Mike Bloomberg’s Extortion Racket

As the NY Post is reporting, the city health department has absolutely no concern about the health of the restaurants in NYC. DOH is using the eateries as a lucrative piñata-and the fines have nothing to do with health:

“It’s a fine mess. The city continues to blitz merchants with ridiculous fines — raking in cash for scuffed cutting boards, too-short napkins and failure to recognize the medicinal properties of ChapStick. “It’s not about protecting the consumer or the food. This is a money racket for the city,” said Declan Morrison, owner of Blackwater Inn in Forest Hills, Queens.”

This is the city’s dirty little secret-using the letter grades that the folks have come to appreciate as an excuse to bitch slap small business owners, and in the process further increase the size and scope of government. Health is simply a pretext for these power hungry bureaucrats:

“Fines against small businesses are skyrocketing. The cash-strapped city sucked in $820 million last year — compared to $741 million in 2007 and $485 million a decade ago. Andy Koutsoudakis, owner of the Gee Whiz Diner in TriBeCa, says he was hit with a $300 fine because his napkins were shorter than the knives on top of them.

“Supposedly the knife is touching the table,” he said. “Is this a surgery room?” Koutsoudakis said merchants feel “terrorized.”

What this really has become is an extortion racket-and to listen to the mayor the other day talk about job creation made us feel we were having a psychotic break. As WNYC reported:

“Both parties, and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, have let us down,” Bloomberg said. “They have focused on generating headlines in the media, rather than generating headcount in the workplace. They have given us an economy that is shrinking our workforce rather than growing our future.”

The mayor said local politicians have done more to stimulate job growth since the financial meltdown of 2008 than other electeds. New York City has been able to gain back 200 percent of the jobs lost during that period through the creation of city-sponsored business incubators, infrastructure upgrades and commitment to diversifying the economy, according to Bloomberg.”

Memo to Mike: government creates jobs by making the business environment hospitable, not through grandiose tax subsidized development schemes that actually cannibalize existing businesses on the contiguous commercial shopping strips, but by lowering the costs of doing business. And what the mayor didn’t say is that the city’s unemployment rate is 10,2% 

In eleven years Bloomberg has pursued a different approach and the result is less jobs and more obstacles in the way of entrepreneurs:

“Leslie Barnes, owner of London Lennie’s in Queens, said he was fined $300 for having too many marks on his cutting boards. Now he spends $2,000 on backup boards each year.

Consumer Affairs Department inspectors charged a Ditmas Park barber $650 this year for using an antique register that didn’t print receipts and for posting different prices for men’s and women’s haircuts. “The city treats small-business owners like their own ATM,” said Leon Kogut of Leon’s Fantasy Cuts. “You can always find something to fine.”

What most folks don’t understand is that there is a huge gap between the regulatory rationale-health or the protection of the consumer-and the real motivation foir increased regulations: simply money:

“Betty Cooney, executive director of the Graham Avenue BID in Williamsburg, said one African immigrant abandoned his small junk shop this summer after city fines became too much. The last straw was a $100 ticket from the Sanitation Department — for throwing a piece of paper into a city trash can on the corner after a passerby dropped it in front of his door. The inspector accused him of using the receptacle for commercial use. “It was just wrong. If he left it on the sidewalk, they would have ticketed him too,” Cooney said. “They would have ticketed him no matter what he’d done.”

Public Advocate, and mayoral hopeful, Bill de Blasio has been all over this scandal and he should be joined by every single city council member. The source of this city’s greatness-particularly for immigrants-is economic opportunity. And the greatest source of that opportunity is small business-something that the billionaire out of touch nanny hectorer can’t seem to fathom.

De Blasio derives the last word:

“In July, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sued the city to obtain data on fine revenues across all city agencies. He said he will release his findings within the next month and reveal which neighborhoods are being crushed the most and for what frivolous violations.

“Very minor technicalities suddenly became cash cows,” de Blasio told The Post, adding that the fine frenzy seems to be an outer-borough phenomenon.”


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