It seems like only yesterday we discovered how much cash street vendors raked in per day. Now the Daily News reports that some vendors aren't using that cashola to pay fines levied against them by the Health Department. Since 2010, the city has issued fines approaching $10.8 million, but has only collected a mere $3.5 million in what it's owed. Some of these violations were for dirty carts, but of the 7,124 fines issued in 2012, 1,093 of them were for "food stored in an adjacent cooler or in a container stashed on the sidewalk." “I don’t think coolers are a threat to anyone,” said Sean Basinski, director of the Street Vendor Project. “I’ve never tripped on one.”

To fix the problem, the 2013-2012 approved city budget allocates $580,000 to pay seven lawyers to find the offenders and hopefully get them to cough up. They'll be after people like Shawki Eldin, an Egyptian immigrant who operates a hot dog cart in Brooklyn. Eldin has received 12 violations since 2012 and currently owes $7,480 in fines for violations including dirty equipment and hands and not refrigerating raw foods. Instead of paying the fine, Eldin moved his cart to a new spot to avoid city inspectors. “The officers never treat me well,” he explained to the Daily News. “They are just targeting me because they know I’m an immigrant and can’t afford to fight them.”

While these numbers seem huge, back in 2008-2009 unpaid vendor fines were nearly double what they are now, though at the time the Street Vendor Project called the numbers "misleading." Advocacy groups and vendors themselves call the steep fines unfair and have been lobbying to reduce fines for non-health code violations. "It is a scheme," said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito at a Committee on Consumer Affairs meeting last year. "I think it is another effort by this administration to criminalize the poor." Well, at least this administration isn't kowtowing to the wealthy or anything like that.