Friday, July 31, 2009

Gates' Arrest Inspires Other Cops To Be Jerks

Professor Skip Gates' arrest in Boston, the "clink heard round the world," has had the curious effect of causing other police to step up and act like even bigger jerks than the cop in the original incident.

While the details of the Gates case are still not clear - we don't know exactly what transpired between the two men - what is clear is that police arrested someone who was trying to get into his own house. He may have acted like a pompous jerk when confronted by the Boston cop, but at the end of the day, the constitution generally permits us to act like pompous jerks.

Additionally, Gates was arrested while trying to get into his own house after returning from a trip. To China. He's probably been sandwiched between two fat smelly people for the last 16 hours. Most likely with a screaming baby two rows behind him. I would probably be pretty irritated already. Then he found he'd locked himself out of his house. If it was me, actually, I'd probably have started crying at that point, or running up and down the street gibbering incoherently.

So I'm sure the last thing I'd want is to have a cop approach me with the assumption that I was a burglar, despite obvious signs to the contrary. Namely, his baggage from his trip. Oh yeah, and his driver's licence with his home address on it. So no matter how much of a race-card-pulling, holier-than thou, smug, pretentious jackass Gates may have acted like during the course of this incident, it is very hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would be reasonable grounds for arrest.

Quite simply, he pissed off a cop. While anyone who doesn't want to spend half a day at the police station knows that you should avoid pissing off cops whenever possible, it's not against the law, and he should not have been arrested.

So, in the wake this incident which is certainly nothing less than supremely embarrasing for the Boston police department -- I mean really, they got bitch slapped by the President -- other policemen have decided to show their solidarity for the rights of policemen to use their power to arrest anyone who pisses them off.

First, another Boston Cop decided to speak out with apparently a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe defending the original, highly controversial, racially-charged incident by referring to Gates as a banana-eating jungle monkey. Wow. That's a brilliant move. Right when most of the free world thinks that the Boston police department is a bunch of racist assholes, you go and... er... confirm that. You, sir, are not afraid to proudly represent the lowest common denominator.

The best part? He used the classic "some of my best friends are [insert race or culture that you've offended]" defense when called out on his obvious bigotry. I am not joking. From CNN:

I regret that I used such words,” Barrett told CNN affiliate WCVB. "I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist."

So moving on to this weekend, now here in DC. A gay man is on U Street with a couple friends, actually talking about the Gates incident. In the course of his conversation, he says "I hate the police." It was late. He was probably loud. Based on some of the comments I read about this story, he is probably an obnoxious jerk.

But all he did was say "I hate the police." A cop overheard him from across the street and ran over and started hassling him because of his statement. Which I am pretty sure everyone would agree is not only constitutionally protected, but something the vast majority of us have said at some point. If not weekly.

Yo. Cops. Why do you think people hate you? Because you act like the goddamn lunch-money stealing bully in fifth grade! If you don't want to be despised then start acting like a professional and stop acting like a testosterone-soaked power-tripping asshole. Maybe people wouldn't say crap like that if you didn't give us so many reasons to do so.

So anyway, to make a long story short, the cop calls him a faggot, roughs him up and finally arrests him on "disorderly conduct" charges. Which is basically the "one size fits all" charge for the cops to use anytime they get pissed off at someone, and feel like throwing their weight around.

Congratulations, DC police. In the most supremely ironic display of jackassery yet, you actually arrested someone on the same charge as Gates, for expressing their distaste of the police over their handling of the Gates incident.

Wow. Just. Wow. Way to one up the Boston cops, who pretty much had locked the prize for village idiot down. But not content to just be bad at being police in general, you had to sweep in and manage to make DC cops look even worse than those fools in Boston.

