Queens lawmaker featured in Jeopardy Clue

A Queens City Councilmember recently found himself as one of the clues on the popular game show “Jeopardy!” and a day later the clue resonated in a real-life example.
The Jeopardy clue, “New York City Councilman Eric Gioia says 10 U.N. Missions owe the city $8 million in these.”
“What is parking tickets,” buzzed in a contestant with the correct answer for $1,200.
For years, Gioia has been a fervent voice in the movement to collect outstanding parking tickets and property taxes owed to the city.
“For a kid from Queens who used to watch “Jeopardy!” on TV with my parents in Woodside this was quite a thrill,” Gioia said. “We’ve got to find creative ways for the city raise and save money in tough economic times, so it’s especially important that the city collect on diplomats who owe the city millions in parking tickets and taxes. I’m happy Alex Trebek realized it too.”
Incidentally, the day after the show aired on television, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office announced that the Philippines agreed to pay $9 million in back property taxes to the city.
“These are tough economic times … I want to make sure that we pursue those who fail to pay their taxes,” Bloomberg said.
The city and the Philippines were in a lawsuit over unpaid property taxes for the Philippine Center, a Philippines-owned building located at 556 5th Avenue. The Philippine Center formerly housed the Philippine National Bank, an office of the Philippine Airlines and a Filipino restaurant.
These features were taxable under city code, but money was never paid. The Philippines contested for years that it was exempt from taxation.
In 2003, Mayor Bloomberg said, “Although we are proud to be the host of the United Nations (U.N.), one thing we simply cannot afford is to be taken advantage of by our guests.”
There are currently 192 permanent U.N. missions and 110 consulates residing in New York City. The foreign countries they represent are allowed to receive certain exemptions for their diplomatic missions in New York City, but they are still obligated to pay taxes on their property used for non-exempt purposes.
“We commend the Philippines for working with the city … and encourage the other countries to follow this important example,” said Marjorie Tiven, a representative for the U.N.’s New York City Commission.

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