The city's restaurant owners are fed up with fines stemming from the letter-grade system, which they say have skyrocketed since the system was implemented three years ago. The amount of dough the city rakes in has shot from $30 million per year to $50 million, which many restauranteurs and bar owners believe to be the result of arbitrary crackdowns on issues totally unrelated to cleanliness or health.
“It’s absolute panic,” Leonard de Knegt of Jerry’s Café told CBS. “One dead strawberry in a box coming from a vendor—one dead strawberry—can cost you $300.”
To combat the issue, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, along with several council members, is proposing a legislative package that will help restaurants reduce their fines, including:
- Fines waived for restaurants who contest initial inspections and ultimately receive an "A" grade
- The opportunity for restaurants to receive an ungraded inspection for educational purposes
- An inspection code of conduct pamphlet to be distributed prior to the start of inspections
- Creation of an advisory board
- Better reporting of restaurant inspection data
- Elimination of violations regarding a restaurant's physical layout or structure
The measures will be voted on later this summer. Detractors—mainly, her mayoral competition—have criticized Quinn for dragging her feet when it comes to letter grade reform, saying she's had years to get on it. In the meantime, though, the bulk of the city's restaurants are receiving "A" grades, needless violations be damned. Also for what it's worth, didn't we just take a ride on the Letter Grade Reform Train in October?