Posts Tagged ‘Text Message’

Michigan House of Representatives Votes 68-32 to Ban Texting While Driving

December 15, 2008

Alright, this is somewhat of an old story, but I really wanted to do a post on it, and I got caught up with exams last week:

On December 4th, the Michigan House of Representatives voted on House Bill 5117, A bill to amend 1949 PA 300, entitled “Michigan vehicle code,” (MCL 257.1 to 257.923) by adding section 602b.

The bill was introduced by Steve Bieda (D-Macomb).  Here’s the original version of the bill:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 602B. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT READ, 1 WRITE, OR SEND A TEXT

2 MESSAGE ON A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE, INCLUDING A RADIO

3 TELEPHONE USED IN CELLULAR TELEPHONE SERVICE OR PERSONAL

4 COMMUNICATION SERVICE, WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY

5 OR STREET IN THIS STATE.

6 (2) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A

7 CIVIL INFRACTION.

I like this version of the bill.  It’s quick, and to the point.  Frankly, I think the House butchered this bill (although they did add a couple good clauses).

Here’s the version that was passed by the House (along with my commentary):

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 602B. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT READ, 1 WRITE, OR SEND A TEXT

2 MESSAGE ON A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE THAT IS LOCATED IN

3 THE PERSON’S HAND OR IN THE PERSON’S LAP, INCLUDING A WIRELESS

4 TELEPHONE USED IN CELLULAR TELEPHONE SERVICE OR PERSONAL

5 COMMUNICATION SERVICE, WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE THAT IS

6 MOVING ON A HIGHWAY OR STREET IN THIS STATE. AS USED IN THIS

7 SUBSECTION, A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

8 A GLOBAL POSITIONING OR NAVIGATION SYSTEM THAT IS AFFIXED TO THE

9 MOTOR VEHICLE.

I will say that lines 6b-9 were a good addition.

(2) SUBSECTION (1) DOES NOT APPLY 1 TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS

2 USING A DEVICE DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (1) TO DO ANY OF THE

3 FOLLOWING:

4 (A) REPORT A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT, MEDICAL EMERGENCY, OR SERIOUS

5 ROAD HAZARD.

6 (B) REPORT A SITUATION IN WHICH THE PERSON BELIEVES HIS OR HER

7 PERSONAL SAFETY IS IN JEOPARDY.

8 (C) REPORT OR AVERT THE PERPETRATION OR POTENTIAL PERPETRATION

9 OF A CRIMINAL ACT AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL OR ANOTHER PERSON.

10 (D) CARRY OUT OFFICIAL DUTIES AS A POLICE OFFICER, LAW

11 ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL, MEMBER OF A PAID OR VOLUNTEER FIRE

12 DEPARTMENT, OR OPERATOR OF AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE.

Again, another good provision.

13 (3) ENFORCEMENT OF THIS SECTION BY STATE OR LOCAL LAW

14 ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES SHALL BE ACCOMPLISHED ONLY AS A SECONDARY

15 ACTION WHEN THE OPERATOR OF A MOTOR VEHICLE HAS BEEN DETAINED FOR A

16 SUSPECTED VIOLATION OF ANOTHER SECTION OF THIS ACT.

Here’s where they really butchered it in my opinion.  Making this a secondary offense means that in order to give somebody a ticket for texting, they have to have been pulled over for something else.  I have 2 problems with this: 1) It gives cops a motive to pull somebody over for something that they normally wouldn’t pull somebody over for, so that they can give them a ticket for texting; 2) It should be a primary offense.  While driving to work on Southfield Freeway (M-39) I’ve had several encounters with teenage drivers (mostly girls) texting and coming into my lane.  I did have a guy do the same thing the other day, except that was on Fort Street (M-85), but it was in the 35 MPH area, so it wasn’t quite as dangerous.  How permanent this will be is up for debate.  Originally, Michigan’s Click It or Ticket seat belt law was a secondary offense, but that changed pretty quickly.

17 (4) AN INDIVIDUAL WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR

18 A CIVIL INFRACTION.

Same as the original bill.

