Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mayor of Montrose repeals Houston's city-wide bike registration ordinance


by Mills-McCoin
“In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep.” - The Great Shark Hunt 1979

With our nation in the grips of economic downturn and our city recently ravaged by a hurricane, there’s one man that stands above it all and serves as a beacon in the night- Chris Hutto, the Mayor of Montrose. He’s a humble man with the wisdom and gumption to make change.
Many of you take pleasure in riding your bicycles around our lovely town; but most of you do so unaware of a rather ridiculous city ordinance mandating that you register your bicycle with the fire department. The price of such registration is one lowly dollar; and has been since 1968.
As I understand it, you bring your bike to the fire department and fill out the registration form. After that, the form and the dollar are stapled together. What happens after that... well I’m not sure. But I do know that whatever it is that happens is a complete waste of taxpayer time and money.
There are several theories behind the ordinance. In theory, registration aids in the recovery of stolen bicycles. Well, that would make sense if it weren’t so very very easy to steal a bike and then go register it with the fire department as though it were yours.
Thieving Bastard: Hi, I’d like to register this bike.
Fireman: Is it yours?
Thieving Bastard: Yes.
Fireman: Okay.
In theory, bike registration deters traffic violations. Nope. Not true at all because bike registration does not make you any smarter or better at cycling. This is, after all, a bike permit we’re discussing here; not an M-1 Abrams Tank permit.
Finally, again “in theory”, bike registration helps citizens report reckless cycling. Sure, if you’re a bitter person with 20/20 vision and capable of memorizing the license number as it “recklessly” passes you by.
Now that we’ve established the fact that 40 years ago some people had a stupid idea on a hot day, let’s get to the heroics of one Chris Hutto. He may not be as hot as Sarah Palin, but at least he knows what he’s doing.
Some local bicycle gang members approached Mayor Hutto with knowledge of this red tape and asked him if he might know how to cut it to pieces. Inspired by several beers and the opportunity to fulfill civic duty, Mayor Hutto signed up to be heard at the following City Council public hearing (always on Tuesdays).
Now, Mayor Hutto is no slouch. In preparation for his coup d'état of this crap city ordinance, Hutto notified the Police Department (HPD), Fire Department (HFD) and the Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department (ARA); and explained to them that he was going to attempt to have this law destroyed. He even went as far as to ask for their help in the matter. And they did.
On the day that Mayor Hutto was to appear before the City Council, all three departments sent a representative to stand behind him in support. Not only that, but the ARA sent Hutto a summary of the Bicycle Permit, claiming it “to be outdated, not cost efficient, impossible to enforce, and no longer necessary.” The ARA also found that the City of Houston issues about 10 bicycle permits per month. Time for A Quick Math Lesson To Remind The Public During An Economic Downturn.
If ten people per month register their bikes for the price of one dollar for forty years, how much money have you taken in? 10 x 12 x $1 x 40 = $4,800
In forty years, the City of Houston has (theoretically) generated only $4,800 of revenue through this ordinance. I’ve seen some bikes on sale for $4,800. It’s not farfetched to assume that the printing and distributing costs of the registration materials are more than $4,800 PER YEAR.
So that’s why Christopher Hutto, the Mayor of Montrose, backed by his three-headed Department dragon, yelled with a bellowing, God-like voice, “Mayor White, TEAR DOWN THAT BICYCLE ORDINANCE!”
To which, Mayor Bill White said, “What?” And that’s when he did it. Mayor Hutto presented his case and it was agreed that a vote would be cast.

My fellow Houstonians, you may rest well tonight knowing that there is a man out there (typically found at Catbirds) that is looking out for all of us. He doesn’t ask for money. He finds no need for heralding; and humbly refuses the praise he deserves. This man is a true statesman. Mayor Hutto heard the call of the oppressed and jumped at the opportunity to remedy wrong.
Are you inspired? Well damn it, I AM! Mayor Hutto, in his own actions, has outlined for us a strategy for change. Identify the problem, sign up to be heard, let the appropriate people know that you’re coming and then yell!
This is a story about a man who pisses on complacency. He didn’t wait for some questionably elected official to act on the people’s behalf. Instead, Hutto did it himself.
This is a story about a man that does not complain about the process. He makes the process his bitch. Hutto recognized that the process is there to be used. So he used it.
This is a story about George Washington, about Martin Luther King, about Stephen F. Austin.
This is a story about YOU and who you are supposed to be when it comes to civic duty: passionate, unafraid and pro-active.
If you think that bike registration is the only ordinance that costs the city more money than it makes, then you aren’t looking close enough. Silly, little impediments like this are all over the place and it’s our responsibility to purge them from our system.

The Bike Permit Law has been rescinded and you have one man (speaking for many) to thank for this. His name is Chris Hutto, the Mayor of Montrose. For God’s sake and the sake of our city, go to City Hall (again, Catbirds on Westheimer) and greet this man with a cold beer and a handshake. Cheers.

Before I go, I’d like to quote the very last paragraph of Carolyn Feibl’s article in the Houston Chronicle concerning the Bike Law. While I agree with everything that is stated in the article, I found the final paragraph to be.... socio-economically disturbing. It reads:

“Please. It’s not a car,” the Tanglewood resident said. “If people haven’t gotten a chain on it, or that bar, then they deserve to get it stolen.”

If this guy “accidentally” leaves his Mercedes Benz unlocked in the circle driveway of his huge house in Tanglewood, then by his logic his car “deserves” to be stolen. This guy is a scumbag and probably voted for McCain because he’s old... and white.

6 Comments:

At November 6, 2008 12:33 PM , Blogger Ramon Medina - LP4 said...

Just another feather in the cap of our great and honourable Mayor. Not only does he perform nigh godlike in is daily duty as Mayor of Montrose but here we see him going out of his way to help out a neighboring city.

Oh I'm sure those Houston folks wish their city could have such a hands on mayor as Hutto!

 
At November 6, 2008 12:45 PM , Anonymous james S. said...

A shining beacon unto our fair city!

 
At November 7, 2008 9:42 AM , Blogger Free Press Houston said...

Chris worked long and hard on this one. If you see him in the streets, thank him.

 
At November 7, 2008 4:20 PM , Anonymous Benji John said...

Wow Chris Hutto - You are my hero! Glad to see you've moved on to bigger and better things ;)

 
At November 25, 2008 9:20 AM , Anonymous Brian Harrison said...

Awesome. I can take my stolen plate off the bike.

Every stolen bike I've heard of had been using a lock. The crook cut through it, so that ignorant bastard can shove it.

 
At April 14, 2009 2:18 PM , Anonymous Jerome said...

I agree, the City of Houston strategy was a dinosaur (T-Bikearus) which flourished many millennia ago (peaking in the 50’s). That said, Bike Registry, in a updated format, still represents a VERY viable tool for theft deterrence and recovery. Along w/ some biker friends, I recently launched www.BikeRegistry.com. A no charge, Houston based, global bike registry. Houston based Goodwill Industries performs our product packaging.

 

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