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Judging from the number of cars parked on downtown streets with handicapped parking placards hanging from their rearview mirrors, D.C. has turned into one big rehabilitation ward. But instead of popping out of their cars and into physical therapy, the placard owners are grabbing their leather briefcases and heading to their downtown office jobs—without having to feed the parking meters. Under District parking regulations, handicapped motorists from any state are exempt from the ticking tyranny of the meter. A downtown parking enforcement officer said that handicapped scammers—who either duplicate their placards or borrow them from relatives—gobble up around 70 percent of the legal metered spaces on some downtown streets. Although the Department of Public Works (DPW) has drawn up a regulatory amendment that would make handicapped placard–holders pump the meters just like everyone else, the amendment is reportedly stuck at the Office of Corporation Counsel. “From our perspective, it’s not discriminatory to ask folks to pay for meters if they’re working in town,” says a source who worked on the amendment. Maria Holleran Rivera, a spokeswoman for Corporation Counsel, said the regulation is under review but wouldn’t comment on when it would be approved.
Voice Mailing It In Several months after he vanished—leaving both his job and his post as chairman of the Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) without so much as a goodbye—David Morris has returned. Sort of. Morris left a voice–mail message at Washington City Paper saying he wanted “to clear up some rumors” about his disappearance (City Desk, 8/23). He isn’t ill, he says, and he has simply been traveling “to 19 different states in the past three months” on business. He didn’t say what sort of business, and he didn’t explain why he quietly left his job at the Crew Club and his ANC position. He also left no forwarding address or phone number. He did finally resign as ANC chairman, according to ANC officials, who were planning a new election this month.
Graffiti Warfare Over the years, D.C. residents have found few reliable ways to get their government to deliver services. Complaining is a proven loser, bribes cost too much, and doing it yourself is too much work. But according to D.C. Story, residents of upper Northwest have found an enterprising way to summon city services: “symbology.” After three months of calls to DPW and the mayor, an exasperated resident gave up on getting an abandoned car removed from the vacant lot near his home. So one day one of his neighbors painted the car with large red letters reading, “Barry’s D.C.” Within three days, the car was towed. Recently, the residents tried the same method on a 3-month-old pothole. Again, it was filled within three days. Self-impressed, the residents are hailing symbology, a technique borrowed from Third World republics, as a guarantor of prompt service. However, DPW spokesperson Linda Grant says that service crews follow formal procedures—which include no references to symbology—in responding to service requests. “As far as spray-painting property, that’s illegal,” says Grant. “That’s called graffiti, and that is a criminal act.”