Help towns and villages create healthy revenue sources and reduce fines and penalties

As NYS Attorney General I would assist local communities in obtaining new and legitimate sources of revenue, and encourage them (by litigation if necessary) to eliminate quotas for issuing parking tickets and other revenue-producing summonses or violations. Excessive ticketing is often counterproductive. It ends to drive away the legitimate business you need. How many times has the existence of a police car or loitering cop or other ticket-issuer caused you to go somewhere else to park? All too often, towns believe they have to increase their enforcement of statutes, rules, regulations, signs and meters by hiring expensive enforcement personnel to issue tickets whenever justified under law and even when not truly justified. In this way, the town expects that it can get additional revenues sorely needed by it pay for the added enforcement personnel, the bicycles and vehicles they use, the courts, judges, clerks and lawyers involved, and to cover the loss of revenues when victims of this excessive enforcement policy decide not to avail themselves of any further town hospitality. Hopefully, the revenues are being obtained in an amount exceeding the cost of their production, but the problem is that the town is losing the real revenues, and the town is further losing through a deterioration of the quality of life for its residents and small businesses. You will readily note0 that the impact of this enforcement policy does not generally fall on the major retailers located in or near the town. But it is just these major corporations that owe substantial amounts of money as damages to various persons injured by their illegal activities, and the town's money-raising activities should be directed to these major corporations, to enable the town's residents and small businesses to obtain the protection they deserve under law.

In addition, when a town relies on violations and quotas or other economic incentives for the levying of fines and other penalties, the town may wind up facing civil rights lawsuits in a distant federal court requiring expenditure of far more moneys than the illegal fines could ever produce. Several years ago, I (and several other attorneys, independently and without knowledge of each other) commenced such a lawsuit, and the town wound up firing its 13-person police department and hiring the county sheriff to patrol the town. In addition to the penalties and fines levied upon hapless motorists, the town was getting free labor for its police department and local hospital(s) every time a local resident (generally a teenager) was found and convicted of smoking pot. This involutary apprenticeship program of learning how to clean jails, hospitals and town streets was brought to an abrupt end. The town couldn't afford the litigation costs.

The other part of the campaign promise is to help the town create healthy revenue sources. By (i) enforcing the laws creating a legal playing field for businesses, (ii) enforcing the laws protecting consumers from business fraud, (iii) helping communities stop major retailers from stealing their town in a variety of sophisticated but illegal ways, and (iv) performing the other promises inherent in these campaign issues, I as the NYS Attorney General could and would help New York towns, villages and counties create healthy revenue sources. I would like to point out that my failure to mention "cities" most of the time is that it is far more difficult to get a city to do something than to get a town or village to do something. In cities, it is more likely that the money of major corporations has already been spent to obtain the kind of conduct desired by the major corporations, and the top person in the city is surrounded by too many advisors with axes to grind to make it realistic to try to get reform out of a city. A large city such as New York is closer to the federal and state government with its problems. Instead, reform needs to be started at the ground level (in towns and villages), and then let the reforms work their way up.