Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Meting Out Meter Justice

Headline in yesterday's (7 March 2010) New York Daily News on page 37:

"Queens Center Mall Steers Shoppers to its Garage with Bogus Signs on Parking Meters" [Also reposted here].

The first sentence of the article: "Parking attendants at a Queens mall have been caught red-handed posting phony no-parking signs on street meters that lure drivers into their garage."

Not a bad scam! If the shoppers believe that parking is prohibited on the street, and there is a parking garage right there, then lots of shoppers will park in the parking garage and pay for the privilege, in this case more than they would pay if they used the municipal parking meters on the street.

A spokeswoman for the Mall said that the signs were intended to "facilitate traffic flow." Indeed! Facilitate traffic flow right into the mall's parking garage, no doubt.

This, of course, is tantamount to an admission that mall personnel were behind the unauthorized (read "illegal") cordoning off of the parking meters.

And the Queens DA's mouthpiece will neither confirm nor deny that they are on the case, but that a criminal complaint had not, as of the moment, been filed.

My take on it:

Both the City of New York and the Queens Center Mall have reason to want to put this matter behind them. The DA's office can easily get a criminal conviction against the Mall, but would have to really line up lots of ducks and witnesses to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to any individual. New York City (which technically is a quasi-separate entity from the County of Queens, which is the District Attorney's district) needs the money that wasn't deposited in its meters. Indeed, the NYPD's metermaids and metermen have, of late, seemed to show their faces (and ticket pads) on the street with greater frequency than in the recent past.

Moreover, there are questions as to whether society would be best served by putting one or two or three more people into prison for this nonviolent crime. If it's about money and not blood, then New York City and the Queens DA's office want to find some economical strategy.

I have no inside info on this (my contact in the Queens DA's office is scrupulously adhering to the "no comment" policy), but one possible scenario is that there are ongoing negotiations for a corporate misdemeanor and/or civil penalty entailing little or no jail time, but the transfer more than a few dollars into the city's seriously depleted coffers.

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