Brushing off de Blasio’s ‘boroughism’ critique, Bloomberg defends small-business fines

De Blasio with small business owner David Moo. (Azi Paybarah via Flickr)
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg today dismissed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's argument that the mayor's small-business fines reflect "boroughism."

"There are a lot more businesses out of Manhattan than in Manhattan," said Bloomberg during his regular Friday morning radio show. "Manhattan's population is 1.5 million out of 8.4 million, so that shouldn't be a surprise that there are more places to inspect."

Yesterday, de Blasio and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, both of whom are running for mayor, attacked Bloomberg's policies toward small businesses.

The public advocate issued a report demonstrating that under the Bloomberg administration, inspections and fines for small businesses in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan have increased dramatically and are more widespread in those neighborhoods on a per-business basis.

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Separately, Quinn, who, like de Blasio, is vying for the support of outer-borough voters and small business owners, announced that she would pass a bill reducing street vendor fines.

Quinn has Bloomberg's tacit support for mayor, but he called her bill "one of the stupidest things I've heard."

Today, he took aim at de Blasio, whose report revealed that restaurant owners had been fined for, among other things, having a fork specially dedicated to cleaning the wax off candles and not placing utensils on napkins just so.

"Our job is to make sure that you don’t get sick, for example, if you eat their food," said the mayor. "And if one business puts you in more jeopardy than the other, so be it. That’s like saying that we should deploy our police officers every place across the city rather than where there’s high crime. I mean, you know, sometimes, yes we're targeting the high crime areas, but that's to stop the high crime."

"Every inspector isn’t gonna view the same thing every ways," he continued. "That's just the real world, and so you can always come in and criticize. I will say if that’s what you do, I don’t know how you would run a railroad, if you will. The world is not as simple ... as campaign speeches would make it, or people debating would make it."

In response to de Blasio's argument that Bloomberg's small business fine regime was merely a revenue-generating exercise, Bloomberg also said: "Fines are just a replacement for taxes. If you don't have the fines, you have to raise taxes ... Fines are a lot better than taxes because taxes you can't avoid."

De Blasio's folks sent over this response: "Numbers don't lie. The Mayor is pummeling outer borough small businesses to pad the City's coffers while he coddles his big business pals."