Mayor Bloomberg might only have a few more months left in office, but don't think he's out of fun ideas quite yet! This week, he suggested a solution to NYCHA's rampant trespassing and resident safety problem—to fingerprint public housing residents, and make them scan in using a fingerprint scanner. Shockingly, people did not think this was so great.
On his weekly radio show yesterday, the mayor addressed safety in public housing buildings, noting there were some concerns. "The people that live there, most of them, want more police protection," he said. "If you have strangers walking in the halls of your apartment building, don't you want somebody to stop and say 'Who are you? Why are you here?" So, to
bring us ever closer to Big Brother combat that, he suggested some enhanced door technology. "What we really should have is fingerprinting to get in," he said.
Post-show, staffers said Bloomberg wasn't making a proposal so much as sounding out an idea, but even as ideas go, most people agreed fingerprinting all 620,000 of the city's public housing residents was a pretty terrible one. "I don’t like that . . . it’s an invasion of my privacy," Nellie Quenones, who has lived in the Rafael Hernandez Houses on the Lower East Side for over 40 years, told the Post. Brookly Borough President Marty Markowitz noted even safety couldn't trump the stigma associated with fingerprinting: "Public safety is a real concern in these communities, but the answer is not fingerprinting that will catalog residents, making them feel as if they are common criminals," he said yesterday.
And naturally, there was the usual barrage of anti-Bloomberg comments out of the mayoral Democratic candidate camp. Bill Thompson called the proposal "offensive," Bill de Blasio called it "immoral" and "discriminatory," John Liu said it was "ridiculous" and Anthony Weiner said he didn't think it was a good idea to further stigmatize people, being fairly familiar with stigmatization himself.
Note that this isn't the first time Bloomberg's backed fingerprinting; a few years ago the Bloomberg administration started requiring food stamp applicants to get fingerprinted to combat fraud. Governor Cuomo didn't think that was such a good idea, either, and he ended the requirement last year.