Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Municipal government: I can't believe it's not butter.

Cops don't tend to get a lot of respect in our society, which in principle is sad, since they're in some cases putting their lives on the line for our safety. But it's hard to respect the guys (and, on occasion, gals) when they don't follow traffic laws (how many times have you seen a cop use a blinker?) and when most of them are perfectly content to drive around town writing traffic and parking tickets, occasionally busting some kids responsibly, but illegally, having some fun.

Municipal government as a whole is so fat and complacent that trying to deal with it is like swimming in a vat of cold butter. At some point this November or December, I got a ticketed for parking in a "fire lane" (which was admittedly marked with "no parking" painted on the curb, but not with "fire lane"), and was instructed to show up at the University Park city hall on December 28th if I wished to challenge my ticket (otherwise, I could just send in a check.) I decided to do some research and looked up the Texas law on fire lanes. I didn't see the provision for signs, so I went to the courthouse, fully expecting to be completely exonerated.

In front of me in line was a woman who had been pulled over and was found to have neither a drivers license nor a proof of insurance. This, as she had explained to the cop, was because she was going through a divorce and her husband had taken all of her forms of identification with him, and was then claiming to not know where they were. The cop still gave her the ticket (as if she didn't have enough else to worry about), and there she was, with a copy of her driver's license. I ended up having my fine reduced by $40 to $35, since it was my first offense.

Drivers aren't the only ones municipalities parasitize. Eminent domain abuses are rampant, but this one really gets my goat: It's pointless, racist, AND Oklahoma.

So since whining doesn't accomplish much, what would I do differently? Well, of course, eminent domain is meant for public projects, not private development, and it should stay that way. Secondly, there are a ton of little municipalites which would be more efficient joined together - might as well only pay one fire chief and such - so they'd do well to merge. Third, large parks could and should be managed better by private groups who enjoy them.


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