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City To Give Out 50,000 Parking Placards To School Employees; Experts Say They'll Be Abused

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio was under fire Monday evening for a new gift to school employees.

As CBS Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, there has been a dramatic increase in free parking permits. Kramer also reported there were numerous abuses before the new permits even hit the streets.

"Historically, anyone with a (parking) placard in their car abuses that placard," said former city Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz, better known as "Gridlock Sam."

And CBS2 found numerous abuses even before de Blasio has doled out numerous new parking placards.

A Chevrolet with a Department of Education placard that expired three years ago in 2014 parked in a no zone for Health Department vehicles.

Other cars with DOE permits were seen parked in a no standing zone, and others still were seen just parked on the school sidewalk.

None of the drivers got parking tickets.

"Handing another 50,000 placards, whether to teachers or anyone else, makes no sense," Schwartz said.

Indeed, starting Thursday, the de Blasio administration will give teachers, principals and anyone else who works for the Department of Education to a permit to park on city streets.

It reverses a policy of the Bloomberg administration, which in 2008 slashed DOE permits from 63,000 to 11,000 because there was so much abuse.

Kramer noted that when it comes to traffic fatalities, Mayor de Blasio's stated goal, and the name of his safety program, is Vision Zero. She noted also that de Blasio's stated goal is for more people to take mass transit.

"This is a message that is very confusing," Schwartz said. "Having teachers park in no standing zones adjacent to schools, because that's what's going to happen, means that you won't be able to see that kid darting out between parked cars. It means during a time of emergency, an emergency vehicle won't be able to get adjacent to school."

The move is the result of a lawsuit won by the principals' union, but the city decided to give the permits to teachers too. That could mean parking wars, with more permits but the same number of spots, Kramer reported.

The unions are thrilled, but there are many critics.

"City streets are already very clogged, so it seems like we're making the problem even larger," said Dick Dadey of the Citizens Union. "Parking in illegal spots, on corners, and in front of fire hydrants."

"This is absolute politics," added political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. "There are two cities going on here – there are de Blasio's friends and then there's everybody else."

Schwartz said instead of handing out more perks, the mayor should reduce the number of permits citywide by 90 percent.

A spokesman for the mayor said he is encouraging people to use mass transit instead of driving to school.

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