The thousands of police and fire call boxes that are sprinkled across our fair metropolis are not going anywhere. Though the city would really, really, really like to get rid of the 14,500 boxes around town (and save a few million bucks) a judge yesterday denied a motion to let the city take them down. Besides being a win for the deaf, this is also good news for those without cellphones and fans of non-Cemusa-branded street adornments!

In his 50-page decision Judge Robert Sweet argued that a 15-year-old ban on the city removing the boxes should stay put since letting it go would essentially be discriminating against the deaf. The city, for its part, argued that the deaf would be just as well served by public payphones outfitted for a "tapping system" to communicate with emergency workers but Sweet wasn't buying. He pointed out that far more payphones are out of service at any given time than call boxes (17-25 percent of payphones are generally not working at one time depending on how you count while only nine percent of call boxes are out of service). He also noted that the tapping system is still mostly unproven and, worse, not enough deaf people know about it to make it useful.

The city—which says that between 85 and 95 percent of all calls to call boes are bogus and that they cost the city nearly $6 million a year to maintain—is planning on appealing. But in the meantime lawyers for the Civic Association of the Deaf of New York City are celebrating, calling Sweets's ruling a "momentous, life-saving ruling that protects the rights of the deaf and hearing-impaired in the City."