Speaker Quinn Seeks To Lower Restaurant Violation Fines

Mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is making attempts to reduce the fines the city presents to restaurants with health violations, reported the Daily News.

Quinn is now in the process of drafting legislation to change New York City’s restaurant-grading system, and thereby help restaurants forced to empty their cash registers due to the large fines they have encountered.

According the News, City Hall expects to collect $48 million in restaurant fines this fiscal year. Records indicate that this reflects a 50 percent increase from fines collected in 2009.

“They are definitely working on the bill,” said the counsel to the New York City Hospitality Alliance, Robert Bookman to the Daily News. “There’s a universal feeling among the City Council that something must be done to rein in the Health Department.”

Sources told the News that the bill is set to induce changes in fines that include issues not pertaining to food, put appearance. The legislation is also expected to waive fines for restaurants that appeal a low inspection grade and then receive an A.

Quinn declined to comment on the details of the bill, but in the past, she asked the Department of Health to modify its inspection system to copy the simplistic, 100-point system used in Los Angeles. New York City restaurants are currently graded on a complicated 1,200-point system, said the News.

The move comes less than a month after another mayoral candidate, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, announced he would sue the mayor’s office for data on small-business related fines, which have ballooned from $485 million in the 2002 fiscal year, when Bloomberg was elected, to a whopping $820 million in this past fiscal year. Both efforts reflect the role small businesses will play in next year’s mayoral elections, as candidates seek to gain the support of small business owners who say they’ve seen their bottom lines diminish under increased regulation during the Bloomberg Administration.