I'm slowly settling in to my new place, even throwing an impromtu 'How Would You Decorate The Space' party. And in keeping in with my promise, here's the wrap up on the Standing Ticket Controversy; with pictures! Read more [+/-]
Sunday, July 17, a friend and I were stopped in Hudson River Park by Parks Patrol and given summonses for failing to comply with the sign, 'No Stopping or Standing Zone'.
Monday, July 18, I contacted various New York City departments through their website asking about the validity of my ticket. While I was at it, I looked up media websites and contacted them. The general idea was to complain to anyone who would listen. The New York Daily News responded.
Tuesday, July 19, the Daily News assigned the awesome reporter Maki Becker to my story and ran with it. Throughout the day calls were made, papers were faxed, people were interviewed. After work, I met with the Daily News reporter, Rivka Bukowsky, and photographer, Chris Sipkin.
What was extremely interesting about the situation was that Maki informed me that when she contacted the Parks Department to get their side of the story, their spokesman told her a completely different story: that we were sitting and failed to comply with their direct orders to move. Bullshit! Somewhere in their line of communcation, someone was trying to cover up. I hope that person gets fired.
Wednesday, July 20, the story ran on page 3 of the Daily News! I remember hearing my cellphone buzz in my sleep and waking up to listen to voicemails telling me it was big; the story was announced on NPR radio. Yes, I think it was a slow news day, too.
I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe it got as big as it did. I was expecting a small blurb in the 'Believe it or Not' section. A ridiculous situation blew up into a media circus. A few friends also noted that if there was anyone who didn't know I was gay, well, now they did. (Funny enough, an aunt I didn't have the courage to come out to called me asking 'if everything in the story was true'. At first I thought she meant the ticket, but she meant me being gay.)
I was fielding calls from the various other media sources because they saw my story. I interviewed for Fox 5 News during lunch (which aired at 5, 6, and 10pm) and met with UPN 9 and the WB 11 reporters after work. "Make sure you bring your ticket," they all requested. Special thanks to media contact, Phil, at Heritage of Pride for helping me out.
The same day, the city hall reporter from the Daily News asked Mayor Bloomburg about my situation. His response was that it "boggles the mind" and that he'll have people investigate it. An hour later, the Parks Department issued a statement saying that their initial response was incorrect, the signs are intended for motor vehicles, and that our tickets will be dismissed.
That night, I caught all my news segments; I couldn't stop laughing. Here are some pictures my friend D. Tevo'ed:
I'm glad I got a haircut a week before.
Thursday, July 21, my segment was also on the Morning News.
Woohoo! No traffic on the Tappan Zee!
At lunch, I finally got a response from the Hudson River Park Trust, and it was from their president, Connie Fishman.
Dear Mr. Eng:
I have been forwarded your email from Monday, “Question about Notice of Violation Ticket”. The sign you describe, “No Stopping or Standing Zone”, was intended for vehicles, not pedestrians, and therefore the citations that you and your friend were issued have been dismissed. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you, and we will clarify the intent of this sign, which is unique to the specific location where you were cited, to the Park Enforcement Patrol officers who work at the park. Again, I’m sorry for the error and hope that your experiences in Hudson River Park in the future are more positive.
Hudson River Park Trust
To all those wondering if the Parks Department was going to keep their word on dismissing my ticket, on 7/21/05, Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs, Kevin Jeffrey, had petitioned to dismiss the violation on the grounds it was "not issued in accordance with our policies and procedures". I received a copy of the decision made by The City of New York Environmental Control Board dismissing my ticket, dated 7/29/05 by Judge Raymond C. Scanlon.
Thanks Kevin and Raymond.
So there you go. My 15 minutes of fame. And a 'coming out' extravaganza.