It's easier to get away with running over a tourist than it is to fight a bad grade from the Health Department. The Post takes a look at the numbers today, revealing that 97.2% of restaurant violation cases that come before an administrative court are upheld, leaving a scant 2.8% that were dismissed. Of the upheld cases, which are run by an independent health tribunal, 61.1 were sustained outright and 36.1 were settlements.
"It's a complex inspection system," says Andrew Rigie of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. "Plus the city incentivizes business owners to settle cases for reduced fines instead of going through the inconvenient tribunal process." Though the system underwent a major overhaul this year, which included drastic reductions of certain violations, the restaurant industry still feels it's being unfairly targeted by the revenue-hungry city agency; Health Department officials disagree. "Restaurants are cleaner since letter grading went into effect," says spokesman Levi Fishman. "The number of violations issued in the last two years has dropped nearly 20 percent, which has led to a fall in restaurant fines collected."
Compared with other city enterprises, restaurants take a markedly larger hit when it comes to the appeals process. Taxi and Limousine cases were upheld 67% of the time while agencies like Sanitation and Buildings clock in at around 57%. While some violations are definitely warranted, restaurateurs claim that most violations stem from non-critical things like a non-working lightbulb or a hole in the ceiling. Business owners are hoping they'll have an advocate in City Hall come next year, as the Bloomberg Administration proved it was out for blood, nearly doubling fines in the last decade. It's just so hard to live up to Nanny Bloomberg's standards.