Click-It or Ticket: For Real This Time

We have this annual campaign in Florida (Interestingly enough, in JUNE). Apparently, cops are supposed to be looking for people who aren’t buckled up to give them a ticket.

For the past few months, many of the morning talk shows on the radio have been discussing this at length. To be honest, I always thought that it was the law. Apparently, the only way to get ticketed for a seat belt in Florida is after you’ve been pulled over for another infraction. Interesting.

So now, the police can pull you over if they suspect you are not using your seat belt. The State’s sophisticated research has indicated that the new law will save over 100 lives in the course of a year, not to mention many more serious injuries. This, therefore, reduces healthcare costs that state and local governments have to fork over in serious and fatal accidents.

I’m sure that the fine at 30 dollars a pop goes to a good cause… or perhaps just to Uncle Sam.

In the first day of enforcement, there were over 200 reported citations in the Bay Area. 200!

TAMPA – Buckle up or pay the consequences.

More than 200 motorists found that out the hard way today.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies, out on patrol to enforce Florida’s new enhanced seat belt law, wrote 203 tickets by the end of Operation Belts or El$e,” Deputy Larry McKinnon said.

Some who received tickets were angry; others were blasé or thankful, Cpl. Ed Raburn said.

Deputies have been working for about a month to alert people of the new primary seat belt law. But many haven’t paid attention, Raburn said.

“I hope at least these people that we touch this morning will get the message,” he said during the law enforcement operation. “As it hits you in the pocketbook, it tends to make more of an impact.”

The new law lets law enforcement officers pull over vehicles if they see a driver or front-seat passenger not wearing a seat belt. Before today, authorities could hand out a seat belt citation only if motorists were stopped for another moving violation.

The law says people have to wear seat belts the way they are intended to be worn. If a person has a belt that goes over the lap and shoulder but isn’t wearing it properly, he can get a ticket, too, Raburn said.

Passengers younger than 18 also must wear seat belts.

Those exempt from getting citations include people certified by doctors as having medical conditions that cause the use of seat belts to be inappropriate or dangerous.

The cost for a seat belt violation is $30, but court fees could push that total to between $93 and $119, depending on the county. The fines are $101 in Hillsborough County.

One beltless driver ticketed today, Bob Clarke, called it an intrusion into his personal life and ability to make a decision.

But another man ticketed, Bilal Bell, said he understands why investigators are stopping people for not wearing seat belts.

“If it’s the law, it’s the law,” he said. “No deviation from it.”

During today’s operation at the intersection, deputies made one arrest. After pulling 27-year-old Norma Garza over for driving without a seat belt, they charged her with giving a false name to law enforcement and driving with a suspended license.

Deputies during the operation also issued tickets for improper window tinting and failing to show proof of insurance.

In Hillsborough County, more than 160 people didn’t wear a seat belt and died in crashes since 2004, deputies say.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law last month. It is named for two teenage girls killed in accidents while not wearing seat belts.

Marchetti, a Durant High School junior, died after being ejected from a car in a crash near Tampa three years ago.

Slosberg died in a South Florida crash 13 years ago.

Florida joins 26 states that have laws for primary enforcement of safety belts.

Wisconsin recently became the 30th state to enact a primary seat belt law, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The law is expected to bring Florida millions of dollars in federal funds for statewide transportation projects and save millions more in health costs.

Similar legislation failed for nearly two decades in Florida, in part because of concerns by some minority lawmakers who feared the tougher legislation could lead to increased racial profiling by police.

(TBO.COM – Josh Poltilove)

Let the arguments begin. Is this law another swipe at civil liberties as many are claiming? Others have understood it to be a government conspiracy to raise more money. Also, is this possibly setting up the State for lawsuits? Some of the objectors to the new law state that a seat belt can actually be hazardous in certain situations. I’ve read about cases where restraints caused a more serious injury, not to mention pretty much assuring a drowning death if a vehicle becomes submerged.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Like I said before, I thought it was the law in the first place. I don’t like the arguments where people say it infringes upon our free will as motorists. The action of not using the seat belt endangers one’s self. Do we really need to have a law dictating what we can or cannot do to ourselves? The counter argument is that driving is a privilege, not a right, and therefore subject to the overall supervision of higher authorities. Yada Yada Yada.

But really, only 30 dollars? That’s not much of a deterrent at all! Thus the conspiracy that it’s just a government ploy for more of our money! Just enough to be a slight annoyance… but not enough to deter the restraint REBEL! Take your chances wisely.

So, just as a friendly warning/reminder from The Heap to all in the state of Florida, and to those planning on coming down for summer vacation- use your seat belts!


The Phoenix

The Heap rises from the ashes after a brief hiatus.

June hasn’t been the best of months. But then again, this is what happens when you have a month in which nothing happens. Sure, for many Northerners and school districts with absurd schedules, June spells a long awaited break from the world of academia. Other than that, what really happens in June? Flag Day?

