In response to some high-profile abuses of state-issued parking placards and a report by the state’s Inspector General, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday that he will be reforming the way placards are issued and releasing ten percent fewer total placards. The new state placard regime will be only modestly more strict than before, but creates a framework for regulating what have become coveted perks and magnets for petty corruption.
Currently, there are 2,210 state-issued parking placards, 1,730 of which are ostensibly police placards. Under Cuomo’s plan, the total will drop to 1,993 placards and most will be converted to “official business” placards. For comparison, New York City issues tens of thousands of official placards.
The list of state officials caught abusing their placard privileges could fill a book, but the issue grabbed the spotlight when the Times reported that State Senator Carl Kruger, now indicted for corruption, had managed to swing police placards for his housemates Michael and Gerard Turano. In October, Brooklyn Assembly Member Vito Lopez’s car was photographed with no fewer than three separate placards on the dashboard.
Cuomo’s plan also sets into place a formal application process for receiving a placard, something that did not previously exist, according to the governor’s office. Applicants will need to explain why they need a placard and which vehicle they’ll be using it with, and they’ll have to sign a statement accepting the proper use of placards. Those applications will then be reviewed by both the applicant’s agency and by either the State Police or Governor’s Office of Public Safety.
That application process will allow the redesigned placards to display the license plate number of the car it belongs to, theoretically making it more difficult to share the placards or use them on personal vehicles after hours.
Lots of questions linger about the state’s placard program, and neither the Inspector General nor the governor’s office have replied to our inquiries. For example, are “official business” placards meaningfully different from police placards to the person handing out traffic tickets? And does Cuomo have any plan to address symbols like an MTA vest in the windshield that aren’t technically placards but send the same message?
The proof will be in the pudding: the number of days before another state legislator gets caught abusing his placard.