Monday, May 4, 2009

Central Park on A Rainy Day

From a correspondent:
The red flags were up in several of the more sensitive (newly seeded) lawns, most notably Cedar Hill (both the lower and upper portions), but, there were may dogs racing around, mud and grass flying. There are signs posted clearly stating what the red flags mean, stay off flagged lawns to protect them from damage. It doesn't matter that it was before 9:15 am (allowing a fifteen minute grace period)--when a red flag is up, dogs (and people) are required to stay off those lawns, period.

Later this morning, on a short walk entering Central Park at 5th Ave and East 75th Street, just down the path a young man is playing with an training a Weimeraunner, tossing the ball. NB: just off the path. Seems innocent enough, but, it was 11:15 in the morning, well after nine am.

Circling around to the opposite side of that path, heading towards the foot of Cedar Hill (just near the underpass) a large black dog is running off leash from the path to the wood chip covered lawn while a woman in a raincoat is chatting with another dog owner (a Huskie, on a Flexi-lead). The woman and black dog walked off to the right, towards the playground area.

That's when the girl with the Husky unleashed her dog and started tossing the ball for him (or her). I was video taping and when I was spotted she leashed her dog. I had already walked off when she came up behind me to ask what I was taping and I replied "the park." Which I was, taping the park for future paintings I might work on. Anyway. She raced up to another woman who had a Collie mix right at the playground gate, off leash, (and another dog on leash) shouting how I was recording video of the off leash dogs, and, isn't that a violation of privacy etc.

I wasn't getting involved but was walking off (with my cell phone in hand and the PEP command center on ready dial) when the Husky dog-owner raced up to me and shoved her phone in my face and laughed "hah hah, now I've got you." She darned near got me hit me in the nose with her phone/camera.

I'm certain taking photo's, videos of scenes in our public parks is quite legal (except for whatever Homeland Security Act laws might apply), and, I'm certain shoving a camera into a person's face to take a picture specifically of that individual is NOT legal. Even if it is, what a hostile action on the part of that dog owner.

A few steps further down the path, said Husky dog owner turned to me to say "I'm calling my father, he works for the Parks Dept. and I'm reporting you for violating my privacy."

At that point, I had PEP on the line and asked if she wanted to speak with them--that they were on their way (and they were).

So much for Courtesy Hours working.
But, you see, they are working just as they were intended to: they are bringing more unleashed dogs into the parks, and driving "undesirables", e.g., blacks and traditionally-dressed Jews ("skateboarders and Hasids" as Jonathan Safran Foer calls them), etc., out of the parks, at least during dogs hours ("making our parks and neighborhoods safer"; see the DOPR pamphlet that we've just posted in the sidebar). Of course the dogs are making a mess out of the parks too, and making life unpleasant or worse for everybody else, but the DOPR had to have known that would happen.

And we would place little faith in the PEP until we see evidence that they're actually giving summonses and that the summonses are paid. Come to think of it, perhaps the City doesn't have sufficient incentive to issue summonses at $100 a pop. How about raising the price to $250 a pop, or maybe even to Baltimore's rate of $1,000?

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