Loose Lips

Gray, Wells Woo Ministers With Sunday Parking

With eight days to go before the Democratic primary, Vince Gray and Tommy Wells headed to Johnson Memorial Baptist Church to pitch ministers on their campaigns. Top of the agenda for the two candidates: changing enforcement against church parishioners who violate parking rules.

After one minister complained about members of his church receiving $250 parking tickets, Gray said that resolving parking disputes is one of the most important issues facing the District Department of Transportation.

"I don’t like the fact that people who may have just arrived in the District of Columbia are now calling the police and calling law enforcement officials to give out tickets on Sundays when people are worshipping in their respective houses of worship," Gray said.

Despite being one of Gray's harshest critics in the race, Wells sounded similar to his rival on parking, saying that the ticketing fight was a "metaphor" for other disputes between the churches and new residents. Wells repeated his call for a cabinet-level religious affairs after conceding that it's been "a little controversial" with some. (Gray, whose cabinet already has an Office of Religious Affairs, said Wells' proposal left him feeling like he was in The Twilight Zone).

Gray faced several questions from the ministers about the federal investigation into his 2010 campaign, with one asking him when he would accept responsibility for the crimes of his campaign workers. Another minister asked Gray how he's feeling after three years of the investigation, a question that prompted Gray to talk about looking at himself in the mirror every morning.

"As long as I can see somebody who I respect, I'm doing OK," Gray said.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Andrew

    Isn't this "problem" solved if people simply parked legally? Race has nothing to do with it.

  • gotryit

    I can't believe I thought of voting for Gray. In fact, now I will support his opponents.
    Let people park illegally because of... ? You have to be kidding.

  • SuperMarriop

    This is pure and utter ignorance. As a black man in DC it's funny how the really racist comments are actually the ones from BLACK people. Bottom line is the law is the law. You don't like the law you change it pure and simple. Get over it. No one group is more special than any other regardless of race or religion.

  • Corly

    Yres it is about racism. If you drive down P street NW on Sundays, there are certain blocks that allow parking on BOTH sides of the street up to 2 pm to accomodate White people going to church. It's the same in parts of Georgetown. The city accomodates certain people when they want to go to church and has for years. Similar accomodations can be made for other church populations. It only became an issue when these GOP rednecks from Texas and other Southern states moved here during the Bush Administration and never left because they had underwater mortgages and got used to the good money in DC. They just couldn't get used to the fact that Blacks were running the government and don't jump out of their way onthe sidewalk like they do in Texas because they are a bunch of racists.

  • Scoot

    Obviously most black churches are located in neighborhoods that are still majority, even 90%+ black. It doesn't really seem believable that these neighborhoods are also teeming with racist white people. If there is one thing that millennials who move to DC to "change the world" and absolutely abhor, it's a racist.

    It's more likely that a huge part of the issue hinges on the perceived divide between people who live in the city and people who live in the suburb as well as between people who own cars and those who do not.

    And church parking is a convenient symbol for this argument -- particularly evocative among young, educated affluent people like myself who have chosen to live car-free "in the city". We came to DC and dumped our car as a rejection of the suburban lifestyle that defined our childhoods. This newly embraced lifestyle is as much a part of our identity as what we wear or what music we listen to, if not more.

    To us, the only thing worse than a bad driver is a bad driver... from the suburbs. They not only want to mow us down with their cars, but they're also selfish, resource-hogging troglodytes from some sprawling nowhere-land that takes 30 minutes by bus to get to.

    And what do the suburban churchgoers think of us? Well, we're no less than the personification of "The Plan." Part of a nefarious scheme hatched by whites to push all the black folks out of the city once and for all. And on top of that, we're probably godless as well. All we care about is dog parks, bike lanes, and forcing the city to "bend over backwards" to our will.

    With these persistent attitudes, it's not surprising we're at an impasse.

  • ceefer


    I'm the racist for calling you out.

    Then again, you just might be paying me the rent that makes my big house - with my private parking - possible maybe I should be nice.

    In any event, fuck you too.

  • ceefer

    Samantha, you pretty much nailed it.

    I would add the sense of entitlement that is ingrained in these so-called "young professionals" to your assessment.

    Those arrogant Gen X-Y brats have spent their entire lives being told how wonderful and smart they are and that they can have whatever they want. These are people who aren't used to hearing the word "no".

    Now that they're "saving DC" on Mommy and Daddy's dime, they think everyone is supposed to just roll over and give them what they want - or just stay away from them.

    Thank goodness I moved out of DC (though I still own the 2 houses I bought and rehabbed back when the neighborhood was still being redlined by the banks). I wouldn't want people like them for neighbors. I already have to put up with them at work.

  • ceefer


    "Oh yeah. Those 68 riots and the crack wars of the 80s and 90s were totally irrational fear and racism. Go gentrify yourself."

    And people like me hung in there while p22$$ys like you stayed away.

  • Scoot

    "These are people who aren't used to hearing the word "no"."

