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De Blasio Defends Giving Out Parking Placards To School Staffers, Says Abuses Won't Be Tolerated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Facing criticism, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday vigorously defended his election year gift – parking placards to all city teachers and school staffers.

De Blasio was talking Wednesday about people injured or killed before his Vision Zero traffic safety program began.

"It didn't have to happen," de Blasio said.

But as CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, some say the same can be said for his decision to dole out 50,000 parking placards to every single person who works at a city school. Among them is P.S. 64 principal Marlon Hosang.

Hosang said in an email to the Department of Education that it was a "terrible decision to have permits available for all," and predicted "abuse and misuse."

"I already have staff members who live two blocks away celebrating that they now have their personal garage back," Hosang said in the email.

Kramer asked de Blasio for response to Hosang's remark.

"Any abuse will result in the revocation of the placards," de Blasio said. "If anyone abuses the placard, we take it away."

Kramer also asked the mayor about his generosity this election year. She noted that it was the principals' union that won a legal battle, but de Blasio decided to give teachers the parking permits too.

"Four unions had raised this issue in different ways," de Blasio said. "We felt strongly if we acted for one, it would implicitly force the same outcome for the others."

And while the mayor insists enforcement will be vigorous, CBS2 found numerous abuses of parking placards earlier this week, even before the new placards flood the streets.

One car with a DOE placard that expired three years ago was seen parked in a zone for Health Department vehicles. Some other cars with DOE permits were parked in a no standing zone, and others still were found parked on a school sidewalk.

No one got a ticket.

"If there are people misusing placards, they will be ticketed," said police Commissioner James O'Neill.

CBS2's Kramer told Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg about the abuses she found. And with 1,800 schools, she was candid about the difficulty of catching bad actors.

"I'm not going to lie to you," Trottenberg said. "It's an ongoing challenge to keep up with the placard situation in the city."

The new placards start hitting the streets on Thursday. Principal Hosang said the city should rethink the policy in the fall and come up with a more "sensible solution."

By then, it will also be known how many placards get revoked.

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