Albuquerque Police Seize Vehicle From Owner Whose Son Drove It While Drunk; Want $4,000 To Give It Back

from the not-a-deterrent,-just-a-vindictive-money-grab dept

Last spring, New Mexico's governor signed a bill into law that would prevent law enforcement from seizing people's assets without securing a criminal conviction. This was likely prompted by the New York Times' publication of footage from Las Cruces asset forfeiture seminar in which the speaker basically said asset forfeiture is used by law enforcement to "shop" for things they want.

Several months later, the city of Albuquerque was sued by state legislators because its police refused to stop seizing assets -- mainly vehicles -- without obtaining convictions. The city claimed the new law only applied to state police, and anyway, it was only performing a valuable community service by taking cars away from members of the community.

“Our ordinance is a narrowly-tailored nuisance abatement law to protect the public from dangerous, repeat DWI offenders and the vehicles they use committing DWI offenses, placing innocent citizens’ lives and property at risk,” city attorney Jessica Hernandez said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The ordinance provides defenses to forfeiture to protect innocent owners and has been upheld by the courts.”

lol. "Defenses."

Here's what really happens when the Albuquerque police blow off state law and perform "nuisance abatement."

After her son was arrested in April for drunk driving while at the wheel of her borrowed Nissan Verso, Arlene Harjo, 56, found herself in court being told that she had to transfer ownership of the car to the city, or else settle the case for $4,000 to get it back.

Those are the "defenses." Sign your car over or pay a fine large enough to discourage most people from recovering their vehicles. Note that the vehicle's owner wasn't suspected of any criminal activity. And there's nothing in The Guardian's story that suggests her son had even been convicted or pled guilty before the city demanded she relinquish ownership of her car.

For most people, $4,000 is an insurmountable obstacle. What makes this even worse is Arlene Harjo is still on the hook for the loan covering the vehicle she can't use.

Harjo has found herself stuck in a bureaucratic labyrinth in which she is making loan payments on a car as it sits in a government impound. On top of that, if she signs over ownership to the city, for resale, she will still have to keep making loan payments for a car she no longer possesses.

On top of that, even if Harjo comes up with $4,000, she still won't be able to use the car. C.J. Ciaramella of Reason (who broke the story) has more details on the city's vindictively-slanted legal playing field.

In Harjo's case, the city offered to give her car back in exchange for $4,000 and having it booted for 18 months.

And here's the "defenses to forfeiture" the city claims makes the process equitable.

At her hearing, Harjo was supposed to have a neutral arbiter, but the Chief Hearing Officer in Albuquerque is Stanley Harada, the same person who crafted the city's asset forfeiture program back when he was a city attorney.

Harada lectured Harjo, arguing she shouldn't have trusted her son, according to audio of the hearing. Harjo's son had several drunk driving offenses in the past, but the last one occurred in 2009.

"By providing him with a vehicle you're taking a big, big risk," Harada said. "This law is here to try and prevent people from getting killed and injured."

It seems like the best way to keep people from being killed and injured is to take drunk drivers off the street, rather than a third party's vehicle -- one that hasn't been known to kill or injure anyone when driven by its owner.

Why is this system -- which may still be found to be illegal under state law -- so antagonistic to people in Harjo's situation? Because it is designed from the ground up to feed money directly to the same law enforcement entities that perform the seizures.

According to last year's lawsuit against the city, Albuquerque forecasts how many vehicles it will not only seize, but sell at auction. The city's 2016 budget estimates it will have 1,200 vehicle seizure hearings, release 350 vehicles under agreements with the property owners, immobilize 600 vehicles, and to sell 625 vehicles at auction.

In fact, the Albuquerque city council approved a $2.5 million bond to build a bigger parking lot for cars seized under the DWI program. The revenue to pay for the bond will come from the DWI program.

As Ciaramella points out, the city of Albuquerque currently seizes around 1,000 cars a year and city law enforcement directly benefits from the $8.3 million the program has brought in since 2010. The incentives are completely broken. The city isn't interested in scaling back its seizures because it has already decided how many cars it needs to take possession of to hit its budget numbers for this year. Without a ruling declaring these seizures illegal under state law, Albuquerque police (when not shooting a bunch of the city's residents) will be viewing every minor traffic stop as an opportunity to take another "criminal" vehicle off the streets.


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    Whatever (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 3:55am

    Sort of hard to get much sympathy for drunk drivers, or the parents of young drunk drivers. Generally drunk driving suspects are given a Breathalyzer test, and the findings are considered sufficient for prosecution.

    Now, let's look a the "outrageous" numbers in the story.

    "The city made $8.3m from civil asset forfeiture of vehicles alone between 2010 and 2015, according to the Albuquerque Journal, seizing more than 1,000 cars every year."

    Well, let's do the math, shall we? 6 years, more than 6000 cars. That is $1300 or so dollars per car seized. That's a far cry from the $4000 figure, which suggests that the paper has lumped in all sorts of different cases to try to build a mountain out of a series of much smaller cases and unrelated cases. As an example, you can easily get to $1300 dollars pretty quickly at $10 a day, money for towing, etc - for a car left in a tow zone and never claimed (it happens all the time).

