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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?

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Offline tjavery

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Re: Agree.
« Reply #30 on: March 29, 2007, 07:04:41 AM »
Quote from: "westtex"
...In my experience Houston people are completely unafraid to die in their cars.  It borders on insanity.


HA! :D That sums it up nicely.

Quote from: "SHANEA"
I have no problem with ticketing speeders that are blatent, endangering others, etc.  I go with the "flow" thinking that it's safer to be going the speed of the traffic as opposed to the speed limit.  Several times on Belt Way 8 - the Houston Autobon, I've been doing 80+ and not even keeping up with traffic - especially during the rush hours, seems dangerous to me to be in the right or center lane doing the 65mph and everyone is weaving around you at 90+.    When I got nabbed yesterday, I wasn't going any faster than anyone else, in fact, I was behind the curve and was one of the last vehicles in that "grouping" - everyone else had already passed me :!:


Well, you're right about going with the flow. I think it's dangerous to have such a speed difference (e.g. 65 vs. 80 or 90) out on the highways, and I tend to go a little faster myself (70 - 75). But that's usually just on the Beltway - a road I have to drive every day to and from work. It is truly the Houston Autobon! :D

It sure feels better to be in a full-size truck. I've taken my wife's car a few times on the ol commute, and I always feel like I'm about to get smashed.

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Offline Boojum1

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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?
« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2007, 09:24:05 AM »
Traffic tickets are lousy, no matter where you get them.  I've fortunately avoided them for quite some time, largely due to very boringly obeying all traffic laws.  Traffic cop is definitely a job I'm glad not to have, espech in Houston.  
What's a hoot is the tow truck lottery after an accident.  I worked on a Superfund project on the SW Loop adjacent to the highway and there would be at least 3 tow trucks at the accident site before the cops ever showed up.

Per someone else's comment on suburbs, I tend to agree.  Dallas suburbs have people, Houston 'burbs have major manufacturing of the major polluter variety.  (notable DFW exception of Midlothian).  But in disagreement, kudos to Dallas for not giving welfare to a billionaire.  Arlington can have the stadium as far as I'm concerned.  If you think a stadium is the answer, consult with Irving.  

The cities do serve to attract the masses, which keeps our beloved WTX unencumbered by excess humans.  I-35 and eastward is getting a bit nuts with humans though.
Pithy quote free for years

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SHANEA

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Hoffman: Mistaken identity can really take its toll
« Reply #32 on: April 10, 2007, 10:58:08 PM »
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/hoffman/4700047.html

Quote
Ken Hoffman  
April 9, 2007, 6:30PM
Mistaken identity can really take its toll
By KEN HOFFMAN
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
I received a notice in the mail last week from the Texas Department of Transportation. It said a video camera caught me running three toll gates in Denton while driving my Ford Taurus in March.

The fee was 60 cents each time, plus a $1 penalty, so I owe $2.80. Send payment to Texas Tollways, 12719 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78727.

I guess I was lost, because first I ran the toll at Old Denton Tap Road heading north, then the same toll heading south, then the same toll heading north again all within eight minutes.

There's just one problem actually a whole bunch of problems. I don't own a Ford Taurus. I have never owned a Ford Taurus. I have never owned any car with the license plate listed on the TxDOT notice.

On top of that, I have never been in Denton, although I understand that Phyllis George was born there, and country singer Lynn Anderson was arrested for DUI a few years ago in Denton.

Anderson reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1970 with Rose Garden. She was a one-hit wonder, never reaching the pop chart again although she had many country hits.

I called the phone number on the notice to straighten this out.

Have you ever tried calling the Texas Department of Transportation? You get voice mail and instructions that get you everywhere except to a real live person who can help you.

After 30 minutes of "Press 1 for this, and 4 for that" and "our menu has changed so listen closely" and being stuck on hold, I finally was speaking to a human. He put me on hold (here we go again) while he looked up the photo of the Taurus running the tolls.

"Yes, Mr. Hoffman, I'm looking at the photo, and it's your car, a Ford Taurus that is registered to you."

