New York City is owed $17.2 million in unpaid parking tickets racked up by foreign diplomats, the Village Voice reported Thursday.
The detailed report came after New York City was mentioned in a WTOP News story about the over $340,000 in unpaid parking tickets foreign diplomats owe Washington, D.C. (According to that story, Russia is the worst offender in D.C., with $27,200 in original fines on 892 tickets.)
In May, Michael G. Grimm (R,C-Staten Island/Brooklyn), Peter T. King (R-Long Island), and Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn) introduced legislation that would impose sanctions against countries whose diplomats parked illegally in New York City and were negligent in paying their fines.
There's no such thing as diplomatic immunity from paying parking tickets, said Grimm at the legislation hearing. If you get a ticket in NYC, you have to pay it. No exceptions. New York City's budget is tight enough as it is, and foreign diplomats do not deserve a free pass at the expense of New York City taxpayers. I stand behind my legislation and will hold accountable those foreign nations with outstanding fines.
The most significant debt was incurred prior to 2002. Before November of that year, $16,029,962.60 was due in total, with Nigeria, Indonesia and Morocco responsible for $2 million of that debt. Between November 2002 and April 2011, $1,173,443.58 was added to that total, the Village Voice reports, adding that the data was compiled from the New York City mayor's office.
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As the WTOP News report points out, local governments are currently limited in their power to penalize this type of abuse of diplomatic immunity privileges, as license plates and registration for diplomatic vehicles are issued through the State Department.
Grimm, King and Towns' proposed legislation states that the Secretary of State can deny the renewal of diplomatic license plates to a foreign country who owes money in unpaid fines, and withhold any obligated funds to that nation as well reappropriate any of the obligated foreign aid funds for the amount of the outstanding balance, according to a Brooklyn Eagle report.
The legislation is pending in committee.
New York City's current budget deficit is $2.4 billion.