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De Blasio Administration Volunteered to Hand Out Tens of Thousands of New Parking Placards

10:20 AM EDT on May 12, 2017

Mayor de Blasio and UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Photo: Rob Bennett/Office of the Mayor

The de Blasio administration chose to reissue tens of thousands of parking placards to city school teachers, and was not forced to do so by an administrative law judge, according to the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union that represents school principals.

In 2008, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg reduced the number of parking placards issued by the Department of Education from some 63,000 to around 11,000, aligning the number of placards with the number on-street parking spots reserved for schools. After some resistance, the United Federation of Teachers accepted the cuts. The CSA filed a lawsuit to have its members' parking permits reinstated.

A recent arbitration ruling led the city to reissue CSA placards. In a bulletin titled “The Sun Will Shine On Your Parking Space Once More,” the CSA member newsletter said UFT permits were a separate issue:

The city is issuing the permits as a result of a legal decision and negotiations between unions, the DOE and the city of New York. [CSA litigated and won the permits but the city decided on its own to grant permits to teachers as well.]

The CSA bulletin was dated May 9, the day UFT members were informed by union president Michael Mulgrew that DOE placards would be issued to "[e]very school employee who has a car." The change will take effect May 18.

Streetsblog asked DOE and City Hall spokespeople if arbitration forced the city to reissue UFT placards. In an email, the city responded: “As a result of the recent arbitration and negotiations among the unions and the DOE, the DOE will issue DOE parking permits to CSA, UFT and DC 37 staff in schools.”

In light of the CSA bulletin, we asked why the city elected to reissue UFT permits. We have yet to get an answer. The city has not responded to requests for a copy of the judge's ruling in the CSA case either.

CSA represents 6,200 principals and other school administrators. UFT has 75,000 teacher members, in addition to 19,000 school paraprofessionals. DC 37 represents 25,000 DOE employees. Before the Bloomberg reforms, the number of placards distributed to these workers far exceeded the number of reserved on-street spaces at schools.

The placards don't guarantee a legal parking spot, but since traffic enforcement agents don't ticket vehicles with placards on the dash, they do guarantee that parking in a crosswalk, bus stop, or no-standing zone will get a free pass. Until the number of placards was reduced to align with the number of legal spots in 2008, this led to rampant illegal parking near schools.

The system DOE is returning to was so dysfunctional that Mulgrew's predecessor Randi Weingarten acknowledged it was untenable.

“This is the floodgates reopening,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White told AMNY. “We fought this battle ten years ago … the real issue was that people were using legitimate placards to park illegally in crosswalks, in front of hydrants, and really just creating major safety hazards around schools.”

Evidently, that's OK with Bill de Blasio.

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