It’s Not the Meat, It’s the Motion

Alan Rubin got a gig as a per diem administrative law judge for the New York City Parking Violations Bureau, meaning that he’s one of those lawyers who doesn’t have much business on his own but feels qualified to make the lives of other people miserable.  The PVB is a local quasi-judicial agency that all New Yorkers despise and distrust.  Every single one.

The reason is clear.  Nobody, but nobody, believes that the PVB is anything but a collections agency for the City.  It’s your word against the ticket agents.  It doesn’t matter how many reports appear on TV about ticket agents lies and scams, errors designed to make people pay when they did no wrong.  The assembly line grinds along, and New Yorkers are chewed up and spit out. 

And then there’s Alan Rubin, who ruled against the City and dismissed some tickets.  Huzzah!  Maybe not so huzzah. Rubin was fined $2,500 after copping a plea for accepting a “gratuity”.  From the New York Times :

“After adjudicating the Delivery Driver’s parking tickets, I told the Delivery Driver that the invoice named a brand of popcorn that I liked,” Judge Rubin is quoted as saying in the settlement agreement. “The Delivery Driver then offered to give me popcorn for free in appreciation of my having dismissed the Delivery Driver’s parking tickets. I gave the Delivery Driver my home address, and a few days later approximately six to eight bags of the popcorn were delivered to my home.”

According to the judge’s statement, he gave two bags to his grandson and “brought the rest to my office at Parking Violations Bureau to share with my colleagues.” The judge noted that he was “unaware at the time” that he was violating the city charter by accepting the freebie.

It does not seem possible that Rubin was unaware that it just might be a problem to sit in a quasi-judicial capacity and receive a gift from a litigant.  The Times seems to focus on the trivial nature of the gift, a few bags of popcorn.  That doesn’t seem possible either.  Whether it’s of significant value or just fun, it’s a gift for the performance of an official function. You can’t do that.

It doesn’t seem possible that anyone sitting in a position of adjudication could be unaware of how utterly improper it is to accept a gift.  It similarly doesn’t seem possible that a newspaper could suggest that it’s somehow less improper because it’s “only” a few bags of popcorn.  This is a hard, fast, unmovable line in the scheme of propriety.

ALJ Rubin, however, says he didn’t know that this was wrong.

According to the judge’s statement, he gave two bags to his grandson and “brought the rest to my office at Parking Violations Bureau to share with my colleagues.” The judge noted that he was “unaware at the time” that he was violating the city charter by accepting the freebie.

If this is true, the only question one can have is how someone this mind-bogglingly stupid was put in a position of adjudicating anything.  The answer can be found here:

Owen Stone, a spokesman for the city’s finance department, said that Judge Rubin earned $39.47 an hour on a per-diem basis to work in the parking bureau . . .

And you wonder why nobody trusts the PVB? 

7 thoughts on “It’s Not the Meat, It’s the Motion

  1. mirriam

    It’s possible Mr. Rubin serves because he feels that it’s his duty, despite the low pay. It happens. And, there are a lot of folks out there who would kill for an almost $40.00 an hour gig, when assigned counsel pays that much, when that’s what PD’s get paid when you add it all up, and its more than what most contract/document review lawyers get paid. Not all of us who are earning 39 bucks an hour (if we are lucky) are idiots.

  2. mirriam

    About what, his devotion to public service? I don’t know him so I have no idea. I like to give folks the benefit of the doubt. Do you think he took the job in hopes of getting free popcorn? I mean, I like it enough but its not enough to make me want to hang out with pissy New Yorkers. Maybe it’s a resume builder. You know “Judge” looks good when applying for other jobs.

  3. SHG

    First, it would be appreciated if, when replying to a comment, you use the “reply to this” button.  Second, do you suppose that knowing absolutely nothing about being a PVB ALJ somehow creates greater lattitude to impose baseless assumptions and project personal issues?  For example, I never said that Rubin was an idiot for taking the ALJ job at $39 per hour.  Yet somehow, that’s what it meant to you.

    There are plenty of opportunities for those who chose to serve others to do so in New York City.  There are pro bono small claims arbitrators.  There are pro bono housing court lawyers.  There are people who take criminal assignments and never submit vouchers.  There are lawyers who take pro bono cases. 

    On top of that Rubin isn’t a kid.  You might glean that from the fact that he gave some of the popcorn to his grandson.  If you really wanted to know who Rubin was rather than jump to facile assumption, you could look him up.  According to Avvo, there are four Alan Rubins in New York, the newest of which was licensed 30 years ago.  Do you think he took the job to pad his resume?

    So are you allowed to assume whatever you want despite knowing nothing, particularly when it appears you motivation derives from projecting you own interests onto the subject?  No.

  4. SHG

    Wow? A rather ignominious quip to end something that was obviously so important to you, and struck such a dissonant cord, that you felt compelled to push it as far and hard as you did.  Did you expect a reaction like “Great comment, Mirriam?” You already knew this isn’t the Happysphere.

    And my day has been going on since early this morning.  No permission sought or needed.

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