Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani, 107th Mayor


The Mayor's Corner
Questions and Answers from callers on previous WCBS Radio Shows
April 1, 1999
January 7, 1999
December 03, 1998



04/01/99 WCBS Radio Show

Thank you for your interest in my monthly WCBS Radio show, "Ask the Mayor," with Rich Lamb. Last month we received many interesting calls, especially with Rich Lamb. Last month we received many interesting calls, especially about reforms taking place within the Street Crimes Unit in the wake of the tragic death of Amadou Diallo. Police Commissioner Howard Safir announced that officers assigned to the Street Crimes Unit will now be required to wear uniforms, but still patrol in unmarked vehicles. This move addresses a concern voiced by many community members that, in the absence of an identifying uniform, undercover SCU officers could be misperceived as a threatening presence. The Police Department does not anticipate the changeover to uniforms will diminish the Unit's effectiveness.

The Police Commissioner also announced a number of steps to increase the diversity within the Unit. For example, fifty qualified minority officers are being assigned to the Unit and all members of the Unit have been promoted to Detective Specialist in order to make an SCU assignment a "career track" position. The Police Department feels that by placing the SCU on the career track, on par with other NYPD divisions such as the Narcotics Unit, minority representation will be enhanced. In addition, all SCU officers have received three days of retraining in tactics, Community, Professionalism, and Respect, and cultural diversity training. The Police Department feels these positive and cultural diversity training. The Police Department feels these positive changes will improve the SCU and at the same time, increase morale among SCU officers.

A number of callers also raised concerns or problems that fall within the jurisdiction of City agencies. I assure you, my staff is working diligently to address your concerns. The outcome of one issue a caller raised on the show is described below.

Andrew called the show to express his views on the City's Work Experience Program (WEP) and to convey a recommendation. The Work Experience Program was established as part of New York City's Welfare Reform Initiative. Work Experience Program participants work in different capacities with City agencies as a condition for receiving benefits. This program enables welfare recipients to gain job skills and to make the transition from a life of dependency to a life of self-sufficiency and independence. Since the City's welfare reforms were implemented in 1995, the number of welfare recipients has declined from more than 1.1 million to less than 700,000. Over 200,000 people have participated in WEP since its inception and more than 30,000 people have participated in WEP since its inception and more than 30,000 people are currently participating in the program.

Andrew praised the program, but feels that WEP assignments should include refurbishing and rehabilitating abandoned buildings. Andrew noted that by participating in these restoration projects, welfare recipients would gain valuable skills. I asked Senior Advisor to the Mayor, Anthony Coles, to explore Andrew's suggestion. According to Mr. Coles' staff, currently, approximately 400 public assistance recipients are assigned to the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where they are involved in the maintenance and rehabilitation of City-owned property. I would like to thank Andrew for taking the time to make this suggestion.

Thanks again for your interest in WCBS Radio's "Ask the Mayor," with Rich Lamb. Stay tuned and visit us again next month!

01/07/99 WCBS Radio Show

Thank you for your interest in my monthly WCBS Radio show, "Ask the Mayor, with Rich Lamb." Last week, Rich expressed a concern, shared by all New Yorkers, about the recent fires that claimed the lives of firefighters and civilians in the City. Rich mentioned that, in the wake of these tragedies, there has been much talk about fire sprinklers.

I think that sprinklers would definitely make buildings safer in the event of a fire and, as a matter of fact, we are close to reaching an agreement with the City Council that would require the installation of sprinklers in new buildings, including the individual apartments.

However, to install sprinklers in existing buildings, would take years to complete. Boston, for example, has a sprinkler law and it will take 23 years to complete. New York City is much larger than Boston. We don't want to wait 23 years or more to make buildings safer. What could work better is a public address system for newer large buildings, so you could communicate the correct information to people about what they should do in case of a fire.

The tragedies that occurred in the past few months could have been avoided if people had followed the rules and understood what the rules were. Both fires could have been avoided if the doors in the apartments where the fire started had been closed.

Our first caller, John, who happens to be the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association in Westchester County, told me that he is still concerned about the lack of sprinklers in existing buildings in the City and has a plan that might help to install sprinkler systems in both new and existing building at low cost through tax incentives.