19 (5) IF A LOCAL UNIT OF GOVERNMENT ADOPTS AN ORDINANCE

20 SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR TO THIS SECTION, THE ORDINANCE SHALL INCLUDE

21 THE SECONDARY ENFORCEMENT PROVISION IN SUBSECTION (3).

Again, another butchering happened here.  Not only do I disagree with the basic premise of subsection (3), but I disagree with subsection (5) based on the fact that it’s the state government sticking its nose into the business of local municipalities.  If I city wants to make  it a primary offense, good for them.  If they want to keep it a secondary offense, that’s fine too (although I disagree with that decision, they’d have that right).  But to take away municipalities’ rights to make this a primary offense is just wrong.

22 (6) POINTS SHALL NOT BE ASSESSED UNDER SECTION 320A FOR A

23 VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.

Again, another terrible amendment to the bill.  There’s no reason that people should be texting while driving.  Tack on the additional punishment of points and that will deter people from doing it.

24 Enacting section 1. This amendatory act does not take effect

25 unless House Bill No. 5396 of the 94th Legislature is enacted into

26 law.

Alright, so that’s the bill as passed by the House.  Currently the bill is in the Transportation Committee of the Senate.

I wanted to post a copy of the roll call vote:

Roll Call No. 1003 Yeas—68

Accavitti Dean Johnson Opsommer
Amos Dillon Jones, Rick Pearce
Ball Donigan Jones, Robert Polidori
Bauer Ebli Knollenberg Proos
Bennett Emmons Law, David Rocca
Bieda Espinoza Law, Kathleen Sak
Booher Farrah Leland Schuitmaker
Brown Gaffney Lemmons Scott
Byrnes Gonzales Lindberg Sheltrown
Byrum Green Mayes Simpson
Clack Griffin McDowell Smith, Alma
Clemente Hammel Meadows Smith, Virgil
Condino Hammon Meisner Stahl
Constan Hansen Melton Stakoe
Corriveau Hood Miller Valentine
Coulouris Hopgood Moss Wenke
Cushingberry Horn Nofs Wojno

Nays—32

Acciavatti DeRoche LeBlanc Pastor
Agema Garfield Marleau Pavlov
Angerer Gillard Meekhof Robertson
Brandenburg Hildenbrand Moolenaar Shaffer
Calley Huizenga Moore Sheen
Casperson Hune Nitz Spade
Caswell Jackson Palmer Steil
Caul Lahti Palsrok Walker

In The Chair: Sak

So, it’s pretty apparent that the vote fell mainly along party lines, but there were definitely a good amount of cross-overs (6 Democrats and 21 Republicans).

Representative Caul (R-Isabella) told CM-Life  reporters that he voted against the bill because it was “overstepping the government’s role. … In this case, it’s difficult for enforceability, whether it’s someone using a cell phone or eating a cheeseburger.”

I’m an advocate for personal freedoms (I voted for Proposal 1), but I think allowing texting while driving  goes too far.  Ban it, and enforce that ban.  Hopefully this will pass the Republican-controlled Senate, and with as much Republican support as  this got, I think it will.  I’ve been advocating for a bill like this for a long time, so I’m glad that it’s making some progress.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Parents of 2 Suspended Cheerleaders File Lawsuit Over Nude Photos

December 8, 2008

Alright, so here’s a story I heard about that’s supposed to be featured on the news tonight, but I figured I’d go digging and just do the story now: On Monday the parents of two Bothell High School cheerleaders filed a lawsuit in the King County Superior Court against the Northshore School District (in Washington).  The suit alleges that school officials acted unfairly when they suspended the girls from the squad earlier this year after nude photos of the teens circulated through the student body via text messages.

Here’s the background on the case (according to the lawsuit):

  1. Summer, 2005: A topless photo of one of the cheerleaders is taken and sent to her then-boyfriend’s phone.
  2. Summer, 2005: The picture is accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  3. June, 2008: The other teen’s photo was taken when she and another cheerleader used their cell phones to take totally nude pictures of themselves.  Those photos were later accidentally sent to other BHS students.
  4. Shortly after the June pictures were taken: BHS school officials heard rumors the pictures were circulating the student body, especially within members of the football team, so the school sent a letter to all of the cheerleaders’ parents.  That letter said that if inappropriate photos were found, the consequences could be suspension from the squad.
  5. Football players were also told to delete the pictures from their cell phones if they received them
  6. August: BHS administrators received copies of both photos.
  7. Some dispute has arisen over who contacted the police first, and whether or not the school properly notified the girls’ parents about the photos.
  8. One girl is suspended from the squad for 30 days.  The other is suspended from the squad for the year.

