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Houston Red Light Camera Report Undermines TxDOT Camera Study
theNewspaper.com ^ | 12/31/2008 | n/a

Posted on 12/31/2008 11:15:45 AM PST by Ken H

Study finds accidents doubled at Houston, Texas red light camera intersections undermining the conclusions of a statewide report.

Accidents more than doubled at the Houston, Texas intersections where red light cameras are installed, according to a study released Monday by Rice University and the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI). This result posed a dilemma for TTI and the city of Houston which had requested the study.

Houston Mayor Bill White was furious when he saw the report's draft text in August. He banned the document from publication and ordered a re-writing of the text that would reflect a more positive result. To accomplish this task, White was able to turn to the study's primary author, Rice University Urban Politics Professor Robert Stein. Stein's wife, Marty, is employed by the city of Houston as a top aide to the mayor. Stein's newly revised report now concludes that "red light cameras are mitigating a general, more severe increase in collisions."

That left the Texas Transportation Institute with its own difficulty. Last month TTI coauthored another study with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) intended to support photo enforcement on a statewide basis. This report drew its conclusions from an examination of 56 intersections, 31 of which were found in Houston. The TxDOT-TTI study received wide publicity for the reported claim that red light cameras reduced accidents at camera intersections by 30 percent ( view study in 1mb PDF format).

"The TxDOT-TTI results are impossible to square with Houston's results," Houston attorney Randall L. Kallinen told TheNewspaper.

Kallinen and attorney Paul Kubosh have filed a lawsuit to force Houston to disclose the August draft of the Rice-TTI study under state freedom of information laws. Publicity over the lawsuit likely forced the city finally to release the final report during a holiday week. The revised report's data tell a much different story than that presented in the conclusions.

Houston currently tickets motorists at seventy intersections, but the Rice-TTI report examined the first fifty where the most accident data were available. Beginning in September 2006, Houston commissioned American Traffic Solutions to install the machines in groups of ten per month. The Rice-TTI study compared 24 months of pre-installation data to between 13 and 21 months of post-installation data for each of the five groups. According to TheNewspaper's analysis of overall accident data found in the appendices, the average number of monthly collisions went from an average of 15.4 collisions per month in the two years prior to camera enforcement to 58.3 accidents per month in the post-installation period. Although this figure is not reported in the study itself, the general fact is briefly acknowledged.

"The absolute number of collisions at camera-monitored intersection approaches is not decreasing," the study admitted.

To achieve the appearance of success, the study divided red light camera intersections into "non-monitored" approaches -- the directions of travel at the intersection where the red light camera is not looking -- and the "monitored" approaches where ticketing took place. There was a 132 percent increase in collisions at the non-monitored approaches of the intersection where red light cameras were installed and a non-significant 9 percent increase at the monitored approaches. The study treated these increases in both rear end and T-bone collisions as unrelated to the red light camera as long as the accident happened outside of the camera's view.

The study concluded that because the accidents went up at the non-monitored approaches of red light camera intersections, but effectively stayed the same at the monitored approaches, that the red light cameras were responsible for the "benefit" (a smaller increase) at one part of the red light camera intersection, but not the increase in acccidents at the other. This line of thought would suggest that the increased accidents at the non-monitored approaches of red light camera intersections reflected an increase in accidents at the other city intersections that had no red light cameras at all. The study admits this implication is untrue.

"Currently, conclusions on a general increase in collisions across the city are not supportable with available data," the study states.

The Rice-TTI dataset also throws doubt on the conclusions of the TxDOT-TTI study. Increases in Houston collisions documented by Rice-TTI mysteriously became decreases in collisions in the TxDOT-TTI report, as follows:

-Monroe at Gulf Freeway East Service Road: a 913% increase became a 41.7% decrease

-Hollister at Northwest Freeway: a 747% increase became a 60.5% decrease

-FM1960 West at Tomball Parkway: a 307% increase became a 44% decrease

-Richmond at Dunvale: a 103% increase became no change

-South Sam Houston Freeway at Telephone Road: a 164% increase became a 19.3% decrease

-East Freeway North Service Road at Normandy: a 52% increase became a 25% decrease

-North Freeway West Service Road at West Rankin Road: a 18% increase became a 32.7% decrease

In other cases, decreases became more pronounced and increases lessened. To cite just one example, a 217 percent increase in accidents in the red light camera approach of Scott Street at South Loop East North Service Road in the Rice-TTI report became a 50.1 increase in the TxDOT-TTI report. In general, far fewer collisions were reflected in the data used in the TxDOT-TTI report. Since Houston's results comprised more than one-half of the statewide results, it is unclear how TxDOT and TTI could have concluded a statewide reduction in accidents without data manipulation in at least one of the TTI reports.

