Chalk It Up to 'Official Business'
Change may have come to Washington ... but not to parking perks for members of Congress.
Residents of Capitol Hill, where legal spaces are at a premium, got fed up seeing Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's car parked illegally day and night, weekdays and weekends. One local sent a photo to us and other journalists showing the vehicle and its congressional license plates in a "No Standing or Parking Anytime" spot near his residence.
Caught in the act? Au contraire.
While the average citizen gets an expensive ticket, the California Republican can park there legally. No tickets, no tows. In fact, thanks to a special exemption, Rohrabacher and his colleagues can legally park just about anywhere in D.C. -- except in driveways, in crosswalks, in loading zones, at fire hydrants and on some streets during rush hour -- while on "official business."
And the interpretation of "official" is pretty broad. "Late-night votes, meetings, anything that he's doing that's on his schedule while we're in session," said Rohrabacher spokeswoman Tara Setmayer. Rohrabacher also counts overnights in Washington as part of his official duties; the only time the car is off the street is when he's out of town.
"Official business is not defined in the law," said Linda Grant, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Public Works. But, she said, any car with congressional tags parked very close to the Capitol would "certainly appear" to be there as part of the owner's official responsibilities.
Rohrabacher's neighbors are not thrilled. "It's one of those things people are very emotional about," Setmayer told us. "If they don't like that, they need to take it up with the D.C. City Council."
Don't bother, people! In 2002, the council voted to give the very same exemptions to its members. Because ... well, because it can.
Posted by: dealmake | January 30, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rrno62 | January 30, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse
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