    For what it's worth, the police could just claim the vehicle is evidence, and allow the owner to make a court claim as to their non-involvement. That would likely cost about the same and give a similar result.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 4:08am

      Re:

      Or, conversely, they could just not steal anyone's car when they need to collect evidence from it and, if they do end up needing to take temporary possession of someone's car (because it's out on the road when the police start interacting with it), they release it to the vehicle's owner along with a bill.

      I think the part that most people have a problem with isn't the level of ransom the police charge to return the vehicles they have stolen, it's the fact they're stealing vehicles and holding them to ransom in the first place.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:23am

        Re: Re:

        Why not call the state police and report a vehicle theft. Then go after the insurance company for replacement value. Not the best deal, but eh whatever works for getting transportation back.

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        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 7:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Aside from the credit score ding, what would happen if she simply did not pay the auto loan? The lender would repo the car.

          It would be amusing to see a real life game of cops & robbers (repo men) play out...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 4:20am

      Re:

      So you are happy with the police deciding who can pay extra taxes, either by losing their property, or paying an arbitrary amount, and possibly losing their job by losing their transport.

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      • identicon
        David, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:01am

        Re: Re:

        Whatever's happy trolling Techdirt with pro-law-enforcement twisting of logic that police union representatives would feel silly proffering. Predictable enough that it could actually be the work of a troll collective taking turns.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 5:08am

      Re:

      Well done Whatever, once again disagreeing with TD just for the sake of it.

      There is no reason for the police to hold the vehicle as evidence, the proof of the DWI will be the breathalyser or blood test results. And the vehicle should not be impounded as the owner clearly did not commit any crime.

      The main issue here is that the police budget for how many cars they need to impound in a given year. The simple solution is to remove the reward from the police and divert the proceeds towards community improvement plans and education programmes.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 5:24am

      Re:

      "Sort of hard to get much sympathy for drunk drivers, or the parents of young drunk drivers."

      Where did you get the "young drunk driver" from? The mother is 56, I can't find an article that states the son's age. He could be a teenager, he could be in his 30s. Do you have a citation, or is that your assumptions coming out again? Or, do you actually support parents being held responsible for the actions of their 30 year old children?

      "That is $1300 or so dollars per car seized. That's a far cry from the $4000 figure"

      Yes and no. $4,000 could easily be on the high end (or not - you've used your usual tactic of half-assed assumptions to get your preferred result, of course). But, many people can no more afford one grand than they can 4. The distinction is irrelevant if the hardship incurred is the same.

      "a car left in a tow zone and never claimed (it happens all the time)"

      Yes, it happens all the time, usually because the person either cannot afford the fine or it outweighs the worth of the car. Given that the US is filled with people who are living paycheck to paycheck and need a car to get to work to make that money, this would seem to be a big problem.

      "For what it's worth, the police could just claim the vehicle is evidence, and allow the owner to make a court claim as to their non-involvement. That would likely cost about the same and give a similar result."

      You don't see the problem with successfully claiming that you were not involved in a crime, yet being left with the same penalty as if you were? That would seem to be a major problem to me.

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      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 3:53pm

        Re: Re:

        " Or, do you actually support parents being held responsible for the actions of their 30 year old children?"

        If they are loaning them cars, then well... it sort of answers itself.

        "Given that the US is filled with people who are living paycheck to paycheck and need a car to get to work to make that money, this would seem to be a big problem."

        Actually, given that the US is filled with people who want to live the American Dream on a Walmart salary. Those are the people who drive cars they can't maintain, can;t insure, and generally ruin it for the rest of us.

        "You don't see the problem with successfully claiming that you were not involved in a crime, yet being left with the same penalty as if you were?"

        Someone still has to pay for the towing and storage, and so on. It's logical that someone stopped for DUI has the car impounded, and fees would apply. I don't agree with the idea of a manditory X or Y amount flat fee, but even a tow, imound, and a few weeks of storage could run well more than $1000 without trying. So successfully claiming you were not in a crime doesn't make the rest of the reality disappear.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 4:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "If they are loaning them cars, then well... it sort of answers itself."

          Avoiding an actual response, huh?

          But... not really. The action of loaning a car does not answer the question posed to you, which was whether you believe that a parent should be held directly responsible for the actions of their grown adult offspring.

          Let me guess, you pulled the "young" assumption out of the same orifice from which you produce all your other assumptions and now can't bear to back down when presented with an alternative possibility.

          "Actually, given that the US is filled with people who want to live the American Dream on a Walmart salary. Those are the people who drive cars they can't maintain, can;t insure, and generally ruin it for the rest of us."

          Another non-answer. What about the people who own cars they can run and maintain... right up until it's impounded and they're asked for an amount that exceeds the value of the car?

          Once again, avoiding the question and the facts because entering a discussion on other possibilities might undermine your contrarian obsession.

          "Someone still has to pay for the towing and storage, and so on"

          Yes, so why no the person who actually committed the action that caused those costs to be incurred? "Someone" should pay, nobody disputes that. But, it needs to be someone responsible for the costs, not whatever random scapegoat is convenient.

          "So successfully claiming you were not in a crime doesn't make the rest of the reality disappear."

          But, nobody's arguing that it should. They're arguing that the innocent party should be held responsible for the rest of that reality.

          Once again, you seem to be avoiding any response to the actual points raised in either the article or the followup posts, just random blather in an attempt to distract.

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          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 23 Sep 2016 @ 4:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "But... not really. The action of loaning a car does not answer the question posed to you, which was whether you believe that a parent should be held directly responsible for the actions of their grown adult offspring."

