Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Government insanity in regional New York

I'm supposed to be resting, but some items in Tuesday's New York Post really got me.

On Monday, Westchester County's legislature set a fine of $250 for discarding a cell phone in the garbage (i.e. recycle it or else). The first alternative, of course, is to throw old phones away when not in Westchester. Even then, will the county sanitation workers really scrutinize my garbage that carefully? They already sort garbage, but will they take extra care to look for phones? And what if I pull out the SIM chip? How much manpower will they expend per phone to determine its ownership, then prosecute and fine the person?

The projected cost of the World Trade Center's memorial has more than doubled to $1 billion. Why not have the very best money can buy, when other people's money will be paying for most of it? "...Bloomberg indicated the city wasn't in a position to pick up any portion of the tab for maintaining the memorial after it opens in late 2009." In other words, state and federal funding, because even the biggest idiots in the private sector would contribute the required sums to maintain it. If Bloomberg really wants this memorial, then why doesn't he put up a chunk of his $3+ billion fortune to pay for its ballooning costs?

The MTA established rules, effective last October, forbidding subway passengers from going between cars while the train is in motion, and from occupying more than one seat. An MTA Gestapo policeman ticketed a woman in January for placing a bag of groceries on the seat next to her, though that car was nearly empty. Most people would have just given up and paid the $50 ticket, because their time is more valuable, but this woman fought until the ticket was dismissed. Good for her!

I suspect that, since it was on the 27th, he hadn't written enough tickets for that month. One of my half-brothers was an assistant police chief upstate, and he explained to me once that there are no official quotas, but law enforcement personnel are expected to show that they're doing their jobs. Also, he added, what do you do when two are competing for one promotion to sergeant, and they're both very close in qualifications, but one writes many more tickets than the other?

Joe Bruno, New York State Senate Majority Leader, said it's "lunacy" that a state judge ordered Albany to increase NYC school funding by $7.4 billion over the next five years. Isn't it wonderful that the judicial branch, at any level of government, can usurp the legislative branch's powers to appropriate taxes and determine spending? Bruno asked, "Where the hell is the money going to come from?" New York state taxpayers can learn the answer by looking in the mirror.

Finally, a Brooklyn woman was arrested and her children were put in foster care, because she left them alone for a few hours so she could get food at a church. Around 1 p.m., a "concerned neighbor" called police, who then arrested the mother upon her return around 3:45. Some details are probably missing, but if the children were inside the apartment, how did the caller know? Or is she just another neighborhood busybody who keeps tabs on everyone's comings and goings?

It's not as if the mother left them alone in a store to entertain themselves, or that she's like the Louisiana Social Services press secretary who "used to lose" her children in Target. While children can certainly get into trouble when home alone, they can get into trouble even with a parent at home. And what would the state have preferred, that the mother stay home and rely on a helpful non-busybody neighbor to pick up the food? But then the neighbor who called the police could still notify them that a woman was neglecting her children by letting them go hungry.

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