Yikes! What Crummy Valentines!

Well, here are a couple of ditties which will warm the cockles of your Valentine's Day hearts! Our best buddies at the Harris County Toll Road Authority just sent out a batch of totally erroneous violation collection letters to people as far away as Waco, Chicago and even rural Georgia all because the Authority has a sloppy, inaccurate verification procedure that causes as many as 21,000 bogus collection letters to be sent out each year. When a local television station's investigative team confronted a spokesperson with the Authority about this miserable performance record, he retreated into gibberish, saying only that while the error rate might be true, it didn't constitute an accurate characterization of performance. What?! Look, a mistake is a mistake and 21,000 of them are 21,000! The problem is two-fold. First, violations are based upon fuzzy photos of license plates and then, when these are supposedly "verified' by human eyes, there is a lot of guess work and no system of multiple verification factors considered. And, if you get a collection letter, this can become a big deal because there are no mechanisms in place to simply refute them; and, if they are ignored, you will suddenly find yourself the object of third-party collection efforts and a big black mark on your credit!

In another little bit of Valentine's Day cheer, the Texas Department of Transportation, (TxDOT), has announced that the critical artery, the southbound ramp off I-45 exiting to McKinney, into downtown Houston will be closed indefinitely because inspectors finally got around to discovering that the ramp has been severely damaged from an apparently undiscovered collision and is too dangerous for use without significant repairs. And the as yet unscheduled repair work necessary, once it begins, will take at least a month. This closure might have been averted or shortened had the damage been discovered sooner; but, inspectors took their time doing so, conceding that the collision happened sometime in the last year or so. Sooo… tens of thousands of local drivers will be delayed and inconvenienced indefinitely because the folks who are supposed to take care of this stuff were otherwise occupied.

These sorts of indifferent governmental responses to very real problems are brought to you courtesy of that old friend of the common man, sovereign immunity, which removes governmental accountability from public workers and supervisors. If this stuff happened in the private sector, somebody or a bunch of them would be out on their keesters in about an hour. But, when government types do (or don't do, more accurately) this sort of thing… oh well. In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day Houston!