            You miss the point - it's not parent / child, it's someone loaning a car to someone who is potentially drunk (and has been stopped for it before). If I know someone has been stopped by the cops before for drunk driving, I am not going to be loaning him my car just for fun. Knowing the facts, it's perhaps not the best choice, right?

            "Another non-answer. What about the people who own cars they can run and maintain... right up until it's impounded and they're asked for an amount that exceeds the value of the car?"

            If the car is that valuable to you, then don't lend it to others who won't take as much care with it. Problem solved.

            "Yes, so why no the person who actually committed the action that caused those costs to be incurred? "

            The owner of the car could very well go to court for civil action to recover the losses (I have done this at a car hire firm I managed to for a while). Legally, the car cannot be given back to the person who committed the offence, as they are not the owner and cannot claim it. Basic law.

            "They're arguing that the innocent party should be held responsible for the rest of that reality. "

            Nope. They are saying "your vehicle was involved in a crime. We had to impound it. We had to tow it. We had to store it. We had to do legal process on it. This is what it costs to get it back". Are their fees high? Yes. Too High? Probably yes. Illegally high? Nope. They are certainly enough to discourage people from casually lending their cars out.

            "Once again, you seem to be avoiding any response to the actual points raised in either the article or the followup posts, just random blather in an attempt to distract."

            I answered all of them. You just don't like the answers because they confuse your small mind. Sorry about that.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 23 Sep 2016 @ 4:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Weeks later, and you still can't address the points in the comments?

              "You miss the point - it's not parent / child"

              The point addressed began like this:

              "Sort of hard to get much sympathy for... the parents of young drunk drivers"

              I directly addressed the implicit idea that the parents should be responsible for the actions of their adult children. Most especially the one in the article, who statistically is likely to be in his 30s, not a young driver, although the articles didn't specify his age.

              You're avoiding that point, as you avoid every direct question posed of you. Goal post moving, misdirection, etc. don't count, but that's all you have.

              "If I know someone has been stopped by the cops before for drunk driving, I am not going to be loaning him my car just for fun"

              If someone needs a car and as far as I know he's sober and has been so for a time before I lend him my car, it should be on him and not me if he decides to get drunk after I hand him the keys. Ditto for any action he might take using any property. Maybe if he got caught last week I'd be cautious, but it shouldn't be on me just because he had issues a decade ago.

              Let me guess, this is the time when personal responsibility is irrelevant, you'll just harp on it next time it's convenient to you?

              "If the car is that valuable to you, then don't lend it to others who won't take as much care with it. Problem solved."

              I know you're a sociopath, but it must be very lonely and scary living in the world you inhabit. I prefer one where you're not deathly afraid of everyone around you lest they implicate you in some misdeed by a 3 or 4 degree separation.

              "Legally, the car cannot be given back to the person who committed the offence"

              Reading comprehension is your enemy, as usual when you're trying to address a fiction rather than the actual words in front of you.

              I didn't say they should be given back the car. I said that they should be liable for costs incurred. The owner, who did not commit the original offence, should have their rightful property returned. Other avenues are available to retrieve the costs from the guilty party other than holding a 3rd party's property hostage.

              What's hard about that?

              "They are certainly enough to discourage people from casually lending their cars out."

              I'd prefer the tactic that prevents crimes from happening, thanks. That involves holding the people responsible liable for the costs of their crimes, not the nearest convenient innocent scapegoat.

              "I answered all of them."

              No, you really didn't. Deflection, goal post moving and ignoring the salient point in favour of those you can avoid do not count as answering.

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              • icon
                Whatever (profile), 23 Sep 2016 @ 8:02pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "I directly addressed the implicit idea that the parents should be responsible for the actions of their adult children. Most especially the one in the article, who statistically is likely to be in his 30s, not a young driver, although the articles didn't specify his age."

                Had you researched even a small bit, you would know his name (tino) his age (30s) and that he had been arrested for a prior DUI but got out of it because it appears the officer was not available to testify - similar to his mother! My lack of sympathy for a parent doesn't mean that my concern stops at a family relationship, it would apply to even me being foolish enough to loan you a car (or even enough for a bottle of two buck chuck, but I digress)

                "I didn't say they should be given back the car. I said that they should be liable for costs incurred. "

                Glad you don't work for the government on these things, otherwise things would be so fucked. The car is the thing incurring the costs. You don't give back the asset until the costs are paid. End. Adding it to the defendant's tab would be meaningless, considering the defendant doesn't have the same motivations to get it back. In other words, the state would never get paid for the work it did (including towing and storage, legal fees, etc) just to process the car. Your answer is a huge failure to understand the basics of the law.

                "I'd prefer the tactic that prevents crimes from happening, thanks. That involves holding the people responsible liable for the costs of their crimes, not the nearest convenient innocent scapegoat."

                Your failure to understand the law would be appalling if I did't know your history better. Let's just say you don't understand the basic concepts of ownership versus use, or legal process on seized property used in the commission of a crime. Sorry, but without you having a basic understanding, it's a pretty hard discussion to have.

                "No, you really didn't. Deflection, goal post moving and ignoring the salient point in favour of those you can avoid do not count as answering."