A full copy of the final Houston report is available in a 400k PDF at the source link below.

Source: Evaluation of the City of Houston Digital Automated Red Light Camera Program (Rice Univeristy, Texas Transportation Institute, 12/28/2008)


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: biggovernment; billwhite; caraccidents; donutwatch; followthemoney; houston; insurance; lawyers; redlightcameras; revenuetickets

1 posted on 12/31/2008 11:15:46 AM PST by Ken H
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To: Ken H

Jeez, you can’t worry about a little collateral damage while in the process of collecting money from the public.


2 posted on 12/31/2008 11:17:42 AM PST by umgud (I'm really happy I wasn't aborted)
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To: Ken H

More junk science.


3 posted on 12/31/2008 11:19:00 AM PST by SouthTexas
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To: Ken H

Pick a number and make it fit.


4 posted on 12/31/2008 11:19:56 AM PST by MaxMax (I'll welcome death when God calls me. Until then, the fight is on)
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To: Ken H
Houston Mayor Bill White was furious when he saw the report's draft text in August. He banned the document from publication and ordered a re-writing of the text that would reflect a more positive result.

Time for a blizzard of FOIA requests and the emapanelment of a Grand Jury to investigage this 'mayor'.

L

5 posted on 12/31/2008 11:20:47 AM PST by Lurker ("America is at that awkward stage. " Claire Wolfe, call your office.)
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To: Ken H
He banned the document from publication and ordered a re-writing of the text that would reflect a more positive result.

Typical bureaucratic-political fraud.

Starts as a scientific study, ends as a political statement.

6 posted on 12/31/2008 11:22:30 AM PST by Publius6961 (Change is not a plan; Hope is not a strategy.)
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To: Ken H

I’m confident that if these studies indicate that the cameras make intersections more dangerous, the cameras will be promptly taken down.

After all, the cameras are there for safety - the politicians said so.

Has nothing to do with revenue generation. Nothing at all...

(above is sarcasm for those who haven’t already figured it out)


7 posted on 12/31/2008 11:31:24 AM PST by chrisser (The Two Americas: Those that want to be coddled, Those that want to be left the hell alone.)
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To: Ken H

They sent these data to the Abu Ghraib for statistics to be tortured into submission.

The Houston pols publishing this report submitted it to the IPCC to see if they might get a crack at drafting the next big global warming report.


8 posted on 12/31/2008 11:33:09 AM PST by G L Tirebiter
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To: Lurker
“Mayor” White has already announced his intent to run for the US senate seat that Kay Baily “may” vacate when she runs for the office of Texas governor

Needless to say political “standards” (such as they are) - are really going down very fast here in Texas

9 posted on 12/31/2008 11:34:18 AM PST by VRWCTexan (History has a long memory - but still repeats itself)
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To: Ken H
...the average number of monthly collisions went from an average of 15.4 collisions per month in the two years prior to camera enforcement to 58.3 accidents per month in the post-installation period...

For those of you who haven't seen these things yet, there is a bright flash when the camera goes off. It's enough to distract everyone traveling through the intersection, not just the subject being photographed. Imagine yourself driving along minding your own business when suddenly a strobe goes off in your eyes. You start looking around wondering what the heck it was and end up colliding with someone else doing the same thing.

10 posted on 12/31/2008 11:34:45 AM PST by SeeSharp
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To: umgud

"As you can see, my approval ratings show a steady increase."

11 posted on 12/31/2008 11:36:06 AM PST by Ken H
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To: Ken H
Don't know about Houston in particular, but I know that here in Tampa the best way to be involved in an accident is to actually stop when the traffic light you are approaching turns to yellow! The three or more drivers behind you, who've been speeding up for the last 200 yards to catch the stale green, will just push you right into the intersection. If you're lucky your accident will be limited to the read-end collision, other times you're pushed into someone from the opposite direction who has taken control of the intersection and turned in front of you when that driver thought you were stopping.
12 posted on 12/31/2008 11:36:52 AM PST by jwparkerjr (God Bless America!)
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To: Ken H

This has been pretty well known for a while now. After installing the cameras some cities have also cut in half the time the yellow light stays on. The only purpose of the cameras is to increase revenue, safety is just smokescreen.


