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Eyes (and Pretzels) on the Street

El Diario/La Prensa, Posted: May 04, 2010

NEW YORK -- An editorial in New York's Spanish-language El Diario/La Prensa notes that the rapid response to the car bomb in Times Square highlighted the critical public safety role played by street vendors. On Saturday, Lance Orton, a disabled man and reportedly a veteran, and a second vendor reported an oddly parked vehicle emanating smoke to the NYPD. The mounted police officer, Wayne Rhatigan, and the rest of the NYPD responded quickly and effectively, evacuating the Times Square area. But the street vendors who flagged down the officer should also be recognized, editors write.

Street vendors work long hours, know their surroundings and can observe any suspicious activity. Editors write that "this makes them an important albeit informal line of defense for our city."

Yet they are often given criminal tickets for vending violations. City agencies, editors write, are "overly aggressive with ticketing vendors and restricting where they can sell." New York Mayor Bloomberg has resisted lifting the cap on the number of street vendor licenses.

"Vendors should be reasonably regulated, but not persecuted, especially in this economic recession," editors write. The Bloomberg administration should lift the cap on street vending, the editorial argues, for "the benefit of so many New Yorkers struggling to make a living and to the benefit of public safety."

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