                Not at all. I stand where the law stands, you stand out in the middle of nowhere waving your arms and trying to act like the law doesn't exist. Like I said, without you getting a basic understanding of the laws in question, it's really hard to have a discussion, and apparently very hard for you to understand the answers.

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                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 26 Sep 2016 @ 1:43am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "Had you researched even a small bit, you would know his name (tino) his age (30s)"

                  I did research, but at the time there was no information I could find about the son's details, all the news articles referred to the mother's age. At a guess, that information came out later, although given your lack of citation and lack of admitting that my assumption of his age range was correct and yours was wrong, I take your claim with a pinch of salt.

                  "The car is the thing incurring the costs. You don't give back the asset until the costs are paid."

                  Well, i hope you don't work for government because your way is the most inefficient, most expensive way to do things. Although this does seem to be par for the course with US governance.

                  The car is only accruing costs because it's impounded. It's impounded for things that the owner did not do. My option is to return the car to the rightful owner and charge the guilty party with the outstanding costs. Do you not have multiple ways to retrieve outstanding civil debts in the US? I'm sure you do.

                  Your solution might have the option of selling the car later on to cover costs, but it also guarantees that the costs are vastly higher as well as levying those costs on someone who did not commit the crime in question.

                  "Your failure to understand the law would be appalling if I did't know your history better."

                  The history where you know I'm not in the US nor American, so might need some basic legal differences explained? Or the one where I regularly talk with an ignorant troll who waves his arms or disappears whenever challenged for an explanation, citation or adult discussion?

                  "Sorry, but without you having a basic understanding, it's a pretty hard discussion to have."

                  In other words: "I'm right, you're wrong, I won't cite anything or even explain what's wrong but I win!" You're pathetic.

                  "I stand where the law stands"

                  But you won't explain why I'm wrong, explain why you think you're right, will provide zero citations or address the fact that the very basis of this discussion is where the law might be wrong in how it operated.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 5:50am

      Re:

      For what it's worth, the police could just claim the vehicle is evidence

      Sure - because every DWI conviction would fall apart if they didn't have the vehicle entered as evidence.

      Dumbass.

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    • identicon
      David, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:11am

      Wrong argument.

      Except that the civil asset forfeiture does not target either owner or driver of that vehicle but rather the car itself as an asset for committing a purported crime (except that there has been no actual criminal case, but that's not necessary).

      That means that with regard to convicting the car, it is immaterial whether the son of the owner drove it or whether somebody stole the car and drove drunk or did a bank robbery with it.

      The legal situation is the same: the car contributed to a crime and needs to mount a defense against its seizure or it won't get to see its owner again.

      So "Sort of hard to get much sympathy for drunk drivers, or the parents of young drunk drivers" is off-topic. You need to find sympathy for a car that did not sufficiently resist being part of a possibly criminal act.

      Since the owner obviously is unfit for raising a car, the delinquent car is removed from her responsibility and given into state car care, eventually to be adopted by someone more responsible.

      If that sounds like a bad joke, it's because it is. Frankly, any way I can conceive that this passed the Supreme Court's muster involves wads of money and/or hookers.

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    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:35am

      Re:

      Fuck off asshole. Just wait until your newborn gets to the teenage years and starts doing stupid shit. Go play in traffic.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:29am

        Re: Re:

        Fuck off asshole...

        If he goes and plays in traffic the unfortunate individual having hit the dirt bag would have trouble to deal with, why would you wish that upon some potential innocent?

        Next time, you should offer that he visit the outback and play with some snakes. That way, no one will have to take damage to their vehicle from his hard noggin, or have to wipe up his remains should you have suggested he pirouette from the Chrysler building, or having him fished from a body of water having suggested an in promptu swimming lesson beginning perpendicular to the center of a very high bridge.

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    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      I wonder how many of us will just start flagging your posts as abusive content simply to shut your shilling for tyranny down.

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    • identicon
      Skeeter, 7 Sep 2016 @ 11:12am

      Re: Outrage is Outrageous

      I fully agree. If you live in the Southwest, you CONSTANTLY see deaths by DWI, illegal use of cars, and many times, 'loaners' from family and friends, where the criminal figured 'borrowing a car is better than risking my own' or that they have already lost their car due to drug debt, court costs or other questionable reason.

      Then, you have a bleeding heart situation where the mother clearly knew (or should have known) her son had a drinking problem, a DWI problem, and she is 'outraged' when he drinks-and-drives, gets her car impounded, walks away and leaves her without the car but with lots of debt. Yeah, it's the cops' fault, not the kid's, right? THIS is why impoundment happens, because NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE ANYMORE. Sympathizing with her is akin to saying you yourself are part of this problem, facilitating crime, and not a part of a tougher solution.

      She Should NOT have loaned him the car, and that she did, she is now paying the price that he was too irresponsible to. It really is that simple.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 1:53pm

        Re: Re: Outrage is Outrageous

        His last conviction was 7 years prior.
        Should he not be able to drive for the rest of his life?

        If that's the case, then your issue is really with the STATE who didn't revoke his license, right? Why aren't you outraged that the STATE continued to license him to drive?

        The state CLEARLY knew about the convictions right?

        Where's your righteous indignation with the DMV?

        Lemme guess...there's no money to be made holding the DMV responsible. If the DMV allows him to keep his license:

        - insurance can jack up his rate - cha-ching!
        - the state can mandate classes, fees, etc. - cha-ching!
        - a parent's vehicle can be seized - cha-ching!