13 posted on 12/31/2008 11:38:30 AM PST by Stevenc131
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To: Ken H
I take it Texas is not a permissive-yellow1 state ... that's the real problem, the roughly 50-50 split in state law defining a red light violation. Methinks most of the intersections that tout high ticket rates are catching most violators during the signal change interval, nabbing permissive yellow trained drivers who don't clear the intersection before the red comes on.

1Simply put, permissive yellow means you can enter the intersection under the yellow light but do not have to be clear of the intersection before the red comes on. (that's how I learned in Massachusetts but that's hardly the model state for safe drivers!). In a non-permissive state, you must clear the intersection before the signal changes to red - even if you entered the intersection under green! A non-permissive photo intersection gorges on a diet of permissive yellow trained drivers. Note that the shortening of a yellow to allow a second or so of all red exacerbates the trap nature of the intersection.

I daresay that these technical violations of a red light are not accident inducing for the most part, assuming the cross traffic is starting from a start and not barreling up to a red light in anticipation of an imminent green. Those are not your t-bone generators. OTHO, panic stops the instant the light turns yellow to avoid a ticket will cause the spike in rear-enders that the study seemed to find.

Solve the permissive / non-permissive mix and the revenue plan for most red light camera schemes falls apart.

IMHO

14 posted on 12/31/2008 11:39:59 AM PST by NonValueAdded (once you get to really know people, there are always better reasons than [race] for despising them.)
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To: Ken H

Screw the accidents. Let insurance pay for them. The city makes more money with the cameras. Let insurance pay for them.

Income vs. safety? Income wins.


15 posted on 12/31/2008 11:45:14 AM PST by Right Wing Assault (What's Obama's Secret?)
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To: Ken H

Texas red-light cameras have another problem to deal with...

A couple years back, the PI lobby convinced the Private Security Bureau—the PSB is the state agency that regulates private investigators, security guards, etc.—to push through a law declaring that all digital forensic practitioners had to be licensed as PIs. They did this via language that required anyone collecting any kind of evidence to be a PI.

A few weeks ago, a Dallas-area judge threw out a camera ticket based on the fact that the operators of the camera system were collecting evidence without holding a PI license. Now camera tickets are being challenged all over the state. Stoopid laws giveth, and stoopid laws taketh away. (Yes, SIC on purpose.)

MM


16 posted on 12/31/2008 11:46:04 AM PST by MississippiMan
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To: Ken H

Global warming and second hand smoke.


17 posted on 12/31/2008 11:53:15 AM PST by patton (+)
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To: Ken H

“Houston Mayor Bill White was furious when he saw the report’s draft text in August. He banned the document from publication and ordered a re-writing of the text that would reflect a more positive result. To accomplish this task, White was able to turn to the study’s primary author, Rice University Urban Politics Professor Robert Stein. Stein’s wife, Marty, is employed by the city of Houston as a top aide to the mayor. Stein’s newly revised report now concludes that “red light cameras are mitigating a general, more severe increase in collisions.””

This guy must write for the AGW crowd.


18 posted on 12/31/2008 11:54:26 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, then writes again.)
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To: umgud

Until people stop tailgating, this will continue. After a while the smart ones
will be PREPARED TO STOP!


19 posted on 12/31/2008 11:54:56 AM PST by TribalPrincess2U (Welcome to Obama's America... Be afraid, be very afraid)
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To: Ken H

White, Houston’s mayor, is just your typical big city rat politican. He is all about expanding government, expanding taxes, creating more dependency. Oh, he is arrogant as all can be - imagine that.

I made the bold prediction when the study was first announced, that the end result would be supportive of red light cameras. Afterall, White has plans to expand their use for revenue generation, I mean, safety reasons.

Unfortunately, Texas suffers the standard problem that most states have - big cities are rat controlled, the rest of state republican. Fortunately, the rest of Texas is big enough to counter the cities, so far.


20 posted on 12/31/2008 11:58:11 AM PST by rigelkentaurus
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To: MaxMax

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.


21 posted on 12/31/2008 12:00:42 PM PST by rednesss (Fred Thompson - 2008)
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To: TribalPrincess2U
Until people stop tailgating, this will continue. After a while the smart ones will be PREPARED TO STOP!

That's something I never understood. The traffic light cameras themselves do not cause the accidents, it is the idiots who ride up to your bumper as you stop for a red or yellow light that do.

