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March 9, 2009

Maryland lawmaker caught in the act -- updated

Citizen journalist Frank Winstead, a resident of Ward 3 in the District of Columbia, was none too pleased at the Honda Element with Maryland House of Delegates plates parked illegally in his neighborhood on Saturday.

He snapped some photographs, and posted them on the Web site nowpublic.com. The plate bears the notation "46A," and Winstead notes that the three lawmakers who represent District 46 are Pete Hammen, Carolyn Krysiak and Brian McHale -- all Baltimore Democrats.

I profess a little confusion at how plate numbers work. It's possible that plate 46A is not from District 46 at all. (There are three delegates in each of 47 Senate districts -- it's possible, if memory serves, that plates 1 through 3 go to Senate district 1. Under that configuration, the plate belongs to a delegate in District 15. But I may be way off.)

In any event, here's a photo that Winstead snapped. Please let us know if you recognize the car (or the driver, partially visibile in one of Winstead's shots). And please let me know how the plate numbers run. I have a feeling we'll get to the bottom of this before too long.

illegallyparked2.jpg
Vehicle with House of Delegates plates illegally parked on Saturday

UPDATE: I spoke with Del. Craig Rice, who represents District 15 in Montgomery County, who confirmed that he was sitting in the car while picking up his wife. He said he called ahead to tell her he was arriving, and said he never shut the vehicle off. Rice acknowledges that he stopped the vehicle in a "no standing" area, but said he was there for perhaps a total of two minutes. He says he certainly would have moved along if a police or parking enforcement officer -- or Winstead himself -- had asked him to move.

Posted by David Nitkin at 12:08 PM | | Comments (11)
        

Comments

David, your assessment is correct. Senate plate numbers correspond to the actual district number.

House plates are by district and then numerical, although it starts at #2 (because Plate #1 is the Speaker).

So, very likely, plate #46 belongs to a Delegate from District 15.

Also, the designation "A" after the number refers to a secondary plate, so very likely this can be the plate of a Delegate's spouse's car, not the Delegate themselves.

David, you're a journalist with a great rolodex. You're the kinda guy who can get his calls returned (unlike so-called "citizen journalists" out there). Why wouldn't you call and find out how license plate numbering works? Or, better yet, whose plate it is? If "md observer" has access to the information, it can't be too hard for a journalist to get ahold of it...
---------------------
Dear anonymous:

Your message prompted me to close the loop on this blog posting. I reached out to Del. Craig Rice, who confirmed that he is the driver of the car, used by his wife. He was picking her up at the time. I consider myself chastened, and will try to refrain from throwing questions up on the blog without doing a bit of reporting first.

-- David

Question, do the Senators pay for their own auto registrations on these cars?
Or do you and I?

I don't see how these plates serve any purpose but to invite preferential treatment from law enforcement officers or others.

But then, they're useful for one other thing: if I should drive by a legislator I'll know to give him or her an appropriate gesture.

So, to sum up: Delegates are free to break the law until notified that's what they are doing. And then its at their discretion as to decide what to do?

I would like to know the answer to AnotherWatcher's question also...

Maryland Delegates have to be "asked" not to break the law when in DC?

The last time I pointed out a parking violation (parked at a fire hydrant) to a Maryland driver in DC, she came at me with a jagged-edge hubcap:

http://my.nowpublic.com/world/dc-parking-transgressor-weaponizes-hubcap

Much ado about nothing!!

Frank:

I phrased my comment that way about Rice saying he certainly would have moved if "asked" mainly to connote that he did not seem to me to be a jerk about it. He did not cop an attitude, or insist he had a right to park there. He acknowledged that you caught him; he said he was there only briefly; and recognizes that technically it was a violation. His comment to me was along the lines of -- If an officer came up, he or she most likely would have tapped on the window and told the delegate to move, rather than write a ticket.

The House of Delegates and Senate of Maryland tags are an unusual case. The HOD/SOM tags are free, and it is up to each legislator to decide whether or not to use them. Even if they use them, Delegates and Senators they still must possess and pay for the regular tags for each vehicle. There are few other cases, if any, where an individual is allowed to have two sets of tags for one vehicle.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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