Nice going. Well, I guess "policing" fits nicely next to "baseball" and "schools" in the list of things that we do worse than everyone else.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

DC Police: A Cartoon Review

A brief story. While at the Red Derby the other day, a really drunk guy started harassing people at the bar and walking by. There was a cop on the corner a block away at Spring Road. Since this looked like it could get ugly soon, but didn't quite seem 911-worthy, I walked down to the cop and told him what was up. He had been hanging out by his police car talking with someone, possibly a friend, for a while.

The cop told me (correctly) that 14th and Quincy was out of his PSA, but he'd call someone. Spring road is the border.

Nobody ever came. Things very nearly got ugly. Someone got sick of him harassing everyone and started something. Luckily, other more cool-headed people at the bar stopped him. Later, the drunk guy fell over the fence onto the table where I was sitting with my date, and while I was only trying to prevent him from falling down, he tried to fight with me because he thought I was fighting with him. It could easily have become a fight at any point with any number of people. Luckily, some people who knew him eventually came and took him home. But the cop could easily have taken control of the situation 30 minutes earlier, instead of just leaving a firecracker with a lit fuse. A lot of serious crimes probably start out as more minor altercations that could be defused early.

The cop one block away couldn't bother to leave his engrossing conversation to walk a block and deal with an incident, and if he even called anyone, they didn't come. He was clearly not busy with anything of consequence.

What Is Wrong With This Picture

DC seems to remain baffled about how to better deal with crime in this city. In the last few years we've seen a slew of untested, reactionary approaches to the citizen outcry whenever there's a crime wave.

These have universally failed. Despite Kathy Lanier's claims to the contrary, the drops in crime in DC this year are not due to "All Hands On Deck" and the other silliness she's implemented.

News flash Kathy: When crime drops everywhere in the country, it's not because of you. And even if this was a phenomenon unique to DC, six months does not a trend make.

But they continue to push forward with initiatives that not only seem mind-bogglingly stupid at first glance, but don't produce any lasting results. Even the beat cops don't like them.

Obviously, the lawmakers in DC need to have things simplified a little bit so they can understand why these policies don't work. In an effort to make things as easy as possible for everyone to understand, I have prepared this pictoral overview of the effects of each the gimmicky DC policing policies instituted in the last couple years.

What MPD Has Tried




What MPD Has Not Tried, Despite Being Proven Effective Elsewhere


Please, Kathy, stop this reactionary approach to crime in DC.

Do what's tried and true. Get police out of their cars and into the community. Instill in them values that getting involved in a situation, no matter how small it may seem, is better than not doing so. Get them to care more about things that concern the citizens who come and talk to them, than about their big-gulp or conversation.

I hardly ever see cops on foot. I hardly even see them on bikes and segways anymore. Get them out of their cars. Get them walking their beats instead of parking on the corner until something happens.

I have not seen a policeman on foot on my street, five blocks from the Columbia Heights metro and three blocks from the Petworth Metro, ever. This is one of the most publicized areas in the city for criminal activity. And I spend a lot of time on my front porch. A lot.

What is wrong with this picture?

Center Stall

There are three stalls in the bathroom at work. Unless your name is Larry Craig, why would you ever use the one in the middle?

Once a rarity, it seems like more often than not the middle stall is occupied when I've found myself needing to use the facilites at work. Since I have no real bathroom at home going on about 25 days now, this is a more common occurrence than it used to be.

Statistically, this is impossible. Here are the possible scenarios when you enter the bathroom.

All three stalls are free. By far the most common situation. If you use one of the two end ones, anyone who happens to come in after you will not have to sit right next to you, three feet away, in plain view of your shoes and dropped trousers and uncomfortably close to whatever you are producing in there. What you do: take one of the end ones. I prefer the spacious and luxurious handicapped stall.

One of the end stalls is occupied. No brainer. You take the other end stall, leaving a comfortable "neutral zone" between you and the other individual whom you pretend is not there.

This covers 99% of all bathroom situations. In those rare situations when you need to use the toilet and the two end stalls are occupied, the only civilized option is to go away and come back later.

