Our City Council has been hard at work poking its nose into the personal affairs of New Yorkers with introductions of several inane, "nanny state"-inspired bills. First up is a bill introduced by Council member Raphael L. Espinal, Jr., (Int 0726-2018) which makes it unlawful for private employees in the City of New York to require employees to check and respond to email and other electronic communications during non-work hours.
Apparently, Councilmember Espinal was so impressed with a recent French law establishing workers’ “right to disconnect,” requiring companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails, he felt it necessary to be the first to introduce a "right to disconnect" law here in New York City. What Councilmember Espinal is overlooking is that most successful private business organizations are meritocracies where employees have the opportunity to be recognized and advanced in proportion to their abilities and accomplishments. These self-motivated workers do not require the government to intercede to legislate the appropriate frequency of interaction between employee and employer. But then again, what do I know? I mean if we no longer have to check or respond to after-work business-related electronic inquiries, just think how much more free time we would have to assuage our egos with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? And as for me, I could finally start ignoring that Nigerian Prince who keeps emailing me on the weekend asking for my bank account number to hide a half million dollars!
By the way, Councilmember Espinal was also responsible for the legislation, which earlier this year saw the creation of a New York City Office Of Nightlife and Mayor. Mayor de Blasio's appointed Ariel Palitz, a lifelong New Yorker and nightlife professional, as New York City’s first ever senior executive director of the Office of Nightlife.
Somehow I just can't picture Bill de Blasio and the NYC government's new Office of Nightlife being the harbinger of a return to the raucous evening festivities of the ‘70s and ‘80s with the likes of such establishments as Steve Rubell's Studio 54 over on the west side of Manhattan with its all-powerful doorman Marc Benecke or Elaine Kaufmann's upper east side bar and restaurant, Elaine's.
And yes, I frequented both establishments on several occasions. In fact, I was thrown out of Studio 54 on two separate occasions for looking too much like a cop! Of course, the famous Copacabana is still operating over in Times Square, but is only a shadow of its former self from back when I spent several evenings at its original location on East 60th Street, enjoying the likes of the Fifth Dimension with Marilyn McCoo during the disco era. Ya gotta love Joey Gallo who really knew how to run a nightclub back then. It was all downhill after Joey's dinner was rudely interrupted by some disgruntled mob associates at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy back in 1972.
Another piece of legislation working its way through our City Council is brought to you by Council member Peter A. Koo, et al., (Intro #0734-2018) making it illegal for individuals to smoke (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and vaporizers) while walking on sidewalks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and several locations under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Under the bill, smokers would still be free to light up on public streets, as long as they remained stationary while doing so. Are you kidding me? Due diligence requires that I advise all of you that I am a bit of a heavy smoker — I go through two lighters a day. That being said, I also believe that this bill, which will turn our police officers into the smoking police, is ludicrous and epitomizes a piece of political legislation which shouts out, "Look at what I am doing," while, in fact, doing nothing at all!
A more consistent stance would be to recognize that the government can, and I would actually argue should, ban smoking in public buildings, in public parks, and on public sidewalks; places that exist only because tax dollars pay for them to exist. Other than that, it should leave private business owners to make their own decisions and, in turn, consumers will make theirs. If tax money is being used to fund it, then creating the healthiest atmosphere possible is the state’s prerogative. But when tax money is absent, so then should be the state!
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