THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORKBill de Blasio
June 17, 2013Hon. Michael BloombergCity Hall New York, NY 10007Jonathan MintzCommissioner Department of Consumer AffairsCity of New York 42 Broadway New York, NY 10004Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Mintz:I was appalled to read this morning in the New York Daily News about allegations that theDepartment of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has secretly been using a quota system to increase finerevenue from small businesses.
According to multiple sources and documents cited in thearticle, for several years, DCA inspectors have been instructed to fine at least 25 percent of the businesses they inspect, and top city officials have pressured administrative law judges intoruling against small business owners when they contest these quota-driven fines. This shameful pattern of behavior, if true, represents an astonishing breach of public trust and abuse of power.The allegations are in direct conflict with what DCA has repeatedly told the public about itsguidelines for enforcement personnel. DCA has always maintained that no quotas exist, despitethe dramatic increase in fines during the Bloomberg Administration. In 2012, pursuant to aninvestigation into the increase in citywide fine revenues, I personally asked DCA for a variety of information regarding agency fining practices. Specifically, I asked whether DCA places anyquotas, goals, guides or other numerical markers on the number of violations issued. DCAresponded to my inquiry on August 9, 2012, stating:
“DCA does not place or impose on its
enforcement personnel any quotas or numerica
l markers when issuing notices of violation.”According to the Daily News, by this time, DCA’s quota program was in full force.
As you know, following repeated requests, our office was forced to bring litigation to compel thedisclosure of the information my office sought from DCA. The information obtained from thatlawsuit showed a dramatic increase in fines, which my office published in a report titled
Borough Bias: How the Bloomberg Administration Drains Outer Borough Businesses.
Daily News’ allegations prove to be true, DCA’s failure to provide my office with documents
showing the existence of a quota system is a violation of the New York City Charter and theterms of our settlement agreement.If there is any truth to the allegations laid out
in today’s Daily News article, immediate changes
need to be made at DCA
changes that cannot wait until a new administration takes over in
Juan Gonzalez, Secret Consumer Affairs quota system for violations slaps business owners with sky-high fines:'It's shameful' , New York Daily News, 6/17/13, p. 5,