- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2002

Last month, I paid the District more than $4,000 in tickets, fines and sundry fees to register my car. Last year, I paid more than $2,000 to renew my driver's permit. If I had not paid the money, I would not have lent my helping hand to the District to hire more parking-control aides, or Nazis, as they are called by the city's victims. So I did my part to help bloat the stubborn bureaucracy.

Understand, the city wants motorists' money any way it can get it, solely to sustain that motor vehicle bureaucracy. First, lawmakers created a parking tax, which is annually levied on residents so they can park in their own neighborhoods. They also upped the costs of registering and inspecting your vehicle, and increased parking and related fines. Then, just to make sure they have enough dough to keep the wheels churning, and rude and incompetent workers employed, they double-billed you for tickets and set up bureaucratic roadblocks to prohibit you from legitimately disputing their claims.

Now, they don't call the parking tax a tax; they call it a residential parking fee. If you don't pay the tax, you don't get a residential parking sticker. If you don't have a sticker, the parking-control Nazis can cruise your neighborhood and slap a ticket on your car every two hours or so, whether you're parked in front of your house, across the street from your house, or around the corner. You can even get a ticket if a nearby parking meter has expired, as happened to one motorist. The point of the exercise is to issue enough tickets in one week to pay the salaries of the parking-control aides.

In this democracy, though, the money raised via parking fines is not enough to keep the wheels churning. You also must pay to register your vehicle and inspect your vehicle, as people who live in states do. However, while most states establish sensible traffic policies and laws based on safety, the laws in the District are created to hand out jobs and to generate money.

A few examples. Included in my $4,000 payment were fees and tickets on a car I used to own that was junked and auctioned by the city in the early 1990s. The city's new computer system named "Destiny," how apropos said that car was ticketed in 2000. Destiny also said I had to pay tickets and fees on two vehicles I never owned, and tickets I, thank the Lord, have canceled checks for from years ago.

It is fairly easy to see motor vehicle services are designed to discourage; set up so that each customer waits long enough to grow impatient and frustrated or worse, ticketed again. On Brentwood Road, for instance, rude employees prohibit you from parking on the lot, which forces you to park on the street where ta da you get a parking ticket. They also force you, rain or shine, to stand outdoors until herded indoors for your date with Destiny.

Once inside, it's all downhill. You might wait hours inside, where employees loudly inform their supervisors what they will and will not do. Then, the dance begins.

I stood outside in the beaming sun for half-an-hour, and waited inside for two hours. Then the haggling was on. "Your inspection sticker is expired," an employee snapped. "It has not," I shot back. "You need a new residential parking sticker." (Recall, that's the parking tax). I told her I needed neither. She challenged me to step outside. She saw with her own eyes. We returned to the counter. She said I still owed more than $700 in fees. I set her straight by quickly producing the necessary receipts from the ultimate Nazi camp: the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication at 65 K St. NE. Besides, I was prepared, if necessary, to produce an eyewitness the wife of D.C. Council member Vincent Orange, who broke in line there the day before. The clerk continued to dispute my evidence, ticket by ticket, fine by fine. I stood strong. Finally fed up, she cleared me and released me from the grips of grade A, homogenized madness.

Before we parted ways, I asked the clerk if she has to stand in line, too, to get her vehicle registered. She said she lives in Maryland, where things are "smoother." I asked the same of her co-workers. They all gave the same answer. Hmm.

Life's too short and motor vehicle lines too long for voters to allow the same D.C. lawmakers, each year, to drum up malarkey that increases the costs of living in the nation's capital and, more importantly, sustains a money-hungry bureaucracy built of Marion Barry, by Marion Barry and for Marion Barry.

I hope voters remember that this campaign season.

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