Every weekday morning, at 7:55 a.m., residents of Monroe Street NW can rest assured that a dutiful representative of the D.C. government is at their street corner, keeping a watchful eye on their cars. Although ours is not an area particularly high in crime, one would think the residents of Monroe Street would be glad to have the added surveillance of this government official. That is, unless they are aware that this official is watching his clock as closely as our cars. For at the moment 8 a.m. arrives, he places $20 parking tickets on the windshield of each car remaining on the north side of the street. I was recently the recipient of just such a ticket -- at 8:03 a.m.

During five years of living in the District, I've heard the clamor about how incompetent the city government is, how everything from registering a car to requesting an ambulance takes roughly five times longer in the District than it does in any other jurisdiction. Frankly, I never thought much of this petty whining -- until I watched the parking officer drive away from my car after leaving me a ticket for being three whole minutes late in moving my car from one side of my street to the other.

I am now convinced that the D.C. government is far more capable of fulfilling its duties in a timely fashion than it has previously led us to believe. Perhaps Mayor Barry should transfer authority for the city's ambulance service to the parking police -- based on my experience, it would dramatically improve response time. TIMOTHY J. ROCHE Washington