I referred John's concern to my Deputy Mayor for Operations Joseph Lhota. Members of Joseph's staff spoke with John, whose suggestions include using existing buildings standpipes to bring water to the sprinkler system rather than constructing a new access point. John believes that New York City should permit the usage of CPVC pipes that are less costly and easier to install than metal ones. According to John, this material is only allowed in buildings up to four stories high in New York, but has widespread usage in other cities. Finally, John suggests that the cost to the builder of a sprinkler system should be considered part of the expense, not capital, budget so that it can be depreciated over time.

John will send us specific information on his plan for evaluation of its merits. We will share it with the Fire Department, the Department of Buildings, the Department of Finance, and, possibly other relevant City agencies.

A caller from Staten Island expressed his concern about parents not protecting their children in their cars by fastening seat belts or using car seats. Our caller's wife is a pediatrician with emergency room experience and knows first hand how children pay the consecuences of their parents negligence.

I totally agree with this caller. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children everywhere, especially in a car, where an accident is always a possibility. The Police Department give summons to those parents who don't comply with the law. Unfortunately, it is impossible for police officers to detect all violators and, in many instances, children's safety is in the hands of irresponsible parents who neglect their basic obligations.

Another caller is taxicab driver in New York City and he complained that the police give taxi drivers two tickets for a single traffic infraction.

The fact is that taxicab driver licensees hold two licenses, a driver's license issued by the State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and a professional hack license issued by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). For a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, all drivers, including taxicab drivers, are answerable in DMV traffic court. Under TLC Drivers Rule # 2-21(b), all hack licensees must obey all vehicle and traffic laws of the City, State and Port Authority. By violating a traffic law, they violate TLC rule as well, and therefore are additionally answerable in TLC court. However, as the burdens of proof are somewhat different between DMV and TLC courts, it is possible to be found guilty in DMV court and not guilty in TLC court, or vice versa.
Again, thank you for your interest in my weekly WCBS Radio show. It is a great satisfaction for me to share your concerns and provide assistance whenever it is within the City's jurisdiction to help you.

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12/03/98 WCBS Radio Show

Thank you for your interest in my monthly WCBS Radio show, "Ask the Mayor," with Rich Lamb. Last month we got great callers and here are some of the answers to their concerns:

A caller from Staten Island complained that on some specific streets in his neighborhood, public employees park on the sidewalk on a regular basis, making it difficult for him to move around in his wheelchair. Our caller was under the impression that there is a law that allows public employees to park on the sidewalks in the vicinity of public offices from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

We contacted New York City's Department of Transportation and found out that such a law does not exist.

According to the NYC Department of Finance, Parking Violations Operations Code #51, parking on sidewalks is not permitted. There is a $55.00 fine for parking on a sidewalk. In some instances, however, public employees may park on the sidewalk with Police permission. This is normally a temporary measure and, if such is the case, the police must make sure that the cars parked on the sidewalk do not disrupt traffic or pedestrians.

If a person received permission to park on the sidewalk he must produce proof that he had permission and he must have the situation adjudicated by appearing at the Parking Violation Bureau Help Center. Information on how to proceed on this matter, is on the reverse side of the summons.

Another caller complained that he received two summonses for a "washable sign" because his commercial van does not have a "permanent painted sign" identifying his business. He claimed that he used a permanent marker to write down his business name and other relevant information on both sides of the van, but that the law requires a "professional" sign on his vehicle.

We contacted New York City's Department of Finance and, according to the NYC Traffic Rules, section k1, all commercial vehicles must have the name and address of the registrant in PERMANENT 3-inch letters attached to both sides of the vehicle in a color contrasting with that of the vehicle's body color, as stated in the NYC Administrative Code, Section 10-127. This requirement is imposed on all vehicles with commercial plates, regardless of state of issuance or usage.

In addition to the sign, if the vehicle is a passenger car, the rear seats and seat fittings must be removed. Once the modification has been done, the vehicle can park in truck loading zones, except in the Garment District, unless it is a truck, (2 axles and 6 wheels or 3 or more axles) or a van double parking to load and unload goods expeditiously. An exception to this double parking allowance is the Midtown Core area -- First to Eighth Avenues, 14th to 60th Streets, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, except Sunday.

Thanks again for your interest in WCBS Radio's "Ask the Mayor," with Rich Lamb. Stay tuned and visit us again next month!

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