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Why Should the State License Drivers?
Townhall.com ^ | January 29, 2012 | Jeff Jacoby

Posted on 01/29/2012 1:05:34 PM PST by Kaslin

WITH MY DRIVER'S LICENSE expiring in February, I made a trip to the Registry of Motor Vehicles last week to renew it. To my astonishment, I was in and out of the RMV branch at the Watertown Mall in just 15 minutes.

From past experience, I had expected much worse. When I renewed my license five years ago -- at a facility the Registry whimsically dubbed a "License Express" -- I had to wait for an hour and a quarter before being served. An earlier renewal had required two trips to the Registry: The first one proved futile when the clerk shut off the computer at closing time, curtly telling the 11 people in line that they would have to come back another day.

So it was a pleasant surprise when my latest encounter with the Registry proved so quick and painless.

Of course it would have been even more painless to renew my driver's license online, but when I tried to do so my application was rejected. It turns out the Registry was listing me under multiple records; the system had generated a new one whenever my address changed, and it was unable to merge them -- or to issue a new license -- unless I appeared in person. "But I've lived at the same address for 15 years," I said to the clerk. He shrugged. "It should be OK next time," he told me.

Yet why should there have to be a next time? Why should keeping an ordinary driver's license up to date oblige anyone to deal with a government agency, in person or online? I hadn't even realized that my license was about to expire until an airport security agent pointed it out to me the last time I flew out of Logan. The Registry no longer sends renewal notices; and woe betide the motorist who gets pulled over with an expired license, an infraction that can trigger a fine of up to $1,000, not to mention a potential arrest.

Try to imagine Visa or Discover requiring you to remember when your credit card is about to expire, and making you get in line at a branch office or go online to renew it. On the contrary: They do the remembering and renew your card automatically. Before the old one expires, you get a new one in the mail. And if there is an anomaly in your account, they typically flag it and alert you right away.

In the private economy, automatic renewals are routine. From Netflix subscriptions to homeowner's insurance to newspaper delivery, vendors and service providers of every description make it simple to keep your account up-to-date. Your antivirus software and 401(k) investments can be put on autopilot, refreshing at regular intervals unless you choose to opt out. Why shouldn't your driver's license work the same way?

Maybe the real question is why the state should license drivers in the first place.

It's one thing to require would-be motorists to enroll in driver's-education classes and to be tested on their knowledge of safe driving practices and highway signs and signals. And of course anyone getting behind the wheel of a car should be liable for damage caused through negligence or irresponsibility. But to condition driving itself on governmental permission? To extort a chunk of money every few years to keep that permission current? By what right?

It's no answer to say that driving can be dangerous or that roads are public property. Drinking bourbon, building campfires, and playing ice hockey can be dangerous too, but you don't need Big Brother's say-so before you can do them. And if drivers have to be licensed because they use public roadways, why shouldn't bicyclists, joggers, and skateboarders be licensed as well?

In the new state budget he unveiled last week, Governor Deval Patrick chops $15 million from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. "We have to start doing things differently in a whole host of areas," he explained. "That is not just government doing things differently; it is asking citizens to interact with their government differently."

Agreed. But rather than merely trimming the Registry's budget, what Patrick should be asking is why issuing or renewing driver's licenses needs to be a public function at all. You shouldn't need a license to drive a car any more than you need one to use a computer or ride a horse. I'm grateful that my latest trip to the Registry went so briskly. If Patrick is really open to doing things differently, however, eliminating those trips altogether would be a great step forward.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Government; US: Massachusetts
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1 posted on 01/29/2012 1:05:36 PM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
It's one thing to require would-be motorists to enroll in driver's-education classes and to be tested on their knowledge of safe driving practices and highway signs and signals.

And its another to require parents of teenagers to also take classes but I think we're doing this now in NJ.

ML/NJ

2 posted on 01/29/2012 1:16:34 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: Kaslin

If the state didn’t own the roads then they wouldn’t get to...


3 posted on 01/29/2012 1:17:02 PM PST by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: Kaslin

Having “lived” there, I think that eliminating Massachusetts would be a much better and more productive idea.