So why would the middle stall ever be the only stall occupied? The only conceivable sitation is that someone came into the bathroom, found the two end stalls occupied, was desperate and had no choice but to sandwich themselves next to not one but two other people, as if they were in an airport or at Woodstock. Then, making this situation mind-bogglingly unlikely to occur in the wild, both end-stall users would have had to leave before you showed up to find the single, unfortunate individual using the center stall.

The series of events that are required to create this situation naturally are only theoretically possible. If it happened once, I might believe it, much like I believe that life on Earth began with a perfect confluence of events. But that took billions of years. This happens every other day. There is only one conclusion that can be reached.

There are evil, horrible people in the world. There are center stall choosers. These are sick, twisted individuals who fearlessly march into the bathroom, all thee stalls available, and decide that they will use the one in the middle. They are ensuring that the next person who walks in will have no choice but to awkwardly sit next to them and listen to them making all manner of noises that one would rather not hear another person making. They will guarantee that someone, a person with whom they probably work, will look at their shoes while suffering through the ordeal of using the stall next to them. An ordeal that is absolutely avoidable.

There is a frequent center stall user in my office. I have identified them by their shoes. All that is left for me to do now is figure out the appropriate course of action. I ask you, gentle readers, for your help.

Intervention, assassination, or vandalism?

My concern is that if confronted, this individual will simply deny everything, and continue their fetish unabated. Or worse, they may crack like a 30-year veteran postal worker. But my alternative is little better - while I am no killer, I don't know how much more of this constant psychological and gastroenterological torment I can take.

The final option is to disable the center stall. I could lock the door from the inside, or pour a bag of cement into the toilet bowl. While this might be effective, it would undoubtedly be only temporary. It seems little more than a band-aid, an analgesic that merely masks the underlying cancer.

This menace must be stopped. Center stall abuse cannot not be tolerated.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fenty To Metro Riders: "Screw You"

May 5, 2005: "As equipment threatens to become less reliable, it is vitally important to finance additional capital maintenance for both the subway and the bus system." -- Rudolph G. Penner, The Urban Institute, before the Committee on Public Works and The Environment Councel of the District of Columbia.

March 23, 2006: "As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board made the following recommendations: ... Either accelerate retirement of Rohr-built railcars, or, if those railcars are not retired but instead rehabilitated, then Rohr-built passenger railcars should be retrofitted with crashworthiness collision protection that is comparable to 6000-series railcars." NTSB

June 22, 2009: Metro trains collide killing 9.

June 24, 2009: "The only appropriate response is to begin to eliminate the crash-unworthy cars with this year's appropriations." -- Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. The Washington Post

June 26, 2009: "D.C. Metro crash highlights underfunding of public transit systems." The Christian Science Monitor

July 9, 2009: "Fuck you, Washington." -- Adrian Fenty (paraphrased), The Washington Examiner. DC pulls its $50 million share of Metro funding from its budget, jeopardizing $150 milling in matching Federal funds.

Because if there's one thing that we can really afford to cheap out on today, two weeks after the worst accident in Metro's history, it's funding Metro.

I am no longer of the opinion that Adrian Fenty and the DC Goverment is a bastion of corruption and lies. Now, I am pretty sure that they're just common-or-garden variety stupid.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Tax Is A Double Bagger

Yesterday, our increasingly disappointing Mayor Adrian Fenty signed into law a new tax that levees 5 cents on each plastic bag given to a customer at a retail checkout. Ostensibly, the purpose of this tax is to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags, with the revenue being used to offset the cost of cleaning up the Anacostia River. Which presumably has been destroyed by plastic bags. Only four cents of this tax will go to the cleanup fund, with the remaining cent going back to the retailer, a recent paradoxical twist on the whole "baggate" saga. How is this different than just having a four-cent per bag tax, if you're going to give one cent back to the retailer? Is this some kind of kick-back for protection services? Avoidance of Federal taxes? I thought about it over and over but could make no sense of it. But moving on, that is only a red herring in the larger idiocy that is the bag tax.