I personally don't have a problem with red light cameras with reasonable oversight because there are dangerous intersections where it is critical that traffic laws be enforced and there aren't enough cops to go around to enforce the law at every intersection. Of course, I don't find myself running red lights on purpose either.

22 posted on 12/31/2008 12:12:41 PM PST by pnh102 (Save America - Ban Ethanol Now!)
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To: Alexis the Bengal Kitty

ping

I hadn’t seen a red light camera intersection until I came to Houston over Christmas. We were never ticketed but it seemed as if every intersection we crossed which had a camera flashed and took a picture because someone was going through the light.(At least that’s what the camera thought.)


23 posted on 12/31/2008 12:32:29 PM PST by Sally'sConcerns (http://www.fda.gov/emaillist.html - Class I (life threatening) recalls email alert sign-up)
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To: Ken H
Houston Mayor Bill White was furious when he saw the report's draft text in August. He banned the document from publication...
There are plenty of other studies all in agreement ...But when it comes to gov't and greed, facts be damned.
24 posted on 12/31/2008 12:42:56 PM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Ken H

what to do...

more tax money? more deaths?

I am betting they figure out a ‘solution’ that keeps the tax money, and fails to address the deaths... THAT’s how the govt works!


25 posted on 12/31/2008 12:47:48 PM PST by Mr. K (Some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help)
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To: SeeSharp

*It’s enough to distract everyone traveling through the intersection, not just the subject being photographed. Imagine yourself driving along minding your own business when suddenly a strobe goes off in your eyes.*

The only person driving through an intersection when a camera goes off is either running the red light her/himself or about to be t-boned by the person running the red light.

Why can’t people just learn to stop when a yellow light is stale or to stop blazing through city streets too fast to stop at yellow lights at all? How hard is that to figure out?


26 posted on 12/31/2008 12:49:27 PM PST by j-damn
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To: Ken H

What do you expect, Texas next US senator told us the critics just need to shut up. Like he did about so much else under his reign.


27 posted on 12/31/2008 12:56:01 PM PST by weegee ("Let Me Just Cut You Off, Because I Don't Want You To Waste Your Question" - B.Obama Dec 16, 2008)
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To: 1riot1ranger; Action-America; Aggie Mama; Alkhin; Allegra; American72; antivenom; Antoninus II; ...

Houston Revenue scheme PING


28 posted on 12/31/2008 1:01:26 PM PST by weegee ("Let Me Just Cut You Off, Because I Don't Want You To Waste Your Question" - B.Obama Dec 16, 2008)
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To: oh8eleven

I want to know how many cops and bus drivers (metro and school) have been caught on these. Since it is a private company that collects the money, at least at one point they did NOT want to waive the fees for non-emergencies and the city tried to make the violators pony up the cash.

The city is in a tizzy right now about what to do over suspected assault by police officers. Put a video camera in the downtown holding cell (before booking) and you’ll catch cops in the act of assault and the damn well knows it. It is a potential multimillion dollar lawsuit that could hit our city.


29 posted on 12/31/2008 1:08:23 PM PST by weegee ("Let Me Just Cut You Off, Because I Don't Want You To Waste Your Question" - B.Obama Dec 16, 2008)
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To: chrisser

Prior to Ike, there were reports out of Dallas that they were turning off some of the cameras because they weren’t making the city money anymore (violators had decreased at those intersections).


30 posted on 12/31/2008 1:09:57 PM PST by weegee ("Let Me Just Cut You Off, Because I Don't Want You To Waste Your Question" - B.Obama Dec 16, 2008)
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To: Ken H
Houston Mayor Bill White was furious when he saw the report's draft text in August. He banned the document from publication and ordered a re-writing of the text that would reflect a more positive result.

Wow, I thought we had a lock on reptilian politicians here in Taxachusetts. This Mayor White is a Class-A Dirtbag.

And it goes to show that politicians see taxpayers solely as sources of revenue. Their health, safety and suffering are not a consideration if there is tax revenue to be had. Is there a school politicians must attend that teaches them how to lose their humanity?
31 posted on 12/31/2008 1:15:46 PM PST by LostInBayport (The press and the Barackolytes view you as a miracle worker...so turn the economy into wine, Barry.)
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To: Sally'sConcerns
... it seemed as if every intersection we crossed which had a camera flashed and took a picture because someone was going through the light....

Actually, there is sometimes a strobe light that is unrelated to the camera that takes a picture. Its purpose is to allow a police officer to determine when a light (that he cannot see from where he may be sitting) turns red. And it flashes whether there's a police officer there or not. This provides him with the ability to stop and ticket a driver from a different direction.

