Bright Ideas

Government agencies have to become more creative, and they have to get out of the way of small business. How many times have you heard that argument?

Well, apparently somebody is listening. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently unveiled MetroCards featuring an advertisement for the Gap. And why not? “Opening up the front of MetroCards to advertising gives the MTA a new source of revenue,” said the authority’s chairman, Joseph J. Lhota. That’s precisely why it’s a good idea. Kudos to Mr. Lhota and his agency for embracing this creative approach to the MTA’s funding, er, gaps.

Meanwhile, the City Council is considering a bill that would lighten the burdens on restaurant owners. The proposed legislation would allow restaurant inspectors to issue warnings—rather than levying fines—for minor violations that do not impact food safety. Currently, restaurant owners can be fined for poor signage or if storage spaces aren’t properly lit. The result? Owners lose money and are left to conclude that they are regarded as a cash cow for the city’s treasury.

Allowing inspectors to issue warnings—without compromising food safety—would help restore some common sense in government regulation. That’s a step in the right direction.