WE THE PEOPLE: Food fight

The food cart battle continues at 86th Street and Fifth Avenue. Some merchants and citizens want to remove food carts from the intersection. Any food cart operator who discards refuse in public receptacles and sewer basins is wrong. Any person who moves street furniture to block a food cart is definitely wrong.

We should debate about food cart regulations rather than injecting emotional and divisive issues into the controversy. The food carts are popular because the inexpensive food served is good. Brick and mortar merchants can compete but are subject to more regulation and tax than the food carts. This area is part of a Business Improvement District where merchants pay extra to provide the public with more sanitation services.

Appropriate regulation for a food cart can enhance the consumer experience but also remain fair to the vendor. The popularity of the food carts draws people to the intersection but customers sometimes park vehicles on the corners although the corners are no parking areas.

There is an inconsistency and lack of clarity in the regulation of food carts by the city. They have no grading system, no regulation on signage and no clear authority to permit the cart to cross over the public sidewalk to reach a spot.

It is time for the City Council to examine the issues and pass appropriate legislation in order to make a food cart behave more like a regular business without destroying the owner’s ability to making a living. We need calm and rational debate, not heated and emotional argument. Councilmember Gentile has met with the parties and his office is working on legislative proposals to address the issue.


Money is a poison which is killing the Tree of Liberty. Governor Cuomo must address the vital need for campaign finance reform in New York before it is too late. After he told a radio audience that money has “unbelievable” power over politics in Albany, he attended a $5,000 a plate fundraiser in Buffalo! You convinced us about that unbelievable power, Mr. Governor! Are you going to do anything about it? We need legislation to restrict the debilitating influence of money over politics in the Capitol that can withstand Constitutional review.


Looks like we will have a new 63rd State Senate district. After a census, the size and number of New York’s legislative districts are adjusted by using a population formula. The legislature used two inconsistent methods of measuring population changes to create a “need” for this additional State Senate district.

The creative math justified a 63rd Senate District which sprawls across three counties in a largely rural and Republican area near Albany. It will increase the GOP majority margin in the State Senate from its current 32-30 margin.

The proposal satisfied the Court of Appeals which did not grant relief by lawsuit because of “the Constitution’s silence on this issue and … that the legislature must be accorded a measure of discretion in these matters.”

Really! If the highest court cannot offer protection to the political process then the people must take action in the voting booth. This affront to reason and others require the people to demand straight-talking leaders who will take actual action on the issues that matter. In November the people must make wise choices if change is to come to Albany and Washington.

Brian Kieran is an attorney who works as a Principal Law Clerk in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Kings County and is a Democrat.

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