        Yeah. She's the irresponsible one.
        She's just the easiest vector to get some free cash out of.

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      • icon
        JMT (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:30pm

        Re: Re: Outrage is Outrageous

        "...the mother clearly knew (or should have known) her son had a drinking problem, a DWI problem..."

        Since the only history presented in the story was one indecent 7 years ago, what do you think this knowledge was based on? Are you extrapolating the facts to fit your moral outrage or do you know more about this case that was presented here?

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  • identicon
    Quiet Lurcker, 7 Sep 2016 @ 5:03am

    Interesting wrinkle

    I believe in most places, in order to hand over title, you have to pay off the lien-holder.

    So, I guess that leaves the city with a couple of poor choices: either pay off the lien, likely guaranteeing a financial loss to the city; sell the car 'as-is, where-is', running the risk the former owner and/or finance company will come after them and take the city to the cleaners over the lien; or possibly go to court over their self-evident violation of the Takings Clause.

    I dare say, it would suck to be the city of Albuquerque in this case.

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    • identicon
      PRMan, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:42am

      Re: Interesting wrinkle

      So, the correct answer is to stop paying on the car and let the dealer know that they can repossess it from the police lot.

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      • identicon
        Quiet Lurcker, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:57am

        Re: Re: Interesting wrinkle

        Or register a second lien on the car for 115% of the current equity on the note.

        Then, when the city sells it at auction, the state DMV will get in on the act, and (hopefully) come down on the city like a tonne of brick.

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    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:02am

      Re: Interesting wrinkle

      or they just ignore the laws regarding them having to pay anything like they ignore the new state laws regarding asset forfeiture.

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    • identicon
      Skeeter, 7 Sep 2016 @ 11:18am

      Re: Interesting wrinkle

      What utter foolishness. This is like saying that a city can't take possession of a meth house because there's a loan held by the bank on it. If this defense worked, banks nationwide would be holding loans on meth houses.

      Property used in the commission of a crime becomes the property of the state (in most instances). The bank can file for receivership, but the property is forfeited to the state, leaving the bank to pursue reclamation of any assets through pursuing the CRIMINAL, not the state or the property. At best-case, they can force a 'state sale' of assets, but that is highly unlikely.

      Wake up people, when it's government-and-bank-against-criminal, they know which way to go - charge it all to the criminal. Stop going after the cops, and start going after the criminals.

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      • identicon
        Quiet Lurcker, 7 Sep 2016 @ 12:51pm

        Re: Re: Interesting wrinkle

        >>>This is like saying that a city can't take possession of a meth house because there's a loan held by the bank on it. If this defense worked, banks nationwide would be holding loans on meth houses.

        Wrong, sir. You are comparing apples and oranges, at least in part. The mother (owner - person paying the note) lent the car to her son. Reading the article, I surmise she figured that if he had not used alcohol in a number of years, the chances of him doing so in this instance were slim. The mother committed no crime. This directly implicates the Fifth Amendment (Takings Clause), even if courts refuse to acknowledge the fact.

        >>>Property used in the commission of a crime becomes the property of the state (in most instances).

        This assumes that a crime has been proven. It has not. If no crime has been proven, the state has zero business taking the property unless compensation is paid. Let me repeat that to make myself crystal clear:
        Unless a crime has been proven in a court of competent jurisdiction, the state may NOT under ANY circumstances take property unless the owner is properly compensated.


        >>>Stop going after the cops, and start going after the criminals.

        Again, wrong, sir. The criminals in this case are the ones wearing the badges.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Blowhard, 7 Sep 2016 @ 5:13am

    Crime Not Necessary

    Police have attempted to steal millions in assets, for example a motel because a few drug deals occurred on the premises. They've taken houses for posession of marijuana. A 200,000 fine for having a small amount of marijuana is excessive in my opinion.

    But in many cases there was no crime and no charges. They just took what they wanted. There is little to no oversight. Even in a civil trial where I sue someone for damages I have to prove my case in court. I can't just take someone's stuff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    roebling (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 5:50am

    Albuquerque shouldn't give the car back, it was used in a crime which endangered people in Albuquerque.
    Owners of cars, like owners of guns and pharmacies and anything else, have responsibility for how those tools are used.
    Take the kid's license & sell the car at auction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      Be careful what you wish for, it might be used against you some day too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Skeeter, 7 Sep 2016 @ 11:20am

        Re: Re:

        Are you referring to the irresponsible drunk driving mommy's car, aiming it at my family on the same road, or the cops and courts trying to stop this from happening by punishing the mother who owns the car she loaned to the irresponsible son, whom they can't get to stop breaking the law (blood from a turnip situation)?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Are you referring to the irresponsible drunk driving mommy's car..."

          Who is this "irresponsible drunk driving mommy" you're referring to, coz there isn't one of those in this story.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:06am

      Response to: roebling on Sep 7th, 2016 @ 5:50am

      How does it teach the police to learn responsibilty to enforce laws they are paid to enforce? By allowing them to disregard restrictions we are encouraging them to violate other laws that keep them in check.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:08am

      Re:

      It wasn't "used in a crime". A crime requires a victim, even if just a prospective one. Unless you can prove that the driver took the car with the explicit intent to injure or kill people or at least cause property damage, we are talking about a misdemeanor.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re:

        It wasn't "used in a crime". A crime requires a victim, even if just a prospective one. Unless you can prove that the driver took the car with the explicit intent to injure or kill people or at least cause property damage, we are talking about a misdemeanor.


