Friday, August 13, 2010

Political Connections Get the Bird

A Wood Trush, the District's official bird, appears on the 2010 low-number plates reserved for those with political connections.  Photo:
What's at stake in the District's hotly contested mayoral election?... license plates, of course.

Those who are politically connected in DC can request special plates.  For the past several years, the familiar sign of political connects are the low-number license plates enclosed in a square.  You won't find these tags listed anywhere on the DMV's website.  I don't know whether there is a tangible perk to having such a plate other than to show your status, but possibly ticket writers might think twice before approaching one of these cars. 

Now, the squares are out, the birds are in.  A few months ago, plates bearing the District's official bird, the Wood Thrush, began appearing on the streets.  A close relative of the robin, the male Wood Thrush is said to have one of the most beautiful songs of North American birds.  So the question is this -- is the bird singing for Fenty or Gray?  Could it be a sign that the Wood Trush's lifespan is a little over 8 years?

The District rolled out these new license plates with little fanfare, while a proposal to create license plates for DC sports teams has languished in the DC Council since December 2009.  The irony is that Maryland and Virginia provide suburban drivers with the option to get a Washington Capitals or Washington Redskins plate, while residents in DC can't show their home team.  The legislation, which would authorize license plates with the logos of the Capitals, Redskins, Wizards, Mystics, and DC United, hasn't had a hearing or vote - while those with political connections get the bird. has an excellent history and photographs of low-number tags issued in DC.

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