- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

Staffers for D.C. Council member Harold Brazil have illegally converted a red-brick stretch of sidewalk in front of his campaign headquarters in Northwest into a free parking lot for themselves, the District Department of Transportation has found.

Responding to inquiries by The Washington Times, the transportation department searched its files and found no permits to rope off the sidewalk for vehicles in front of the Brazil campaign’s storefront on the northeast corner of New York Avenue and Seventh Street NW.

“So the next step is to tell all the people on that block that we have found them in violation and give them an opportunity to correct the situation,” said Bill Rice, a spokesman for the department, which monitors public spaces such as sidewalks.

Mr. Brazil, at-large Democrat, was one of 10 council members who supported a 2002 bill that exempted lawmakers from city parking rules. However, no one — not even a member of Congress — is allowed to park on sidewalks without a permit, according to the D.C. Department of Public Works, which monitors city parking.

Darden Copeland, Mr. Brazil’s campaign manager, said he was notified yesterday that the parking lot is illegal and said he is trying to secure a permit.

Mr. Copeland said the Brazil campaign rented space for its headquarters in May from EDH Associates Inc., a local real-estate brokerage firm. He said the firm told campaign workers that they were allowed six parking spaces immediately in front of the building as long as they were roped off.

“This was not something we asked for — it was something that was provided to us,” Mr. Copeland said.

Attempts to contact EDH Associates were unsuccessful. A telephone message for E. David Harrison of EDH Associates said he is out of the country until Aug. 31.

According to documents filed with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance, the Brazil campaign leased its headquarters space on May 14 for $3,000, and staffers have used the illegal parking spaces nearly every weekday since then. Mr. Copeland said Mr. Brazil also has used the spaces occasionally.

Mr. Copeland said no one using the spaces has been ticketed.

A spokeswoman for Public Works said the agency does not enforce public-space violations, which is the purview of the transportation department.

Mr. Rice said his agency was not aware of the violation until The Washington Times inquired about it this week.

A transportation department worker will return to the block to make sure no one is parking on the sidewalk, Mr. Rice said.

Fines for illegally using public space start at $300, according to the transportation department’s Web site (www.ddot.dc.gov).

In 2002, the D.C. Council approved a bill to exempt its members from parking regulations after traffic-enforcement officers had cracked down on illegally parked cars. Mr. Brazil was joined by council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and members Carol Schwartz, Kevin P. Chavous, Jack Evans, Sandy Allen, Adrian M. Fenty, David A. Catania, Jim Graham and Vincent B. Orange Sr. in approving the bill.

Phil Mendelson, Kathleen Patterson and Sharon Ambrose voted against the measure.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams criticized but approved the bill, which extended to council members the same parking privileges enjoyed by members of Congress — including the freedom to park in bus zones, in restricted spaces near intersections, at building entrances and on restricted residential streets. It also freed council members from having to put money into parking meters.

Mr. Brazil, who has served on the council since 1991, has had a tumultuous campaign season.

Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, geared up to challenge Mr. Brazil but later abandoned the plan.

In June, The Washington Post reported that Mr. Brazil, who runs a personal-injury law firm, had used members of his city staff to do work for his private practice.

The Post also reported that Mr. Brazil’s advisers sought a political appointment in 2001 for a woman who had been working on Mr. Brazil’s staff and with whom he was having a relationship.

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