Mark | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Re: “Suspended Licenses and Big, Big Fines

Howdy y'all

Regarding “Suspended licenses...” I offer this cautionary tale from Texas. Surcharges and the point system came late to Texas. Part of the (ahem) unique logic of the GOP not to raise taxes – they enacted such scheme to raise revenue from traffic offenders. And succeeded only in proving the failure of regressive taxation. Millions of Texans were unable to pay the (ahem-not-a-tax) new punitive administrative fees which were often far greater than the also assessed court fines. The collection mechanism of suspending licenses only worsened the problem by then adding to the number of uninsured drivers. In 2011 the Leg enacted § 708.158 TEX. TRANSPORTATION CODE which exempted the indigent from surcharges. And several other laws (e.g., Art. 45.0491 TEX. CODE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE) expressly gives Texas judges authority to waive or reduce fines for the impoverished (these repeals thanks to an even more red Tea-party leaning legislature – thus evidencing a failed policy so spectacular even the wing-nuts conceded it didn't work). I'm seventh generation Texan but I'll be the first to admit the Texas criminal justice system operates as close to third-world as you'll find in this nation. Thus Vermonters should hang their heads in shame (i.e., your poor are no doubt paying with welfare benefits mostly intended for their children). More inexplicable: Hardship drivers licenses (restricted to essential needs) have been available in Texas for more than half a century. Vermont's statutory scheme doesn't explicitly create restricted-to-basic-needs drivers licenses – but the Commissioner already has the authority 23 V.S.A. § 612 and could promulgate rules which could be dovetailed with Vermont's existing probation laws 28 V.S.A. § 252. Perhaps instead of trying to bleed cash from the poor per the practice of prosecutor Donovan in 90 days – the better approach might be court ordered community service, restricted rather than suspended licenses, and other common-sense orders likely to bring the poor in Vermont into compliance (ahem... the purpose of your own probation statute).


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Posted by Mark on 06/06/2014 at 2:51 AM

Re: “WTF: Why can't moviegoers buy beer or wine in Burlington-area theaters?

Dear Mr.. Picard

I am Burlington's semi-official-longest-formerly-residing-Austinite (1979-2012)(plus I just returned today from 9 months in central Texas) ..

I'd like to share with your readers the following:

Alamo's several cinemas and the more recent upscale competitor's progeny e.g., Violet Crown; and iPic in Austin don't smell like "nasty bars." Nor of “buttery popcorn” – which must be industry slang for the odor of stale rancid popcorn as is often the case with most movie theaters.

Apparently borrowing others proven concept is beyond some. The decades-old newer business model isn't about suds – but bring a restaurant quality dining experience to your movie patrons by serving them inside the theater itself. Rather than having them fetch-it-for-themselves in the lobby, or adjacent to, or in the basement, or not at all. The better assortment of beverages is merely part of the up-grades, e.g., valet parking. That said, I doubt Burlington could support the operational costs for the more high-end type with menu offerings like chicken pesto made with a basil pesto sauce, chicken, bacon, roasted red peppers, crimini mushrooms and fresh mozzarella paired with a pinot grigio like Cantina Balzano St. Magdalena from Alto Adige, Italy (see But the Alamo model (including many of its other innovations) are national trends which will eventually make a smarter theater owner here more $$$ by providing its customers a better experience. Assuming they serve real food, craft beer, and fine wine rather than sour grapes.

Contrary to Mr. (Monopoly) Javis's self-serving spin these establishments add to and thrive within the major entertainment districts of Austin; against national theater-chains; in a city which has more than 100,000 mostly underage college students. Yet in twenty plus years none of these alcohol-serving cinemas have ever been closed due to liquor law violations; although Texas and it's capital are awash with Bible-thumping pro-prohibitionist officials, i.e., TACB (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission), DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety i.e., State Troopers & Texas Rangers); TCSD (Travis County Sheriff's Dept.); and APD (Austin Police Dept). Little known is that half of the 250 counties in Texas are dry (can't sell beer or booze) and Texas vigorously enforces its temperance laws to a degree Vermont never will (e.g., I was, back in the day, ticketed five different times for "Minor in Possession" in the “Live Music Capital of the World” while “Keeping Austin Weird”).

So I agree... WTF!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mark on 05/28/2014 at 10:57 AM

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