- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Two of the three D.C. Council members who voted against extending immunity from parking tickets to themselves had the most parking tickets since the measure was passed in July, a survey shows.
Six of the council's 13 members said they had received no parking tickets during the period.
Five council members said they had received a total of 12 tickets.
Two did not respond to e-mail inquiries.
Council members in a voice vote July 2 extended to themselves the privilege of parking at meters without paying, in bus zones, in restricted spaces near intersections, at building entrances and on restricted residential streets.
They restricted themselves with few exceptions, other than agreeing that they couldn't park in loading zones, along rush-hour routes during restricted hours, or in front of firehouses, fire hydrants and clearly designated no-parking zones, unless the no-parking zone was in front of a building entrance.
It could not be determined how many tickets council members avoided because parking officers noted their vehicles' ownership, but an informal, unscientific survey by The Washington Times showed a decided lack of ticket writing for council members.
Carol Schwartz, the at-large Republican who proposed the parking perks, said she had received one parking ticket, on Jan. 3. She said she paid the fine on Jan. 9.
When pressed repeatedly for her view on the usefulness of the parking perks, she questioned the usefulness of the question. Through a spokesman, she asked: "Is it worth The Washington Times making this the most important issue in the history of the world?"
Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said he had received six parking tickets, all while he was on business for the District. He said he had spoken "quite loudly" against the privileges before they were approved without a public hearing as part of the Technical Amendments Act. D.C. residents, he said, "believe we should live in the real world like everyone else."
Ward 3 Democrat Kathy Patterson and Ward 6 Democrat Sharon Ambrose were the only other council members who opposed the privileges. Ward 5 Democrat Vincent Orange was absent during the vote.
Mrs. Patterson said she had received two parking tickets, one of which was in her council parking space. She said the other was for parking at an expired meter on U Street. She said she paid the fines.
Mrs. Patterson dismissed the parking perks as a "home rule" issue. She said Mrs. Schwartz had been after "parity with members of Congress."
"They had privileges that we didn't have," she said.
The D.C. Traffic Act, enacted in 1925, exempted members of Congress from parking tickets while on official business.
Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat, said he had received two tickets for parking in front of the John A. Wilson Building. Both were dismissed.
Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, said he had received one ticket while on city business.
Mrs. Ambrose, Mr. Orange, Ward 4 Democrat Adrian Fenty, at-large Republican David Catania, Ward 2 Democrat Jack Evans and Ward 8 Democrat Sandy Allen said they had not received any parking tickets since July 2.
"I don't own a personal car, so I don't have any tickets," Mrs. Allen said.
Linda W. Cropp, at-large Democrat, and Kevin P. Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, did not respond to e-mail or phone messages.
The District's agency chiefs and numerous other employees use city cars, and the District's parking officers don't issue tickets to vehicles with city government plates. But many council members use their private vehicles.
When the amendment was passed to include council members using their private vehicles, Department of Public Works parking officers were instructed not to ticket vehicles with council license plates. Mr. Mendelson, Mrs. Patterson and Mr. Brazil said they don't keep council plates on their cars.
The exemptions came less than two weeks before the council voted July 13 to increase parking fines.
The higher fines, they said, were part of a revised budget to cut spending and boost revenue to offset a projected $323 million deficit.
Fines for parking in an alley, disobeying an official sign, parking in a no-parking zone and parking for more than two hours in a residential area without a permit will be raised from $20 to $30. Expired-meter fines will increase from $15 to $25.
The increases have not gone into effect. A Department of Public Works spokeswoman said a "public education campaign" had to come first.
The Times reported Jan. 20 that the District had issued $57 million worth of parking tickets in 2002, up from $45 million in 2001. The amount is expected to rise again this year as both fines and the number of parking officers increase.

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