Vacca, Palma and Benedetto endorse de Blasio for Pub. Adv.

(L-r) Bemedetto, De Blasio, Vacca and Palma met in the heart of the Castle Hill shopping district where struggling business owners say out-of-control traffic enforcement has discouraged residents from shopping locally.

Councilman James Vacca, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto today welcomed Public Advocate candidate Bill de Blasio to the east Bronx to officially endorse his candidacy and tout his partnership in their fight against the city’s overzealous parking ticket blitz.

De Blasio, Vacca, Palma and Benedetto met in the heart of the Castle Hill shopping district, where struggling business owners say out-of-control traffic enforcement has discouraged residents from shopping locally. Last year, agents issued more than 2,500 tickets on a single block of Castle Hill Avenue, making the community one of the heaviest-hit in the Bronx.

At the press conference, de Blasio announced that he will assign an ombudsman in the Public Advocate’s office to be a watchdog for the rights of New Yorkers who are unfairly ticketed. This ombudsman will help residents navigate the city’s parking enforcement legal system, investigate disproportionately high ticketing rates in targeted neighborhoods and release regular reports with recommendations to address ongoing ticketing problems.

“A public advocate has to have strong convictions, know city government inside and out, and be able to bring people and city agencies together. Bill de Blasio will make a perfect public advocate. He has the intelligence, background, and commitment this position demands, and his stance on parking tickets is a case in point. When it comes to the avalanche of tickets in New York City and the need to reform our entire ticketing strategy, Bill represents that citywide voice that can help us rein in a policy that has more and more to do with the city filling its coffers and less and less to do with the safety of motorists and pedestrians,” said Vacca.

“In the nearly six years I’ve worked alongside Bill de Blasio in the City Council, I have gotten to know a man who cares deeply about the plight of working people and who I know will go to work every day thinking about average New Yorkers like the storeowners and shoppers on Castle Hill Avenue. People are struggling more now than at any time in our memory, and the $115 traffic tickets being dished out across the city are not just inconvenient ― they represent a huge financial hit for average New Yorkers. Bill is the kind of elected official who cares about our hardworking, working-class communities and I know he’ll be fighting every minute to make sure our voices are heard,” said Palma.

“I’m supporting Bill de Blasio for public advocate not just because he’s a fighter but because he’s a fighter who knows and cares about our city’s middle class ― the educators and tradesmen and service employees who keep this city running. He’s smart, he’s passionate, he’s creative, and thankfully he’s on our side. Bill’s plan to use the public advocate’s office to take in complaints related to parking tickets and to hold the police department responsible for over-ticketing is a perfect example of why he’s the right choice for this position in this city at this time,” said Benedetto.

The Office of the Public Advocate has an Ombudsman Services Unit, which assists constituents who have complaints, problems, or inquiries involving government-related services at the City, State, and Federal levels.

Between 2002 and 2008, Mayor Bloomberg has added 793 traffic enforcement agents to the police force. The number of parking tickets issued has increased 42% under Bloomberg, and the amount of revenue collected in fines has grown by 64%. In the fall of 2008, the administration announced plans to add 200 more traffic enforcement agents in an effort to raise an additional $62 million in revenue.

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