August 26, 2007 (GBN News): Mayor Bloomberg announced today that not only will he defy a planned override of his veto of the City Council bill guaranteeing children’s right to carry cell phones to and from school, he now intends to put forth a complete ban on possession of cell phones throughout the city. “If they’re dangerous for kids to carry, they’re dangerous for everyone”, the Mayor told a City Hall news conference, “and besides, they annoy me”.
The Mayor’s plan will, according to City Hall sources, be enforced by the Mayor’s new “Cell Phone Czar”, Emomali Rakhmon, former President of Tajikistan and currently head of School Security. Mr. Rakhmon will enforce the ban through a combination of technologies. Mobile metal detectors, of the type employed by school security, will be placed at random at the entrances to stores, theaters, and other public places. In addition, the hundreds of strategically placed “congestion pricing” cameras, which Mr. Bloomberg hopes will be used to charge motorists for driving in Manhattan, will serve double duty by taking pictures of cell phone users as well. The pictures will be matched up with existing Police Department mug shots as well as news archives and old high school yearbook photos, to determine the identity of the violators. All cell phones detected by these devices will be confiscated, and the users will be fined $500. Second time offenders will be shot.
Reaction from the Council was swift. Council Speaker Christine Quinn, usually an ally of the Mayor, said that there is no legal way that the Mayor can enforce such a ban without a Council vote, which will not be forthcoming. However, Mr. Bloomberg dismissed that objection, saying the Council members only want to be able to carry cell phones so that they can arrange big fund raising dinners. “It is my duty as Mayor to keep this city safe”, Mr. Bloomberg said, “and possession of cell phones leads to crime, gang violence, and an irritating ringing in my ears.”
It was brought to the Mayor’s attention that his own schools Chancellor, Joel Klein, might object to the ban, since he relies on a Blackberry to perform most of his duties. The Mayor countered that he and the Chancellor would be exempt from the ban. “We’re rich”, the Mayor said, “so you can trust us never to use cell phones for criminal purposes.”
In a related story, the Mayor told a group of public school parents that he is responsive to their concern that children are not safe traveling home from school alone without cell phones. Mr. Bloomberg told the group that he will consequently mandate that mothers pick up their children from school every day to accompany them home. However, he said if the mothers are truly too busy to pick up their kids themselves, they will be allowed to “send the chauffeur or the maid” to pick them up.