Photo by Daquella manera.

Have the Washington Post’s editors already reassigned Eric Weiss’s responsibilities? Just one day after we broke the news that Weiss was leaving the Post, fellow metro reporter Tim Craig took the old, already-reported story of DC’s planned increase in ticket enforcement and bust out with a full-throated blast of Entitled Driving Journalist Syndrome.

Is Craig vying for Weiss’s “war on drivers” beat? Or do the Post’s editors want to make very clear that, despite Weiss’s departure, they have not wavered in their belief that no government nor person may stand in the way of their inalienable right to drive into DC from their suburban homes and park wherever they want, whether a legal space or not?

In classic Weiss style, the lede cites suburban drivers who just can’t stand the fact that DC’s government doesn’t put their needs first, even when they break the law:

Maricruz MaGowan, an economist who lives in Bethesda and works downtown, considers the District’s aggressive parking enforcement program a hidden commuter tax. “They target drivers from Maryland and Virginia. If they need the money, enact a tax on drivers who use the streets, but do it openly. This is ridiculous.”

… Over the next year, hundreds of thousands of commuters and D.C. residents could experience similar frustrations as the city prepares for a major expansion in its parking enforcement.

Officials at AAA Mid-Atlantic, who deem the District the most “motorist-unfriendly city” in the nation, are critical of the new enforcement efforts. ... “This is part and parcel a war on the motorist,” said John Townsend, a AAA spokesman. “It’s a sneak tax and a sneak attack on motorists and tourists. ... They are trying to make the District a car-free zone.”


Craig has even outdone his predecessors. Not only does he incorporate the “war on drivers” frame, mixing in the “tax” hysteria, but he breaks out the ridiculous assertion that we’ve started hearing from opponents of reducing parking minimums or performance parking: that DC’s policy aims to eliminate cars completely.

Of course, neither Craig nor Townsend explain how forcing drivers to obey laws is secret evidence that the city wants to wipe them from the city. I don’t seem to remember any Washington Post article talking about bicycle ticketing on New Hampshire Avenue which claims DC is trying to eliminate bicycling, for example. If any of you ever get a ticket for “jaywalking,” make sure to call up Craig and encourage him to write that article saying that DC is engaging in a “war on people” in hopes of removing all pedestrians.

Councilmember Jim Graham was unfazed, telling Craig, “Cars are not a threatened species anywhere in the world, and certainly not here.” He called the “war on drivers” concept “absurd” and explained that he was happy to “take the heat” to pay for the important programs retained in the DC budget. It’s too bad the Post’s slanted reporting makes him feel like enforcing the law is “heat” at all. Drivers ought to be praising the Council for more enforcement, since it benefits everyone.

MaGowan (who, ironically, works for the EPA) was upset that DC gave her a ticket for parking during a rush hour period. I’ve driven during rush hour, and one of the more annoying aspects is when two or three lanes have to funnel down because one single driver left their car on a road with a rush hour restriction. When that happens, the capacity of the road loses an entire lane. If we tolerate that, we might as well remove the restriction and let people park there at any time.

I’m sure Craig could find a few drivers to quote who are annoyed at other drivers who don’t move their cars, and glad to see enforcement to keep things moving. But that didn’t fit the anti-government frame Craig, Townsend, and/or the Post’s editors wanted to push. But Tim, if you change your mind, give me a call for a quote. Meanwhile, welcome to the beat.

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.