The long arm of the District's parking office caught up with the city's First Family this week, forcing Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon to shell out $275 for eight infractions and formally contest another that would cost $200.
The mayor got an unwelcome taste of the city's recent move to stiffen parking fines and increase enforcement to bolster the District's flagging revenue. The city's army of parking officers issues more than a million tickets and collects about $42 million in fines annually.
Vada O'Hara Manager, Dixon's press secretary, said the mayor's daughters, Aimee and Drew, received the tickets while using one of the family's three cars, which are registered in the mayor's name. WRC-TV (Channel 4) first reported the fines last night. Many of them have doubled because no payment was received after 15 days.
It's an excuse that won't fly with the folks at the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication, which hears appeals of parking violations, but Manager said that the Dixon family simply forgot to pay the fines amid the hectic pace of the mayor's transition to office and her Jan. 2 inauguration.
"Clearly, this was just an oversight," Manager said. "I guess the moral of the story is that no one is above the law -- not the mayor, not her daughters."
Manager said that one of the tickets was for displaying expired tags, a $100 charge that has since doubled.
"There's some dispute over that one," he said.
The Dixons paid the other fines yesterday.
Since taking office, Dixon's prospects for personally incurring additional parking fines diminished greatly. She now rides around town in the mayor's official car, a chauffeur-driven Ford Crown Victoria.
Last month, Dixon decided to trade in former mayor Marion Barry's Lincoln Town Car, which had become a symbol of Barry's after-hours exploits and abuses of office.
Dixon aides said the new mayor wanted to project a different image, but then nearly created an image problem of her own by giving thought to leasing an even larger "mini-stretch" limousine.
Along with the darkened glass, leather seats and twin cellular phones that adorned Barry's Town Car, Dixon considered a 13-inch color television, a videocassette recorder and a soundproof glass divider.
Those plans apparently have been scrapped.