- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

The city is now ticketing those poor souls who fail to position their vehicle's front wheels in the correct manner while parked on a hill.
This is too good. This is too obvious. This is too much.
This is merely another desperate measure intended to generate revenue for a cash-strapped city that has run out of ideas.
You would like to know how this order came down, if it came down like this: "I know what we can do to get some money. We can enforce a parking law that no one knows a thing about, the old wheels-pointed-in-the-wrong-direction trick. Yeah. That's the ticket."
This is almost as good as the ruler-carrying sticklers who are inclined to write a ticket to those who park their vehicles an inch too far from the curb.
It could be worse. The city could be ticketing vehicles in need of a wash-and-wax job.
As usual, the city is alternating between two notes: parking tickets and taxes. The powers that be write the former and raise the latter and call it a favor. They seem to forget that they are in place to serve the public, as opposed to putting the squeeze on the public. They seem to forget that a modicum of common sense is preferable to bureaucratic nit-picking.
The city writes parking tickets with remarkable efficiency. The masses shake their heads in disgust. This is counterproductive to the plan of Mayor Anthony A. Williams to increase the population of the city by 100,000. You figure it out. You do the equation. It is not too hard. The short-term revenue gain from parking tickets becomes a long-term loss to the city.
All too many residents eventually put one and one together, the parking tickets and taxes, and decide they can improve their quality of life immeasurably just by moving to the suburbs.
Life in the big city can be a hassle all by itself, minus the official-looking stalker with the ticket pad and itchy writing finger.
The city, alas, is overrun with stalkers after increasing their numbers in the past year.
You can spot the stalkers by their looks of longing around the line of vehicles parked on each block. Nothing brings tears of joy to the stalkers like a vehicle that has overstayed its time limit. They get weak in the knees, a glow of contentment on the face and a warm, tingling feeling up and down the spine.
The stalker is the insult to the hypothermia, if you have spent a day in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, where the employees have a warm glass of milk and count sheep before nodding off for the day.
Understandably, the victims who park their vehicles on the hills of Cleveland Park do not appreciate the $20 notices sticking out from underneath their windshield wipers. They don't like to be "treated like idiots." They don't like the fact that the city appears more concerned with enforcing a little-known parking law than apprehending the criminals who break into their vehicles. In other words, they would like to see a little old-fashioned police work instead of business as usual.
To be fair, members of the D.C. Council undoubtedly feel their pain. They feel everyone's pain. It is what they do best, aside from eliminating the pain of parking for themselves. As you know, they can park anywhere they like, in the middle of the street, if necessary. Are you kidding? They passed that small item last year. They don't have time to deal with the unpleasantness of parking. They have to devote all their time to the highly important matter of balancing the city budget, which gets back to you, the victim.
The city has a rich tradition of leaders seemingly ignoring the bad public relations nature of these stories. The suburbanites laugh, many having been there and done that, while the city dwellers gnash their teeth and hope against hope that the day eventually comes when those in office have a clue, just a small clue.
No one really expects miracles from the city's leadership, just a basic understanding that ticketing cars on a hill only alienates the populace further.
But that is our city. You have to love it.
Don't look now, but there is a stalker hiding behind a fire hydrant, by what possibly could be an illegally parked vehicle.
The measuring tape is out, along with the protractor and white chalk. Uh-oh. Just what you surmised. The car missed being legal by a millimeter.

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