Attorney Matthew King, representing both families, told reporters that  the lawsuits allege that BHS administrators violated the girls’ due process rights by needlessly sharing the photos with other school staff members and failing to promptly report the matter to police as child pornography.  King also said that it was unfair that the teens were suspended, but that football players and other BHS students who sent/received the texts were not punished.  King told reporters, “We’re not technically challenging the sanctions as being too strict, we’re saying they weren’t evenly enforced across the school.  There should have been some punishment meted out to those who were in possession of the photos. … It seems like the girls are getting the brunt of it.”  King wants the disciplinary action expunged from both girls’ school records.  Additionally, he wants the girl who was suspended for the whole year to be reinstated to the team, and he is demanding an apology from BHS officials for their lack of discipline on other students.

Northshore spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus disagrees, saying that the school acted appropriately, reporting the photos to the police and giving the girls a chance to appeal their suspensions to both a disciplinary committee as well as the School Board, saying, “Everyone along the line agreed the discipline was appropriate.  Obviously, we take these things seriously, but we really don’t believe this [suit] has a lot of merit.”

King also claims that the district’s student handbook doesn’t specifically prohibit what the girls did, and that it doesn’t outline outline potential disciplinary action for a case like this.  He told reporters, “My clients fully realize what they did was stupid,” and that they never wanted the photos to be distributed.  King said that he still does not know how they were accidentally sent out.

Northshore officials again disagree, saying that the girls violated the district’s athletic code  According to Stoltzfus, “When you sign up to be a cheerleader–or for any student activity–you agree to certain codes of behavior.We consider them student leaders, and we want them to be role models.”

I took a look at the athletic code, and although it doesn’t expressly prohibit the production or distribution of child pornography (or any pornography), it does state the following:

Northshore School District
Student Athletic Code

The opportunity to participate in the athletic program in the Northshore School District is a privilege available to all students. Because of the public nature of athletic programs sponsored by the district, students choosing to participate are expected to conduct themselves at all times during their season of participation and between consecutive seasons in a manner that will reflect the high standards and ideals of their school and community. These high personal standards for conduct promote maximum achievement, safe performances, commitment to excellence in health and conditioning, and fulfill responsibilities as student leaders by setting a positive example for other students.

The regulations below are included in the Addendum of the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Concerning Pupil Conduct. In addition to this Code of Conduct, individual schools may establish other expectations specific to their own individual programs.

Students must meet the standards for interscholastic eligibility as outlined in Article 18 of the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association handbook, the KINGCO League and the Northshore School District and their individual school. Copies of these rules and regulations may be obtained from the school Athletic Director upon request.

The expectations for being a participant in a schoolʼs athletic program, including specific eligibility requirements, training rules and team rules shall be communicated to team members at the beginning of the season of participation. All program expectations and team rules shall be in writing.

Any athlete in a District-sponsored athletic activity who willfully performs any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs shall be subject to discipline. As participants in extracurricular programs, students are faced with choices. If a studentʼs choices interfere, impede, hinder their personal or group/team performance or render the individual as unfit to serve as a representative(s) of the districtʼs schools, they forfeit the privilege to participate. Misconduct by participants in the athletic program at any time, on or off campus, school related and/or non-school activities during the season of participation and between consecutive seasons of participation constitutes cause for discipline including denial of participation in and/or removal from the athletic program. Seasons begin with the first turnout and conclude with the season ending recognition/awards program in the individual sport.

II. Consequences for Athletic Code violations;

A. Student Athletic Code violations are accumulative during grades seven and eight and then again in grades nine through twelve. Any ninth grade student shall be considered a high school student.

B. Consequences for specific violations:
Probation is a period of time in which an athlete may be given time to correct deficiencies that could result in denial of participation for a given period of time or removal from athletic team participation. Denial of participation means that the athlete is allowed to practice but not compete in games. The loss of athletic eligibility, which may carry over to subsequent sports seasons, means the athlete will not participate in interscholastic competition or be in uniform. During the period when a student is assigned a suspension from school, the student is not eligible for any form of participation or attendance at school activities including athletic program participation.

So, although it doesn’t expressly ban what the girls did, I think what they did falls s under “any act that substantially interferes with or is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Districtʼs athletic programs.”

