Thursday, March 27, 2008


It's not the biggest problem in the world but it is indicative of the way judges look at themselves. These arbiters of justice think themselves kings, above the law, who just make pronouncement like "I hold you in contempt" and that's that.

In Queens the judges have ticked off locals by parking illegally on public property.

They're just not buying that judges should be able to do anything they want, whenever they want, wherever they want...and get away with it.

I'll tell you what, I've never been clear on why it is that judges are handed as much power as they are. I mean who are these judges anyway?

For years, says the group Transportation Alternatives, the blocks around Brooklyn Borough Hall have been the site of some of New York's "dirtiest parking abuse." They point out that, "Despite a brand new parking lot for judges a few blocks away and dozens of curbside spaces reserved for their special use, the judges are intent on maintaining their door-to-door driving commute, even if it involves crossing pedestrian plazas and parking on parkland."

Again for me its not so much parking, its the idea that some people are above the rest of us because they dress in robes. Shiiit, I have an old robe. I'm wondering if I wear it can I violate little laws I don't like and get away with it?

Now, my friends (as John McCain would say) I'm not talking about the right wing's continual concern about those famous "activist judges," by which, they, of course, mean judges who rule in a way they don't like.

Nah, I'm not even going there.

I'm just ranting on the way judges rule their courtrooms like feudal fiefdoms and go about their personal lives as if they are above it all. You know what I mean?

Anyway, that's the reason I've got to smile about the actions of those folks who today heckled Brooklyn judges who are threatening to sue the city over plans to ban them from parking on a pedestrian plaza in downtown Brooklyn.

The New York Daily News reported the protesters, members of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, donned fake judges' robes and mocked the jurists for refusing to move to an underground garage at the new courthouse just two blocks away at 330 Jay St.

"Two blocks is too far!" chanted the half-dozen hecklers sarcastically outside the judges' "parking lot" at Joralemon and Adams Sts., which is on city parkland.

The protesters also carried mock placards reading "SOS: Save Our Spots" and "Parks are for Parking."

Speaking of the judges parking imperialism Transportaion Alternatives' Wiley Norvell said, “This is a total farce. “It’s insulting, but it is also comical. How petty can somebody get to not only refuse to park in a parking lot for free two blocks away, but to demand that Brooklynites give up their parkland so that they can park at the front door of the courthouse?”

Get this defense the judges have thrown up (literally) for their law breaking.

The 20 or so judges who park their vehicles in the park and would have to journey two blocks to an underground garage if they couldn't park there say they are scared. The judges and their supporters (which include a councilperson who parks in the park himself) claim having to go two blocks presents a security risk.

"...consider the kind of danger they’re being asked to endure,” said Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie).

As an example of the danger he's talking about, Fidler cited some racist graffiti that was scrawled on a courthouse elevator in January. Even though the graffiti would have been painted on the wall whether Judge Diana Johnson parked in the underground lot or in Columbus Park, Fidler was undeterred.

“Someone walked out of [Judge Diana Johnson’s] courtroom angry enough to scrawl hate graffiti,” said Fidler.

Poor scardey cat judges.

The following is from the Queens Legder.

Public Park Used For Parking
Protestors Slyly Call for Return of Boro Hall Promenade to the Public
By Jeffrey Harmatz

"Judges are above the law and should be allowed to park where ever they want, even if it's a public space." That is what the latest literature produced by activists at Transportation Alternatives, says, but they aren't standing behind that claim. Rather, they are speaking - sarcastically, of course - on behalf of the judges and other court officials that use the promenade at Columbus Park in downtown Brooklyn as a parking lot.

The portion of the promenade nearest to the corner of Boerum and Remsen is currently sectioned off with chains and supervised by police officers. Behind the partition are more than a dozen cars, many bearing special government license plates.

"Brooklyn Borough Hall is ground zero for parking abuse," said Wiley Norvell, communications director for Transportation Alternatives. "Judges have been using this pedestrian pathway as a parking lot for years, even after they reached an agreement with the city to build a brand new parking lot just two blocks away."

To protest what they felt was an unfair use of public space for a private interest, members of Transportation Alternatives donned judicial robes and staged a tongue-in-cheek rally on behalf of the judges. Circling the parking lot, the "judges" shouted chants like "two blocks too far," "parks are for parking," and "hey hey, ho ho, public space has got to go."

"We want to highlight the absurdity of their arguments, and what they consider their 'need' to park at the park," Norvell added.

The judges have threatened to file a lawsuit against the City if the parking privileges are revoked, something that Norvell described as "onerous."

The practice of parking in Columbus Park has been anything but secret, and the city has been in constant negotiations to reopen the park to public traffic. As an incentive for the judges to park elsewhere, the city constructed a state-of-the art parking lot a few blocks away from the courthouse at 230 Jay Street specifically for its employees. According to Norvell, judges were unhappy with the lift system used to stack cars at the new garage, and quickly returned to Columbus Park.

"The public already subsidizes their parking with permits and new lots, but now they are asking us to subsidize their parking with public space," said Norvell. "New York City taxpayers are going above and beyond."

The city has recently made steps to remove the curb cuts from the park, thereby eliminating the parking lot usage for the area. Norvell commended the city's recent crackdown on the abuse of parking permits by government officials, and is optimistic that the situation will improve, both here in Columbus Park and across the city.

"This is a big problem in Columbus Circle, Central Park, and Chinatown," he said.
Pointing to the chained-off section of the promenade, Norvell explained that he had hopped over the chain to walk in the public space and was asked to leave by police officers.

"This level of abuse is so egregious," he said.

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