Now, I am no hater of the environment, even the Anacostia River. I am generally fully in favor of spending money on protecting our environment. But throwing together a sloppy revenue-generation scheme such as this is, quite simply, the wrong way to go about it. Below is a list of things that suck about this tax. This list is by no means complete. Rather, these are just some of the blindingly obvious problems with it that came to mind right away. Chances are, in practice, there will be others.

The tax will be difficult for businesses to implement.

The vast majority of plastic bags come from supermarkets. This should be obvious to anyone who eats. Have you seen how many of these things you get each time? Single bags, double bags, bags for wine. By the time you are done at Giant, you've probably got about 20 of them.

That's only a buck in taxes. (Or is it 80 cents?) Most of us probably won't even notice it. But the cashier now has to count every single bag they use, and add in a charge for them. Nothing against cashiers, but these guys are already distracted enough as it is with food stamps, produce lookups, not to mention their cell phones. How the heck is this going to work out? However it does, it's sure not going to speed up the checkout process.

Giant and Safeway want nothing less than something to further slow down checkouts for no reason --- in the big picture, that would cost them money as they would have to hire more checkout people to meet the same demand. I will bet anyone right now that every major supermarket simply continues to do business as usual and pays the tax based on the number of bags they buy, not the number that they "sell" at checkout. The cost will simply become another cost of doing business for them, like any other tax or expense.

In the end, there will be just as many bags going out the door. No benefit to people who choose to use their own bags (or, possibly, the same benefit as currently exists from stores that give a discount for bringing your own bag). Marginally higher prices on everything, for everyone, regardless of how bag-nificent a customer you are.

Result: same number of bags in the world.

Most People Like Getting These Bags

I, and the vast majority of people I know, save supermarket bags and use them for things like cat and dog poop, bathroom and kitchen trash bags, and lunch bags, among 101 possible uses for a cheap, disposable bag. If I find that I actually do have to pay 5 cents a bag at the store, I'll probably just buy shitloads of them at Costco instead and keep a crate of them in my car. I am just not a "reusable bag" sort of person. They get dirty if you spill something, and you need to remember to bring them every time. You need to make sure you have enough of them. And at the end of the day, you still need bags for dog and cat poop.

Result: same number of bags in the world.

People Who Don't Care, Don't Care

The people who are most likely to throw these bags on the sidewalk are probably the same people who are least likely to bring their own bags. Even if they actually did have to pay an extra five cents for a bag at the checkout (which isn't very likely as I've already discussed), they would just pay it without noticing or thinking.

Result: Same number of bags in the world.

And Where Does That Money Go?

The chances of the revenue from this actually going to clean up the Anacostia river, instead of paying for trips to Dubai and fur coats for OTR employees, is probably about zero. Do you really think that this "fund" will go to pick up trash in the river when we can't make the annual budget ends meet? Yeah, right.

Result: Anacostia River Remains Craptastic.

I am sure there are other reasons why this tax is stupid that I haven't even thought of. But the bottom line is, on the slim chance that this tax even hits the consumer at the per-bag level, very few people are likely to change their most basic shopping habits over a nickel a bag. Some really cheap people like myself will probably just buy their own bags in bulk for the 1/100th of a cent they actually cost, but most others will just pay the tax, probably amounting to a total of 50 bucks a year at most.

Please, just raise our damn income taxes if you need more money instead of this circus-game tax that will probably cost more to implement than it will raise. Since that's how it's going to work out in the end. And at least an income tax is not regressive and we can talk about it for what it is.

Update, July 10: Seeing as I got in Express Blog Log today, I wanted to comment on this tax in comparison to bag taxes implemented elsewhere. I would like to note that information about the effect of the bag taxes is very difficult to find in mainstream media or from independent sources. The results that have been published about Ireland's tax are only the positive effects. The negative effects are from articles typically published by the petroleum industry.

