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Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's up with the parks department?

I have no intention to turn this blog into a NYC Department of Parks & Recreation flaming site, but I couldn't overlook the following article that was in the New York Times. It makes me question what kind of people parks hires. Also, if the worker did actually kill any species of gull (there's no such thing as a "seagull"), the crime is a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The park employee should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If he was directed by his boss to kill the birds, that person should also be arrested and fined.

February 16, 2008
Parks Worker Is Charged With Trying to Kill Birds
By Eric Konigsberg and Al Baker

Around 3 p.m. on Friday, several people walking in Battery Park called 911 to report curious goings-on: a man driving a Parks Department golf cart was tearing erratically through a city park at 1 Whitehall Street.

As the calls came in, the police said, it emerged that the cart’s driving pattern may have been reckless, but it was not without purpose. The driver was apparently trying to run over as many birds as he could.

Officers responded, “and over the course of the investigation we uncovered videotape,” a Police Department spokesman said. Five birds were killed, the police said: three pigeons, two seagulls.

The authorities said the man at the wheel of the golf cart was Martin Hightower, a 45-year-old Parks Department employee. He was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors, reckless endangerment and intentional injury to animals. A Parks Department spokesman said Mr. Hightower had been suspended.

Mr. Hightower has been employed by the Parks Department since 2005 and was working as an enforcement patrol officer, said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner.

“They primarily concentrate on quality-of-life issues: illegal vending, not cleaning up after a dog,” he said. “They can make arrests and issue summonses. I haven’t seen the videotape yet, and I don’t want to prejudice the case, but if it’s true, it’s outrageous. In the Parks Department we’re supposed to be protecting nature and wildlife.”

He went on: “I can’t recall anything like this. Occasionally we’ll write a ticket for somebody who’s letting their dog chase pigeons. A few years ago, there was an employee at the zoo who was scalding monkeys. This is something we take very seriously.”

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