But I don't own a Taurus. That Taurus and me are like 7 Up and caffeine never had it, never will.

He said, no kidding, "What I suggest you do is call this number (here we go again) and show them that you don't own this car."

Huh? How do you prove that you don't own something that you never owned? It's not like I once owned it, and sold it, and here's the bill of sale.

Would you like to come to my garage and look for Taurus droppings or skid marks?

They made the mistake, and now they want me to clean it up.

I asked to speak to his supervisor, who was busy, but promised to call me back. Yeah, right. I'm still waiting.

I would just pay the $2.80, but I'm thinking, when you run the same toll three times in eight minutes, you're a lunatic. I don't want to start something that could lead to serious money or problems further down the toll road.

I called the number the TxDot guy gave me. It was not a working number. I know, a lot of numbers for government in Texas are not "working." What I mean is, this number didn't go to anywhere. I got a recording.

I went to the TxDOT Web site. I clicked on "Contact Us" and told them my story. "Hello, I got a notice saying that I owe money for running toll gates it's a mistake I don't own that car or that license plate." I included all the details.

I haven't heard back from them. And I don't expect to. I think that "Contact Us" form is like hitting "Close Door" on an elevator it's just there to make us feel good. It really isn't connected to anything.

So here we are: I owe the state $2.80 because somewhere out there, there's a confused guy in a Taurus going back and forth through the same toll gate in Denton. And the state thinks it's me.

I'm lucky the Taurus guy isn't knocking off liquor stores.

This sounds like identity theft. But if someone steals my identity there are two disappointed people. Me, and the person who wants to be me.

Meanwhile, I can't get this fixed, because I can't get anybody to answer a phone in Austin, and I'm not sure where to call, anyway.

I can see it now. Ten years from now, I'll be driving on Loop 610 and a cop will stop me for a busted taillight. They'll run my license and registration and this Denton toll booth thing is going to pop up.

"Please step out of the car."

ken.hoffman@chron.com

Listen to Ken Hoffman on The Michael Berry Show, 8 a.m. Wednesdays, on KPRC Radio (950 AM).

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Offline badknees

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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?
« Reply #33 on: April 13, 2007, 10:07:57 AM »
For all the photographers out there.

The General Rule
The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs. Absent a specific legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs. Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks.

Property owners may legally prohibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations.

There are some exceptions to the general rule. A significant one is that commanders of military installations can prohibit photographs of specific areas when they deem it necessary to protect national security. The U.S. Department of Energy can also prohibit photography of designated nuclear facilities although the publicly visible areas of nuclear facilities are
usually not designated as such. Members of the public have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public places. Basically, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes.

Permissible Subjects

Despite misconceptions to the contrary, the following subjects can almost always be photographed lawfully from public places:
accident and fire scenes
children
celebrities
bridges and other infrastructure
residential and commercial buildings
industrial facilities and public utilities
transportation facilities (e.g., airports)
Superfund sites
criminal activities
law enforcement officers

They Have No Right to Confiscate Your Film

Sometimes agents acting for entities such as owners of industrial plants and shopping malls may ask you to hand over your film. Absent a court order, private parties have no right to confiscate your film. Taking your film directly or indirectly by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion. It can likewise constitute a civil tort such as conversion. Law enforcement officers may have the authority to seize film when making an arrest but otherwise must obtain a court order.


Moderator note:  see http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf for more info.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2008, 08:30:10 PM by RichardM »
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SHANEA

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Thank You.
« Reply #34 on: April 13, 2007, 12:22:34 PM »
Thank you for clearing that up.  

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/hoffman/4706985.html

Excerpt..
Quote
Driven to fix TxDOT problems
By KEN HOFFMAN
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
I think/hope my problem with TxDOT, where I'm getting fines for driving a Taurus through tollgates in Denton even though I don't own a Taurus and I've never been to Denton is solved.

It seems that someone with a similar name as mine bought a Taurus in 2006 from the same dealer where I bought a car a few years before.

The person who types the title and registration forms mistakenly put my address on the Taurus paperwork.

