Friday, October 30, 2009

Houston Wants it Both Ways

Apparently the City of Houston wants it both ways.

First of all, the city goes to the state legislature to make running a red light a civil infraction rather than a criminal one. The purpose of this is to reduce the level of proof in order to issue citations to generate revenue. The plan gets enacted and the citations are practically flying through the mail. Also ticketed are emergency workers (i.e. police, firefighters, and EMTs). I'm not talking about the emergency vehicle operators who ran red lights with no cause. I'm referring to the instances where emergency vehicles were cited for running the red lights while running priority calls. The citation would arrive at the agency owning the vehicle and more often than not the operator would have to pay the citation or challenge it on their own time. This was annoying to emergency workers who said in frustration they would quit running emergency traffic to life threatening calls out of fear of getting a red light citation from the city of Houston. This year the state legislature slapped Houston by passing legislation that forbade red light citations to the owners of emergency vehicles (however they can still send notice to the agency and let them deal with the matter internally).

For the past couple of years, the city of Houston has been trying to work a deal with Harris County to block the registration of vehicles with outstanding red light violations. What many people probably didn't know until this article came out was that there are outstanding toll road violations due to city owned vehicles. The city tried to say that the individual operators alone were responsible for the violations. The exact same procedure other agencies used when they got the red light citations. Just like the red light citations, toll violations come into the mail to the registered owner (the city). Sounds like they just passed it off and let the matter lie. How many registered car owners had to appear in municipal court saying they no longer had the vehicle, or let someone else drive it and the judge said no? With this embarrassing little piece the city is now stating they will handle the outstanding fines and better monitor their people. Does this mean they will be more sympathetic to registered vehicle owners who appear in municipal court? Doubt it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Remembrance

It was two years ago today I got a phone call about Deputy Jason Norling being struck by a careless driver while on a traffic stop. That was a terrible day for many people. I will never forget his fascination with the Vampire Chroincles and the long discussion we had about it. Rest in Peace Jason!

ODMP tribute here

Cantinas Important in Houston?

I came across this article on Channel 13 Houston's website. It tells of a cantina in the Heights neighborhood that the residents are complaining about. La Bola Loca is another of many cantinas that litter Houston. Residents have been complaining to the Houston Police Dept. and Mayor Bill White's office yet the bar remains open. Residents probably weren't that surprised when two people were shot outside that bar recently.

"So we went in there about 3am one morning. There were prostitutes and they propositioned us. So it was real straight forward. There was no secrecy behind it. It was pretty clear what was going on. We bought beer at 3:30am in the morning like the TABC requested that we do," said Josh Judd."

Don't depend on TABC.

"There is no prostitution, there is no drugs, nothing," said Martin Arguta (owner)."

He is lying!

"If this place had prostitution, it would be closed already, because we have visits from TABC, the police very often. They checked, everything is OK," said Aguta."

Again he is lying and I will tell you why. For years there was a cantina that we tried to get closed. We busted people coming out drunk at 7 in the morning! Half of them had cocaine. Many of them had no identification and were not old enough to enter a bar legally! Despite the number of arrests made, the number of complaints made with TABC little was ever done. Eventually the cantina closed, but is no open under a new name. So pardon me if I don't have a lot of faith in TABC to shut down a cantina.