June 19, 2007 7:18 AM

Every now and then, government does the right thing for the right reasons

White to HPD: don’t ticket over plates. Mayor says officers ‘should have better things to do’ than cite drivers for frames.

Calling the practice a “gotcha system,” Mayor Bill White on Monday said Houston police shouldn’t ticket motorists for having common brackets around their license plates that will no longer be illegal when a revised state law takes effect in September. The department had been issuing the $98 tickets under a broadly worded state statute intended to prevent motorists from trying to evade authorities by obscuring their plates…. “Our law enforcement officers should have better things to do,” White said. “We’re not there to just have some gotcha system. The purpose of these moving-violation citations is to discourage unlawful behavior, not to generate the maximum amount of revenue possible.”

Yesterday, I wrote about one of the state laws ever, a law that allows police to ticket drivers with the temerity to have license plate frames on their vehicles that obscured the word “TEXAS”. I expressed my surprise that Mayor Bill White hadn’t come out and instructed the Houston Police Department to stop issuing these citations, especially in light of a law set to go into effect in September that will put a stop to this silliness.

As much as I’d like to take credit for White suddenly seeing the blinding white light of common sense, I doubt that TPRS was even a fleeting influence. Still, it’s nice to see that “common sense” and “government” aren’t always mutually exclusive. And it’s nice to know that my Minnesota Vikings license plate frame won’t brand me as an enemy of the State whenever I have to misfortune to have to venture into Houston.

Bill White has shown himself to be an island of common sense in a murky sea of self-absorbed, inept, and undermotivated public officials, and I hope the people of Houston recognize how fortunate they are. Of course, we’re talking about the same city that re-elected Lee Brown, so it’s not as if Houston is a city of above-average political intelligence.

Reason and common sense triumphs in this instance. The sad thing is that it’s such a unusual and noteworthy event.

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This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on June 19, 2007 7:18 AM.

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