So when Candid Camera caught Mr. Taurus Owner running three tollgates in Denton, I received a notice from the Texas Department of Transportation saying I better pay the fines.

After many phone calls Tuesday, the problem appears to be straightened out.

I just wish the other guy with a name similar to mine would stop giving my name a bad name.

How's this for lack of respect? The Ford dealer found the record of this other person buying a Taurus but has no record of me ever buying a car there.

And yet they seemed to cash my check with no problem.
ken.hoffman@chron.com


http://www.dailysentinel.com/news/content/news/stories/2007/04/13/red_light_cameras.html

Quote
City considering red-light cameras in Nacogdoches
Big brother? Or traffic safety?
By JOHNNY JOHNSON
The Daily Sentinel
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Nacogdoches Police Chief Jim Sevey knows that there will be a lot of people unhappy with his controversial initiative to install red-light cameras at several city intersections. But he doesn't really care if they get mad at him.  The way he sees it he just might be saving their lives.
"I know a lot of people are going to say this is just more 'big brother' stuff," he said. "I understand that, and I can sympathize with that."
The fact is, Sevey explained, anyone who goes to a bank, walks into a convenience or retail story, uses a cell phone or "walks outside anywhere under the sun" where a satellite can take images, is more "hooked in" to the "big brother" network than with red-light cameras.
"We live our lives on camera, and anyone who uses a cell phone or PDA is hooked up to a GPS tracking device," he said. "Whether we like to think about it or not, we all live our lives in the public eye."
That's why when the state officials recently ruled that red-light cameras were legal, Sevey began making plans to implement them in Nacogdoches.
He had been studying the cameras for some time, and he said he felt that the third-party camera programs had finally been fine-tuned to the point that it was a good move to bring them to Nacogdoches.
Sevey said it is perfectly acceptable to take photos of people who are in public view and in a public location, such as city streets. But the cameras are not designed to photograph people just vehicles.
THE MONEY
The driving force behind the initiative was not about making more money, Sevey said, but about saving lives.
"I would love it if we never had to write another ticket," he said. "I would love it if we never had to investigate another accident. And I would love to see my guys just sitting on the side of the road with nothing to do."
But with nearly 1,000 accidents within the city last year, a 45-percent increase since 2001, Sevey said Nacogdoches has a high accident rate, and too many people are running red lights.
If city commissioners approve the initiative Tuesday night, the amended traffic control ordinance would allow a third-party vendor to install photographic red-light traffic enforcement that would identify vehicles running red lights and send the information to police.
From there, police would impose a $75 civil fine and mail notices to the owners of the vehicles. If the notices are not paid, it could affect the owner's credit score.
According to Sevey, that fine is much less than it would be for normal traffic citations, and of that $75, the city has to send $38 (more than half) back to the vendor, and an unknown portion of the fine has to go to the state of Texas.
What money the department does make will be used to finance a full-time traffic division, in an effort to further enhance traffic safety, Sevey said.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
According to Sevey, sensors will be placed at intersections, which will be connected to freestanding cameras that are placed where they can monitor traffic flow and traffic signals.
When the signal turns red, the cameras activate.
Once the system is activated, it begins capturing images.
The first image is taken of the intersection when the light turns red. A second image is taken immediately thereafter and if vehicles go past the red light, both images are saved and sent to police, along with a video clip of the incident.
After reviewing images, department officials will identify violators and mail notices.
Sevey said the cameras are not designed to "spy" on people, but to record license plate numbers.
"We don't want to take pictures of people," he said.
BUT I WASN'T THE ONE DRIVING THAT DAY
In cases where the owner of the vehicle was not the one driving the car, Sevey said there is an appeals process, where the owner can come to the police department and sign an affidavit.
The affidavit, however, is an official governmental document, and according to Sevey, anyone found not being truthful about their involvement would be subject to criminal prosecution.
"We don't encourage people to file these, unless it is the truth," he said. "We will try hard to make this a fair and equitable process."
SAFETY
In 2001, the Nacogdoches Police Department worked 662 accidents inside the city.
Last year, that number grew to 967 accidents, which had 470 injuries and four deaths.
In addition to the growing number of accidents, Sevey said, over the past couple of years there has been an increase in racing inside the city.
"We have a known problem where we have a small segment of our population who apparently enjoy getting out and racing," he said. "And they sometimes use our traffic lights as race signals. We hope this will curb some of that."
Sevey said the cameras will help monitor city streets more efficiently, because they can do the job that it would take 10 officers to do.
"I really think this is a positive thing, and the vast majority of our public will not be affected, because the vast majority of our population don't run red lights," he said.
The cameras will also be able to monitor traffic counts and conditions that could lead to further improving safety, Sevey said.
"If using a camera system can save lives, injury and property damage, how can that be bad?" Sevey said. "I think it is safe to say that after we do this, and it works, in a few years we will have some people walking around here who could have possibly been involved in a fatality accident if we didn't do it."

