D.C. continues to streamline only thing it does efficiently— collect other people’s money

posted at 3:41 pm on February 5, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

The city does excel in one area of administration:

The city is writing tickets at a record rate, raking in nearly $90 million just last year.

The city wrote 1.8 million parking tickets in 2012, up 200,000 tickets from the year before. That’s nearly 6,000 parking tickets each day, or 400 tickets an hour and seven tickets each minute.

“We’re not only writing more tickets than the average city our size across the country, but we’re writing more tickets every year, every day, every month, every hour, every minute. The efficiency is increasing,” says John Townsend, AAA Mid Atlantic spokesperson.

Seven tickets a minute?!? Imagine the manpower involved in running this finely tuned confiscatory machine, designed to make life ever harder for the city’s citizens and visitors, not easier or smoother. Now, I wonder if each of the members of this parking enforcement army is getting a pension. The story’s the same in every city (and quite a few speed traps in rural areas across America). Bureaucrats are uncannily good at extracting money from citizens; not so much at streamlining and optimizing the things that money funds. None of it’s about safety— studies show wrecks increase in the presence of red-light cameras. It’s about revenue.

And, how are they using all that revenue? One logical place would be on the ever-present traffic problems in the area, but here’s the news Washington got this week:

When it comes to traffic congestion around Washington, even the good news is bad, and it goes downhill from there.

The city that so hungers to be No. 1 at something — usually on a gridiron or diamond-shaped field — has again risen to the top as the most congested metropolitan area in the United States, a place where the average driver burns 67 hours and 32 gallons of gas each year sitting in traffic.

The No. 1 ranking is the good news. The bad news is that it’s going to get worse.

The annual crunching of numbers by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute projects that unless something is done about traffic, the economic recovery will put more wheels on the road and create more congestion. By 2020, analysts say, the average U.S. driver will spend an additional seven hours in traffic each year and waste six more gallons of gas.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to weep too hard for ticket recipients of the Beltway. Consider the ticket costs and the traffic congestion a tax on becoming the Hunger Games Capital City at the expense of the rest of the country.

But this is a symbol for government’s stewardship and its consequences. Bloated state budgets and a federal government with too many responsibilities neglect their actual, constitutional duties, like infrastructure, while constantly begging for more money by saying they’ll use it for crumbling infrastructure.

Take Maryland, for instance. Governed by Democratic presidential aspirant Martin O’Malley, the state raided more than $1 billion from the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund to pay for non-transportation projects. After appropriating those funds for the General Fund and refusing to put them back, O’Malley is of course asking for a hefty gas tax increase…for underfunded transportation priorities. Maryland is essentially a one-party state, but one Democrat, State Comptroller Peter Franchot has warned O’Malley’s gas tax hike will hurt the economy and won’t even be used to improve infrastructure.

“If we move forward in this direction with this gas tax increase, it’s going to be for general fund relief, not traffic congestion relief.”

Maryland Democrats will no doubt let this happen to them, and then allow O’Malley to claim a victory for responsible government. Don’t let it happen to you.


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Illinois is going to pass a $.25/ pair sneaker tax for the chilrun. cmon let’s do that nationally!

tax us Obama! make us perfect! make us patriotic!

tom daschle concerned on February 5, 2013 at 3:45 PM

If DC area traffic is as bad as projected, except it to go full Hunger Games, with federal money being used for expensive and opulent transit solutions.

Nessuno on February 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

They need to grow revenues so they can make common sense investments.

forest on February 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Oh HeII, I guess that means you really can’t just walk into Mordor on the Potomac…

SWalker on February 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

They need to grow revenues so they can make common sense investments.

forest on February 5, 2013 at 3:47 PM

you sound ready to run as a democrat. :p

tom daschle concerned on February 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM

That’s okay, I hear they are planning creating a came for the 13 districts around D.C. Each district will send out a pair of their best and brightest youth to fight over the opportunity to drive in the HOV lanes.

LoganSix on February 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Was Billy Jeff ever cited with a parking fine?

Oh, you mean the other kind of parking.

