pigeon papers

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

Tuesday, August 10, 2004




Since Mayor Bloomberg has been Mayor of NYC, Police and city agencies have stepped up their practice of frivolous, excessive and, in some cases -- even fraudulent ticketing.

These fines have effectively frozen New Yorkers in their tracks. Although there are no actual laws against feeding birds, ticketing has effectively spread the word that feeding birds is against the law. NYC pigeons have suddenly seen their food source drop exponentially. Although they seem to survive at starvation levels – scavenging just barely enough to make a miserable existence; they have become so debilitated and vulnerable to diseases that rehab workers all over the city report that their small facilities have been deluged.

“Don’t do that – it’s illegal!” is the most common argument that New Yorkers now levy against each other – the people who like pigeons have been pitted against those who hate them. Even to the extent that last year, one woman was arrested during a scuffle over feeding pigeons on the Upper East Side.
Although the city’s motivation for this may simply be fiscal (the more fines collected, the better Bloomberg’s numbers); the result has been staggering. . Pigeons, squirrels and other urban wildlife, however, have plummeted into a city-wide blight. Rehab workers report a deluge of starved, sickly city animals being dropped on their doorsteps.
pigeon underground
The result of all of the fines and harassment of New York City pigeon lovers has been the formation of a kind of NYC “pigeon underground.” A loose network of trained and not-so-trained rehab workers who share information over the internet and phone and identify themselves by code names such as “Battery Bird” or “Glue Bird” to avoid risking legal action.
The Director of New York City Pigeon Rescue Central has often expressed exasperation. With so many demands on his limited time and resources; he finds it impossible to respond to as many calls for help as he receives. If XXX had it his way, he would save them all. As it stands, he can only handle only a handful at a time.

(XXX's rescue yahoo-group can be found by logging on to his yahoo group --

During any given week, XXX's small apartment in the Bronx is a half-way house for just a lucky few. Many of the birds, he said, would be fine if they were not so weakened by the city's No-Feed policy, and underweight. He does his best to restore their health and then, reluctantly, releases them.

The lucky ones go to an undisclosed aviary that XXX says has very a limited capacity. The rest, with XXX's extreme regret, he releases back into the fray.

Mayor Bloomberg thought the truth would be just the ticket... it wasn't
Gary Younge in New York
Wednesday June 11, 2003
The Guardian

In a week when they lost domestic diva Martha Stewart to the Feds, the editor of the New York Times, Howell Raines, to a scandal and Senator Hillary Clinton to the talk-show circuit, New Yorkers are no strangers to distinguishing between perception and reality. But when it comes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg they seem to prefer the former to the latter.

The reality is bad enough. First of all there was Jesse Taveras, who was fined for sitting on a milk crate outside a shop in the Bronx. "What did I do?" he asked. The official citation was "unauthorized use of a crate".

Then there was Yoav Kashida, the Israeli tourist fined $50 for taking up two seats on the subway when he fell asleep. Worst of all there was Crystal Rivera, 18 years old and six months pregnant, who was slapped with a $50 fine for sitting on the subway steps and blocking the stairway. These are the high-profile cases. We'll not dwell on the octogenarian fined $50 for feeding pigeons in the park or the shop owner who had to shell out $400 because there were too many words on his shop awning.

You get the message. There seems no end to the recent litany of tickets that New York's finest will issue for the pettiest of infractions: crimes that most New Yorkers did not even know they were able to commit. On its own it would be little more than an annoyance. Overzealous, underemployed cops being heavy-handed in a city where the really bad policemen end up killing innocent people - an everyday tale of ordinary uniformed folk.

But along with the fines comes the allegation that the tickets are less to do with the criminal than the political; that Bloomberg himself has ordered the police to get slap-happy with the fines because New York city hall needs the money to plug its $4bn budget gap.

When you think of how many milk-crate-sitters and pigeon- feeders it would take to even make a dent in the city's huge deficit, the accusation seems preposterous. Bloomberg, a multi-millionaire businessman, could probably find more cash down the back of his sofa than he will collect by harassing - and possibly alienating – potential voters.

