- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Carol, Carol, Carol. You protest too loudly in the pages of The Washington Times regarding your piece of legislation in 2002 that granted free parking to the 13 members of the D.C. Council.

The 13 council members include you, Carol Schwartz, and, really, nothing against free parking. Your point is a valid one. You are doing the people’s work, and perhaps you do attend “four or five community functions in one evening.” And we both know it would be impossible to attend that many events in an evening if you were reduced to forever circling a block in search of a precious parking space, like the majority of souls who live and work in the city.

Yes, you have the people’s work to do, and it would be counterproductive to waste the people’s work on something as inane as finding a parking space. Again, your point is worthy.

We do not know if bringing the 9,000 members of Congress into the parking argument is illuminating or reflects favorably on your point. There are only several genuine players in Congress. The rest are yo-yos who are in it for the free parking, the pretense of being someone vaguely important and the “fact-finding junkets” funded by the friendly lobbyists on K Street. You could not identify most of these lawmakers with a scorecard. They are not even well-known in their home districts, some of which are no more than a couple of counties that have more livestock than people.

We all know about Congress. We expect more from our council members, Marion Barry excluded.

Seriously, Carol, you can park wherever you like, however long you like, whenever you like, and we can agree, mostly, that this is a good thing.

But here is where we part company: Parking is not merely an issue in this city, as it is in all urban environments. It is a growth industry, headed by unthinking, unfeeling, uncaring Gestapo-like types who hide in alleyways and in Super Cans to give the unsuspecting a big, fat ticket.

These people are under your control, right?

We can’t hear you, Carol. Speak up.

When officers of the Metropolitan Police Department were pulling over motorists guilty of gargling with mouthwash, your august body added the one of restaurants and the one of pubs and promptly came up with the two of a blood alcohol limit of 0.08.

It was a quick, simple and effective measure.

Your ticket-writing sleuths make the officers in blue look like beacons of permissiveness, so draconian are they. Some of us, out of resignation, seek the ticket-writing fixated motoring around in the white vehicles with the blue lettering and ask the person to write us a ticket to save time and the mental anguish.

In such an event, the person checks the following box in the parking violation: general principles. Here’s the thing, Carol. You and your fellow members of the D.C. Council need to rein in these ticket-writing savants. Just ask them to use common sense instead of a heavy ink pen.

We cannot help it if the parking meter is missing its head or if the meter refuses to accept coins or if one parking sign overrules the one next to it and both read like eye-glazing research papers.

Feel our ticket-filled pain, Carol.

You asked us to understand your point of view, and now we ask you to understand ours.

Your free parking will merit no further comment in this space, as long as professional help is made available to your ticket-writing corps suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

That is just no way to live. And, please, let us not get started on Cleveland Ray, the one-time bureaucrat who has retired from his days of fining those whose grass was a millimeter too tall in the public space in front of their properties.

It cuts both ways, Carol.

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