Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Outrageous Traffic Fines, McHenry County

Is the fine for a speeding ticket in McHenry County really $164.00?

Recently I had occasion to look up traffic fines. (No, I did not get a ticket.) I found a schedule that shows the fine for a citation up to and including June 30, 2019 was $120.00. If you waited until July 1, 2019 to get caught for speeding, the fine is $164.00. That's an increase of 36.7%.

The new schedule combines the violations for 1-20MPH above the limit and 21-25MPH over. In other words, the fine is the same whether a County mountie runs you down and cites you for 25MPH over or a Bull Valley cop cites you for 1MPH over. (Assuming there still are Bull Valley cops and that the ticket is answerable in McHenry County Court, not in the "Bull Valley system".

The minimum fine appears to be $164.00 and that's if you pay in advance and plead guilty.

If you go to court, the judge will assess the fine AND you will be responsible for court costs and fees.

The traffic judge might take pity on you and set your fine at $100. You'll breathe a sigh of relief and walk out of the courtroom thinking you have saved $64.00.

BUT... just wait until you walk up to the payment window.

One Google search result for the amount of court costs and fees revealed: 

"Minor traffic ticket court costs would be $226.00 (schedule 10) in addition to the fine set by the judge. Major traffic offenses would be $325.00 (schedule 9) in court costs plus the court ordered fine."

So that speeding ticket fine of $164.00 plus $226.00 will cost you $390.00 to walk out of the courthouse!!!

Why isn't there a revolution in McHenry County???

Remember when a burned-out headlight was $75.00? (2007) Or failing to signal a right turn far enough ahead of an intersection? $75.00

Well, somebody has to pay for that fancy courthouse and all those employees and judges sitting there, and YOU are that somebody.

Judges will tell you not to get mad at the women at the payment counter. They only collect the money. Court costs and fees are set by State legislators and the McHenry County Board. There is where you direct your anger and outrage!

If you are going to plead guilty, mail in your fine and waiver BEFORE the court date. Or take it in person to the courthouse BEFORE your court date (which you probably cannot do during the COVID-19 health crisis). 

Even if you walk into court and plead guilty, you are going to get slammed with the court costs on top of the fine!!!  $390.00 worth of Slam.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Know where your library (card) is?

I just read John Daab's story about his first library card. The story starts on page 25 of Vultures and Other Friends.

His book is NOT one to get at the library. Buy it. Own it. Read it. Share it. Give it as gifts.

I don't remember my first library card, which would have been in University City, Mo. Probably before you were born. John's story did, however, remind me of my first (and only) foreign library card.

I had gone to Belize in 1992 to visit a friend with whom I had had one date in Denver in 1986, some short  time after which she left the country. She had been in Mauritania for four years. After that, wherever she lived, she lived the way the people of the country do.

My trip turned out to be 5½ weeks, and it had to, of necessity, be a low-budget trip. I ended up spending $400 door-to-door. But, first, back to the library card.

In July 1992 in Corozal Town, Belize, there wasn't much to do. We walked everywhere - to the tortilla factory every morning, to the produce market, to fish in the bay and catch catfish (which the locals wouldn't eat), and to the town library. Everyone had to have a library card, including foreigners. In order to get a card, one had to apply.

And, to apply, you had to have a signature of an official on your form. What could be more official than the signature of the town mayor, and that's where I went with my form. He was gracious and signed my application, and off I went to collect my card. I'll have to find my diary of that trip. For some reason, I think my library card might still be with it.

Corozal was a small town. The Population sign at the edge of town read "7000", but I think that was wrong. I guessed at 700. But maybe the area all around it was counted, because the 2010 census was over 9,800. Perhaps they counted everyone who could walk into town and get back home in one day.

How did I get away for 5½ weeks for $400? I had a frequent-flyer ticket that I used to Mexico City (and back). My brother happened to be in Mexico City on business, so I spent one night with him at the Hotel Nikko. My friend had suggested I take a second-class train from Mexico City to Chetumal, but my brother's plant manager insisted I take a first-class bus (since I didn't speak Spanish). He took me to the bus station and told me to sit until the bus came to "that" door at 5:00PM and get on. "And don't walk away from your backpack." Twenty-four hours later I took the "Belize bus" from Chetumal across the border and arrived at 11:00PM. "Surprise! I'm here..."

On the return trip I took a bus back to Mexico City and a cab to the airport. Arriving at a Delta counter I asked when the next plane was. The agent started stamping papers and then said, "If you can get to Gate 20 before the door closes, that's your plane." I made it, but my backpack didn't. It arrived the next day.

The flight connected in Houston, and I went through Customs there. When the Customs agent asked where my luggage was, I held up my orange day-pack. I told him I had been visiting a friend in the Peace Corps. All he heard was "Peace Corps" and he waved me through.

I got into Denver at 12:20AM, after the last bus serving the old Denver Airport had departed. Thinking about how I would have gotten "home" in Belize in the middle of the night, the choices were 1. take a bus; 2. take a cab; 3. walk.  The bus was out, and I wasn't going to wreck my budget with a cab fare, so I walked home. Four and one-half miles in the middle of the night.

It was a beautiful night and a great way to return to civilization.

Be sure to read John's book. Your memories will coming flooding back, too.

Oh, yes. Why did my friend leave the country after one date with me? She reminded me that she had asked me how to get a job overseas, and I had replied, "Oh, I don't know. Call the Peace Corps."

Friday, February 7, 2020

Woodstock Author Publishes Book


Woodstock resident John Daab has published a new book, Vultures and Other Friends.

I've known John and his wife, Kathy Spaltro, since 1996, and I enjoyed his columns in The Woodstock Independent. As soon as I read the first story, as a sample on the Amazon site, I knew I had to own the book.

That story reminded me of an IMAX movie I had seen in Denver in about 1976. The movie was "To Fly", a history of flight. At the Boettcher Auditorium screening, four birds of prey were flown in the theater by the Colorado Raptor Society, before the movie started. I still remember the thrill of watching a falcon launched from the back of the theater, as a second handler stood on the stage and swung a leather rope holding a piece of meat. When the piece of meat sailed out over the audience, that falcon nailed it on the fly!

The next morning I called many friends and urged them to see the movie and the live birds. Over the next week a number of them called me to ask, "What birds?" It turned out the birds of prey were flown only on the night I was there!

I'm betting that John's other stories will bring back more memories.

Grab a copy of his book (go on; buy the paperback edition!) for $10 and display it proudly on your coffee table or bookshelf. And read it! There is a Kindle edition available, too, if you prefer to build your digital library. You can find it on a different Amazon page by searching by the book title.

Image of the cover used with permission.