Pay to Play: NYC to install Service Industry Counters (SIC)

Pay to Play: NYC to install Service Industry Counters (SIC)

New York City, NY

In a bold effort to enhance combat massive overspending deficits, governments at every level – federal, state and local  are always on the lookout for new and more creative ways to squeeze every dime they can from their citizens increase revenues in lieu of living within their means spending cuts. Inspired by a unique revenue enhancement measure instituted in the former German capital of Bonn (see external link: BBC News: German city of Bonn… ), King Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has approved a pilot program to install Service Industry Counters (SIC) in red-light districts select areas within the city.

SIC, derisively known as “hooker meters” by many political opponents, would primarily target those engaged in illegal or proscribed activities: prostitutes that work operate on the streets (as opposed to those that are employed in brothels or who act under the independent service provider framework), persons engaged in the drug trade, street peddlers and so forth.  Mayor Bloomberg declared:

“We must be serious about attacking the long-term overspending debt problem and the SIC devices are one of the things that’s going to allow us to confiscate even more of the people’s money tackle it. I know that some may be upset.  What do you do? When something’s wrong, it’s government’s job to fix it and as Government Mayor, I am here to solve problems and not just talk about them.” ~ Mayor Bloomberg

As for the “counters” themselves, they are technically an add-on device for already functional street meters.  Manufactured by Siemens AG, the $11,575 devices would monitor pedestrian traffic within 250 feet of the attached meter.  Any person covered under the SIC provisions in the right to walk zone area longer than 5 minutes must either purchase a $5.00 ticket (15 minutes) or a multi-hour (3 hour increments) pass for $25.  When the SIC device detects a failure to pay counter violation it takes a photo of the violator and transmits the information to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT).  The NYCDOT in turn dispatches the nearest Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) to issue a citation.  The fines as yet are not formalized, but according to sources in the Mayor’s office they will be “almost usury steep.”  The NYCDOT also stated “The public can rest assured that regular pedestrians will not at first be required to buy right to walk tickets.  They are solely designed to target those persons engaged in street walking, drug sales and other illicit activity.”

Evelyn Erskine, the Mayor’s spokesperson noted that in the face of not having enough money to maintain the spending spree budgetary constraints, municipal governments have had to “be creative” when it comes to raising taxes revenues and in giveaways funding programs.  She cited both Bonn’s initiative and the District of Columbia’s recent efforts in promoting with tax dollars the construction of a strip club an alternative employment center (see external link: Washington Examiner: DC Dollars Open…).  “   Erskine also defended the decision to go forward with the SIC program “These devices, while in fact targeting persons engaged in illicit activity are not – in themselves, meant to condone or legitimize any illegal behavior.  They are simply a means to help monitor and punish such activities… and at the same time augment City resources for law enforcement funding.”  She also  stated “We expect to raise approximately $10.5M in the first year alone from the meters.”

However, not everyone is happy about the Mayor’s decision.  State Senator Ruben Diaz (R-Bronx), “The Little Dictator Mayor has once again proved how out of touch he is with the people of New York. First he ok’s a Mosque overlooking Ground Zero.  Then he buys a few State Senators in the run up to the marriage vote and now he’s peddling hooker meters to pad the city’s broken budget.  What’s next… banning clergy from the 9/11 ceremonies?”  When contacted, the Mayor’s Office had no response.

The first counters are expected to be rolled out shortly after labor day.