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NYC Health Department Closes Ranks Around Staffer Caught Repeatedly Stealing Curb Space

Before Streetsblog started asking city agencies about the driver’s identity, this Health Department car was often stowed in a no parking zone on Park Terrace West in Inwood.

Nine months ago Mayor de Blasio promised to get tough on city workers who steal curb space. But when presented with evidence of a staffer habitually abusing vehicle perks and flouting the law, de Blasio's Health Department declined to identify the employee and did not revoke fleet privileges, further proof that City Hall is more tolerant of parking corruption than the mayor wants the public to believe.

The incidents took place on Park Terrace West in Inwood, a residential street where Health Commissioner Mary Bassett owns a home. A Ford sedan with city plates and a decal on the rear bumper reading "DOH 1617" was left multiple times over a period of months in a no parking zone between Isham and W. 215th streets, next to an entrance to Isham Park. Photos of the car were taken between 7 and 9 a.m., likely indicating it was parked there overnight.

Streetsblog contacted the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which is in charge of fleet vehicles, to find out which agency was responsible for the car -- it had no placard -- and who drives it.

DCAS identified the Health Department as the agency and located the driver, but wouldn't say who it was because, according to a spokesperson, DCAS was "trying to figure out the illegal parking." DCAS eventually referred us to DOH without revealing the driver's name.

Same car, same no parking zone, different day.
Same car, same no parking zone, different day.
Same car, same no parking zone, different day.

Press Secretary Chris Miller fielded our email to the DOH press office. "Thanks for bringing this to our attention," wrote Miller. "We’ll make sure the matter is resolved."

DOH wouldn't disclose the driver's identity. “We identified the vehicle operator and reviewed official city procedures with the employee,” said agency spokesperson Julien Martinez via email.

In a follow-up message, the DOH press office said Bassett was not the driver and that the employee in question was told to stop parking illegally under threat of unspecified "further action."

Regardless of who drives the car, the DOH and DCAS response signals that the de Blasio administration is not serious about preventing city workers from abusing vehicle perks. The message is that city employees can expect to get by with commandeering curbs, crosswalks, bus stops, and sidewalks for parking -- corruption, in other words -- even if their behavior is brought to light.

The DOH car has not been spotted in the area since we began making inquiries. Streetsblog is preparing a freedom of information request for records on who drives it.

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