4 posted on 01/29/2012 1:18:04 PM PST by benewton
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To: ml/nj
And its another to require parents of teenagers to also take classes but I think we're doing this now in NJ.

I don't think this actually passed, but you never know when they will try again. This is the PRNJ (People's Republic of New Jersey), after all.

5 posted on 01/29/2012 1:20:17 PM PST by billakay
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To: Kaslin
Why Should the State License Drivers?

To make tax paying licensed drivers suffer with DMV workers every 4 years, who in some cases don't know the difference between a marriage license and a drivers license, that take breaks at the most inopportune times to show who is really in charge? ; )

6 posted on 01/29/2012 1:22:06 PM PST by EGPWS (Trust in God, question everyone else)
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To: Kaslin

Just about everything requires a license and/or permit....a street vendor, a smoke shop, a liquor store, a hairdresser. i have no problem with a driver’s license


7 posted on 01/29/2012 1:22:23 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: Kaslin

Tjhe author completely misses the two important benefits to the state of the current Driver’s License system —

1) It provides a constant, consistent, source of income for the State

2) It provides the State with current locator information for virtually all of its citizens, available for whatever Big Brother purposes it deems ‘necessary’.....


8 posted on 01/29/2012 1:24:47 PM PST by Uncle Ike (Rope is cheap, and there are lots of trees...)
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To: Kaslin

Drivers licenses are only one of the Commonwealth’s entities to generate funds to keep the hacks working at doing nothing.

The problem is that you are trying to use logic here.


9 posted on 01/29/2012 1:25:10 PM PST by donhunt (Certified and proud "Son of a Bitch".)
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To: Kaslin

Renewal every 10 years makes sense, maybe 5 over 70 years of age.

The real nonsense lies with “vehicle registration”. Once ought to be enough, no? There is no rational reason for this, other than the collection of money. If it were a trivial amount that would help the sting, but a modern car or truck can get expensive.

Plates, “registration”, insurance, etc. $1500 yearly, even if it sits in the garage.


10 posted on 01/29/2012 1:34:15 PM PST by Freedom4US
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To: EGPWS

My son recently obtained an Arizona driver’s license, valid for 40 years.


11 posted on 01/29/2012 1:36:11 PM PST by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: Kaslin

It reminds me of my own particular peeve, that local fees and taxes are billed and can only be paid as if it were 1955.


12 posted on 01/29/2012 1:41:26 PM PST by denydenydeny (The more a system is all about equality in theory the more it's an aristocracy in practice.)
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To: ops33
40 years makes sense. Maybe make it good till your 65th birthday. Ans a license should be good for all 50 states.

The registration should be once for the same vehicle with the same owner. Anything more serves absolutely no purpose.

13 posted on 01/29/2012 1:46:25 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: Kaslin
Becuse:
To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied upon, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue. To be governed means to be, at each operation, at each transaction, at each movement, noted, registered, controlled, taxed, stamped, measured, valued, assessed, patented, licensed, authorised, endorsed, admonished, hampered, reformed, rebuked, arrested. It is to be, on the pretext of the general interest, taxed, drilled, held to ransom, exploited, monopolised, extorted, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed,- then at the least resistance, at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, abused, annoyed, followed, bullied, beaten, disarmed, garrotted, imprisoned, machine-gunned, judged, condemned, deported, flayed, sold, betrayed, and finally mocked, ridiculed, insulted, dishonoured. Such is government, such is justice, such is morality."

14 posted on 01/29/2012 1:49:04 PM PST by from occupied ga (your own government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: Sacajaweau

Actually, I was incorrect. Arizona issues extended driver’s licenses, valid until the driver reaches age 65. So, for my son it is valid for 39 years, for me, 5 years.


15 posted on 01/29/2012 1:53:19 PM PST by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: Kaslin
EVEn in (relatively) conservative Georgia, we have established a whole new govt dept to handle driver's licenses, complete with spiffy new buildings.

Last time I dealt with my DL, the state patrol was doing it, now it's "DDS," Dept of Driver's Services.