Nevermind.

fogw on February 5, 2013 at 3:51 PM

In Chicago they don’t even hide it; while visiting I saw their ticket people wearing ‘Department of Revenue’ orange vests.

reddevil on February 5, 2013 at 3:52 PM

At least the governmental teat suckers have to fork out something to sustain some form of government.

cajunpatriot on February 5, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Couldn’t happen to a better place than the Pustule on the Potomac! Curse all the leaches who work there.

djtnt on February 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Rome will have gold plated sewer grates before then end of this decade.

Mr. Arrogant on February 5, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Now, I don’t expect anyone to weep too hard for ticket recipients of the Beltway. Consider the ticket costs and the traffic congestion a tax on becoming the Hunger Games Capital City at the expense of the rest of the country.

When I lived in Arlington, VA in the mid 1990s there were stories of meter maids flipping dials on parking meters so the timing would speed up. And that they had quotas to fill.

rbj on February 5, 2013 at 4:02 PM

The city is to be called The People’s City-State Republic. Stop referring to it as DC.

nobar on February 5, 2013 at 4:03 PM

I got a ticket exactly at 4:00 for being parked in a zone that becomes a travel lane at that time. I got in my car at 4:01. so i was guilty. but the crazy thing was the ticket writer was nowhere to be seen, but had managed to ticket 3 or 4 cars. $100 fine.

NoVAHockey on February 5, 2013 at 4:08 PM

a place where the average driver burns 67 hours and 32 gallons of gas each year sitting in traffic.

WTH? I do 67 hours in my commute in a little over 7 weeks. I would LOVE to only sit in traffic for 67 hours a year! That would be … let’s see… 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year… both ways… an 8 minute commute each way! Even when I lived just down the road from my office, I couldn’t do it in 8 minutes! I waste an additional hour every couple of weeks when I have to wait for the tunnel to clear.

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM

I read that to mean they spend 67 hours NOT MOVING in addition to their commute.

Washington Nearsider on February 5, 2013 at 4:13 PM

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Make that “in a little over 10 weeks.”

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:14 PM

DC sucks. If you absolutely must live there, go for Arlington. Expensive for other reasons, but it’s run better than Alexandria.

WhatSlushfund on February 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

And 32 gallons of gas would not get you 67 hours of sitting in traffic. At best it would probably get you 40 hours of idling. Driving it likely won’t get you more than 30 hours. Who the heck figured this stuff out?

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

has again risen to the top as the most congested metropolitan area in the United States, a place where the average driver burns 67 hours and 32 gallons of gas each year sitting in traffic.

That is A LOT of wasted gas. I don’t want to drive a car designed for their use.
I barely slow down driving to work.

Jabberwock on February 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Seven tickets a minute?!? Imagine the manpower involved in running this finely tuned confiscatory machine, designed to make life ever harder for the city’s citizens and visitors, not easier or smoother.
====================================================================

Hopeys 1,000,000 National Ticket Writers Security Forces…..

….sumpin…..

canopfor on February 5, 2013 at 4:21 PM

O/T:
Eric Cantor would like illegal immigrant’s spawn to be given US citizenship PDQ.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/02/05/Cantor-Children-of-Illegal-Immigrants-Should-Get-Citizenship

Remind me again why I vote Republican?

Mr. Arrogant on February 5, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Seriously, we need to march on Washington. This is getting insane.

jawkneemusic on February 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Hunger Games,ahem,Lol!!

canopfor on February 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Seriously, we need to march on Washington. This is getting insane.

jawkneemusic on February 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

jawkneemusic:)

March of the Tickets!

canopfor on February 5, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Speaking of Hunger Games……………

February 5, 2013, 4:06 PM
Philip Seymour Hoffman Explains

Why Bloody ‘Hunger Games’ Is Good For Kids
********************************************

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/02/05/philip-seymour-hoffman-explains-why-bloody-hunger-games-is-good-for-kids/

canopfor on February 5, 2013 at 4:33 PM

Clearly, if you can afford your own transportation, you are a member of The Wealthiest and you need to Contribute your Fair Share …

RedPepper on February 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Seriously, we need to march on Washington. This is getting insane.

jawkneemusic on February 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Well, marching is the only way you’ll get there as the cars are all in gridlock……

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:36 PM

When I was stationed in DC, I just used the METRO to/from the Pentagon…

Traffic there is just PAINFUL…

Khun Joe on February 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

My dh is a civilian engineer for the DoD. He used to work on a Federal military base in DC. Every now and then he’d leave his parking pass (the one that was supposed to be on the dash) in the glove compartment (usually after a weekend or after traveling to another base), and he’d get a ticket for being illegally parked on the base.