The reality (another, different, less convenient reality unlikely to grab headlines) is that it costs more money to issue the tickets, process the infractions and pursue the non-payers than the fines are actually worth, and that the city actually issued far fewer of them this year than it did last. "If we relied on tickets to balance our budget, the city would have gone out of business a long time ago," says Bloomberg's press secretary, Edward Skyler.

The trouble for Bloomberg is not that the accusations of him nickel-and-diming the people who elected him are false; it is that even after he has said they are false, and explained why they must be false, just about everybody wants to believe the accusations anyway.

The press certainly want to believe them. "Ticket Madness", "Another Fine Mess" and "Sitting Bull" (over the milk crate) are just three of the Daily News headlines in the past couple of weeks and may soon be followed by a city-wide campaign.

But Bloomberg's protestations that this is just media hype are confounded by the fact that many policemen say it's true. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the policemen's union, has taken out ads on the radio and in the press blaming the mayor and asking the public not to take out their frustrations over the ticketing blitz on the policemen because they are only following orders.

"We have to make our daily quota," Taveras claims the cop told him at the time. "Don't blame me, blame Bloomberg."

Which is the point. The budget crisis has left the city in a mess. Everybody is affected, from policemen and firefighters (there were 20arrests and a near riot a couple of weeks ago when the city went to close down one fire station) to schoolchildren and homeowners, hit with a huge hike in property taxes.

And everybody blames Bloomberg, also referred to as "Mike the Knife" and "Gloomberg" whose best case scenario for rectifying the budget would inflict the biggest number of redundancies on the city in 10 years.

The very thing that made him attractive to many - that as a wealthy individual he was in hock to no special interest groups - now makes him weak. There are no special interest groups to support him. The perception worked to his benefit; the reality, however, is far more bleak.
April 29, 2004
Guys Would Ticket a Funeral By: SHELLEY EMLING,
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

New York --- A crime wave is sweeping the Big Apple.
In recent weeks, police have nabbed an 86-year-old man for unlawfully feeding pigeons, a teenager relaxing on a street corner for’ unauthorized use of a milk crate'' and a handful of small stores for having too many words printed on their awnings.

Critics say the cash-strapped city has launched a ticket blitz to help close a $3.8 billion budget gap. The police union is so embarrassed it has begun a ''Don't Blame the Cop'' ad campaign.

''This is a crisis for New York City,'' said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. ''This is eroding the trust between the police and the public.'' Lynch said police are under pressure to write more tickets or face disciplinary action.

''The types of tickets officers have been told to write are for things like double parking that bring in money,'' he said. ''They've been told to focus less on things like bad brake lights or other safety violations because they can be fixed without a fine being paid.''

Revenue from tickets ''is helping us keep more police on the streets, more firefighters out there to fight fires, more teachers in the classroom,'' the mayor said. He said the city doesn't have quotas, but performance measurements are in place.

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind isn't buying it. He introduced legislation Wednesday to keep the Police Department from forcing officers to meet a ticket quota.

"People are getting killed with all these tickets; pretty soon you're going to get a ticket for breathing," the assemblyman said. "Obviously, you have to ticket someone for doing something that's illegal, but it's ridiculous to ticket people for things put on the books 30 to 40 years ago that have never been enforced before."

With a city code that's thousands of pages long, Hikind said, there's no end to what people might be ticketed for. It is, for example, illegal for New Yorkers to participate in an auction at night.

The ticket spree became the talk of the town earlier this month when the Daily News splashed a photo on its front page of Jesse Taveras, who received a citation for sitting on a milk crate on the sidewalk outside the hair-braiding salon where he works.

The 19-year-old has a June 25 court date on the offense of unauthorized use of a milk crate, which carries a fine of up to $161. Similar reports surfaced quickly.

Someone was fined $50 for taking up two seats on a train; another scofflaw was fined $50 for feeding pigeons in the park.

Many New Yorkers already are grumpy over a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Plus they've had to face cuts in city services, property tax increases of 18.5 percent, and a hike in transit fares from $1.50 to $2.If that weren't enough, many of the fines attached to various citations are increasing as well. Starting Sunday, for example, the fine for scavenging garbage will double from $50 to $100.

