Council Overrides Mayor's Veto Banning Parking 'Shame Stickers'

By Jill Colvin on March 28, 2012 8:43pm 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said it took her days to finally get rid of all the gunk a parking sticker left behind.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said it took her days to finally get rid of all the gunk a parking sticker left behind.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

CITY HALL — In a one-two punch, the City Council voted to override two mayoral vetoes Wednesday, putting the brakes once and for all on those pesky parking stickers sanitation crews slap on cars that violate alternate-side parking rules.

The move came as the Council passed new legislation to make it easier for the visually impaired to navigate city streets and a bill that would increase the wages of certain non-union workers.

Members voted unanimously to overturn the mayor’s Feb. 27 veto of legislation barring the so-called “shame stickers” that the Department of Sanitation uses to dissuade drivers from breaking alternate-side parking rules.

While the mayor has argued the stickers are a crucial deterrent, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said they are an unnecessary pain and too hard to remove.

The Council also voted overwhelmingly to override the mayor's veto of a program would force traffic agents to immediately cancel a parking ticket when presented with a muni-meter receipt that shows a time no later than five minutes after the ticket was written.

While the mayor’s office contended the bill would allow crafty drivers to cheat the system by parking for free until they get a ticket, Quinn said that the point was to prevent people from being unfairly ticketed while they were walking to or from their cars, trying to pay for their parking spots.

"It's the kind of ridiculous and unfair and a classic kind of kick-in-the-tuchus that makes people mad at government,” she said.

The council also passed a new package of bills designed to make it easier for the 200,000 visually-impaired New Yorkers to navigate city streets, including requiring the city to install more accessible pedestrian signals, which emit a sound telling those who can’t see that it’s safe to cross.

And the Department of Transportation will now be forced to post audio information online about major transportation projects in a form that would be accessible to the blind, like new bike lanes and pedestrian plazas, which many have complained have been a nightmare for the blind.

“As we change our landscape, with bike paths with pedestrian plazas, and things like that, it becomes even more difficult for blind people to navigate what’s out there on our streets,” said James Vacca, chair of the council’s transportation committee, whose father was legally blind.

Finally, the council voted 46-to-4 to mandate a new “prevailing wage” for security guards and custodians who work in 41 large buildings where the city leases the majority of space.

While the city comptroller's office makes final decisions about prevailing wage rates, council staffers estimated the increase would boost non-unionized workers' pay by about 35 to 45 percent — with cleaners’ pay jumping from about $19 an hour to $24.75, and security guards’ wages increasing from $10 an hour to $12.80.

The rule would also apply to a handful of economic development projects receiving more than $1 million in city subsidies.

Even then, fewer than 200 workers are expected to be covered by the bill, said Quinn, who rebuffed suggestions that the bill's passage was part of a political effort to court union support as she prepares for a run for mayor.

"The goal here was about helping people and doing it in a responsible way that was pro-job growth... not politics," she said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to veto the effort, which he slammed Tuesday as “terrible legislation.”

Quinn said she has more than enough votes to override that veto, too.

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