While I am naturally mistrustful of these figures if the only source I can find is the petroleoum industry, I am equally mistrustful of the fact that there is NO PUBLISHED REPORT from a truly objective source that documents the negative effects of the bag taxes, namely, increase in other plastic use, and increase in paper bag use, which are effects that one would obviously expect to see.

So, while I think the negative figures must be taken with a grain of salt, it is obvious that there would be consequences and it is highly concerning that there has been no "legitimate" study done of the effects of these taxes. Or, perhaps, could it be that the governments don't want people to know the true effects of these taxes since they like the revenue?

Ireland: 33 cent tax on plastic bags only. Result: 90% drop in grocery store plastic bag consumption. 400% increase in sales of other heavier plastic bags from stores (e.g. trash bags). Overall amount of plastic resin used in Ireland increased 10%. Unable to find information on obvious increase in use of paper bags from stores.

San Francisco: 17 cent tax on plastic bags only. Result: all stores switched to paper bags or heavy plastic bags marked as "reusable."

Comaprison to DC Tax:

1) The DC tax is 5 cents per bag, less than 1/3 of the San Francisco tax and 1/6th of the Ireland tax. The cost to consumers is not great enough to drive any change in shopping habits.

2) Taxing both paper and plastic bags. Paper bags are generally understood to cause more enviromental harm because of the much greater resources required to produce them, though they are biodegradble, unlike plastic bags. In San Francisco, the tax has caused stores to largely switch to paper bags, meaning there is questionable overall benefit to the environment. In Ireland, adoption of reusable bags seems much higher than in San Francisco, but has resulted in a dramatic increase in purchase of other bags at stores, typically trash bin liners, resulting actually in an increase in plastic consumption.

Monday, July 6, 2009

MJ's Ghost Boards Monorail At Epcot Center, Exacts Revenge For Captain EO

It was that or my alternative headline, Y2K+9 Bug Cripples Single And Dual Railed Transit Systems Nationwide. But I thought the supernatural angle was more attention-grabbing. Anyhoo, it seems far more than simple coincidence that less than two weeks after the worst crash in the history of the DC Metro system, the less prestigious but equally important Disneyworld Monorail System (DMS) has suffered the worst crash in it's 38-year history, resulting in the death of the train's operator.

Coincidence? Or Paranormal Interference?

There are many similarities between the monorail accident and the WMATA accident. First, the operator or Metro's crashed train was a rookie -- she had only been operating metro trains for a few months. The monorail train's operator, who died in the crash, was a junior at Stetson University. He had only been a "Monorail Pilot" since October. Anyone who's been reading this blog for the last couple weeks knows I don't think that the accident in DC had to do with the operator's experience. I'm just noting the coincidence.

Second, both Metro and DMS include sophistocated computer technology designed to prevent such incidents from ever happening. From the article:

"A former monorail pilot told Local 6 that all Disney monorails are equipped with a sophisticated 'anti-collision' system that automatically stops the trains if they get too close to each other."

Metro's sytem includes thousands of relays that report the position of the trains to a central computer system. DMS's system, on the other hand, uses a sophistocated technology known as "pixellated intelligence." While too complicated to explain here, the basic premise is simple. The trains can actually see each other and are smart enough to stop before they crash.

While it's unclear what may have caused Sunday's failure of the PixTel system, much like the Metro accident, scrimping on safety could have contributed to the seriousness of the problem. There has been much grumbling in recent years that outsourcing of animation at Disney has resulted in lower quality products.

Moving On Then...

Speaking of which, I risked certain death last Wednesday and rode the Red Line metro home from Silver Spring to Fort Totten in the front car. As we hurtled through the crash site at a hair-raising 8 miles per hour, I was able to obtain exclusive pictures showing the view the operator would have had as she approached the stopped traing.