Well I suppose there is Father’s Day. Along with other mythological holidays.

I guess it’s actually fortunate for friends with June birthdays. There’s nothing else to confuse it with. But the bottom line is, is that June is just there, and nothing too exciting happens on it’s own in June.

And then comes drama. Served on a silver platter. More than I could handle.

Enough to extinguish my own inspirational flames, hell, it downright extinguished any efforts or feelings for a while. People were pushed away as I slowly dissipated into a pile of ash. Apparently June is ripe for growing pains.

I’ve cried. I’ve shouted. I’ve been happy. I’ve been sad. I’ve worked hard. I’ve been lazy. I’ve dreamed. I’ve gone through a nightmare. I’ve loved. I’ve hated. I’ve been cold… dormant… stagnant… numb. But I am feeling again.

I miss writing. I’ve missed a lot of things. I was convinced I couldn’t heal, but I was wrong. The desire for writing, for excellence in everything is returning.

Reemergence from ashes doesn’t happen quickly- at least not in this life. But at least now I can see, I can feel the embers glowing and slowly burning.



To The Big Unit Randy Johnson, who reached 300 career wins today. Here’s a pic to commemorate the occasion.

Thanks to BJ for finding this one. Seasons change, but apparently, Randy Johnson’s face does not.

Do they do busts of people in Cooperstown for the HoF? Johnson’s NEEDS to have the mullet and the dirty ‘stache.

In any case, congrats.

I’ll resume the UCBC tomorrow! Be on the lookout!


The Heap Reviews “Changeling”

It’s about time I add on to the quite bare reviews page. I’ve seen many movies, heard new albums, and read a book or two since the initial review! I literally have a (running) list of pieces I have been wanting to review. Perhaps I will get to them in due time. Let’s just say reviews will be more prevalent, especially since we have a subscription to Netflix and my mom loves ordering the most random of movies.

Changeling is just another one of Clint Eastwood’s silver screen masterpieces. I guess this goes without saying about much of his work.

Based on a true story, Changeling pits citizen versus a corrupt, higher order in the LAPD. Oh yes, the story occurs in Los Angeles towards the end of the Roaring 20’s. While the movie doesn’t depict demonstrators as violent, it’s fair to say they surely keep the spirit of Los Angelans past and present when it comes to formal riots.

I found the opening minutes of the film to be borderline tolerable. The interactions between mother and son seemed “forced,” so to speak. I didn’t feel the chemistry between Jolie and child star Gattlin Griffith, and found it hard to believe in the deep relationship the film attempts to establish in a relatively short period of time. A bit of “over-acting” takes place, perhaps working to distract the audience from what is occurring.

Despite these minor personal pet peeves, the set-up was executed pretty well. We follow the Collins family through their daily rituals, and allow the film to establish a sense of serene normalcy. Then before you know it, Walter Collins is kidnapped, and the audience is left wondering, How in the world can the next hour and a half be about finding the boy, especially with the beginning of the movie being a bit slow.

Needless to say, the pace picks up immediately. An assured story of a normal life in American Suburbia takes a turn towards a suffocatingly horrific and bizarre tragedy. It’s funny because strangely enough, Jolie becomes believable. Scenes immediately following the kidnapping showing are downright claustrophobic. Her encounters with obstacles and the tribulations she must face are that much more unsettling.

The film’s brilliance is  how all of the components come together- setting, camerawork, and perhaps even script/acting- to create a false sense of security. Then, as the child is taken away, so is the peace of mind, so is the comfort. Collins and the audience are cast into a world of constant rain and darkness. Most of the time, the brightest and most vivid object on the screen were Jolie’s vibrant red lips. If you pay attention throughout the movie, it appears the shade of lipstick may coincide with her relative “hope” level.

Eastwood clearly has a knack for storytelling, no matter if it be Western, post-modern, or a movie about old farts in space. In Changeling, Eastwood addresses the emergence of the American woman in the post WWI era. To me, it was amazing how he was able to add such a deep, complex layer to what could have been just a simple retelling of a true story. Instead, he chooses to empower. Jolie’s character is the first female supervisor at the telephone company she works at. She’s a single parent. Yet in public forum, she is easily dismissed by official (men in power), discredited and forced into an insane asylum for questioning the status-quo set by the man’s world.

So of course, now you have your double-entendre for hope: Finding her boy and the continued advancement of women in society. Ironically, she needs the help of John Malkovich’s character, a Presbyterian pastor who constantly exposes government and police officials in cover ups and demands accountability. Malkovich’s interpretation is wonderful, with the character echoing of the voices of many Rights activists of the past.

Changeling was nominated for three Oscars. One was for Jolie as leading actress. the other two were for Cinematography and Art Direction. The film is extremely visual. Eastwood employs colors, angles, and setting quite skillfully. I’ll have to see it again to be able to really delve down into the deeper meanings! Overall a wonderful movie and an unexpected thriller.


9/10 Bags.