April 20, 1997 in Nation/World

Steamed N.Y. Mayor Scales Back Diplomat Parking Giuliani Angry At State Department For Backing Off On U.N. Scofflaws

New York Times
 

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Saturday that he would probably remove another 15 or 20 parking spaces for diplomats in New York City, seeking to punish the State Department for withdrawing from an agreement to crack down on diplomats who do not pay their parking tickets.

The mayor made the announcement a day after he grudgingly accepted a new proposal by the State Department that was less stringent than the one he and the State Department had originally signed. Giuliani’s concession appeared to bring to an end a dispute that had raised the unusual prospect of the United Nations suing the city over parking tickets in the World Court.

As part of the original agreement with the State Department last month, Giuliani had set aside 111 new parking spaces for diplomats and promised to consider creating 200 more.

On Friday he said he would take away 30 of the 111 new spaces in an effort to express his displeasure with the State Department. On Saturday he said he would likely take away another 15 or 20 spaces, which would mean that for now the total removed would probably be 45 to 50 spaces.

The original agreement said the city could confiscate license plates from diplomats’ cars if parking tickets were not paid. But after diplomats protested that such a policy was a violation of diplomatic immunity, the State Department said it would revise the plan, angering Giuliani.

Under the new proposal, foreign missions and consulates could lose one registration for every car in scofflaw status. The mayor contends that such a plan has few teeth because diplomats would be allowed to keep their license plates.

On Saturday, Giuliani also stepped up his criticism of the State Department. He complained that even though the State Department had come up with a new plan, it had still not fleshed out the details. And he questioned whether the plan would be watered down again after more protests from diplomats.

“How do I know what they are going to do?” the mayor asked. “They keep changing their minds. What happens is that they are very strong and assertive when they meet with us. Then when they go back, and somebody at the United Nations, like, yells at them, they change their minds. So there is no way to really be sure what they are doing. All I can do is keep the pressure on them. And I am good at that.”

As they have throughout the dispute, officials at the State Department sought to calm tempers on both sides.

“We are reviewing additional suggestions by the city in response to the revisions that we proposed to the original agreement,” said Stephanie Eicher, a spokeswoman for the State Department. “We expect to continue our discussions with the city and the members of the host-country committee. An acceptable solution is possible and near if we all continue to work cooperatively on this.”


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