The owners of a small milk delivery firm said they’re getting milked by the de Blasio administration with tens of thousands of dollars in parking tickets they can’t contest because hearings have been suspended since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March of last year.
The city Department of Finance’s refusal to resume in-person hearings or even hold them virtually during the past 19 months on parking tickets clashes with Hizzoner’s own criticism of the state judiciary for its sluggish reopening of the courts and slow-walking criminal criminal cases.
“We’re not Amazon. We’re not UPS or Fed-Ex or a billionaire-dollar company. We’re a small business trying to survive,” said Matt Marone, co-owner of Manhattan Milk.
Co-owner and partner Frank Acosta, whom The Post profiled last year as the hunky milk delivery man who women swoon over said, “This policy doesn’t make any sense. It’s almost forcing us to close the company and start somewhere else — like Florida.”
Manhattan Milk is an old-school milk delivery company, selling milk in glass bottles to homes as well as traditional milk in larger containers to charter schools, hospitals and day care centers throughout the city.
The duo said Manhattan Milk employees were “essential workers” during the peak of the pandemic last year, making deliveries of milk and other food during the pandemic, including taking subcontracting work from others who stopped making their own deliveries.
“This is how we get rewarded,” Marone said of the parking summonses.
They also claim they got hosed with tickets when drivers doubled parked outside al fresco dining spots, which gobbled up 8,550 parking spots.
The sour milkmen say they can’t challenge some of the $30,000 plus parking tickets that could get dismissed during a live hearing — such as $115 tickets for double parking while making deliveries.
“We want an opportunity to challenge these tickets and have them dismissed,” Acosta said.
After more than a week of inquiries, a Finance Department spokesperson confirmed that live hearings are not being held for commercial delivery firms who want to contest their tickets. Live hearings are only held for non-commercial drivers.
“Administrative Law Judges have been required to work in Department of Finance (DOF) offices since October, 2020. In addition to conducting in-person hearings for passenger vehicle violations, judges have been conducting commercial hearings based on evidence submitted either via mail or email,” a Finance Department spokesperson said.
“DOF will soon be allowing in-person hearings for companies that wish to contest their violations,” the spokesperson added.
Trucking delivery firms scoff at contesting tickets through the mail, claiming it’s a laborious process and they’re less likely to have tickets dismissed.
“There’s no one to speak to. There’s no judge,” an industry rep said.
Some firms participate in the city’s “stipulation” program, where firms plead no contest and agree to pay reduced fines. Ten large companies benefit from 70 percent of the reduced fines under the program, an industry source said.
Industry sources say the dismissal rate for commercial tickets have plummeted from fiscal year 2019 — when hearings were held — and 2021, when they weren’t.
“How does it make sense to penalize the delivery companies who aren’t in stipulated fine [program] and instead actually follow the law and provide documentary evidence and affidavits that PROVE they were making an expeditious delivery? For a city that is trying to combat congestion, this is quite the bizarre way to do so,” a delivery industry source said.
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