New York Daily News

May 27, 2003

Ticket for what? Almost anything

Even feeding birds draws a summons



That black license plate frame that came with your car? Illegal. $55 fine. Taking up two seats on a train? $50.

Feeding pigeons in the park? Another $50.

It used to be that most cops wouldn't bother writing a ticket for minor and obscure infractions.

But with the city hurting for money, ordinary citizens suddenly are finding themselves shelling out hard-earned cash to pay fines for things they didn't even know were against the law.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association charges the city has a ticket quota and that there's more pressure than ever on cops to write summonses. The city denies the charges.

But anecdotal evidence is mounting - including the Daily News' report last week about a Bronx man who got a summons for sitting on a milk crate.

The News asked readers to submit their personal tales of ticket blitz woes, and dozens responded.

Jacob Walzer, 28, an office worker from Borough Park, Brooklyn, said he got a nasty surprise last Tuesday when he spotted that dreaded orange envelope under the wiper of his car parked on W. 47th St. near 12th Ave.

The ticket was for "improperly displayed plates."

His rear plate has a black frame around it - a big no-no, as far as the Department of Motor Vehicles is concerned.

"Every car in the city has a frame from the dealer," said Walzer, who didn't realize the frames are illegal. "There are so many laws that people don't know about."

Tired of playing bad cop

Officers say they, too, are unhappy with the ticketing blitz, which has them feeling like they're being forced to play the bad guys.

"They call it productivity goals, we call it quotas, and it's a very stressful situation," said Drew Bailey, a Brooklyn union official with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Cops in Brooklyn South, for instance, have been told to write summonses to wayward bicyclists for infractions such as coasting with their feet off the pedals or for riding bicycles without bells, Bailey said.

The PBA even launched a $100,000 ad campaign called "Don't Blame the Cop," charging that law enforcement officers are being pressured to issue more tickets.

"I just feel like now, it's a switcheroo game to find ways to trick people to give them tickets," said T.J. Brady, 29, an electrical supplies salesman who was socked with a $105 parking ticket after he left his car overnight on 10th Ave. in midtown Manhattan last week.

The sign posted overhead indicated it was legal: metered parking from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and a no-standing zone from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Brady didn't see a sign - inside the meter - that said "no standing." But the little sign inside the meter didn't even give the no-standing hours.

Mayor Bloomberg has defended the city's crackdown, saying the police are simply doing their job. And he has urged New Yorkers to start obeying all the city's laws - and suck it up if they get a ticket.

"Don't throw litter on the streets, and you won't have a problem," he said Wednesday at a Coney Island press conference. "Don't park illegally and you won't have a problem - but we can't have it both ways. We can't have laws that say 'No Parking Here' and then you complain when we give out tickets."

Have you been the victim of an outrageous summons? The Daily News wants to know your story. E-mail details along with your day and night phone numbers to:

With Lisa L. Colangelo and Michele McPhee