Video of Mayor Bowser and Miller's conversation posted on our FOX 5 DC Facebook page received more than 150 comments from viewers in a matter of hours, many of whom indicated they did indeed care whether city officials, including Lanier, have to abide by the same laws as citizens do.
Mayor Bowser's response
Here's the transcript of the conversation that took place between Bowser and Miller on Wednesday (click above to watch the video):
Miller: "Do you have any comment on Police Chief Lanier's car being in a handicapped zone?"
Miller: "Do you let your driver leave his car in handicapped zones?"
Miller: "Do you think that the citizens should be allowed to park in handicapped zones?"
Bowser: "I think the citizens should be concerned about the chief's leadership across the city and making sure we keep neighborhoods safe. I don't think too many people would spend too much time thinking about one incident of a driver putting a car in the wrong place."
Miller: "I'll tell you from comments from our viewers-- what they are concerned about is politicians -- unelected politicians -- like Chief Lanier who think they are above the law and the laws don't apply to them."
Bowser: "Chief Lanier is not a politician. She is a public servant. She's been a police officer for more than 25 years."
Miller: "So the laws don't apply to her?"
Bowser: "The laws do apply to her. I don't know one person who would be overly concerned about one incident."
Mother who parks in space: "I do care"
Brenda Ganey fought hard to get the handicapped spot in front of her house to help her disabled daughter. That's the same space that Chief Lanier's cruiser was sitting in on Monday night while she was at a community meeting.
On Thursday, Miller showed Ganey the video of Mayor Bowser's comments. After watching the video, Ganey said she does cares.
"As a mayor, she should care that her people are upholding the law. We are the people who put her in there, and she should care about disabled people."
The Mayor told Miller people don't care about one incident.
"It does matter if they park there because I should be able to park there in the space, come in and it shouldn't be a problem," Ganey said. "I feel that if they are going to ticket other people, then everybody should get a ticket."
Ganey's daughter became disabled after getting meningitis as a newborn. She's in her 40s now, and lives with her mother, who says the bigger issue is that Mayor Bowser should look at public programs that are wasteful.
"What she needs to be investigating, again, is the proper services that they are giving all this money to for disabled people, and they're not getting the proper services for this program."
When someone parks in Ganey's space, she says it makes it difficult for her to get her daughter in and out of their house easily. She can't get another legal spot for blocks up and down their residential street.
In the end, Ganey says she just hopes the situation raises awareness.
"What I would like to happen is that people on the whole—on the buses, on the trains, everywhere—learn to respect the needs of disabled persons, starting from the mayor on down," she said.
Miller asked Bowser's staff if she would like to clarify her remarks or if she had a message for the disabled community. Bowser's communications director, Michael Czin, responded, "The only thing in need of clarification is your organization's reporting on this story." Czin was referring to the mayor's repeated requests for FOX 5 to keep telling viewers that Chief Lanier has a driver, and the driver is the person who parked the car in the handicapped spot.
What FOX 5 viewers said
And here are some of the responses that were posted on our Facebook page:
Antajuan R. Wilson: "Cathy Lanier should lead by example and just say "I'm sorry, I made a mistake and I will be more conscious of my actions in the future."
David Belt: "I actually was embarrassed at the response by the police chief and even more so by Mayor Bowser. It does not show an example of good ethics, transparency, citizenship, leadership, or even a basic respect for the citizens especially disabled citizens of the District."
Toni Knight: "She's a hypocrite! She's the same one who was on TV defending a $75 charge to drivers who are caught going ONE mile over the speed limit. She said "the law is the law. One mile over the limit is speeding". We'll then one minute in a handicap space is breaking the law. She shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. Give her the same ticket that I would've gotten and make sure she pays it in 30 days"
Flex Arias: "Give her a ticket since they don't hesitate with us residents."
Raymond Roberts: "It does not matter one time or 100 times. The spot is not for her to park in unless there is emergency call she is responding to. And I doubt it in this case. In Fairfax County... it would cost her $500 (even if it was just one time)"
Gregg DeLeaver: "So let me get this straight. If you do that you get fined. If the Chief does it nobody (read Major Bowser) cares.....got to love DC!"
Chloe Bear: "It burns me up when the rules only apply to certain individuals and the mayor's response was it was just one time. How does she know that? What if the mayor's mom was handicap/disabled and needed that space would it be okay for that one time and for no emergency. I think not."
David H. Willett: "I support the law but Chief Lanier should get a ticket for parking in a handicap space."
Marc Neal: "No surprise that the Mayor thinks this is "no big deal." She's clearly out of touch based on her body camera response. How you anyone say this is okay regardless of how "small" she thinks it is when a regular citizen would most likely be ticketed and tow?"
And Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) tweeted Miller, "Some other no parking zone on official business is appropriate and lawful. Never a handicap zone."
What do YOU say about Mayor Bowser's comments? Click here to read more of what our viewers had to say, and chime in our FOX 5 DC Facebook page.
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