I’ve blogged previously about one of the more insane aspects of New York’s recycling law, which among other things makes it illegal to “steal” garbage once it’s been left curbside. What I didn’t realize is just how draconian the penalties are for this phony crime. Take, for example, the Middle Village, Queens, man who saw one of his neighbors disposing of an old air conditioner:
“As far as I knew it was a piece of garbage sitting on the curb,” Paul Lawrence said.
But what Lawrence didn’t know when he decided to pick up a discarded air conditioner sitting on the sidewalk in Middle Village, Queens is that once trash hits the curb, it’s technically city property.
And he was breaking the law.
“There was a lady here. I asked the lady can I take the air conditioner. She said go ahead take it. It’s garbage,” Lawrence said.
But not only was he fined $2,000 by a sanitation officer who watched him do it, the car he was driving was impounded.
And its owner — Lawrence’s Aunt, 73-year-old Margaret Colavita, was also slapped with a $2,000 fine.
“I said what is this and she said well we have to serve you with this. You’re the owner of the car and it says I gave him permission,” Colavita said.
I know jobs are hard to come by and these sanitation officers are probably decent enough folks around their friends and family. But honestly, if I had to fine someone $2,000 for picking garbage and then impound the car belonging to whoever was nice enough to lend it to the first victim, and then fine the second victim $2,000, I would not be able to look myself in the mirror.
All New Yorkers with any sense of decency should make it as hard as possible for these government parasites to function. Next time, instead of taking your used stuff to the curb to be recycled, save yourself the labor and post it on the “free” section of craigslist or on freecycle.com. Someone will gratefully come to your home and take it away for you.
UPDATE: A judge has thrown out the fines.