Dear Big Brother Jerry Brown

April 4, 2011

Dear Governor Jerry Brown,

I write to express my outrage at the amount of the fine I received for turning right on a red light without coming to a complete stop at Mission Boulevard and Mohave Drive. Granted, I did do a rolling stop at 1 mph on my way to CVS Pharmacy. I did violate a driving law. Although this citation was my first in 44 years of safe driving, I deserved to be fined.

However, the price for this infraction is outrageous. Most people cannot afford $480.00, nor can they afford to take a day off of work to plead with the judge for a reduced fine or a payment plan.

More significantly, I wonder about the many  people living in the State of California and in other states, for whom such an exorbitant amount of money represents a large portion of their monthly income. How do you justify this fine in all good conscience?

This type of bureaucratic abuse contributes to the growing and deep resentment of city, county, state, and federal governments and those who represent us.

I have lived in Fremont all my life. My father, Dr. Hugh Block, was the Mayor of Fremont and a city councilman from 1964-68. My husband and I have raised our children here. I taught at Mission San Jose High School for 16 years and subsequently owned and operated a private business here successfully, contributing to the tax base. We continue to invest tax dollars here.

Because of this fine, I will vote NO on any attempt to raise city, county, or state taxes for any reason.

I may even have a sign professionally made and park myself on that busy corner to alert all drivers of the prodigious fine. That would reduce the $300,000.00 Fremont banked because of this photo-enforcement.

Please do not send me the perfunctory response about how the City of Fremont only receives $116.00 for each violation with the rest going to Cal Trans and the Arizona company that designed this 1984 technology.

Sincerely,

Cheri Block Sabraw

Cc: Fremont Police Department Chief Craig Steckler, Fremont City Council members, Mayor Bob Wasserman

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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46 Responses to Dear Big Brother Jerry Brown

  1. Kayti Rasmussen says:

    Hooray for you Cheri! I will henceforth avoid that intersection .

  2. Don says:

    Why write to Jerry? He didn’t do it. It was the Legislature that massively increased fines this year. You can guess which side of the aisle is more likely responsible.

    Seriously? A 1mph roll, caught on camera, and automatically fined? That’s very, very scary.

  3. Cyberquill says:

    That’ll teach ya to knock it off with the rolling stops.

  4. Rosemary Feeley Foreman says:

    I know we are in deep sh_t with the economy, my husband was out of work for just short of 2 years. But I am NOT in support of unfair and despicably harsh fines, especially for such minimal infractions. I will be more careful myself with full stops at lights, but also would be happy to stand with you in protest, if you choose to get uber-public!!

  5. Philippe says:

    Change the way you are experiencing having to pay this fine, and you might feel better.

    Given the State of California’s financial budgetary mess, your $480 fine will help bring your home state out of this mess, so it can once again be the Golden State that was sung about so lyrically by The Beach Boys.

    To the extent that you don’t pay your taxes and your fines, you are part of the problem. Now, with your $480 fine you are part of the solution.

    Feeling better now?

  6. Richard says:

    Dear Mrs Sabraw,

    It is heart-warming to learn of your indignation at this injustice. I am sure that what impels you is a concern that others may suffer similarly at the hands of the law.

    I need hardly point out to you, however, that California is run as a republic and observes the separation of powers. It is thus not, or should not be, in the hands of the governor to direct the decisions of those exercising judicial office. Still less would you expect such decisions to be influenced by the fact of your and your father’s distinguished lives and careers.

    That your infringement is a minor one is well known. I myself have succumbed to such. momentary inattention, especially when preoccupied by other, more pressing concerns.

    Undoubtedly, the letter skilfully expresses your anger and is soothing and healing. You were wise, though, to leave it unsent to await mature consideration. Better to shred and recycle.

    Sincerely,

    Cheri Sabraw.

  7. Cheri says:

    No shredding occurred, Mr. Solicitor.
    I put the letters in the mailbox today.
    In doing so, I feel that I am participating in this glorious democracy that we call California.

    I’ve also instructed Judge Blah, workaholic that he is, to look into property in Nevada.

    • Cyberquill says:

      If I recall correctly, Andreas referred to this glorious democracy called California as “the inmates running the asylum.”

    • zeusiswatching says:

      I would be devastated if you moved out of the state. I am trying to live in California through you. I’m reading your blog and pretending I didn’t move away:)

      I like Florida very much, but I’d move back to Northern California in a heartbeat, if only I could possibly find a decent job. Yeah, I know, good luck on that one you say.

      • Cheri says:

        Zeus,
        That comment (to move to Nevada) was all bluster. I’ll be living in Northern California on the Rancho until my ashes are scattered out on the ridge with Elsa, Waco, Udo, and Bobb. 🙂

        Should I be writing more about Northern California?

    • Richard says:

      The only way to participate properly in the democratic process is to engage fully in politics, Lady Cheri, for which you clearly have a talent. Otherwise your efforts are neutered expressions of personal grievance or individual prejudice.