32 posted on 12/31/2008 2:36:36 PM PST by Real Cynic No More (The only thing standing between us and complete victory over the evildoers is POLITICS!)
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To: TribalPrincess2U
Until people stop tailgating, this will continue. After a while the smart ones will be PREPARED TO STOP!

Not that simple.
Slowing down on the green because a 2-second yellow might come at any time is the cause of slamming on the brakes at the last minute.

A citation or being rear-ended is an unnecessary burden to have to choose between.

Praying others won't tailgate is a fool's solution (or a grossly self-centered immature twit's).

33 posted on 12/31/2008 4:18:17 PM PST by Publius6961 (Change is not a plan; Hope is not a strategy.)
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To: Publius6961

Who you calling a twit?


34 posted on 12/31/2008 4:25:44 PM PST by TribalPrincess2U (Welcome to Obama's America... Be afraid, be very afraid)
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To: Stevenc131

Here in Charlotte, the yellow lights became a flash that was barely discernible. But eventually someone made them stop using the fool cameras.


35 posted on 12/31/2008 4:26:24 PM PST by gitmo (I am the latte-sipping, NYT-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, PC, arrogant liberal. -BO)
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To: weegee

Nobody in government can think before or after they do anything.


36 posted on 12/31/2008 4:31:00 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote.)
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To: Ken H

Houston Mayor Bill White was furious when he saw the report’s draft text in August. He banned the document from publication and ordered a re-writing of the text that would reflect a more positive result. To accomplish this task, White was able to turn to the study’s primary author, Rice University Urban Politics Professor Robert Stein. Stein’s wife, Marty, is employed by the city of Houston as a top aide to the mayor. Stein’s newly revised report now concludes that “red light cameras are mitigating a general, more severe increase in collisions.”


So in other words Bill, you are a lying sack of...

And you want to make a go at the senate seat that may be vacated by Kay Baily Hutchison???

I just don’t think we can trust you there buckwheat...


37 posted on 12/31/2008 8:23:29 PM PST by stevie_d_64
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To: Ken H
Wow let's see now. DemocRAT Mayor Billy White blatantly and arrorgantly lies about an important matter that can cause lives to be lost while he is in control. It makes me pause and wonder just what else he would lie about if he were to become the next Jr. U.S. Senator from Texas where he will have a greater incentive to mislead lie to the citizens.?!
38 posted on 01/01/2009 12:50:39 PM PST by Ron H. (Hussein Obama - the great Pretender President!)
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To: LostInBayport

Mayor White (the white guy Democrat) is a former Clinton administration figure as was Houston’s Mayor Brown (the brown Democrat). They are carpetbaggers who don’t give a crap about this city, they are political animals. Like Chris Bell, 4 time loser (and Democrat).


39 posted on 01/01/2009 4:40:01 PM PST by weegee ("Let Me Just Cut You Off, Because I Don't Want You To Waste Your Question" - B.Obama Dec 16, 2008)
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To: Ken H
To achieve the appearance of success, the study divided red light camera intersections into "non-monitored" approaches -- the directions of travel at the intersection where the red light camera is not looking -- and the "monitored" approaches where ticketing took place. There was a 132 percent increase in collisions at the non-monitored approaches of the intersection where red light cameras were installed and a non-significant 9 percent increase at the monitored approaches. The study treated these increases in both rear end and T-bone collisions as unrelated to the red light camera as long as the accident happened outside of the camera's view.

This was a stupid assumption, especially if the intersections are posted the same as in the Dallas area (or at least the Dallas suburbs).

Here, a sign warns that red-light cameras are in use at all approaches to an intersection. So, even if only one approach actually has the camera in position to record red-light runners, the typical driver doesn't know which one unless they are familiar with the intersection and know what to look for.

If the intersections in Houston are posted on all approaches, it's going to modify the behavior of drivers: they'll stop more often on yellow lights. An increased number of rear-end collisions is the most likely outcome.

40 posted on 01/01/2009 6:31:38 PM PST by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.)
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To: LostInBayport

Yes, Bill White is a dirtbag (IMO). My wife used to work for him... she had a horrible experience.


41 posted on 01/02/2009 2:03:01 PM PST by StolarStorm
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To: Publius6961
A citation or being rear-ended is an unnecessary burden to have to choose between.

Amen !!!!

42 posted on 01/02/2009 4:13:11 PM PST by Irish Eyes
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