I can only hope the state patrol budget has been cut since they've been relieved of this responsibility.

I won't even go into the full-scale assault on reason I experienced when visiting them getting my daughter's learner's permit. Suffice it to say that it begin the second I pulled into the parking lot and didn't stop until I left the building.

16 posted on 01/29/2012 1:53:52 PM PST by Trailerpark Badass
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To: Sacajaweau

Dropping my own line off my own dock requires a state mandated fishing license. Flushing my own toilet through my own lines and into my own septic system on my own property must be licensed.


17 posted on 01/29/2012 1:54:24 PM PST by bgill (The Obama administration is staging a coup. Wake up, America, before it's too late.)
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To: from occupied ga

Pretty much sums it up.


18 posted on 01/29/2012 1:54:37 PM PST by MileHi ( "It's coming down to patriots vs the politicians." - ovrtaxt)
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To: Kaslin

A driver’s license is a joke. I’ve been told some states let you mail them in to renew. All it is, is a means of identification should a cop wish to write you a ticket. Period.

Know what’s a bigger joke than a driver’s license? A motorcycle driver’s license. The people administering the tests don’t have a clue what they are doing. Motorcycle licenses should not exist.


19 posted on 01/29/2012 1:56:31 PM PST by mamelukesabre
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To: from occupied ga

Nice quote, almost complete.
Who said it?


20 posted on 01/29/2012 2:00:00 PM PST by Loyal Sedition
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To: Kaslin
In California, you don't need a license if you are illegal. In fact, if an illegal is pulled over, they won't even take away the car.

If you're a licensed citizen, however, you'd be looking at at least a $400 traffic fine.

-PJ

21 posted on 01/29/2012 2:01:33 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you can vote for President, then your children can run for President.)
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To: Political Junkie Too

Your tagline is broken


22 posted on 01/29/2012 2:09:01 PM PST by MileHi ( "It's coming down to patriots vs the politicians." - ovrtaxt)
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To: Kaslin

You dont need a drivers license to drive a car.

My license has been suspended, for various reasons for something like 20 years.

When I get pulled over and they ask me for my license, I start pretending to look for it all over my car. First emptying out my glove compartment and then searching under the car seats. I do this for as long as it takes. This always works, every time.


23 posted on 01/29/2012 2:09:01 PM PST by FoxPro
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To: bgill
Flushing my own toilet through my own lines and into my own septic system on my own property must be licensed.You must have a permit to install a septic system, but I haven't heard of a license before.
24 posted on 01/29/2012 2:13:37 PM PST by Sarajevo (Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental)
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To: Kaslin

Driving with license revoked or suspended is the number one reason people come to our local jail. If that charge didn’t exist it would have a huge impact on prison staffing, DA staffing, public defender staffing, etc.


25 posted on 01/29/2012 2:31:42 PM PST by AlaskaErik (I served and protected my country for 31 years. Progressives spent that time trying to destroy it.)
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To: Kaslin

A license should be required to campaign for office; if elected, a separate license should be required to hold office.

You shouldn’t need a license to drive.


26 posted on 01/29/2012 2:43:01 PM PST by MrBambaLaMamba (This Message Contains Privileged Attorney-Client Communications)
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To: MrBambaLaMamba

This video shows libertarian paradise where no one needs drivers license:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=53e_1327069989


27 posted on 01/29/2012 2:44:35 PM PST by Mount Athos (A Giant luxury mega-mansion for Gore, a Government Green EcoShack made of poo for you)
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To: Sacajaweau

I’m glad YOU don’t have problems asking permission from government to.exercise your RIGHTS. And driving, as with any other means of transportation, is a RIGHT. You have an absolute right to travel to anywhere you wish to go, presuming you can afford the bill (or just walk). There is ZERO legitimate reason for government to compel you to obtain its permission. Ever. Proving financial responsibility (insurance): fine. License: never.


28 posted on 01/29/2012 2:56:17 PM PST by dcwusmc (A FREE People have no sovereign save Almighty GOD!!! III OK We are EVERYWHERE!!!)
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To: FoxPro
My license has been suspended, for various reasons for something like 20 years. When I get pulled over and they ask me for my license, I start pretending to look for it all over my car. First emptying out my glove compartment and then searching under the car seats. I do this for as long as it takes. This always works, every time.

