Bloomberg: Restaurant Fines Should Not Be Negotiated

109831318 Bloomberg: Restaurant Fines Should Not Be Negotiated

(Photo: Getty)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council remain on the track to butt heads over reforming the city’s restaurant grading system.

Earlier this week, Mr. Bloomberg held a press conference to tout health safety improvements since the new system was implemented and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn held an event to demonstrate the excessive and confusing punitive aspects of the system. On John Gambling’s radio show this morning, Mr. Bloomberg casually dismissed efforts to reform parts of the system.

“If you want to have the restaurants be dirtier, have more mice and cockroaches and all that sort of stuff, lower the fines. Something like 72% … have A’s, so it isn’t hard to get,” he answered when asked the City Council hearing on the subject. “The standard, even if it’s hard to get — saying you should have a clean kitchen and sell healthy food — it’s not something that should be negotiated.”

The people behind the critique, Mr. Bloomberg said, are restaurant owners who wish to serve less healthy food.

“Some of the restaurateurs, who don’t want to spend the money to clean up — they want to be able to not wash their hands after they go to the bathroom, and not refrigerate their food, and not keep the cockroaches and rats and mice out — those are the ones that are in there yelling and screaming,” he said. “But those who comply don’t seem to have a problem.”

Although the City Council wasn’t talking about scrapping the restaurant grading system — the press event earlier this week emphasized clarifying standards — Mr. Bloomberg is confident the public has his back in the dispute.

“The polls show 91% of the public loves it,” he explained. “That’s going to be a battle, that’s going to be a political thing here. The 91% aren’t organized, but I think they’re going to get organized.”