Another issue has been added to the already busy schedule of diplomats at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week: parking tickets.
Officials from 180 countries owe money, with their $1.9 million debt making Egyptian officials the worst offenders. Next on the list are Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil whose officials owe from $600 to nearly $900,000. In fact over $7 million is owed by the top ten offenders, a list that is rounded out by are Bulgaria, Angola, Sudan, Senegal, Pakistan, Morocco.
Unpaid parking fines: A longstanding problem
The majority of the debt dates from pre-2002, at which point mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a city wide crackdown on unpaid fines. His strategy was to ask cars to surrender diplomatic plates if there were ticket issues, and understandably this resulted in a sharp decrease in violations.
According to the Wall Street Journal,”that effort drastically reduced the amount of unpaid parking tickets since, but the city has made little progress collecting on older violations.” Parking violations by those lucky enough to possess the blue diplomatic plates remain a problem in the city, albeit drastically reduced from previous levels.
Unpaid parking fines: The official response
The U.N. General Assembly provides the perfect opportunity for the city to chase up their debts, but officials have proved to be less than willing to resolve the issue.
The Egyptian spokesman claimed not to have any details about the subject, but perhaps the best response came from Tope Ade Elias-Fatile. The senior counselor and head of media at Nigeria’s mission to the U.N. said, “I don’t know why I should be the one to talk.”
Brazilian spokesman João Francisco Pereira, is slightly more talkative than his Nigerian counterpart, but claimed that his request for detailed information on the issue is still being processed by the mayor’s office.
As frustrating as New Yorkers may find this two-tier approach to parking law, the rest of us can only hope that the issue does not come to dominate such global issues as the Ebola virus and the threat posed by ISIS.