The kicker is that the tickets were payable to the District of Columbia. Yep, he was on Federal property, but DC collected the parking ticket fees.

CJ on February 5, 2013 at 4:43 PM

No wonder crime is up in DC. All the cops are out writing tickets.

As for Maryland, let ‘em stew, they voted those idiots into office.

GarandFan on February 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

When I was stationed in DC, I just used the METRO to/from the Pentagon…

Traffic there is just PAINFUL…

Khun Joe on February 5, 2013 at 4:41 PM

I visit family in Old Town, Alex. every year. Take Metro from there into DC. Works well. Much better than driving.

Jabberwock on February 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM

I got a ticket exactly at 4:00 for being parked in a zone that becomes a travel lane at that time. I got in my car at 4:01. so i was guilty. but the crazy thing was the ticket writer was nowhere to be seen, but had managed to ticket 3 or 4 cars. $100 fine.

NoVAHockey on February 5, 2013 at 4:08 PM

I know someone who found one of those tickets on her car when she went to get it at 3:50. She never drove that car into DC again because she refused to pay the ticket.

CJ on February 5, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Thanks to the incompetence of the idiots that work at the DOR office in Cook County, my plates weer registered to someone else’s car. So that $1200+ in parking tickets I racked up in teh first months of living there went unpaid by me. The who place is run by criminals and incompetents.

tom daschle concerned on February 5, 2013 at 5:05 PM

If you want to see real corruption, just do a search on ebay sometime for metro cards, both DC and NYC.

Many of those cards were given to the “poor” in order to get to work. Instead, they put them up on ebay for some pocket cash and claim they were stolen or lost, and get more free ones.

I know one person who finally got nailed. She was getting free DC Metro cards to get to and from work, but instead of riding the metro, she rode back and forth with coworkers, sold the cards, and pocketed the cash. She did this for just over two years before being nailed, along with others, for fraud.

Still and all, the NYC as well as the DC Metro hand out thousands of free Metro cards every month to folks on welfare, and despite the risk of being caught, many of them still keep selling them on the street or through places like ebay.

TKindred on February 5, 2013 at 5:18 PM

There is a town on a main road near Ft Hood,Tx that has a population of 300,the only business is a gas station and 13 cops writing tickets 24/7.

docflash on February 5, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Now, I wonder if each of the members of this parking enforcement army is getting a pension.

Short answer: Yes. NYC’s traffic goons average $70,000 a year.

One union you’ll NEVER see go on strike.

Cleombrotus on February 5, 2013 at 6:13 PM

And 32 gallons of gas would not get you 67 hours of sitting in traffic. At best it would probably get you 40 hours of idling. Driving it likely won’t get you more than 30 hours. Who the heck figured this stuff out?

GWB on February 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

The Best and the Brightest.

Who else?

Solaratov on February 5, 2013 at 6:22 PM

“More revenue will be required.”

ghostwalker1 on February 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM

TKindred on February 5, 2013 at 5:18 PM

The METRO parking lots stopped taking cash several years ago. They discovered the attendants were pocketing some of the receipts…no, they were taking gobs of it. Nearly every one of them. As soon as they stopped taking cash, parking revenue nearly doubled.

BobMbx on February 5, 2013 at 7:13 PM

@TKindred – there’s nothing “welfare” about it. Federal employees and many private sector employees who work in the city get transportation benefits every month to cover the cost of commuting either via Metro or another commuter train like MARC or VRE. Up to $240/month in free money, tax free. All the feds qualify for it, regardless of income level.

mrsknightley on February 5, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Just went up to $245, my bad.

mrsknightley on February 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Seven tickets a minute?!? Imagine the manpower involved in running this finely tuned confiscatory machine, designed to make life ever harder for the city’s citizens and visitors, not easier or smoother

…if you’re an illegal alien…no problems!

KOOLAID2 on February 5, 2013 at 9:19 PM

But can DC top this?!

Shy Guy on February 6, 2013 at 12:30 AM