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Bill de Blasio

De Blasio’s Defense of Teacher Parking Perks Ignores Everything We Know About Placards

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

Mayor de Blasio doesn't see a problem with issuing tens of thousands of new parking placards to teachers and other school workers, telling NY1's Errol Louis that anyone who abuses the perk will face serious consequences. His assertion runs contrary to years of documented evidence and the daily observations that pile up on Twitter -- a city placard is a license to park anywhere without fear of getting a ticket.

And de Blasio and his team continue to imply that the city was forced by arbitration to issue placards to members of the United Federation of Teachers. This doesn't jibe with a newsletter article from the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators -- the principals union -- which sued to have its members' parking permits reinstated following Bloomberg-era cuts and said the city "decided on its own to grant permits to teachers as well.”

In 2008, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg reduced the number Department of Education parking placards from 63,000 to 11,000, bringing them in line with the number of on-street parking spots allotted to schools. 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. Starting this week, all of those workers who own cars will be eligible for parking placards, returning to a system known for rampant abuse.

But de Blasio said Monday that since the number of on-street spots will remain the same, there's no reason to worry about more illegal parking and traffic near schools.

From the Post:

“It’s still the same number of spaces,” Hizzoner told NY1. “So yeah, there’ll be more people competing for those spaces. But it doesn’t change the number of spaces.”

“I remind anyone who thinks that they can be cute and use one of these placards in an inappropriate way: You’re really running the risk of very big penalties and there will be consistent enforcement,” the mayor said.

The problem is, traffic enforcement agents have never shown a willingness to ticket cars with placards -- real or fake. NYPD's failure to address this abuse was one reason Bloomberg instituted the reforms de Blasio is rolling back. Does the mayor really believe a broken system has magically fixed itself?

This wasn't lost on Errol Louis, who "pointed out that there are whole websites dedicated to documenting the lax enforcement and widespread abuse of city-issued parking placards,” according to the Post.

After the Post and other outlets picked up Streetsblog's stories on new UFT placards, DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña issued a statement on Medium.

“We encourage all New Yorkers who are commuting -- whether to school or to other employment -- to use public transportation,” she wrote. Because if anything encourages transit use it's giving people carte blanche to park wherever they want.

Meanwhile, the tens of thousands of teachers and other DOE employees who do take transit, walk, or bike to work will get nothing out of the de Blasio-UFT parking perk deal. If they ride the bus, all they'll get is a slower trip to work as more of their peers opt to drive.

In her explanation, Fariña implied that the city had no choice:

Starting Thursday, May 18, the DOE will issue parking permits to teachers, school staff and principals who request them. This change is a result of arbitration and court proceedings brought against the last administration that held that they had illegally unilaterally changed employee rights to parking permits without collective bargaining.

Again, this is misleading, since according to CSA the UFT permits were a separate issue. On NY1, de Blasio also glossed over this crucial detail, saying: “There was a lawsuit brought and that was the resolution of the lawsuit and other matters that had to be worked through in negotiation."

City Hall and DOE have not responded to Streetsblog requests for a copy of the arbitration ruling, and won't say why the city elected to reissue UFT permits. Yesterday we filed a freedom of information request for the ruling, as well as emails and other records pertaining to the issuance of new placards to UFT and DC 37 members.

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