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Hurst retailers not surprised

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A rogue Sanitation enforcement officer remains on the job — even as the city investigates why he was caught on tape littering in front of several 86th Street stores and then hitting the stores with trash summonses.

The Sanitation Department confirmed that it is investigating the allegations against the officer, Michael Goldring, but also confirmed that Goldring remains on the job.

But for how much longer is unclear: This week, more shop owners along Bensonhurst’s busy commercial strip said they, too, had been victims of the overzealous enforcement officer.

One week after restaurateur Allan Sy allegedly caught Goldring on his surveillance camera, Assemblyman William Colton (D-Gravesend) took a “listening tour” of the area — and he heard an earful.

A number of storeowners took advantage of the assemblyman’s presence last week to present a litany of other complaints, be they about traffic on the expressways or trash from street festivals.

But most kept on-message.

Sam Mohamed, the owner of Everything and More, a children’s wear store on 86th Street and 20th Avenue, said he was ticketed in September, as were neighboring Sleepy’s, and Pizazz, Inc, a shoe store.

“The guy wrote that there were lightbulbs in front of my store,” said Mohamed. “But when we throw away lightbulbs, we break them up and put them in plastic bags and give them to our sanitation company.”

A manager at Benz Jewelers, on 86th Street between Bay 25th and Bay 26th streets, said her store was cited for litter at 11:35 am — 25 minutes before the end of the one-hour Sanitation Department grace period.

And Irina Kilimnik of Le Beau Visage at Bay 25th Street, added: “We had this experience twice last summer. To me, it wasn’t fair.”

Unlike Sy, she paid the ticket, figuring that you can’t fight City Hall.

But Sy is — and he’ll have Colton at his side when he gets his day in court.

Sy’s H.K. Tea and Sushi was one of three recipients of summonses by Sanitation supervisor Michael Goldring that sparked last week’s furor.

“We found the ticket on the gate in the morning, and it mentioned fluorescent lightbulbs in the street,” said Sy, whose restaurant is at Bay 25th Street.

Sy said he disposes of his lightbulbs properly, so the ticket “made me wonder if someone was putting garbage in front of our store.” When he went to the videotape, sure enough, he saw the officer doing the damage.

“The people that are enforcing the law were breaking the law!” Sy said.

After calling 311 and getting what he deemed an unsatisfactory response, Sy contacted Colton, who, in turn, found other examples of Goldring’s reign of litter.

Colton said Goldring’s alleged ticketing spree indicates a quota system that rewards supervisors for issuing summonses.

“This is reflecting a policy of the city to use fines as a way to increase city revenue,” said Colton.

But that’s an allegation the city has repeatedly denied.

“There is no quota system and no rating system,” said a Sanitation spokesperson. “If you’re giving out more tickets, it means you’re a better, harder worker.”

Ever the diplomat, Colton thinks another investigation might be in order.

“If Goldring’s been breaking these lightbulbs full of mercury — which is carcinogenic — he should really have himself checked out, because he might have a problem,” said Colton.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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