    Remember what's happening here -- the churchgoers are asking for immunity from laws that were established long before any Gen-X-Yer arrived in DC. The churchgoers are quite literally asking for the city to roll over and give them what they want. They don't like being told "No", which is why this meeting convened in the first place.

    The Gen-X-Yers want the churchgoers to comply with the law. Strangely, to some people that translates as "entitled". Entitled to what exactly? I understand some folks are accustomed to DC not enforcing any of its laws but it seems like times are a-changing.

  • samantha

    When you argue against persons coming in to church on Sunday , argue against the GEN X crowd that invades our neighborhoods from Virginia ,Bethesda ,Potomac , Annapolis amd the white druggies that DC has tolerated over the years running wild .The unsanitary conditions created by those who refuse to "poop and scoop".Filfh is Filth !I believe the rodent population trippled with their invasion .This is the worst entitlement syndrome .
    Car owners registered in DC should demand that all vehicles on the roads be required to carry liability insurance , be registered ,park legally in designated areas,no fence parking, Bikeshare fees to include rental taxes as auto rental and NO SPECIAL LANES FOR BIKES . Next we will loose parking to skateboards .Time for GEN X to PAY UP . Auto owners and drivers shouldn't subsidize bikes . There shuld be an operators license requirement as well for them . DC Council, especially Cheh , Wells , Grasso and their Fentyesque ideas need to go back to their home states and try to pass the craziness they have pushed on DC . This cast of clowns would not get any petition signatures or votes . Tourist should be forwarned so that thy know to seriously debate visiting DC. Ward 9 has great offerings on the horizon and no driver persecution for pasking .GEN X will eventually klil the economy .
    Car owners do have rights ,however tell Congress and tax your right wing racist haters who come into DC everyday and AU students illegally using Visitor Permits all over Wards 2 and 3 for years .They do not register their cars.
    Maybe it is time for a Class Action Suit to ensure Equal Protection for Automobile Owners in DC .

  • Anonymoose

    This is ridiculous. Aren't people taught to obey the law in church? Isn't that part of the moral code? Hypocrits.

  • cminus

    @samantha, I don't think this is about parking or churches anymore. I think this is about your need to increase your lithium uptake.

    But just in case you're still vulnerable to facts, you know the reason that the city encourages younger childless people who don't drive much to move here, and has done so whether Gray, Fenty, or Williams was mayor? Because they're a great deal for the city. Bike lanes are effectively free when compared to the cost of roads and parking for automobiles, and roads aren't even all that expensive when compared with the two big pillars of the DC city budget: public education and Medicaid. Since the Williams administration, attracting residents who pay more in taxes than they consume in services has been embraced as essential to getting DC turned around. Those Generation X and Millennial residents who make you seethe with a hatred so profound it's a sin against Christ who is love? *They* subsidize *you*.

  • ceefer


    Those people you're acting as an apologist for contribute absolutely nothing to the city but the taxes they're forced to pay. They don't send their children to the schools and they consciously avoid contact and interaction with anyone not like themselves. And - as shown here - they certainly don't attend the churches. Perhaps if they did, they would learn to understand that the world doesn't revolve around them and their bikes and would thereby develop a sense of empathy.

    Here's something you obviously don't know: Those churches you hate so much are saving you money. That's right. You, like the other selfish brats, are quick to brag to anyone who will listen about "all the taxes you pay". But here's the rub: many of those churches provide social services to the neighborhood in the form of food banks, youth activities, senior citizen services, affordable housing, etc.

    In short, the churches in DC spend millions providing services to the very people you try to ignore while you're walking your dog and riding your bike to Starbucks.

    Your claim that Millenials and Gen X's are "subsidizing" people is ridiculous, arrogant bullshit. Most of you are not paying much in DC taxes since so many of you are working entry-level jobs and doubling up in rental apartments. Not to mention the ones who still claim Mom and Dad's suburban house in West Bumcuss as their home address so they can actually avoid paying DC income taxes. Meanwhile, those church members you say you are "subsidizing" are homeowners who pay the taxes that built your bike lanes.

    "*They* subsidize *you*." What a crock!

  • guest22


    All I want is for the laws that were written long before I moved to DC to be enforced. Be it Sunday morning or Friday night.

    Also, how long must one live here in order to ask for laws to be enforced? I've been here 10 years. My brother 25. My nephew, his entire live of 10 years. Which one of us is qualified to ask that laws be enforced?

    Also, I do not live on my parents dime. In fact, I grew up in the middle of nowhere in a family of 5 on an income of about $20K.

    Please do not make generalizations about who may not be like you.

    Again, I just want the laws on the books enforced. If anyone does not like the laws, there is a process in place to change them.

  • http://www.flickr.com/thisisbossi/ The Turing Testudo

    I may not be first to reference bike lanes or dog parks or the racial divide or communists or terrorists or Prince George's County or Semites or prostitution or gentrification or millenials & Gen X & Gen Y & Gen KY or the way things are done in the South or how this is a city or fig leaves covering pubic regions or how it's racist to be racist and racist to not be racist or drugs and the 'hood or what if I park across the entire road and honk the opening lines to Fugazi's The Argument, but dagnabit I AM going to be the first person to reference tacos.

