens of thousands of vehicles, contributing to gridlock at a time when Bloomberg has set his sights on battling congestion. Remember congestion pricing? No doubt, that plan is why the mayor cracked down.

It would have been unconscionable, as well as politically nuts, to require regular folks to pay more to drive while allowing officials to tool hither and yon as they darn well please. For free.

Now, slashing placards by 20% must be only the start of something big. The next step must be to determine how many of the remaining permits are really and truly necessary for public business. And cops and traffic agents, backed up by tow trucks, must adopt a zero-tolerance approach when they spot cars bearing expired or bogus placards.

Let enforcement be sweeping. It will do wonders for the environment and the temperament of nonprivileged New Yorkers.

Roger the dodger?

Roger ("I Never Touched the Stuff") Clemens has been officially invited by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to testify about the steroids and human growth hormones and any other performance-enhancing goodies he insists he has never used, seen, heard about or touched with a 10-foot pole.

So, too, to the very same hearing has been invited trainer Brian McNamee, who insists that he injected steroids into Clemens' substantial posterior or someplace else. Clemens' attorney insists his client would be happy to "answer questions, including those posed to him while under oath."

Wow! We await Clemens being sworn in, the same Clemens who tells Mike Wallace that no way, no how was he ever injected with steroids. Something else, maybe, but not steroids. But wait. The mouthpiece continues: "We hope to determine shortly if schedules and other commitments can accommodate the committee on that date."

Barring a subpoena, that's Clemens' choice. But the world will know he's a lying weasel.

Court ices cop killer

Judith Clark, convicted of murdering two cops and a guard in a 1981 armored car heist, will stay where she belongs, thanks to a wise federal appeals court. And where she belongs is in prison to finish a 75-year sentence.

The judges overruled Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, who had ordered a new trial for Clark. Preposterously, Scheindlin determined that the one-time revolutionary had been denied her right to a lawyer because she had insisted on defending herself and then didn't.

Clark refused to come to court, and the proceedings were piped into her cell. Her closing argument included this gem: "The DA calls what happened on Oct. 20, 1981, a robbery and murder. We say it was an attempted expropriation because revolutionary forces must take from the powers that be to build their capabilities to struggle against this system."

After guilt was pronounced, Clark had 30 days to file a notice of appeal. She waited 19 years, until 2002, when she said she was sorry. Scheindlin said Clark's failure to file on time wasn't a problem.

You're wrong, the appeals judges told Scheindlin, adding that Clark's argument was meritless regardless. Justice prevailed. Case closed.