You Have the Right to Remain Silent – My Recent Run-in with the Law

You Have the Right to Remain Silent – My Recent Run-in with the Law

[The following is an approximate re-telling of a recent traffic stop I had with local law enforcement for a moving violation. The events of my run-in all happened exactly as described below. Well, almost exactly.]

traffic-stop-speed-limit-signIt was 7:22 am on a Wednesday. I was driving northbound on Main Highway like I always did this time of week. But this time, there was a problem. I was running late for my regular Wednesday meet-up with a buddy of mine. Let’s call him Terry, because, well, that’s his name. Terry was waiting for me at our regular rendezvous, a place called Terry’s Corner (honest). My buddy Terry is a big deal in this small town. But Terry was going to have to wait. Because, like I said, I was running late.

I knew I shouldn’t have downed half a six-pack of Mountain Dew Live Wire first thing in the morning. My heart rate was through the roof as I raced down the highway in my silver Toyota minivan, desperately trying to make up time. I saw the speed limit sign. It read 50 mph, just like it always read this time of day. Some things never change. I looked in my rear view mirror. Drivers were climbing up on my tail. Maybe I was just imagining things, but it looked like the guy behind me wanted to run me over. My heart started pounding. My palms got clammy. I could barely hold onto the steering wheel.

My mind buzzed with all the things I had to do today. Little did I know that my agenda was about to take a major U-turn – because just as I was writing the previous sentence, I zoomed past a parked trooper. In that instant, the cop pulled onto the highway, flashed his lights, and started in hot pursuit.

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Small Town Crime

Small Town Crime

Small town crime - MayberryI’ve lived in major metro areas my entire life – Albany, NY, Columbus, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and most recently, Seattle. They all had one disturbing characteristic in common – high levels of crime. Every year, it seems, the rates of homicides, drug-related incidents, home break-ins, road rage, and jaywalking go up. I hate to admit it, but even I eventually succumbed to my base criminal instincts. Last summer, I paid for three hours of parking in downtown Seattle, but left my car in the spot for three hours and 12 minutes. I know I should have turned myself in. It’s something that will eat away at my conscience for the rest of my life.

So when my wife and I moved to a small, idyllic community (population ~ 15,000), I was relieved that we’d finally escaped the urban world of unbridled crime. Or had we? We now live on Camano Island, a seemingly tranquil, semi-rural community with rolling farmland, rugged beaches, and views of snow-capped mountains. But lurking underneath this deceptive façade of serenity, I’ve discovered an insidious underbelly of rampant crime.

The island’s longtime elderly residents remember nostalgically a more peaceful era, when the main activities were crab fishing and sitting. The island only had one stop light, one gas station, and almost nobody with a last name that was hard to pronounce. But now the island has four stop lights and three gas stations. Thankfully, with the exception of Lucjan and Konstantyna Chmielowski, who were born in Poland, we can still pronounce most people’s names. However, along with this community’s spiraling urbanization (recently they even opened a drive-through espresso stand, can you imagine!) has come previously unheard of levels of crime and disorderly behavior.

The following is a list of infractions reported for the month of March. (All of the following items are based on actual police reports found in the local paper, the Camano Island Hopper.)

March 4: Mail was stolen from 115 Paradise Lane. The homeowner is only asking the perpetrator to please return the Wednesday Flyer section of the paper. There was a two-for-one coupon on flank steak she had planned to use. Continue reading “Small Town Crime” »

Help your town. Become a criminal

Help your town. Become a criminal

Become a criminal - lineupIf your city is like most others in this great country, it is no doubt struggling to pay its bills and balance its budget – unless your town is Beverly Hills, in which case you can stop reading now.

No one knows how our cities have fallen into such financial distress. Could it be that for decades tax rates have steadily declined while we citizens have relentlessly demanded safer bridges, better schools, and daycare centers for our pets?

As we all prepare to march on our state legislature with our latest referendum to demand lower taxes, how can our cities build the libraries, community centers and skate board parks with oxygen bars that are guaranteed for free by the Bill of Rights?

I’ve given this issue a great deal of thought because, as a humor writer, I have a lot of time on my hands. The solution to this perplexing fiscal crisis is clear: If you love your town, start committing crimes.

Because municipalities make big money on tickets for infractions, all you have to do as a patriotic resident is pick the violation you fancy most and go for it. Do you like running stop signs? Back up and run it again. That will bring in $300+ to the city coffers. Prefer public acts of indecency? Try streaking down Main Street. That’s probably good for $500 easy. Your city council will thank you (and probably offer you a free bath towel).

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A Solution to Our Prison Problem – Soccer Balls

A Solution to Our Prison Problem – Soccer Balls

prison guard towerNewsflash: Our prison population over the past two decades has soared to a record-bursting 2.4 million. Almost one out of every 100 Americans is currently incarcerated. (Personally, I blame Hollywood celebutantes Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber for much of the overcrowding problem.)

The USA has more people in prison than any other country in the world – yet one more achievement about which Americans can proudly shout We’re #1. The cost to house all these charming folks is staggering. Check out these startling statistics:

  • The average annual operating cost in 2012 was $28,000 per inmate.
  • Housing the approximately 500,000 people in jail awaiting trial costs $9 billion a year.
  • The cost to put my two daughters through four years of college would be enough to house the entire prison population of Wyoming for four months.
  • An ant can carry 50 times its own body weight.
  • Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.

As these alarming statistics clearly demonstrate, we need to do something about the runaway costs of housing our inmates – not to mention cracking down on Donkeys Gone Wild.

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In wake of Zimmerman verdict, Florida legislature criminalizes being black

In wake of Zimmerman verdict, Florida legislature criminalizes being black

Zimmerman - Not GuiltyRecently, our nation’s attention was focused on Sanford, Florida, where a mostly white jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed black youth in self-defense, which it totally was, of course.

Let’s face it, a black youth had no business being in a community of white people, and he came packing heat, and by heat, of course, we mean a bag of Skittles, a candy popular with malevolent juvenile delinquents. And while on one level, Martin’s death is tragic, on the bright side, thanks to the publicity surrounding his death, sales of Skittles are up 25%.

Critics of the verdict shouted racial profiling. Others blamed Florida’s antiquated Stand-Your-Ground law, which apparently permits a white person to kill an unarmed black youth so long as they’re wearing a hoodie, on a sugar high, and the person standing their ground thinks they’re Dirty Harry. The verdict sparked outrage among blacks, who felt it was another case of a white man getting away with murder. White vigilante enthusiasts, on the other hand, are anxiously hopeful Zimmerman may be awarded the next Congressional Medal of Honor.

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