ALBANY, N.Y. — A commemorative license plate for the New York Giants was unveiled hours after their Super Bowl victory.
Now, two New York lawmakers say a similar but delayed tribute to the real heroes of the 9/11 attacks is long overdue. They said first responders and victims shouldn't take a back seat to millionaire athletes who are honored after championships with license tags. Those are exempt from the state's moratorium on new commemorative plates.
"I'm happy that the Giants won the Super Bowl as much as the next New Yorker, but who are the real heroes our state should first be celebrating with distinctive plates, the athletes on the gridiron or the first responders and the people who lost their lives on Sept. 11?" Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco, a former college athlete and high school coach, said Thursday.
The plate for the team that plays in New Jersey was issued despite a moratorium on new commemorative plates in New York. A lawsuit by an advocacy group has sought a "Choose Life" license plate since 2001 and brought a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. That led in part to the state's self-imposed moratorium on new plates.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration says the Super Bowl plates don't violate the moratorium because they are a reworking of a 1987 Giants Super Bowl commemorative plate with a new date and logo. It's the same policy that produced revised specialty plates for the 2008 Super Bowl Giants plates and the 2009 World Series plates for the New York Yankees.
The bill, which has languished since 2005, was introduced by Tedisco, who represents Schenectady and Saratoga counties, Democratic Assemblyman William Scarborough of Queens, and Republican Sen. Kenneth LaValle of Long Island. They announced the bill Thursday with a father of a victim of the terrorist attacks.
"The Giants win of the Super Bowl is potentially a temporary one-year reign. The tragedy of 9/11 with respect to our fallen heroes and those who survived is eternal. Are we more interested in yesterday's game than that ill-fated day we should never forget . or have we forgotten?" said Steven Cafiero, of Glenville. His son, Steven Cafiero Jr., died in the World Trade Center's south tower.
The bill would direct the fee revenue from a commemorative plate to charities benefiting the families of those killed in the attacks.
Jackie McGinnis, spokeswoman for the Department of Motor Vehicles, said the state has a contract with major professional sports teams to redesign plates with teams' approval. Currently, many established specialty plates are being revised to match the state's new yellow color scheme. In addition, it's possible to update any current specialty plates, such as those depicting the New York Rangers, NASCAR and minor league sports and causes such as autism awareness, raising money for the Erie Canal Museum, the arts and pet population control
Hundreds of Giants' plates were ordered shortly after they went on sale the night of the Super Bowl.
The Giants Super Bowl plate generates additional revenue for the state, as do all commemorative plates. A new plate with a random number costs $60, and there's a $31.25 annual fee to keep it. Personalized Giants plates cost $91.25 with an annual $62.50 fee. Those updating from the old Super Bowl plates get a slight break.