New York pols want cut of foreign aid withheld from countries with outstanding parking ticketsBY Alison Gendar
May 12, 2011
New York City wants a cut of any U.S. aid money heading to foreign countries who refuse to pay their parking tickets.
"There's no such thing as 'diplomatic immunity' from paying parking tickets," said Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island).
Some 289 foreign missions have racked up more than $16.4 million in unpaid city parking tickets and fines, city officials say.
Current law allows the U.S to withhold 110% of the amounts owed in unpaid parking tickets and taxes from any U.S. aid the scofflaw countries get.
That money doesn't go to New York City; it stays in government coffers, Grimm said.
So Grimm, fellow Republican Peter King and Brooklyn Democrat Edolphus Towns plugged legislation yesterday to tweak the law and let the city get the money it is owed.
If the deadbeats balk and don't pay what's owed by Sept. 15 of each year, the secretary of state should yank their diplomatic license plates, Grimm proposed.
For New Yorkers, the only thing worse than a $115 parking ticket is knowing someone else gets a free ride for the same offense.
Previous attempts to get the city its share failed, but the current budget climate might give the proposed legislation a chance, King said.
"The money doesn't go to the city," he added. "That has to change. In the past, it just got bogged down and didn't go anywhere, but with every dollar counting, this time we have a better chance."
The Bloomberg administration supports the measure, part of its ongoing crackdown on illegal diplomat parking.
The city recently got Kuwait to cough up $1 million in fines.
Since 2002, when the city and the State Department worked out an agreement to go after these diplomatic disasters, the number of unpaid tickets plummeted: roughly 3,000 since 2002, compared to nearly 143,000 racked up before the agreement, city records show.
Egypt still tops the list, with 17,948 unpaid tickets totalling $1.9 million owed.
"If I gotta pay up, they gotta pay up," said Ralph DeSantis, who admits he gets hit with lots of parking tickets running a Greenpoint messenger business on the side. "If we are sending these countries money, then they better well pay their tickets."