Tote-al recall! Shopkeepers fed up with plastic-bag-fee uncertainty

Bag it!: Park Sloper George Olivera says the state was right to overrule the city’s five-cent fee for bags.
Brooklyn Paper
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Give them the sack!

State lawmakers on Tuesday passed a law forbidding the city’s planned five-cent fee on plastic bags until 2018, leaving the measure championed by Mayor DeBlasio and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) in the hands of the mayor’s sworn nemesis, Gov. Cuomo. The fee has now been off and on again multiple times since May last year, and the local vendors who will ultimately be affected by it say they just want a decision.

“How much is it costing the city for this debate?” asked Alex Rashini, manager of Fifth Avenue’s Falafel Corner. “If you count how much they get paid by the hour, you give me a bill at the end of the day, that’s like 40 years of plastic bags!”

Lander’s eco-minded law, intended to discourage plastic-bag use and encourage New Yorkers to start using reusable totes, eked out a narrow 28–20 victory in Council last year.

But some Albany pols soon threatened to kill it — arguing that it will disproportionately affect low-income households — and the city agreed to postpone the rollout until Feb. 15 with promises the law would be altered to the capitol’s liking.

But with no changes made as the deadline loomed last month, Sen. Simcha Felder (D–Kensington) introduced a bill last month to permanently revoke the city’s right to impose fees on bags.

This week, both houses ultimately passed a more subdued version of Felder’s bill, imposing a temporary moratorium on city bag fees until next year — after November’s Council election — although Cuomo hasn’t said whether he’ll sign or spike it.

“They say they’re going to charge, then they say no,” said Alex Ali, manager of Park Slope’s Fifth Ave. Market.

The merchants say they’ve already been preparing for it — Fifth Avenue’s Associate Supermarkets had been gearing up to start using more heavy-duty plastic bags requiring less double bagging, according to store manager Alex Alomeri, but now he’s not sure if they’ll go ahead with it.

But many of their customers — even in crunchy Park Slope — are happy the nickel fee has been delayed if not outright killed.

“I’m not in support of the nickel,” said Warren Street resident George Olivera. “This town’s too expensive as it is.”

Others think those naysayers will soon come around to the idea of reusable totes bags — like the Europeans do!

“They do this a lot of the European countries, it’s a no-brainer,” said Boerum Hill resident Liz Brand, who shops at the Fifth Avenue Key Food. “They’re trained, and Americans aren’t trained yet.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Dan from Park Slope says:
So is it or isn't it?
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:52 am
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
As of today, the State Senate and State Assembly have passed the bill to postpone implementation of the bag tax until 2018. It's waiting for the Governor's signature or veto now.
Feb. 9, 2017, 11:47 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I called my assembly member's office, Maritza Davila, to ask how she voted and they couldn't even give me an answer.

Everyone else who represents me voted for the fee, so if she voted against it, I know who to deliver all the filthy bags in my neighborhood to.
Feb. 9, 2017, 11:56 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Keep taking more money from poor people libs, see where that gets you next November.
Feb. 9, 2017, 12:34 pm
Mister Clean from Real World says:
Litterbugs will not be deterred by a 5 cent fee. The bags don't put themselves on the streets and in the trees. I pick up loose bags I see and push them down into the corner cans so they don't blow out. Wonder if big government Mike does.
Feb. 9, 2017, 12:43 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Litterbugs will certainly be deterred by a 5 cent fee, Clean. If you hadn't noticed, FIVE CENTS is the BIGGEST DEAL IN THE WORLD to people.

Of course, not everyone shares the condescending attitude toward the poor that Henry up there does. Some of us know that poor people are quite capable of reusing a bag.
Feb. 9, 2017, 4:20 pm
Mister Clean from Real World says:
90% of the people I see littering are males in the 15-30 age range who think they are too cool to use a trash can. They will not carry cloth bags around with them. Not in the Real World.
Feb. 9, 2017, 4:54 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I was just outside (in the Real World, in fact). So many plastic bags in the trees. Clean, you need to admit that you do not do a very good job.
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:11 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
“They do this a lot of the European countries, it’s a no-brainer,”
“They’re trained, and Americans aren’t trained yet.”


And I have yet to hear an intelligent person use the the ridiculous phrase, "no brainer".
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:28 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Like Bloomberg's cigarette taxes, just another way to fleece the poor.
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:32 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Yes, poor people love paying more in fees, as does the middle class, and the well off. It's condescending to think they would revolt and vote out those that take money out of their pockets. Good luck with that. I'll have some champagne on ice next November to watch the results.
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:49 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Maybe people in Bay Ridge are just trashier than in north Brooklyn?
Feb. 9, 2017, 5:52 pm
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
You mean Bag Tax Bullhorn Brad Lander, Bill deBlasio's sleazy Mini-Me? Another out-of-town leftie talking down to the groundlings....
Feb. 9, 2017, 6:57 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Please run on how trashy south Brooklyn residents are. I'm sure that will be another winning strategy for you libs.
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:22 am
Calvin Smith from Brooklyn Heights says:
Like every other New Yorker who lives in a high rise, I reuse the plastic grocery bags I receive to throw my trash down the chute. Shame on the politically correct politicians who gave us the finger by trying to make us pay for the bags. I am sufficiently annoyed to vote for a new mayor this November.
Feb. 10, 2017, 4 am
Calvin Smith from Brooklyn Heights says:
I am sufficiently annoyed to vote for a new mayor this November, even if I have to hold my nose and vote for a Republican.
Feb. 10, 2017, 4:06 am
Mr. Clean from Real World says:
Talking about trashy..From todays Daily News: "Democratic party supporters bracing for a Chelsea Clinton versus Caroline Kennedy showdown...Democratic bigwigs are already rumbling about a Kennedy vs. Clinton showdown, should Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand set her sights on the White House in 2020. Both contenders would be former First Daughters: Chelsea Clinton and Caroline Kennedy...""Chelsea had that Twitter war with Kellyanne Conway — she’s engaging in the political arena,” says our insider"...God forbid we have someone who worked his/her way up from the Real World!
Feb. 10, 2017, 8:20 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
If people are going to whine and whine about paying a whole nickel so they can be trashy with these bags, then it's only accurate to call them trash people. It's not like I'm saying something about their incomes, education levels, or anything else--who cares about that? But if you're going to have a conniption over your right to have garbage strewn through your trees, you're trash.
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:41 pm
Mr. Clean from Real World says:
Some people might think your constant whining for government subsidized housing is trashy!
Feb. 10, 2017, 1:15 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
I have lived in NYC for about 30 yrs and have indeed seen a plastic bag caught in a tree.... once or twice a year... maybe.
Exaggerate much Mike?!
Feb. 12, 2017, 7:57 pm

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