It was standing-room only today at a board meeting in which the Department of Health announced its ruling on the controversial letter-grading issue. After a two-hour hearing where members listened to opposition from Robert Bookman (attorney for the New York State Restaurant Association), the board voted 62 in favor of the bill. Restaurateurs in attendance were not happy. A red-faced Marc Murphy from Landmarc, who also complained at a public hearing last month, told us, This just doesnt seem right, and its going to be hurting a lot of businesses.
Murphys and the NYSRAs chief arguments are that having to display a poor grade for quibbling violations like a leaky faucet or an uncovered light bulb will mislead potential customers, and that the plan will encourage bribery of inspectors. If youre getting a B or a C, Murphy told us, people just wont go into the restaurants. Its not going to help the public, and its not going to help the people who are trying to keep their jobs. They [the DOH] are supposed to be educating the public, and theyre not educating the public at all, theyre making a fool out of them. The bill is planned go into effect July 1.