Probably a little bit of both!
Rock star Billy Idol joined Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall last week as the face of a new campaign to boost public awareness about the administration’s anti-idling initiative.
The tag line? “Billy Never Idles, Neither Should You! Shut Your Engine Off.” Nevermind that Billy’s stage name is “Idol” and not “Idle.” Hey, they sound the same, that’s good enough!
Of course, the mayor also couldn’t pass up a Billy Idol reference in his remarks.
“Billy Idol never idles and neither should you,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It chokes our air, hurts the environment, and is bad for New York. We’re sending a loud message with a Rebel Yell: turn off your engines or pay up.”
Only one song? Come on!
(Actually, Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, did manage to get in a “so when it’s Hot in the City, curbing a daily habit like sitting in an idle vehicle is integral to New Yorkers fight against climate change” comment.)
Despite the silly new public service announcements, the city is serious about cracking down on idling trucks and cars. In 2018, a law was enacted that allows people to record a truck or car idling for more than three minutes and upload the video to the Department of Environmental Protection’s website.
If a summons is issued, the person who made the complaint collects 25 percent of the fine, which is $350 for a first offense, but as much as $2,000 for repeat offenders. So a first offense, that’s $87.50 for the person who shot the video.
Last year, Vice News published a story about George Pakenham, a banker by trade by an avid clean air activist who for over a decade has been strolling the streets asking drivers to turn off the cars. It was initially a public service, but now he’s making bank.
At the time the article was published, he had already made over $9,000 through the Citizens Air Complaint Program.
Pakenham isn’t in it for the money, but he has been spreading the word about the program and has dozens of “street agents” who work with him. He hopes the allure of some easy money will inspire hundreds of New Yorkers to file their own complaints.
So if you’re looking to make some easy Mony Mony (we couldn’t resist!), Billy Idol would like to speak with you.