Monday, December 5, 2011

Buskers are not the problem at Washington Square Park in New York

In New York, the city is busting buskers for violating an obscure rule against "vending" near monuments:
The department’s rule, one of many put in place a year ago, was intended to control commerce in the busiest parks. Under the city’s definition, vending covers not only those peddling photographs and ankle bracelets, but also performers who solicit donations. 
The rule attracted little notice at first. But the enforcement in Washington Square Park in the past two months has generated summonses ranging from $250 to $1,000.
I've actually spent a little time in Washington Square Park, and if there's a "commerce" problem there, it really isn't the buskers: It's all the open-air drug dealing. There's nothing subtle about it. And there's something both misguided and embarrassing about a municipal government that would focus on cracking down on folk singers and mimes while leaving the dealers relatively undisturbed. Seems to me the latter pose the far greater threat to the quality of life in the park and neighborhood.

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