Woman feeding birds charged in park assault
New York Daily News. New York
Aug 2, 2003. pg. 5Abstract (Article Summary)
"I always carry a little birdseed in my purse," said [Kugelmas], a laid-off office worker who admitted seeing park signs forbidding the feeding of pigeons. "I feed birds every day, and no one has ever bothered me. "Police charged Kugelmas with third-degree assault on [Carol McCabe] and issued a summons. She could get up to a year in jail for the alleged birdseed attack. JESSICA SCHUMER ...
New York's Ticketing Spree Is Just Fine
Fun City? “How about Whine City?”
Dennis Duggan, June 8, 2003
Copyright (c) 2003, Newsday, Inc.
You can hear the whiners on every corner of every street in the five boroughs. They whine because they get ticketed for feeding those germ-ridden pigeons, those "flying rats" that consider the city a giant outhouse. They whine some more when a cop has the nerve to ticket them just because they have turned one section of a subway into their private boudoir. They whine again when an alert cop tickets a young, healthy Brooklyn teenager named Crystal Rivera, who happens to be pregnant, sitting on the subway stairs.
They whine when a health inspector notices rat droppings in their restaurant. Boo hoo, they cry. They're trying to drive us out of business. Oh yeah, and the worst of all offenders, the automobile owners who foul up the city with exhaust fumes, who double-park because they don't give a damn, whose alarms go off in the middle of the night in quiet neighborhoods and who seem to be immune to causing someone else's death, they're the loudest.
The automobile is choking this and other cities to death. I salute that London mayor who got fed up with traffic gridlock and raised the ante against car drivers who face huge fines if they violate the new rules for driving their machines into the inner city. Cars, big ones, small ones, they and their insolent drivers attack the city each and every day. Does the word gridlock mean anything to you? Traffic jam? How about vehicular homicide?
Years ago a sanitation commissioner blasted New Yorkers in a rare show of courage. He said a lot of New Yorkers were disgusting litterbugs. A few days ago an exasperated Mayor Mike, whose popularity has dropped to an all-time low for a sitting mayor, vented a little at a Coney Island press conference. "Don't throw litter on the streets," he said, "and you won't have a problem." "Don't park illegally and you won't have a problem. "But the whiners keep on whining and now the press across the nation is zeroing in on what they call a ticket blitz aimed at raising money to help close the multibillion-dollar budget gap.
The Los Angeles Times ran a story headlined, "Start Spreading the News, New York's Ticketing Today. "It came to the defense of that poor pregnant teenager who decided to take a rest on the subway steps:
"The police officer who cited her for briefly blocking a stairwell didn't seem to care that she was exhausted and reluctant to sit on a filthy subway bench. "Hello! There is no dirtier venue in this city than subway stairs, but the whining reporter ignored that this willful teenager was making it hard for subway riders to get to their destinations.
That's a no-no in the city that never sleeps, and the reason it never sleeps is because cars keep streaming in and out, with their horns blaring, brakes squealing and alarms going off. Those are all noises made by the worst of the city's offenders, the car owners. They are an invading army that roars into town each day from the 'burbs to grab their loot and run back to East Cupcake and to whine about how tough it is to drive in the city.
So the best news I have heard from Mayor Mike is that he is going to hire 300 more traffic enforcement cops to make the car owners whine even louder. Three cheers for the mayor who was left with a sink full of dirty dishes by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who spent the city's money - yours and mine - like a drunken sailor, leaving Bloomberg to clean up the mess and to dodge the brickbats of the whiners.
So here is my advice to the Greenwich Village shopkeeper who got ticketed for having too many words on his awning, and to all the pigeon-fanciers who feed those birds: shaddup. That goes for all motorcycle riders. They blast through our streets at full throttle, making their heretofore unnoticed presence felt. My rage runneth over when I hear their revved-up engines. And I wish police union president Patrick Lynch would get a life.
He has an ad now that says "Don't Blame the Cops" for all those tickets. Lynch hasn't said a word about the no-knock raids that killed an innocent Harlem woman a few weeks ago or about all the other unnoticed cases of careless police work carrying out warrants based on tips, mainly from criminals.
One of the tabloids wrote "Welcome to Nitpick City," whining that New Yorkers are getting nibbled for nothing. "Simply living," the paper said, "can get you a summons. "Stop whining. New Yorkers ought to thank their lucky stars they live in a city like this.
There ought to be a fine against whining.


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