June Bancroft's daily walk to and from work takes her past the alley on the 16th Street side of the National Geographic Building.
She tells me, "Drivers coming out of that alley do not stop until they get to the street." This is dangerous, she says, because "this is a blind alley." Approaching pedestrians are not readily visible to a driver emerging from the alley, yet "most drivers give no thought at all to pedestrians."
What can be done? Two things.
The first would be to inform drivers about one of the best-kept secrets in Washington: Motorists are required to STOP before driving across a sidewalk, and to yield the right of way to approaching pedestrians.
The second thing that can be done would be to ask the precinct captain to station an officer near the alley to write tickets for motorists who disobey the law.
Inasmuch as the police department never has enough officers to cover every danger spot, we probably would have to be satisfied with temporary surveillance -- for example for a week or two during the morning and evening peak hours. That ought to be enough to spread the word.
The District's law on alleys is patterned after the rule in effect in most civilized jurisdictions. Section 49 of our traffic regulations states:
"The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, driveway or building shall stop such vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across any alleyway or driveway, yielding the right-of-way to any pedestrian as shall be necessary to avoid collision, and upon entering the roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on said roadway. Vehicles entering any alley, driveway or building shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian using the sidewalk area."
That's rather plan English. A full stop is required before a vehicle emerges from an alley onto a sidewalk. After the vehicle crosses the sidewalk, another stop may be required if there is need to yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic. TAX AVOIDANCE REVISITED
Yesterday I mentioned a Wall Street Journal ad that offered to teach individuals and corporations how to "Pay Zero Income Tax."
Today I am informed by George A. Beaudoin of Annandale that he received a chain letter based on the same lure.
Recipients of the letter are urged to send $5 to the first name on a list. They are told that for their money they will receive a one-page report entitled, "How Investors Cut Taxes." The letter told Beaudoin that by reproducing the one-page document and offering it for resale to his own mailing list of 200 people, he stood to make a profit of as much as $500,000 within 60 days as the chain widened its circle of buyers.
One who contemplates the vast libraries of tax laws and opinions that are the basis of the advice given by accredited tax lawyers and accountants can estimate for himself the value of tax advice that can be put on one sheet of paper. Nevertheless, I'm sure thousands of people will pay $5 for the "report" and a lot more for printing and postage in an attempt to make an easy half-million dollars.
Oh, well. Perhaps the report on how to cut taxes also explains how to avoid paying tax on the $500,000. CAVEAT EMPTOR
"I'm reminded of the Illinois judge who ruled that a merchant selling wood fences could continue to advertise, "We have no positive proof that Abe Lincoln didn't split the rails to make this fence." POLITICAL NOTE
David Broder, The Washington Post's expert on politics, is quoted in Paul Dickson's "The Official Rules" as having written in 1973: "Any man who wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office."
True. But anybody who isn't willing to work that hard to be elected has little chance of winning. Where does that leave us? AH, SO!
Ed Marks of Chevy Chase was reminded recently of a true story that dates back to 1937. Ed was at Hialeah Race Track when a man asked Damon Runyon, "What's the smart money betting on in this race?"
"The smart money," said Runyon, "doesn't go to race tracks."