Doesn't the license show up as being suspended when they do a license plate check? BTW: My county privatized the local county DMV and it is night and day better from the state employees who operated the DMV before. At least the new employees don't bite your head off if you ask a question.

29 posted on 01/29/2012 2:58:07 PM PST by trailhkr1
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To: ops33
My son recently obtained an Arizona driver’s license, valid for 40 years.
What was the fee for 40 years? NY used to require a renewal every year or two and charged (IIRC) five dollars per year.
A few year ago they went to an eight year renewal, but still charged $5 x 8 years = $40.
Oh (again IIRC), they also added a surcharge because, er, ah, well, because they could. Feckin' commies.
30 posted on 01/29/2012 3:01:42 PM PST by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Mount Athos

Your point is...???


31 posted on 01/29/2012 3:01:53 PM PST by dcwusmc (A FREE People have no sovereign save Almighty GOD!!! III OK We are EVERYWHERE!!!)
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To: Kaslin

Imo, the insurer should issue the license. After all, your driving is at their risk. Under that regimen, a relationship would develop between the quality of the driver and his or her equipment, the degree of necessary validation, and the cost of coverage.


32 posted on 01/29/2012 3:35:09 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The RNC would prefer Obama to a conservative nominee.)
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To: Mount Athos
This video shows libertarian paradise where no one needs drivers license

Ha! I said "...shouldn’t need a license to drive", not "shouldn't require the ability/skills to drive".

Besides, left alone the roads police themselves, as shown in the video when the low skills driver in the Fiat/Lada gets sent to the pits by the Landcruiser/Lexus.

33 posted on 01/29/2012 3:38:31 PM PST by MrBambaLaMamba (This Message Contains Privileged Attorney-Client Communications)
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To: dcwusmc

I agree - if you build your own roads and want to drive on them, knock yourself out. Let me know when you’ve hit 20 miles of highway and I’ll come take a drive on it.


34 posted on 01/29/2012 3:47:45 PM PST by GreyHoundSailor
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To: trailhkr1
Doesn't the license show up as being suspended when they do a license plate check?

My car is owned by my dad. So it is physically my car, just not a matter of record. When ever I get my license suspended, I moved to another state. Problem with me is that I am a goofy guy and every time I get stopped they think I am drunk or on drugs. So I get accused of DUI almost every time. I have learned to refuse to do the DUI gymnastics (sobriety test) because I cant balance on one foot. So whenever I get pulled over I keep repeating "I have inner ear problems."

35 posted on 01/29/2012 3:55:31 PM PST by FoxPro
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To: trailhkr1

The big problem is that 40,000 people are killed every year in automobile accidents in the US. Its almost like re-fighting the Vietnam war every year. At this level of death and destruction, you could save a lot of lives by outlawing driving altogether.

Driving is so destructive that we have to take a lot of rights of citizens away and put up with a lot of laws in order to mitigate this very dangerous activity. It could be argued that the automobile is the biggest enemy of our constitution because of the things our government must do to keep the carnage to acceptable levels.

You might say we have a choice. A semi-police state or the probable death of you or a loved one before their time.

It is quite a choice, really.


36 posted on 01/29/2012 4:13:45 PM PST by FoxPro
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To: ops33

Arizona’s license is valid until 65, so the expiration varies from person to person. I hate the idea of getting one here in NC for that very reason.


37 posted on 01/29/2012 4:29:58 PM PST by USMCWife6869
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To: Kaslin

Driver certification should be done by insurance companies. The state should bar only driving without a suitable certification.

The insurance folks know what it pertinent to public safety.

Even speed limits should be between the driver and the insurance company.


38 posted on 01/29/2012 4:30:52 PM PST by Atlas Sneezed (Author of BullionBible.com - Makes You a Precious Metal Expert, Guaranteed.)
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To: Kaslin

My sister lived for 9 years in Finland. Her Finnish DL will expire when she turns 65.

