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January 2003 Rant

"One Plate"

It is now a certainty that HB 1428 will be introduced in the General Assembly. This is the one license plate bill that has been introduced before only to die in committee due to the urging of the state and local police administrators.

I thought hobbyists were for this – at least I did until our legislative forum held at the end of October. Three of the members of the General Assembly spoke in favor of one plate; two spoke against it. After the meeting I heard from car hobbyists who thought we should back off being in favor of one plate. I think some had a change of mind because of what Delegate Reid said about 911 and the need to give the police every tool to fight terrorism. He didn’t stop at that but also mentioned that Virginia has plenty of targets that appeal to terrorists.

I have some problems with this First the planes that were hijacked and crashed on 911 took off and crashed in states with two license plates. 911 was never a local police problem/issue. The FBI got the blame and rightly so. Shortly after the planes crashed detailed info on the hijackers was available on the TV. One FBI agent appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as “Person of the Year” for her role as whistle blower. She told the world what the FBI knew but did not act upon. The bottom line is the number of license plates on vehicles had nothing to do with the events of September 11th. Plus repeating in public all the great targets for terrorists is not a wise thing to do. They can find the targets without the help of our elected representatives. Members of the General Assembly should be embarrassed that they did nothing to change the DMV rules for drivers’ licenses and because of that several of the 911 terrorists had Virginia drivers licenses.

What worries me is the fact that the police can just yell ”911” and get whatever they wish. Money is a problem for every agency in this state except the police. While there are not going to be any police budget cuts anywhere in this state; Chesterfield County is cutting one firefighter per fire station while at the same time giving the county manager a big fat pay raise. I do recall that firefighters had a big part in the events of 911 but apparently our government leaders are only listening to the needs of the police.

The police have been getting a free ride from both the media and our leaders. When crime increases the police put the blame on poverty, drugs, one-parent families, etc and get away with it – and get what they ask for in funding. When teachers complain that they do not have the resources to teach children properly and ask for more funding they don’t get it. And they aren’t believed when they say low test scores are tied to problems caused by poverty, drugs and one-parent families, etc.

The police administrators are wrong about the one license plate. They have been wrong in the past. They were opposed to the 250 miles of pleasure driving per day for vehicles registered as antiques. Is there a car hobbyist in this state that agrees with the police position on that? The police got the vehicle color in the DMV database and on registration cards. I cannot find even one time that this info was used to catch a criminal. In fact Kasi (executed in November for killing people outside the CIA office) was able to fly to Pakistan because the police had the wrong vehicle color; the Lisk sisters/Silva murderer got away because the police were looking for a white truck; the recent sniper shootings and looking for another white truck point to the fact that the police have not been very successful with vehicle colors. The police also got radar by air because the police on the ground supposedly couldn’t cope with all those speeders. The planes in Northern Virginia are grounded quite a bit because traffic is so congested that no one is speeding. This air radar is costing us a ton of money but the police “need” it and the General Assembly gave it to them. I know some of you get red in the face when you see a fiberglass bodied street rod with antique plates. You say that ain’t no antique and they shouldn’t be using antique plates. You should complain to the state police administration for being against reforming the state vehicle inspection rules so that street rods can get inspected and get regular plates.

I’d like to know which police administrators decided that small crimes should not be investigated. Police officers spend more time catching and going to court to get a $75 speeding conviction that they do in investigating crimes that cost citizens hundreds of dollars. New York City greatly reduced the crime rate by sending police officers after those who committed small crimes. Those that commit small crimes start committing big crimes when nothing is done to stop them. And why is there so much emphasis on speeding? It’s the traffic offense least likely to cause injury. Maybe it’s about the MONEY.

It should be about the money – the General Assembly should save $8 million over the next four years by getting rid of the front license plate.

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