- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

Hey, get a load of the stupid stuff jamming the radar screen. Must be the residue of anthrax spores in the metropolitan mail that's got folks acting crazy. Or is it these Indian summer steamy skies?

For starters, did I read right in this newspaper? Are some D.C. police officers actually getting tickets from those egalitarian Big Brother red-light cameras while they are responding to emergency calls? Is it true that some of those same officers say they are slowing down their responses to emergency calls for fear of getting the tickets?

Tell me please that someone with oversight authority is looking further into this fiasco, and not simply dismissing these mistaken tickets as the police department's officials appear to be doing as going to a few bad apples who deserve to be caught.

Fix the glitch. No officer should have to pay a ticket for a moving violation committed in the line of duty.

While I may be one of those commuters who supports the public safety policy of catching violators who appear to be colorblind when they come upon an intersection, I also believe it's the police officer's first responsibility to respond ASAP to an emergency.

While I'm on the subject of stupid and/or selfish stuff, what ever happened to pulling over when we see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching? Here are the violators of basic common courtesy and civic duty who ought to be ticketed, not those public safety employees who are trying to do their jobs.

Perhaps even more silly than ticketing on-call police officers was the Montgomery County Council's kooky environmental legislation that included indoor smoke as a pollutant. Thank goodness that someone (County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, to be exact) in that suburb, where the green police often run amok, had the good sense to snuff out that senseless measure that also bordered on big brother's invasion of privacy in one's own home.

Besides, just how in the world did Montgomery dunces think they were going to enforce that Puff the Magic Dragon madness anyway?

And, talking about blowing smoke:

What's up with Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III? Does he really think his constituents are named Sally or Sammy Sausagehead?

Old Dominion residents have to be mighty gullible to buy Mr. Gilmore's last-ditch, paper tiger attempts to make good on his campaign pledge to phase out the unpopular car tax. It appears he'll do just about anything to hold on to this claim to fame.

Petty political posturing can be the only rationale for his plans next month to present a 2003-2004 biennial budget that includes the total phaseout of the car tax.

Did Mr. Gilmore suddenly develop dementia or is he foolhardy enough to believe that the public is suffering from short-term memory loss? We haven't already forgotten that the governor himself said only a few days ago that the state's revenue picture is so bleak especially after September 11 that the 100 percent repeal of the car tax was nearly impossible.

In the final days of his administration, all Mr. Gilmore's got to do is present that bogus budget while his successor would have to make good on it.

Which brings to mind Virginia Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner. At least he showed some slim smarts by making his very first Cabinet appointment a finance secretary, who is an old hat at balancing the state's budget, Senate Finance Committee Director John M. Bennett.

Moving back across the Potomac, did you see the dangerous but dumb story about the Drunk Driving Diva? Here's a woman, Brenda Lee Sawyer, 47, of Sykesville, Md., who rear-ended the back of a Maryland State Police cruiser earlier this week only 18 days after being released from serving four months on her ninth drunken-driving conviction.

Hello, that's not all. She was driving on a revoked license. Now, you know where I could go with this dumbness, but I'll resist the temptation. Girlfriend needs to get some serious help for whatever underlying issues are causing her alcoholism. And, she needs to get a grip and stop putting the rest of the motoring public in jeopardy. Luckily, the officer in the latest case suffered only minor neck injuries.

Indeed, Maryland judges ought to stop granting pitiful passes in the form of light sanctions to drunken-driving devotees like this repeat offender.

Speaking of scurrilous offenders, indeed they can't come any more insulting than Kriss Kringle. Right?

It was bad enough that the Secret Service offended ordinary people when it tried to bar the presidentially mandated "get back to normalcy" public from the national Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at the White House, but somebody please explain what Santa Claus, of all people, did to deserve getting axed from a tree-lighting ceremony in Kensington?

They'll have no Miracle on 34th Street there. Seems two families in this sensitive suburb "felt uncomfortable" with Jolly Ol' Saint Nick. Bring on Ebeneezer Scrooge. Better yet, find the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Trust me, I'm not making this stuff up. One of our reporters was even told that Kensington isn't even lighting a Christmas tree. "It's an entirely secular tree," said Glenn Cowan, one of the four Town Council members.

Ah, this secular, sugar-coated holiday stocking-stuffer business designed to offend only those who remember what Christmas and Hanukkah are really about also leaves out the creches, menorahs, angels and stars, too. Is eggnog OK? Go figure. Just watch out for the stupid stuff circulating in the skies. No telling what craziness will land next.

Adrienne T. Washington's e-mail address is atwashin@aol.com.


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