        There is so much wrong with what you just said. There were prospective victims - everyone on the road, who he was endangering by driving drunk. Crimes do not necessarily require intent to injure or cause damage, and this is an example of one that does not. You say it's a misdemeanor, but a fourth offense is a felony in New Mexico, and this article says he had "several" prior convictions - if that means at least 3, then this one was a felony. And finally, misdemeanors are crimes too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Skeeter, 7 Sep 2016 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re:

        I missed the news, when did DWI become legal? The kid drove mommy's car illegally (while impaired), mommy let him, and now doesn't like the fact that the cops took her car (she's fine with son driving drunk, potentially risking killing others while DWI, but finds the courts going in her pocket reprehensible). There's a reason the courts are punishing her, because not only is her son guilty of DWI multiple times, but she's guilty of complicity in helping facilitate his crime and her car was the tool used in his enactment of the crime.
        It only looks 'harmless' if you are in another city. Add in there that he 'drove over and killed a child' in the commission of his crime, and you wouldn't have said a word. What changed? Other than the fact that he didn't fulfill the absolute potential of DWI this time?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          bob, 7 Sep 2016 @ 1:58pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Did you read the article or even the source material?!?

          No one is saying let the son go free and most certainly isn't saying DWI is okay.

          However the mom didn't know her son was driving drunk, she didn't loan out the car for him to drive drunk, the car wasn't just impounded but was ransomed by the city, and the city is punishing someone that didn't break any laws but is merely the owner of the object used by a person who committed the crime.

          Impound costs are already excessive but now the city is saying they can also charge a bigger fee to incentivize people to not get their property back. Effectively telling the cops go take something (with or without a good reason) so the city can sell it and then pad the budget.

          This type of action (government officials confiscating property without due process) is exactly why the framers of the constitution had to include a bill of rights.

          Any person with unchecked power will eventually abuse the power given them. It always happens. Slowly over long periods of time the rights spelled out in the constitution are being whittled away. People sometimes give them up willingly, sometimes rights are just openly taken, and other times they are taken covertly so that there is little protest of the matter.

          However not being informed of the situation and derailing a conversation with stupid uninformed dribble doesn't help anyone make their lives or public policies better. It just distracts people from the real issues at stake.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 3:58pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "However the mom didn't know her son was driving drunk, she didn't loan out the car for him to drive drunk, "

            You don't know that. Does he have a history? Was he going to meet his friends at a bar? Was he headed to a "beach party" or "frat party"? That information isn't in the story and you can't draw any conclusions.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 4:27pm

              "You don't know that."

              Wow. I wonder if Whatever does this to his kids:

              Whatever: Okay, where is it?

              Sonny: Where's what?

              Whatever: The meth lab. Where are you making the dope?

              Sonny: Meth...?

              Missy: Lay off him, Dad. He's six.

              Whatever: Shut up, harlot!

              If only you applied your assumptions evenly, Whatever. The police have means, motive and opportunity in this case to arrest falsely to seize the truck in bad faith, but you don't suspect them of anything.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Whatever (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:02pm

                Re: "You don't know that."

                Wow, are you full of shit.

                Research would help you. Mom had a DUI dismissed in 2004. Son is on the second time around (first time charges withdrawn likely because witness (officer) not available for a deposition).

                Neither of them are at their first time through the system.

                No matter how hard you try, you can't overcome the facts with stupid made up stories... Sorry!

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 10:34pm

                  "Full of shit"

                  I'm full of shit for saying you jump to conclusions?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 4:19am

                    Re: "Full of shit"

                    No, you're full of shit for daring to call him out on his own bullshit, even though he was obviously lying in the first place. That's the way he rolls.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2016 @ 8:49am

                  Re: Re: "You don't know that."

                  Mom had a DUI dismissed in 2004.

                  Are you unaware of what the word "dismissed" means?

                  first time charges withdrawn

                  So the officer couldn't be bothered to show up?
                  Where's your outrage with him?
                  Isn't that his fucking job?

                  It's certainly more convenient for them to be the scapegoats rather than the state (who didn't seem to have the need to revoke their licenses, or show up to testify) isn't it?

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 4:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "You don't know that."

              Neither do you.

              "That information isn't in the story and you can't draw any conclusions."

              Doesn't seem to stop you from claiming that the mother should be responsible for the actions of her "young" son, though. Strange, almost as if you demand someone else stick to a standard that's well beyond your own feeble grasp...

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      Can't wait until some joyrider steals your car...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      Better hope a random drug dealer doesn't sell drugs in front of your house then when you aren't home.

      Because then you know, the state could argue your house/land was used to commit a crime. You should have been a responsible home owner and prevented the drug dealer from selling drugs on your property when you weren't even home.

      They should take your home and sell it at an auction.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vincent Clement (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:50am

      Re:

      A criminal steals your car. Said criminal drives the car to a store and then robs it. Criminal is caught in your car. The car was used in a crime. Based on your logic, you shouldn't get your car back, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Machin Shin (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:00am

    Much as I disagree with the idea of police just taking peoples property. This is one of the areas I have actually thought it would be fitting. Drunk drivers put everyone at risk.