Front Seat of the Red LineThis shot, based on the position of the building to my left, is about 250 feet from the bridge. You can see an aerial view from my original post on the subject. The accident occurred just around the bend on the other side of the bridge. In this picture you can actually see a train coming the other way. It's barely visible now from it's position just south of the bridge. A train on the same track would be even less visible as it would be further to the right.

And so, with this final piece of photographic evidence, the book is closed. The operator had very little time to react when she saw the stopped train. While there is no reason for the catastrophic computer failure to have occurred in the first place, in the future, how about NOT stopping the trains just around the bend on a blind corner? Maybe this is a silly point. I mean, they wait in the tunnels all the time, where there is probably about zero visibility in general. But if you're going to wait right there, why not wait about 100 feet back so someone can see you stopped there... didn't they teach us this in Driver's Education?

No reports yet on whether the Disney accident occurred on a blind corner. But this reporter is expecting yet another coincidence. And yes, I promise I will seek help with my train crash obsession.

RIP Austin Weunnenberg, Monorail Pilot.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dude, Where's My Car?

Ah, the suburbs. For much of my life in DC, I have lived in transitional* neighborhoods where we face such issues as crime, poverty, poor schools, and the like. But yet the most noise has always been made about street parking, typically by new residents. Jim Graham's newest "Bill to Protect and Enhance Street Parking" is the latest example of an attempt to regulate a resource that is fundamentally self-regulating. But I'm not here to discuss parking in particular, but rather to tell a story of my experience this morning in the land where parking for residents is guaranteed and parking for non-residents is all but prohibited. Yes, this place is called Alexandria.

I spent the night last night at my gf's place of residence at Seminary Towers at 4701 Kenmore Avenue. This is a pretty big complex which features the following "benefits:"

  • Giant parking lot, never full, towing enforced 24 hours
  • Each resident is issued exactly 5 guest permits per month
  • The actual road on which the building sits, Kenmore Avenue, is private, meaning you can't park on the street.
  • The only nearby public street parking is on Van Dorn Street. It's not all that far away, but it's only on one side and is extremely limited.
  • The nearest Metro station is King Street, which is about 4 miles away, requiring a roughly 20-30 minute bus ride or $15 cab ride.
  • The 24-hour concierge from whom you must get a parking pass seems to be "out to lunch" (at least that's what the sign says) more often than not

I've parked there a bunch of times in the past. Nearly ever time, we've had to go to the neighboring building to get a parking pass because the concierge is away from their desk so often. Last night we planned ahead - let's get the parking pass before we go out to dinner since they're always "out to lunch" (presumably, asleep in the mop closet) late at night.

What happens next is the critical error that resulted in this morning's fun. Against N's advice I did not immediately hang the tag from my rearview mirror because I thought it might blow away on the highway while driving with the windows down. Despite being reminded by her about three times on the way home after dinner, I forgot to hang the permit.

Today, 6:30 AM, car gone.

1. Look at "permit parking only signs." There is no phone number.
2. Go to concierge. Nobody there. Shocker.
3. Call number on "out to lunch" sign for concierge at other building. No answer. Shocker
4. Walk to other building. Concierge not in sight. He comes back after a while and we get information on towing. A1 towing. Driving directions only. Hey thanks!! If I had a car, that would be really f*cking useful, but the only reason I care where A-1 Towing is located is because I don't have my car!! Call cab.
5. Cab delivers us to A-1 towing on Vine Street in Alexandria. My receipt, which curiously does not include their address, says "Excellence in Towing Since 1986." More on that later.

We get to the shady-looking impound lot easily enough, pay the $100, and are directed to the back corner of the lot where we can "drive ourselves out." Car is blocked in by two other vehicles. Awesome. I go back to the desk and they tell me someone will move the cars. While I am back, I overhear the guys in front of me arguing with the towing company. Apparently, they are residents of Seminary Towers for four years. Today is July 1. They were towed because their parking pass expired on June 30. They said that you can't get a new parking pass until the 1st Thursday of every month and they have done this for four years.

