Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Comedy on the Court Gives Scofflaws Second Chance

You could not make up stuff better than this…

By R.S. Gates

Do you owe your soul to the court clerk? Traffic fines in arrears got you down? Don't despair.

An enterprising news editor and a county commissioner have a better deal for you.

Waco "Tribune-Herald" Editor Bill Whitaker asked Commissioners about their goals for the upcoming year in a rare appearance in Court. Precinct 1 Commissioner Snell said he wanted to continue expanding support for the “Scofflaw” program he initiated.

Mr. Snell said McLennan County and Hewitt were the only current participants in the program.

Mr. Whitaker asked Snell if he was aware of the recent article in the Trib about Waco having millions in outstanding traffic fines.

In acknowledgement, Snell said, “Why say you have a problem and not do anything about it?”

Why, indeed?

In McLennan County, it's a matter of routine that when you have a problem, don’t say anything about it; deny it; retaliate against anyone who asks about it.

To get the Tax Assessor Buddy Skeen to go along with the implementation of the program, the Court dropped their resistance to adding thousands of dollars to his payroll. Some believe this was a quid pro quo arrangement in which in return for a rise in salary of an employee, Mr. Skeen implemented the scofflaw program. Most realize this is just the way things are done.

The theory behind “Scofflaw” is that when someone has an outstanding fine, they are prohibited from renewing their vehicle registration. A similar program exists for drivers license renewal. Research indicates the program has been very effective in other areas.

In McLennan County, all a person has to do is go to the jail and turn themselves in on the outstanding warrant. It really does not matter the amount because a judge will be along shortly to release the person with a notice to appear. The appearance date is at some point in the future so the offender takes the notice to appear to the tax office and the “outstanding” violation is suspended and they can register their vehicle.

Here we have another standard operating procedure of government. Do something, even if it is not effective, and proclaim it a success at every opportunity, even if the reality is the plan was a catastrophic failure. No one is likely to figure it out if you have the local media in your pocket.

No comments:

Post a Comment