    Taking the cars used will cause a few cases like this where you take a car someone loaned out, but I actually think that is a good thing. You want people to think long and hard about loaning a car to someone if there is any risk at all that they will drive drunk.

    I think a good fix for this might be allowing the cars owner to go to court to get the car back. In doing so they can pay for it, or testify they didn't know how it would be used. In the second case the fees of releasing the car get passed on to the drunk driver.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:55am

      Re:

      They have these things called fines and little 8x8 rooms with bars on them... ya know... to keep people that continually do the same bad thing off the street to reflect on their bad behavior.

      Taking some poor moms car that may be the only means of making a living... yeah thats a great idea. /s

      The technical remedy which has been done thousands of times is a breathalyzer (ignition interlock device) on the car for a predetermined amount of time.

      Asset forfeiture has NOTHING to do with safety. It's an additional revenue source.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Machin Shin (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re:

        Yes, I do realize that fines and little 8x8 rooms are to keep people from doing bad things. Trouble is that doesn't seem to working well when you have guys coming back for there 6th and 7th DUI.

        So yeah, not saying I fully agree with this. I just believe drunk driving is something that needs to be stopped. There is zero excuse for it and it puts others at risk.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:59am

      Re:

      If it can be proved that the person lending the car was AWARE that the drunk driver REGULARLY drank and drove maybe I will agree with you.

      But someone who was known to have last drunk and drove 7 years ago thats not regularly or even current behavior. People can and do change, if you hold their past transgressions over their head forever what incentive do they have to change?

      Sometimes good people do bad things too, if you support this secondary liability then no one would, in their right mind, ever lend anything to anyone because the liability risk would be too great.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Machin Shin (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:37am

        Re: Re:

        That would be why I was saying there should be some options for someone to get their car back. Those options should be at least slightly painful, but nowhere near impossible. Such as having to go and swear in court you will not loan the car to the offender in the future. Then if car is taken a second time...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:10am

    Take the City of Albuqureque

    Since they are acting illegally and directly against state law, they are all guilty of collusion to commit grand theft auto. RICO statutes sound like an appropriate charge for all of the cops and other people involved in each step of these thefts. Take all of their income since it is clearly ill gotten and seize all city property including the police cars. Sell off all seized property immediately since they clearly support this kind of thing and they will need help stopping their thieving ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 7 Sep 2016 @ 6:47am

    I've seen this before and question:
    "Sign your car over or pay a fine"
    and
    "Arlene Harjo is still on the hook for the loan"

    Technically she does not own the car the bank does, and she does not even have a title to sign over.

    In her case I'd call the state police and report it stolen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:01am

      Re:

      In her case I'd call the state police and report it stolen.

      Whether or not that would be legal, I cannot say. This is after all "legalized theft" committed by the government, and it's not illegal when the government says it's legal. After all, according to the government, the current seizure process is adequately adversarial and provides sufficient protections for innocent owners. That the local government seems to be breaking the state law would seem to suggest that this conduct is illegal, but given the crazy rules about "false police reports" ...

      That aside, I wonder what the ramifications would be of notifying the lienholder that you no longer want the vehicle and will no longer make payments on the lien, so they are encouraged to come repossess it at their earliest convenience. I assume there is at least some risk of a bad mark on her credit report, but it could be entertaining to see the city and the lienholder duke it out over ownership of the vehicle.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Padpaw (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re:

        save the stat govenor passed a law that makes this illegal. Having the city police say it only applies to state police doesn't suddenly make the law void.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        Except in this case, it's "illegal theft", since there's a law in New Mexico that forbids the police from doing this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 2:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          There's illegal on the books, and illegal in practice.

          It's illegal on the books, but since absolutely no-one is ever going to charge the police with breaking the law over this for all intents and purposes it's not illegal for them to continue to rob people at badge-point.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 11:57am

        "Stolen"

        I'm not sure stolen is precluded by under the color of law.

        It was lifted from possession outside the owner's control, and under dubious pretenses, yet.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 7:17am

    Unintended consequences of this idiotic policy.

    Florida is an interesting state. Especially the Gold Coast.
    Infinite tourist for the locals both merchants and government to rip off and they do in numerous ways unimaginable to people who live in a non transitory environment.

    While I was working at a firm there in county we had a one individual who had had several run-ins with local enforcement over one minor affair or another I observed that he never drove any vehicle that had any value. In general hi vehicles belched smoke, had bad paint, and where rolling junk.

    A discussion with other coworkers revealed why. If he bought any better vehicle the country government seized it of one pretext or another. Even with a rolling junk heap he had had several cars seized at various times. Thus, knowing he was a target he purchased for cash the cheapest piece running of junk he could acquire. It did not matter if it smoked from burning oil or what. All that mattered was that it was cheap. Guess what he never had to repair one. He would buy them. Run them. And when the county seized them abandon them to the county. I am not certain but I believe it was actually costing the county more to dispose of the seized junk heaps than the county was getting from selling them. I do know it saved him a lot of money in seized property while placing everyone at risk by his driving a rolling wreck waiting to happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:39am

    Anybody want to throw a party in Albuquerque & invite all the big wigs?
    It would be interesting to see how many of them make it home still in possession of their cars.

    One would be amazed how many of them would question the program when they get caught up in it.

    This is another dirty little secret that works in society.
    Drunks are a problem, don't you want to be safe?
    We need to do this to stop them!
    If you say no, blood will be on your hands.