Now I don't know if this is true or not, but what the hell? What kind of building would have a policy of towing their own residents, with a parking sticker, at 12:01 on the day after it expires? How about a warning? How about a fine? How about telling the towing company please don't tow our own goddamn residents' cars with actual parking stickers just because they expired one minute ago?

Excellence In Towing

Anyway, after a while the guy starts to pull out the first car, a silver Toyota Highlander with Virginia tags. He seems to have a problem of some kind which requires access to the car, so next thing I know he's working the slim jim. The car alarm starts going. It stops. It starts going again. He finally breaks into the car (is this even legal??) and does whatever he needs to do and pulls the car out.

A-1 CrashWait for it... this gets good. As he's backing the Highlander into another spot so I can get out, it rolls off the wheel-hitch down a hill and crashes into two other cars in the impound lot! Thoughts quickly run through my head. The first one was, I need to go back to the desk right now and negotiate for my $100 back plus another $400 in hush money. Then I realize my car is still blocked in. Whatever action I might take needs to wait until I am free. A-1 Towing is obviously some place where laws do not apply, since I have just seen them break into a car and then crash it into two others. I will probably end up locked in a basement if I make any noise now. Instead I just took the picture here, which shows the tow truck pulling the Highlander from against the blue Corrolla looking thing that it crashed into first.

The operator goes back and hooks the tow truck up to the Highlander again to pull it out of the twisted carnage. This time he takes the additional step of actually strapping the wheels to the tow hitch so it doesn't roll off again. Way to close the stable door after the horse is gone! Apparently he also needs to get inside the cabin of the car again, and didn't bother to leave the door unlocked after his last break-in, because he's at it again with the slim jim and pry bar and the alarm is going off again and again. Whatever happens to me on God's green earth I am never allowing my car to be towed again.

Finally another guy, probably realizing he really doesn't want me continuing to watch this spectacle and take pictures any longer than necessary, comes with another truck and moves the other car blocking me in. One hour after finding my car missing, I am on the road again.

I hope this post serves as a warning to all.

1) Seminary Towers has the most draconian parking policies of anywhere I've ever been. There is virtually no legal public parking anywhere nearby, there are no pay lots, and residents are permitted a total of five one-night guest permits per month. They even tow their own residents' cars the day after their parking permit expires. I really have no idea what people are expected to do with their guests. Good luck having your mom visit for a week.

2) This policy is completely silly because the parking lot has always had plenty of parking available at any given time, including late at night. This is about making money. If you want people to actually continue living there, maybe you should think about not trying to fuck your residents all the time!

3) Apart from the silliness of the policy, there is no reason why anyone would park here OTHER than to visit someone who lives there. There is no shopping, no metro, really nothing else nearby other than Seminary Towers.

4) A-1 Towing: Be Very Afraid. I have no idea what the law is concerning towing companies damaging cars when they are towed due to "illegal parking," but there are going to be some very unhappy people this morning. Are they liable? I can't believe that they aren't liable for allowing cars to roll around their parking lot and crash into each other. But fat chance that they would ever take responsibility for what I saw happen when the victims show up for their previously undamaged cars. Not to mention damage that could occur while breaking in at their whim, or just generally yanking cars out of parking spots when they have their brakes on and are in gear.

Let this be a warning to all you people who bitch about parking in DC. When you make it impossible for anyone without a permit to park, you invite the vampire into your own home. Forgot to renew your RPP permit? Off to the impound lot. Got a visitor? Oh sweet you've got that one visitor permit. That one visitor permit. Good luck having a dinner party. Got a contractor coming by when you aren't home? How about a cleaning person? I guess you could just leave the visitor permit on your front porch all the time...

Let me assure you: it can get a lot worse than it is now.

*PC term for "gentrifying"