      If you run for election, as your late father did, you are forced to consider and allow for the grievances and prejudices of others. On election you will then, of course, have to battle with the tendency of all politicians to abuse power. You will also have to take into account all the attendant ill-informed and unjustified criticism of those whose object is merely to complain about minor inconveniences when there is a whole world of suffering out there.

      I shall be interested to learn what your letter ultimately achieves. It is not worthy of your lifetime of dedication and service.

      • Cheri says:

        Oh fooey, Richard. And as they say in Italy, “Oh Bologna”

        You misjudge my personality. This is not a minor grievance for me, as I can afford the fine. But what about all the other people whose fines made up that $300,000.00?
        When I see an injustice, I go for it. Let’s just say that.

        I drove my car through three teacher strikes (try doing that Mr. Richard) on my way to my classroom. The money wasn’t there, so instead of being a sheep on the picket line, I did my job.

      • Richard says:

        Perhaps I just grow weary of endless strife over small issues. Good on yer, then, up an at’em. Easy. 🙂

      • Richard says:

        My mother was born in 1904, the tenth of eleven children. She had an older brother who’d had rheumatic fever. She regularly fought off bullies for him on the way to school.

        When she was 7 or 8 she was brought before her head teacher, and the cane, for tossing another girl’s hat into a cemetery. It turned out that it was in act of retaliation. The other girl had stretched and let go my mother’s hat elastic and my mother still bore the wield around her neck a day later.

        My mother was never more than 5’2”.

        Perhaps she should have written letters instead.

  8. That is outrageous–the fine, not your letter–I’ll be interested in hearing the responses, if any, you get.

  9. Good for you.

    $480 is excessive. That’s speeding territory up here in Quebec – and we’re not immune to state abuse and corruption.

    It seems like there’s a massive wave of resentment in the U.S. (and a slight one in Canada) about government intrusion and excessiveness (spending, pork-barreling etc.) and I think the use of the ‘right v. left’ dichotomy (Tea Party and the like) only serves to confuse and distract from the wider issue of individualism v. statism.

    As for California (a state the size of Canada), I read it’s in serious economic trouble.

  10. Douglas says:

    Justice is blind, it seems, but not those traffic cameras.

    We do seem to become more aware, and more easily gather outrage, when we are personally affected such things. I was snared in a “speed trap” in Virginia in 1987. I was not fined because I showed it to clearly be a speed trap (illegal there), I think. But I am more wary now of the possibility of speed traps.

    I am afraid your letter will do little good in either the short, or long, term but I wholeheartedly endorse it and applaud you for writing it.

    Nevada is not a bad place to live… and there is no state income tax to boot.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Douglas,
      Of course the letter will do nothing.
      It is the writing and the expression and the participation in the system (every now and then) that keep the blood flowing and the heart beating.

      It’s also about not being a compliant sheep, asking for forgiveness for breaking a law but standing up and reacting to a governmental fine.

      • Douglas says:

        I agree. It may not change the law but it feels good to write one. We have an interesting system here in Florida… if you are 10 MPH over the speed limit, the fine might be $80 or so. If you are 11 MPH over the fine doubles. We don’t have the traffic cams installed everywhere yet but the governments are drooling over the prospect. Mostly for the red light runners… which we have in abundance.

        But it is all about the revenue.

  11. Don says:

    Nevada’s on my radar too — and I only live two hours away, so it’s not exactly a big change. Unfortunately, Vegas is Nevada’s LA, only a thousand times worse.

    • zeusiswatching says:

      I lived in Vegas for a few years back in the 1970’s. It was so-so as a place to be a kid. I don’t know what it is like now, but I doubt the city itself would be my first choice at all.

      • Cheri says:

        I will never visit Vegas again, probably.

        When I said Nevada, I was thinking of the Nevada side of Tahoe where the God of the West Wind lives.

        🙂

  12. The fine is hefty and the offense slight…but still an offense camera or not, that you do not deny. What does The Judge think about it?
    As for Nevada,if you like parched deserts and gambling, be my guest. I enjoyed the 9 days we spent in Vegas though we did no gambling. The visiting, the tours, the Grand Canyon West Rim in the Wallapai reservation just wonderful, even the food was good and reasonably priced. But live there? Not really.

  13. bogard says:

    Fortunately, here in this deep south city, this form of revenue-raising technology has not been implemented (I will pass on commenting as to why/how). However, we in this southern city, have not escaped other types of big gov lunacy, e.g. an “occupational” tax. Yes, I get taxed for working in this fine city. At any rate, I agree with you and the Judge. And it is certainly a regressive penalty.

  14. Philippe says:

    I have to say, a $480 fine seems is a bit steep for what you did. I was caught doing what you did a couple of years ago here in BC. I was fined $45, which I thought excessive.

    While your letter by itself may not have much effect, if it is among thousands, nay millions, of similar letters by others in your predicament, it just might.