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Offline Roger, Roger

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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2007, 12:25:51 PM »
Quote from: "Picacho"
I've lived in both Houston and Dallas.  Houston itself is a better city than Dallas because of the burb difference.  Once you get out of Dallas into the burbs it's much better than Houston.  Dallas has to be the most poorly run big city in the nation.  All the city council ever does is bicker about whose racist and whose not, while at the same time stealing money from tax payers so they can buy furniture for their own houses.  Meanwhile Arlington now has the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys while Dallas is foolishly spending 60 million to renovate the pathetic Cotton Bowl which only has one venue left after the Texas/OU game moves to Arlington, that being the Grambling/Southern football game.  Total waste of money.  Maybe one of the worst city decisions in U.S. history.


Agreed.  Which is why I live in Fort Worth.  Big-city ammenities, small-town feel, laid back atmosphere, little traffic (compared with Dallas/Houston/Austin), great job market, all 4 major professional sports teams within 30 minute drive, DFW airport 20 minutes away, I could go on and on.  I love this town.  

I actually think Dallas and Houston are great cities, if you have enough $$ to live in Highland Park or River Oaks where you don't have to travel around on the freeways.  But most people are forced to live in the burbs and commute, since they can't afford to live in a safe neighborhood in the central city.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?
« Reply #36 on: April 20, 2007, 11:29:29 AM »
Clever stuff, this:

http://www.houstonist.com/archives/2007/04/18/psalm_to_allen.php

Quote
Yea, though I haul through the valley of the radar of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art speedy;
the cops on Memorial they shake fists at me.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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SHANEA

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May I Have Some More Please...
« Reply #37 on: May 14, 2007, 07:10:39 PM »
http://blogs.chron.com/cityhall/archives/2007/05/cameras_and_mor.html

Quote
Cameras, and more cameras

The Houston Police Department announced this morning that another 10 red-light cameras are now online. Here they are:

    * NB South Wayside at Gulf Freeway
    * NB Woodridge @ Gulf Freeway
    * WB West Bellfort Avenue @ Southwest Freeway
    * NB Fairbanks N. Houston @ Northwest Freeway
    * NB West Sam Houston Parkway South @ Westpark Drive
    * EB F.M. 2351 @ Gulf Freeway
    * EB South Post Oak Boulevard @ West Loop South
    * NB Northwest Freeway @ Mangum Road
    * WB South Sam Houston Parkway East @ Telephone Road
    * SB Stella Link Road @ South Loop West

    "Our priority is to promote the safety and welfare of the citizens of Houston," said HPD Sgt. Michael Muench. The ultimate goal of the program is to change driver behavior by increasing driver awareness and discouraging dangerous driving and red light running."

You can see a map of all the camera locations http://www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/ts_map10.pdf

The department also told the City Council's public safety committee today that they plan to install four "behavior modification" cameras to monitor crime on lower Main. You'll remember this idea was quite controversial when Chief Harold Hurtt last proposed it. The committee didn't seem to have any objections, though.