  • Mike in DC

    I've lived in DC for almost 30 years, so I am hardly a newcomer and certainly not a Gen-X. During that time I have paid a lot of money in taxes to DC. I am tired of the people from the suburbs who do not pay taxes to DC, double parking and blocking traffic (including emergency vehicles) while they attend churchs that do not pay taxes. Its a fact of life that DC can not afford to provide bike lanes or education unless they collect taxes. It is a safety hazard that streets are blocked for emergency vehicles. What would happen if there was a fire in one fo the churches and the fire department chould not get there because of all the double parked cards? Who would be screaming then?

  • ceefer

    "To us, the only thing worse than a bad driver is a bad driver... from the suburbs. They not only want to mow us down with their cars, but they're also selfish, resource-hogging troglodytes from some sprawling nowhere-land that takes 30 minutes by bus to get to."

    And you have the audacity to wonder why we call you myopic twits.

  • newcomer

    but ceefer, you don't even live here, so you don't get a say. enjoy those red light cam fines!!

  • ceefer


    I own 2 houses in DC and pay a lot of DC property taxes - probably more you.

    I've never gotten a red light camera ticket so take that smart remark and put it up your mother's sn@tch.

  • Blaine Collison

    Is civility really this elusive? Disagree, but be respectful. Can't be too much to ask.

    The notion of a leader saying that rules shouldn't be enforced for one special class is absurd. And un-American.

  • ceefer


    I pay more DC than than you and many of your friends.

    As for "not having a say", I'll keep out of DC affairs when you and your urbanist friends stop trying to shove the Purple Line down Maryland's throat.

    As for camera tickets - the only one I ever got was from a speed camera on East Capitol Street under the 295 viaduct - back in 2005 when Tony Williams when Mayor.

    Anything else?

    PS, tell your mom the check is in mail.

  • ceefer

    "but ceefer, you don't even live here, so you don't get a say."
    Considering I own 2 houses in DC, I probably pay more DC taxes than you do. As long as I own that property, I will say my piece. You can ignore me if you don't like it, since that's all you can do about it.

    The church members you're hating on pay DC taxes, too, junior. Most of them live and own homes in DC. Many of the church members who come in from PG County spend money in DC restaurants after services. They come to work - and spend money - in DC Monday through Friday.

    Those people are helping you pay for your bike lanes. They, along with the rest of your neighbors in Montgomery County and northern Virginia, are also paying most of the cost of building and operating the Metro you take for granted. The same Metro that increases your property values.

    Frankly, instead of getting in people's faces with your racially-motivated whining about parking at Black churches(odd, how people like you never complain about the non-DC residents who crowd the city and take up parking spaces for non-sectarian events), you should be thanking "those people who come in from PG County for their largesse.

    "enjoy those red light cam fines!!"

    I honestly don't know anyone stupid enough to get a red light camera ticket.

  • Levi


    1) If parking on Sunday is so important to you and other church goers, then you should get parking laws changed. Notwithstanding your dismissal of the needs of others, double parking is simply illegal and unsafe.

    2) You own two houses, and pay property taxes. Who cares? I own one house, pay property tax and income tax. I also live here, and vote here, while you don't. I don't meddle in PG county politics, so you shouldn't meddle in DC politics.

    3) Your assumption that all "newcomers" are spoiled brats from southern states, that didn't work for what they have is laughable. You don't really know much about the city, evidently.

    4) I don't complain about other non-DC residents crowding the streets, as long as they are following the law and don't participate in selfish behavior (like double parking because they don't want to walk a couple of blocks). You, however, don't think the law applies to you because a) you own houses here, b) you worship a god here, and c) you (evidently) used to live here.

    Simply put, if you don't live here, then you don't have a say. Sure, you can have an opinion - it just doesn't count.

  • Don’t feed the trolls

    ceefer et all are trolls; take a look at their commentary on Greater Greater Washington.

    Look, this is pointless. Some people feel they are above the law, and don't need to obey parking rules (samantha, Muriel Bowser, Vince Grey, etc) because they're coming into town to worship Jeebus. We're not going to change their minds—they worship the All-Knowing Sky Daddy, so how far do you really think rational argumentation will take you?

    We're pouring into the city at the rate of 15,000 new residents per year—enriching people like ceefer in the process, mind you. Eventually, we'll get the candidates we want into office, and this city will reflect that. In the meantime, register in the city, vote on Tuesday, and call the cops (perhaps fruitlessly) on anyone violating parking laws. Soon enough, we'll abolish non-profit property tax exemption (it's elective, and not all jurisdictions provide it), and we'll see how many suburban congregations maintain churches on under-utilized prime real-estate then.

    We're young. They're old. We'll win, one way other other, as time passes.

  • Don’t feed the trolls

    oops; "one way or the other"

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