Vacca Council bill: Take pix with every tix

Issue a summons, back it up with a photo.

That’s the argument east Bronx City Councilman Jimmy Vacca is pushing in a bill that would require food inspectors, and traffic and sanitation enforcement agents to do when an alleged offense occurs.

He also added two new bills covering sanitation policed and city health department inspectors that would also require pictures before costly tickets are issued.

Such measures would add a dose of transparency to ticketing, and cut down on the number of people who challenge tickets that were rightfully issued, said Vacca.

“I had a similar bill with only parking violations,” he said. “Now here we are in 2014 with technology coming such a long way. I don’t feel there is any reason that we shouldn’t have a picture with every offense.”

$1 billion for city

In the three areas that the bills cover, the city raises about $1 billion a year through violations, and Vacca believes that the people of the city are entitled to more transparency.

“I think taking pictures are transparency,” he said. “I think pictures will speak volumes. They say a picture tells a thousand words.”

Vacca called these “fairness” bills that would reduce what he termed “he said, she said” when it comes to summonses in the city.

“The way things are right now, you are, in effect, guilty until you prove yourself innocent,” he said.

Vacca conceded that there may be some offenses that cannot be photographed, and he would be happy to look at the bills. But most offenses can be documented with photography, he said.

Benefits

According to Vacca, the benefits would be two fold: agencies that are issuing frivolous summons that do not stand up to scrutiny would stop, and people fighting tickets that were rightfully given would stop wasting the time of administrative law judges.

Many innocent people are choosing not to fight tickets, he noted, because they can’t afford to take a day off from work, or may not drive and cannot physically make it to court.

Rod Rodriguez, owner of Ohana Japanese Hibachi Seafood & Steakhouse at 500 City Island Avenue, said having pictures attached to a ticket would help.

“We have been here for just about 10 years and we get inspected by the Department of Health constantly,” said Rodriguez.

“Their criteria always changes, and we have paid a ton of fines which have been unjust,” he complained.

“It is like a ballgame,” he said. “Now they go to the replay and see what goes on and what the real deal is. It is not call it as you see it.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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