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De Blasio Sues City for Data on Small Business Fines

The Public Advocate questions what he believes is a ‘fine-first, ask questions later’ policy.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio says that budget revenue from fines on businesses has nearly doubled over the past decade to $850 million, and he is suing the city to gain access to records of the fines.

"Fines have been increasing for so long it’s become de facto City policy," de Blasio said on Wednesday, according to Gothamist. "We need answers about what this ‘fine-first, ask questions later’ enforcement is doing to our small businesses and their ability to survive in this economy."

The New York Times says that in May, de Blasio asked for data on fines issued from six city agencies since 2002, with a response requested by June 1. De Blasio told the paper that two of the agencies, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs, had told his office they were working on a response, while the other four—Depts. of Transportation, Sanitation, Buildings Department and Finance—did not respond to his request at all.

Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Times that the city is working on compiling the data, and that the majority of the increased revenue came from motorist tickets, as well as efforts “to make the city safer and cleaner,” like restaurant cleanliness citations.

Patch spoke to the owner of Prospect Heights restaurant Milk Bar last February, and .

Milk Bar was hit with a $2,000 when fruit flies were found in a box of tomatoes that had been recently delivered.

“It was a $2,000 fine, and the most farcical thing I’ve ever heard," Hall said. "The fruit flies came in on a product that I have no control over."

Hall said the fines, as well as the C grade his restaurant received from the city was the “nail in the coffin,” and vowed to leave the restaurant business.

Are you a business owner who feels overburdened by fines? Share your story in the comments.

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