    Now, if Linda Ronstadt had been caught the same way as you, and she had written a similar letter to Jerry Brown, her letter would likely have a bigger effect on him than yours. “If only I were Linda Ronstadt” I can almost hear you say!!!

  15. Cheri says:

    Richard,
    Your mother and I are kindred spirits.
    This is a wonderful anecdote about a strong woman, even at age 8.

    You have some strong stock in that blood…

    • Richard says:

      As the title suggests, your quarrel is more with these yellow money boxes that peer at us from every roadside, yet you hardly you mention them in your letter.

      I will gladly join you in any act of sedition to tear down these one-eyed Orwellian monsters.

      • Cheri says:

        True enough.

        I should have written about the cameras in the context of 1984.

        You will?

      • Richard says:

        Dear Jerry,

        How to deal with those sleepness nights? You know it is the jeopardy of our sacred homeland that causes your discomfiture.

        Look about you. Is it not plain that the solution is to hold fast to a few simple principles.

        People like to work to justify their existence, but they also like to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts. Punishing them with taxation demoralises them, they are less active and they produce less. Working for others for reward is the true source of wealth. Neglect this and there is less for good works. You are commissioned to relieve suffering, preserve standards and protect freedoms on behalf of all citizens. Trying to make one plus one equal three with wealth is not the way. Do you not realise there are two sides to every equation and that unless expenditure is less than or equal to income, you are in serious trouble?

        Another damper on living the life with which we are all blessed is the curtailment of fundamental freedoms. Good, law-abiding citizens feel they must be left alone and not checked up on all the time by those they have given the power to govern.

        The measure of the freedom of a state is the extent to which it intrudes upon the lives of ordinary people who just wish to be left alone to provide for and protect themselves and their loved ones. Take just one example. Have you noticed all these traffic enforcement cameras sprouting up everywhere? Superficially, they seem a good idea because you don’t have to use human beings to see that the law is obeyed. I cannot emphasise enough that decent people want to obey the law. It is a grave injustice not to recognise this and to punish them with extortionate fines for a moment’s inadvertent, harmless lapse. Do you not realise this causes deep distress in those who only want to do and be seen to do the right thing at all times? Some may despair so much that they do not bother any more.

        Understand all this and your troubles will blow away in the wind as citizens themselves find the solutions.

        Now turn over and get some rest. In the morning, make sure that those good people with whom you share the burden of government are reminded of the moral and material inheritance handed down by our mothers and fathers, not to squander it. There are earthquakes enough without those of your own making.

        Oh! and I see you have “1984” on your bedside table. You won’t need that any more.

        Sincerely,

        Jerry.

  16. wkkortas says:

    I grew up in a town with one stop light, so the potential for the implementation of these mechanized arbiters of right and wrong was slight. Just to be safe, I moved to a town with no stop lights.

  17. Cheri says:

    Oh you lucky dog, wk.

    But tell me, what are the problems inherent in small town life?

    (Scout Finch speaking…)

  18. Cheri says:

    Dear Chief Steckler,
    Thank you for your letter indicating that the City of Fremont and The Fremont Police Department are not to blame for the fines and further that I should be (this opinion can be inferred from your second paragraph) grateful that Fremont has not raised the fine, which is in its jurisdiction.

    Your letter has irritated the retired Judge Blah, who now feels compelled to write back to you. Since he is no longer a humble “public servant of the State of California” but rather a humble mediator for a private company, he is finally free to express his (might I say) opinions.

    Perhaps the fact that I bemoaned the fine and not the cameras, as noted by one of my readers, Richard–an accomplished retired solicitor from London–prompted your glib response.

    I am definitely going to have a sign made and sit on the corner in protest when my classes at Stanford conclude in June.

    As a former journalism instructor, I will also be calling all major press in the Bay Area to cover this event.

  19. Richard says:

    Dear Mr Brown,

    I had not heard of you until a few days ago when my friend Lady Cheri made me aware of your existence. So I cannot imagine what has made you so arrogant as to write to her in the way you have.

    In England our High Court judges are automatically awarded knighthoods. The least you can do, therefore, is to accord the venerated wife of a judge of your state the courtesy title of “Lady”. Moreover, a knighthood is for life and so it matters not whether a judge is retired, he continues to be recognised for the high office which he has held.

    It is unspeakable that you should refer to him as a public servant, even though that may, technically, be correct. In so doing you ignore both his special role in the Constitution and his service to justice. Let me say that your cavalier attitude is no different from those who mock the rule of law.

    I understand as well as being a mere politician you also exercise important functions in your legal system, so your response to my friend’s letter is the more reprehensible.

    Nothing less than apology from you will do. You fight above your weight with Lady Cheri.

    May I remind you that the US itself came into being as the result of some trifling grievance you colonists had with George III.

    I believe you are even older than me. Is it too much to hope that at your advanced age you might yet learn a little wisdom and acquire a little humility in office?

    Sincerely,

    Mr Solicitor.

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