    But then it doesn't care about the difference between the drunk with 12 DWIs and someone who screws up once. But then it appears they need to pad their budget so they can afford to keep paying settlements to people who end up dead during encounters with them under questionable circumstances or when the video directly disproves officer statements.

    Perhaps the law they should have made would have shattered union contracts that keep dangerous officers & force them to face charges rather than retire to save face.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 1:53pm

      Re:

      It would be interesting to see how many of them make it home still in possession of their cars.

      Probably all of them, with a police escort to make sure that they were not inconvenienced by little things like red lights and stop signs and other drivers getting in their way.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:42am

    Stealing is Just Another Word for Arbitrary Confiscation of Your Property by the Police

    Several months later, the city of Albuquerque was sued by state legislators because its police refused to stop seizing assets -- mainly vehicles -- without obtaining convictions. The city claimed the new law only applied to state police, and anyway, it was only performing a valuable community service by taking cars away from members of the community.

    Silly serf laws are for little people (like you and I) to obey.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:57am

    petty dictators ruling their small kingdoms that view any objection to their illegality as something to be heavily stomped down.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 8 Sep 2016 @ 2:31am

      Re:

      Yep, that's about the size of it. Getting rid of that "To protect and to serve" attitude they're supposed to have is the problem. Reinstating a community service focus is the solution. I'm not holding my breath.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sok Puppette, 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:57am

    Is the majority that passed the law still in place?

    Do not taunt happy fun legislature. They might pass something you really wouldn't want to see...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Q Public, 7 Sep 2016 @ 8:59am

    The War On People

    This is the same police gang called out by the DA for murdering an unarmed homeless camper (i.e., they short and killed him for no reason). Not sure if they were tried and convicted inasmuch as real news is rarely reported in my area, except for "local local" stuff. But their DA was at least attempting to buck the Q's police union and killer kops... about a year or two ago.

    Still, best stay away from Alby QQ.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 10:48am

    Take away the incentive

    ... I'm sure that this has been brought up before, but why not remove the incentive to seize the assets?
    Rather than auction off the asset, have it destroyed or recycled in a fashion that would lead to a net financial impact of $0.

    I'm sure that there are problems with this approach as well, but I'd like to think that it would remove the seemingly rampant seizures for profit problem many local governments have.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 2:07pm

      Re: Take away the incentive

      Take all the funds gained from 'asset forfeiture'/robbery at badge-point and direct it towards the public defender's budget and I can guarantee you that they'd stop stealing everything they could get their hands on practically overnight, since the last thing they want is people being able to defend themselves in court.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 7 Sep 2016 @ 11:06am

    just don't clench in New Mexico.

    I knew I needed to guard my butt hole while in New Mexico. However I didn't know my car's tail pipe needed the same protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2016 @ 12:18pm

    Isn't it the sons' responsibility to return what he has borrowed? He should be thankful it is only $4000 and not 4 lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 7 Sep 2016 @ 4:24pm

    Let's add in some valid information:

    https://caselookup.nmcourts.gov/caselookup/app?component=dl&page=DwiResults&serv ice=direct&session=T&sp=ST-4-DW-2016000796

    It's his SECOND DWI offense, his last one went "Nolle Prosequi " a couple of years ago, potentially lack of witness availability.

    (and for information, it appears that Mom had an arrest and a dismissal in 2004 for similar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      (Your link is broken, shows a timed out session and just dumps you back to the case look-up)

      It's his SECOND DWI offense, his last one went "Nolle Prosequi " a couple of years ago, potentially lack of witness availability.

      It's like you don't even realize how your own comments undermine you.

      He was charged years ago(a comment above puts it at seven years) for DUI and the witness didn't show, leading I would assume to no conviction. So? Does one DUI mean he should never be able to drive again? Should his mother have magically known that this time, years after the last instance he'd be drinking and driving and refused on those grounds, making her responsible for not (magically) knowing better?

      Given the last time he was charged(not convicted as far as I know) with a DUI was years past, either you think that the mother should have been able to see the future and refused somehow knowing that this time he'd be driving drunk, or you believe that one DUI charge should mean that someone should never be trusted to drive sober ever again. Which is it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JiminTheGarage, 8 Sep 2016 @ 1:43am

    word games.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Sep 2016 @ 6:15am

    somehow I got unsubscribed from this comment forum.

    I'm resubscribing the only way I know how.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 12 Sep 2016 @ 11:14am

      Re: somehow I got unsubscribed from this comment forum.

      "somehow I got unsubscribed from this comment forum."

      That's a bi-monthly event for me, although a simple inquiry always gets me back in after a couple days.

      What's more frustrating is those days I simply get no TD mailing at all, only to have it start up again the next day all by its self.

      Then there's the days the editor won't work at all - takes 30-60 seconds for a character to show up on screen after hitting the key.

      But my favourite of all, is the redirect to a dead page that reads something like "the page you referred to cannot be found", that also has no return link, when I press SUBMIT. Naturally, everything I just wrote has been sent to the large cyber waste-bin in the sky.

      Have not seen one of those in months though.

      There is never any sort of explanation as to why shit happens so often to my account, of course, so I've stopped asking.

      Its just a ghost in the machine "glitch".

      But since they aint banned my ass outright yet, I got no real complaints.

      :)_~

      ---

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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