New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been lambasted by critics who view his purportedly restrictive ideals as big government-infused nanny-statism. It didn't help the politician's case when he appeared on television Thursday morning, claiming that it's the government's role to "improve the health and longevity of its citizens." From the proposed ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces to the potential regulation of high-calorie foods, the debate is continuing to rage.
However, there's new discussion about yet another New York crack down that doesn't involve food, but that some critics claim could impact taxi cab drivers as well as female patrons enjoying a night out on the town. A new proposal that was unanimously passed by the City Council and that could signed by Bloomberg (an action the New York Post claims is likely and the Epoch Times claims is unlikely) will create penalties for cab drivers who get extra "commission" to drive sex workers around.
The New York Post details the new regulation and the ramifications cab drivers will face if and when they're found guilty of transporting prostitutes:
Currently, the city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission has the authority to strip drivers of their licenses if they knowingly partake in sex trafficking.
But the new bill — which the City Council unanimously passed Wednesday — would require the TLC to both strip a driver’s license and slap them with a $10,000 penalty if he’s previously been convicted of sex trafficking.
On a first offense, a driver goes to a city hearing, where his license could be revoked.
On Thursday, scantily-clad women rallied outside of city hall (only about a dozen of them) to rail against the proposal, claiming that the provision will create a climate of fear -- one in which cab drivers may become afraid to pick up any woman who is dressed provocatively.
Among the female protesters present were bartenders and others who tend to wear short skirts and more revealing clothing. Despite holding legitimate jobs, these women fear an inability to travel with ease if and when these penalties take effect.
"They don’t even know who is a prostitute or not!" protester Diana Estrada, a 27-year-old New Yorker who works as a bartender said in an interview with the New York Post. "You don’t have a shirt on that tells if you’re a prostitute or not."
While the women were joined by the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers in protesting the measure, some politicians defended it. Council member Daniel Dromm, for instance, said that the bill only targets drivers who knowingly transport sex workers.
"These are people who are effectively serving as pimps," he said of the individuals complicit in sex trafficking. "We were very careful also not to use the word prostitution."
"Oftentimes women who are sex trafficked are forced into it against their will. I didn’t want to further malign them," he added, according to the Epoch Times.
However, the text of the bill does seem to use the word prostitution numerous times (although it is unclear whether this language was removed in the final version). While the city is certainly attempting to cut down on sex trafficking, the arguments the women -- and the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers -- pose are noteworthy.
(H/T: New York Post)