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Offline presidio

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Re: May I Have Some More Please...
« Reply #38 on: May 15, 2007, 01:40:32 PM »
Quote from: "SHANEA"
they plan to install four "behavior modification" cameras


What the heck are those? Is this some heretofore unrevealed technology that  activates when you are behaving badly in front of the lens and it just reaches out and slaps you silly, or gives you a big timeout in the big house?  :lol:  :lol:  :shock:
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline RichardM

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Re: May I Have Some More Please...
« Reply #39 on: May 15, 2007, 02:14:53 PM »
Quote from: "presidio"
Quote from: "SHANEA"
they plan to install four "behavior modification" cameras

What the heck are those? Is this some heretofore unrevealed technology that  activates when you are behaving badly in front of the lens and it just reaches out and slaps you silly, or gives you a big timeout in the big house?  :lol:  :lol:  :shock:

The intended modification is not instantaneous or even guaranteed.  The theory is that you'll modify your behavior of running red lights after you get the bill in the mail.  They probably paid some ad firm lots of money to come up with the term "behavior modification cameras".  :roll:

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Offline randell

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Re: May I Have Some More Please...
« Reply #40 on: May 15, 2007, 02:28:54 PM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
They probably paid some ad firm lots of money to come up with the term "behavior modification cameras".  :roll:


Or they just watched a few creepy futuristic sci-fi movies...
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Offline presidio

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Re: May I Have Some More Please...
« Reply #41 on: May 15, 2007, 03:42:43 PM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
Quote from: "presidio"
Quote from: "SHANEA"
they plan to install four "behavior modification" cameras

What the heck are those? Is this some heretofore unrevealed technology that  activates when you are behaving badly in front of the lens and it just reaches out and slaps you silly, or gives you a big timeout in the big house?  :lol:  :lol:  :shock:

The intended modification is not instantaneous or even guaranteed.  The theory is that you'll modify your behavior of running red lights after you get the bill in the mail.  They probably paid some ad firm lots of money to come up with the term "behavior modification cameras".  :roll:


I've traveled around the Washington DC area and have seen signs on the highways there advising 'Aggressive Driver Imaging In Use'.

I laughed at that one since I called it 'Angry Driver Imaging' and wanted to know how they could tell you were mad  :lol:

I wonder if there even are any cameras as it would take a pretty whacked-out driver to stand out as aggressive among all the other zoom and weave-bots on the highway. It may be like the decal telling everyone you have an alarm when you don't.
_____________
<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline presidio

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Re: May I Have Some More Please...
« Reply #42 on: May 15, 2007, 03:47:13 PM »
Quote from: "RichardM"
The theory is that you'll modify your behavior of running red lights after you get the bill in the mail.


Somehow, I have the feeling that a lot of those folks probably aren't going to be sending in payments without the police paying them a visit once the tab gets to a level that a visit ensures a certain cost/benefit ratio. With all the other things they have to deal with, it probably would take quite a large number of fines owed before it was worth taking the time to chase the scofflaw down...sort of the same way they treat parking tickets.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?
« Reply #43 on: May 16, 2007, 07:27:52 PM »
Just be careful to pay off all those tickets before renewing your drivers license or you will go directly to jail.  I think Texas even has reciprocal arrangements with other states so that ticket you never paid in Iowa might cost you more than you think when you get locked up while trying to renew your license.    It's a lot easier to just wait and let the criminals come to you... TWWG

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Offline Casa Grande

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Shall I Rant Why I Dislike Houston?
« Reply #44 on: May 16, 2007, 08:51:18 PM »
Quote from: "TheWildWestGuy"
Just be careful to pay off all those tickets before renewing your drivers license or you will go directly to jail.  I think Texas even has reciprocal arrangements with other states so that ticket you never paid in Iowa might cost you more than you think when you get locked up while trying to renew your license.    It's a lot easier to just wait and let the criminals come to you... TWWG


that reminds me of a few years ago when I had to renew my driver's license I was being flanked by two DPS officers ready to arrest me.  they just drove me to an ATM, paid the ticket and they let me go.  It was actually kind of funny.  I shot the sh!t with them for a few minutes afterwards about Big Bend and VBB. :lol:

 


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