Friday, February 6, 2009

2009 NYP Placards Delayed as Legal Issues Mulled

A source close to the situation tells the Press Club that this year's delay in the distribution of NYP Parking Placards is likely the result of an internal investigation by NYPD lawyers into various legal aspects of the department's role and procedures in issuing the cards.

The placards are used by reporters, photographers and news crews as a way of identifying "on assignment" press vehicles to traffic enforcement agents.

Distribution delays at the beginning of each year are not uncommon though this year the placards are especially late, judging from the number of "what's going on?" inquiries received from concerned Press Club members.

The well-placed source tells the Club that the cause this time is most likely an internal study that is an offshoot of the recent NYPD decision to issue Press Identification Cards to three individuals whose initial requests for the credential had been denied.

In a lawsuit filed late last year, the three men charged that the NYPD process for allocating press credentials is inconsistent and unconstitutional, claiming it permits the department to arbitrarily deny press cards to journalists whose viewpoints are controversial, unpopular or in some way disagreeable to the NYPD.

Among other remedies, the suit demanded that NYPD be required to publically explain its criteria and its processes for deciding who is credentialed and who is not. The department relented on the main demand in January and issued Press ID cards to the trio.

Even after that victory, the lawyer for the three men, Norman Siegel, said he would continue fighting what he characterized as NYPD's unconstitutional credentialing process.

While not directly related to the press ID card case, says our source, the placard delay has likely been ordered while the department studies its positions and options as an issuer of any kind of press credential.

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