Councilwoman on secret mission gets ride from the cops

January 26, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

So, another nice, quiet weekend for our City Council members, I assume? Nothing out of the ordinary to report. I'll just leaf back through the weekend papers to make sure, and - oh dear.

This group still has another, what, 3 1/2 years left in its term, so I'm going to be an optimist and predict that sometime between now and 2009, all members of this board will be able to make it through one complete month without doing something that makes the rest of us want to avert our eyes.

On Friday, it was Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean's turn to get into the act, driving with an expired car registration. 'Course that's not news, and if she'd just gotten a ticket and been on her way, nothing would have come of it.

But on seeing who it was behind the wheel, the city police gave the councilwoman a lift to the Motor Vehicle Administration so she could get her automobile back in good standing with the state.


You know, just like they would do for any citizen.

Or not.

I know, I know, the coppers did their best to make this sound routine, as if giving common, everyday folk a ride to the MVA is something they do all the time. The chief of police said that, depending on circumstances, it is possible that a non-office-holding citizen could get chauffeured to the MVA by one of the city's finest.

Sure it's possible. It would be possible for an officer to invite you into his car so he could run you on an errand. And it would be possible for the officer to give you a box of long-stem roses and treat you to a free evening at the Kennedy Center, too, but it ain't gonna happen.

Look, I understand the police didn't feel as if they had a whole lot of choice here. If I had been the officers in question, I will say loud and clear that I would have done the exact same thing - because it's City Council that hires and fires and pays the salaries of the police. No sensible police officer is going to go out of his way to offend the boss.

So we get that. But don't make it sound as if the Hagerstown Police Department is running a Meals on Wheels or something, giving friendly rides to anyone who's got a problem with their sled.

For her part, Parson-McBean said she needed special treatment because she was in the middle of city business. Important city business. Important SECRET city business.

Ooooo - I'm intrigued. What ever could this important secret business be? Does the president need Hagerstown to help track down Osama bin Laden? This excuse would have been a lot more plausible if this council over the past six months had done anything more important than decide whether a field should be used for baseball or softball.

At troubled times like this, I like to turn to the wisdom of Councilman Kristin Aleshire, who said: "The assumption that a member of council, or the elected body sharing some special relationship with the police department in a manner that exempts us from the laws that we have is not a philosophy that I condone or ..."

Excuse me, let me step in here a moment. I speak Kristinese, so allow me to translate: He thinks it was a bad idea.

Unless Alesia had had her dogs with her and she had been driving in City Park, then it might have been OK.

In fact, this gives me an uncomfortable thought that all of this might have been premeditated. Sort of like an initiation. Like before you become a real, blood member of this council you have to go out and do something whacky.

Remember those ads the Democrats ran during the campaign that showed City Hall and a sign saying "Not for Sale?" Now, not only do you wish they were for sale, you wish some rich Texan would buy it and move them to El Paso.

Now that we know what we know, I dare say people would be lining up to give them all rides.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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