So, where do I stand?  I stand on the side of the girls; however, I disagree with what they want done.  I agree that BHS officials were way too easy on pretty much everybody other than the 2 girls.  I think that the girls should be suspended (or have other disciplinary action taken against them) for failing to follow the athletics agreement.  In addition, ANYBODY who possessed the pictures (other than the administrators, who I’ll discuss in a minute) should have been charged with possession of child pornography, and should have had disciplinary action taken against them if they were in a sport (but it had to be a sport that was in season at that time).  Obviously, it would have to be proved that the person kept the pictures.  I wouldn’t charge anybody just because they received the pictures.  The administrators, if they really did report it to the police, did nothing wrong.  HOWEVER, if additional copies were passed around for no reason, those responsible should be charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.  I do think that BHS officials are wrong in not punishing the football team and other students; however, the way to solve this is NOT to expunge the records of the girls, but to punish ALL who were responsible.

EDIT: I’ve been talking with some people about this, and the argument has come up that perhaps the girls were of age so that it wasn’t child pornography.  In addition to the fact that the names are not being released because the girls are minors, I found this photograph from July 4th, 2005, courtesy of the Woodinville Rotary Club.  Now, of course this isn’t official, but to me, none of those girls looks 18 (except maybe the one on the left in the front row).  Additionally, the one picture was taken in 2005, so we’re guaranteed that that girl wasn’t 18 when the picture was taken:

bothell_parade_07_04_05_019_-_bhs_cheerleaders

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Rasmussen Poll: Joe Biden Helps Obama as Much as He Hurts Him

August 24, 2008

A new Rasmussen Reports poll came out yesterday asking questions about Barack Obama’s VP pick, Joe Biden:

Probably most important was question number 2:

2* With Joe Biden as his running mate, are you more likely or less likely to vote for Barack Obama?

32% More likely
32% Less likely

30% No impact
5% Not sure

So, Biden hurts as much as he helps.  That’s really not what you want to see your running mate do to your campaign.  I’m guessing a big chunk of the “Less Likely” category is Hillary supporters.

Here are some other questions:

1*Earlier today, Barack Obama named Joe Biden to be his Vice Presidential running mate. Was this the right choice for Obama to make?

39% Yes
25% No
35% Not sure

Most of the Clinton supporters said, “No,” I’m guessing.

3* If necessary, is Joe Biden ready to be President?

39% Yes
35% No
26% Not sure

Again, having only 4% more people think your running mate is ready to serve than people who think he’s not, is NOT a good margin.  So the same 39% in number 1 probably said yes here, but around another 10% don’t think he’s ready to lead.  Biden was NOT a good pick, simply because 1) He brings pretty much nothing to the table, and 2) Apparently, he’s not too popular as a VP/possible Presidential candidate (that’s obvious considering he got smashed in the primary).

4* In political terms, is Joe Biden very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, or very liberal?

3% Very conservative
7% Somewhat conservative

33% Moderate
25% Somewhat liberal
18% Very liberal

15% Not sure

OK, so 10% of the people poll are idiots and clearly should’ve said “Not sure”.  If Biden is a conservative, then I’m - I don’t know what I’d be if Biden is a conservative.  But this is probably the best question that Biden performed in.  A 33% moderate description is pretty good, and a 25% liberal description isn’t bad.  Since most of America leans left, he ideologically appeals to around 58% of America, but that’s just in general, not anything specific.

62-29*Do you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression of Joe Biden?

20% Very favorable
28% Somewhat favorable
19% Somewhat unfavorable
19% Very unfavorable
15% Not familiar with Joe Biden
3% Not sure

48% like him.  38% don’t like him.  18% know pretty much nothing.

Overall, if 48% say they like him, but only 32% say he makes them lean toward Obama, that means that around 16% weren’t impacted by his pick.  If 48% like him, but 39% say he was the right pick, that means that some Biden supporters think that, although they like him, he’ll overall not help the ticket.

So, who do I think Obama should’ve picked?  It should’ve been Senator Evan Bayh, from Indiana – at least he’s from a swing state.

Well, now I just have to wait for my text message from John McCain at 4:13 A.M. EDT next Saturday (why Obama sent it out that late/early seems odd to me – I was one of the few people in the Eastern time zone still awake.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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