The Florida Department of Transportation doesn’t like US Currency. Or at least it doesn’t like anyone using it to pay highway tolls.
I‘ve got to hand it to Joel Chandler, the man who decided to videotape his encounters with the toll-booth clerks after being illegally detained for the “crime” of paying his toll with a $100 bill. He single-handedly exposed a corrupt government practice, and then caught the government lying to cover up their illegal program by using access to information requests.
Chandler is not some flighty goofball who was doing something wrong. He is a well-spoken, intelligent man who knew his rights and was willing to defend them against a government acting illegally.
Chandler complained directly to the Florida Department of Transportation, but got nowhere. Not only did they lie and say there was no such program in effect, access to information documents show that they actively tried to cover up the program after news became public of Chandler’s complaints.
“In 87 percent of the times where they bothered to write down what they thought was suspicious about the motorist, it was a racial description,” Chandler said in a television interview, “young black male, young black male, young Hispanic male.”
The program worked like this. Anyone paying a toll with a $20, $50 or $100 bill would not be allowed to leave until they surrendered personal information.
That’s what I would call “extortion”. And it’s likely how the courts will see it as well, when Chandler’s case makes it to court. While he hasn’t filed a civil suit yet, it’s widely expected that he will in the near future.
Watch this news report from WSTP.com for the full story:
“Unbelievable” was my first reaction when I started reading this Florida toll booth flub-up.
As I read on, I realized this was more than a government botch job; it was another blatant display of people-control where the taxpayers are both the victims and financiers of the same criminal enterprise.
But, then, why would I be surprised to hear once again that a government agency is breaking the law?
It’s done all the time. Still, it made me itch to break the government’s neck. But governments don’t have heads therefore they are without need of brains or necks. Governments are just massive bodies which renders them difficult to attack.
Yet, for the last eight months, Citizen Joel Chandler has been doing a valorous job of at least needling the government agency which was “caught in the act”.
“If it’s secret, it’s legal,” is the mantra for governments worldwide. And this toll booth fiasco was kept secret because nobody blew the whistle on the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) that had the chutzpah to deny its illegal policies and practices–well, that is until a customer with the right stuff rolled into the toll plaza one day.
Citizen Chandler discovered that a motorist inadvertently caught without coinage or small bills in his pocket sometimes has to pay a one-dollar toll with a $20, $50 or $100 bill that the FDOT considers “large”.
Inflation removed $20 bills from the “large” status over 40 years ago!
Ah-hah! A twenty is a common bill for counterfeiting. The motorist is immediately fingered as a suspect for passing diseased currency.
Instead of the illustrious FDOT installing scanners like sane, privately-owned chain stores do, the Florida functionaries sneaked in the back door and placed reverse onus on the general public who is considered guilty until proven innocent.
Further, the FDOT places the toll collectors, who have individual discretionary powers, at great risk. They are required to illegally detain a motorist against his will–he can’t drive forward, backward or exit his vehicle–until he provides personal and vehicular information. Only then is he given change for his large bill and the gate is lifted.
There are documented instances of motorists being detained for tendering a bill as small as a fiver.
If a motorist refuses to bark ‘yas sah’ in compliance, the toll operators threaten to call the police and have the motorist arrested and charged. Yet the operators themselves are reported to be committing up to 30 felonies a day.
It was reported that within a 24-month period, FDOT spent more than $32,000 printing the Detection forms that were used to track $16,000 in bogus currency while raking in $1.5 billion in toll receipts. None of the fake-currency detection cases were ever referred to authorities for investigation.
So what is the point of subjecting travellers to unconstitutional trauma? It’s called people-control. And the government is going to let you know who is boss.
“Forcing” an individual into an illegal act could easily backfire, though. The government’s illegal policies are placing their employees in peril; the possibility clearly exists for a motorist to be driven bonkers.
An impatient motorist could conceivably pull a gun in self-defence against the toll takers who are the representatives of a criminal organization.
After all, it was years ago that Florida legislators were concerned about state residents’ safety and passed concealed carry laws as a way to provide people with an antidote to protect self and property.
“Florida Toll Booths CAUGHT Illegally Detaining Drivers for Paying with Large Bills” is worth a watch as well as its companion Exclusive Interview Joel Chandler: FLORIDA TOLL WORKERS ILLEGALLY DETAIN MOTORISTS.
Fireball Run’s interview presents an articulate, liberty-minded Joel Chandler who is a staunch believer in the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment which was adopted to protect people from unreasonable search and seizure and requires that any search warrant be judicially authorized.
Constitutionalists Judge Andrew Napolitano, host of Freedom Watch, and Congressmen father-son combo Ron and Rand Paul would be pleased!
Citizen Chandler now has a new calling as a researcher, interviewer of toll-booth employees, citizen journalist and blogger as well as the instigator of a civil class-action suit filed in February 2011.
I hope he kicks the stuffin’ out of those viperous civil-liberty wreckers.
It would be wonderful if even one gram of Mr. Chandler’s energy, fortitude and civic-mindedness could rub off on the rest of us to help put a stop to anti-constitutional governments everywhere from running roughshod over ordinary people.
For inspiration, I am tracking progress on http://www.FOGWatch.org.