Thursday, January 17, 2008

Politicians Should Park Like Everybody Else

Though they are loathe to admit it publicly, politicians love perks. From their beloved Council club pins to calling their favorite celebrities to testify before them, our elected officials often indulge in every opportunity to set themselves apart from the common man - except, of course, around election time.

One of their favorite treasures is specialized license plates. These plates let other drivers know there's someone important on board, deter cops from ticketing their cars, and even grant politicians VIP parking spaces in some places. Today, after a rash of negative media, "Beep, Beep" Marty Markowitz withdrew his egregious contention that he had special authorization to park his SUV on the sidewalk outside of Borough Hall - as he had gotten into the habit of doing - and moved his car off of Joralemon Street.

The Optimist wonders why politicians have special parking permits and vanity plates in the first place. Do they respond to emergencies like firefighter, police, EMT, or even doctors? When was the last time an Assemblymember weaved through traffic to come to their constituents' rescue?

I contend that the perk of being a politician is that they get to represent the people. We place in them our trust to speak on our behalf for the betterment of our City, our State, and our Country. And we pay them enough for the privilege of doing so that they should be able to afford putting their car in a lot.

A few months ago, I saw Councilman DeBlasio on the subway taking the train to City Hall. His straphanging should be an example to his colleagues, just as Mayor Bloomberg's was to New Yorkers when he first took office.

But if politicians insist on driving, they should have to park like the rest of us and circle the block until they find a space.

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