May 23, 2003

Police Union Radio Ad Blames Bloomberg For Ticket Fines

By Dan Janison Staff Writer

The city's main police union Friday told motorists in a paid ad during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weekly radio show to direct their anger over steep parking fines at City Hall.

Back on the air, Bloomberg spun the commercial as part of the union's election campaign.

In his commercial on WABC/770 AM, Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association who is seeking re-election, introduced himself.

"Do you know that feeling you get when you come out of a grocery and see a summons on your windshield?" Lynch said. "Well, the city has doubled the price of a parking ticket, so you can expect that feeling to be twice as bad ... "

"The mayor says the increase is to reduce traffic congestion. But we know what that really is. It's a revenue builder to close the city's budget gap ... "

Police brass are "squeezing" police to write as many high-priced summonses as possible, he said. "Just remember," Lynch concludes. "Direct that anger where it belongs, at City Hall, and please don't blame the cop."

After the show resumed, Bloomberg took a call from a listener who suggested fining those inconsiderate enough to take up two parking spaces on the street.

"Keep in mind," the mayor replied, "that when we try to enforce traffic rules, then people complain that the cops are out there giving out too many tickets."

While the enforcement keeps traffic moving, the city "gets a lot of revenue goes to pay for a lot of other things," he said. "When you get into a union election period, there's yelling and screaming that the city has quotas" for summonses.

"The city doesn't have quotas, but the police commissioner and his staff have performance targets. That's the way you manage anybody. And that's a good measure of whether or not you're enforcing the laws."

In his budget proposal last month, Bloomberg pegged the hiring of 300 new traffic agents in the Police Department as a step toward raising a targeted $85 million in revenue for the city in the next fiscal year. Increased revenue from towing fees was to produce another $3.6 million.

Last week, Bloomberg aides fumed when they were surprised by the personal tone of an ad during the show placed by the fire unions attacking the mayor over firehouse closings.