Big Brother Rides Again

Surely the City Council has better things to worry about. Last week, it passed legislation that would impose heavy fines on stores that leave their doors open wide while air conditioning is on.

The stores, we are told, do this to encourage shoppers to come in off hot city sidewalks. The Council members who sponsored this piece of legislation were concerned about energy conservation.

The fine will be set at $200 for the first violation and $400 for subsequent violations during an 18-month period.

It remains unclear, at least to us, where the Council gets the authority to tell privately owned businesses how they can use their air conditioning and when they are permitted to leave the front door open.

The possible exception would be during an energy crisis, when everyone in the city is asked to conserve electricity to prevent a brown out or black out.

The legislation is the brainchild of Manhattan Councilwoman Gail Brewer, who was concerned about the shops on 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. “Hopefully, they will get the message to help save the planet,” she said. “There's no use cooling the sidewalk.”

We agree: Cooling the sidewalk is a foolish waste of money. But we are much more concerned when the City Council takes on new powers and assumes the right to micromanage the affairs of privately owned businesses.