A few days ago, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio filed a lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration for not providing data on the fines they’re increasingly handing out to small businesses. However, it doesn’t seem that Mr. Bloomberg is impressed with those legal endeavors.
“The only thing I can think of in this lawsuit is he seems to say that we’re wrong in enforcing the law,” Mr. Bloomberg told The Politicker after a press conference this morning, asserting the city government is simply doing its job by handing out the fines. “I don’t know, if you don’t like the laws, get the City Council to change them, but our job is to enforce the law.”
The mayor, who didn’t address the substance of the lawsuit in question, went on to say that even if significantly fewer fines were handed out, those costs would simply be carried elsewhere.
“And [Mr. de Blasio says] there’s something wrong with the fines we get from enforcing the law,” he contended. “Fines are designed to get you to obey the law, it’d be great if we didn’t collect any fines, but we have every obligation to enforce the law. If you do what you’re prohibited from doing, we’re going to collect the fine. And the fines are instead of taxes, if didn’t have fines we’d have to have higher taxes. All the money is fungible.”
He added, “Where Bill’s coming from this, I don’t know.”
We reached out to Mr. de Blasio, a likely candidate for mayor in 2013, for a response. In a statement also focusing on city’s broader philosophy on fines instead of legal specifics, he said, “The Mayor essentially confessed that revenue is what’s driving this policy. If this were truly about health and safety, our policy would be ‘fix-first’ not ‘fine-first.’ The approach we have now doesn’t match the struggling times we’re in.”