Yeah they’re a bunch of greenie-wienie gun-shy socialists, but this one thing they did right IMHO.

(That is, as the OP indicates, if you have to have a DL in the first place...)


39 posted on 01/29/2012 5:03:37 PM PST by ExGeeEye (Islam: a transnational fascist government that demands worship.)
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To: Sacajaweau

I have a problem with all government “permits” to do legal things. AFAIC, you should only have to get a permit to do something that would otherwise be illegal...the way police have to get a warrant in order to perform a B&E.


40 posted on 01/29/2012 5:07:16 PM PST by ExGeeEye (Islam: a transnational fascist government that demands worship.)
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To: from occupied ga

Nice. What’s the source?


41 posted on 01/29/2012 5:09:24 PM PST by ExGeeEye (Islam: a transnational fascist government that demands worship.)
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To: Kaslin
Lol! When we moved to MA thirty years ago, we soon learned that "damnregistry" (like "damnyankee" in the South) was always spoken as a single word. In the twenty years we lived in MA, things improved quite a bit, and it sounds as if the improvements have continued.

But, it will probably be a while before MA catches up to where Texas was even before we left for our "MA exile": license tags by mail, and the same for drivers' licenses -- except when you need a perodic eye test.

And now, 'most everything can be done on line.

But MA will probably never stop using State troopers (and their expensive multi-radio-equipped patrol cars) as "flagmen" on road projects (what a stupid waste!!!). We Texans gripe about our wetbacks -- but, at least we are smart enough to stick them out in the hot sun with cheap flags, rather than tie up fully loaded cruisers and their super-expensive union drivers on overtime...

42 posted on 01/29/2012 5:12:51 PM PST by TXnMA ("Allah": Satan's current alias...)
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To: ExGeeEye

They’ve been around since BEFORE we even had a National government. Those old taverns that needed a permit along with just about every other business. It’s not going to change.


43 posted on 01/29/2012 5:16:07 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: EGPWS

There is nothing as gridlocked as the bureacratic mind.


44 posted on 01/29/2012 5:23:23 PM PST by morphing libertarian
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To: Sacajaweau

A great many things that seemed permanent have been done away with in the past 230 or so years— at least in this counry.

— Bills of Attainder
— Corruption of Blood
— Ex Post Facto Law
— Chattel Slavery
— Women Forbidden to Vote

etc.

This can be done, if enough people get behind it. The choosing of sides has already begun.


45 posted on 01/29/2012 5:25:46 PM PST by ExGeeEye (Islam: a transnational fascist government that demands worship.)
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To: GreyHoundSailor

Doesn’t matter. If my taxes pay for a road, I have every right to drive on it, period. I can properly be required to keep insurance, but then my driving skills are between me and my insurance company, NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Or are you one of those who has no problem asking government’s permission to exercise a natural RIGHT, in this case the right to travel where and as you will?


46 posted on 01/29/2012 7:53:19 PM PST by dcwusmc (A FREE People have no sovereign save Almighty GOD!!! III OK We are EVERYWHERE!!!)
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To: Kaslin

Q: Should illegals be issued drivers licenses?

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has a long history of pandering to illegal immigrants. During his first term, Patrick reversed a decision by the previous Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, which gave state troopers the power to arrest illegal immigrants. Let me point out that Romney’s policy makes sense because, as the title may imply, illegal immigrants are here illegally. They are breaking the law. As such, they should be arrested. Shocking, I know. Deval Patrick’s rationale for promptly reversing Gov. Romney’s decision was that state troopers “have a very big job as it is, without having to add enforcing federal immigration laws on top of it.” Ah, well there we are. Those poor state troopers are just too busy enforcing other laws. So if they pull over someone for speeding and it turns out that the individual is also an illegal immigrant, too bad! After all, according to Patrick, they have more important things to do—like enforcing laws that don’t alienate one of Patrick’s key special interests (the immigrant community).

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In November, Patrick announced that he would be pushing for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, along with giving them driver’s licenses.

http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N28/normandin.html


47 posted on 01/29/2012 7:58:07 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: Loyal Sedition
Who said it?

Pierre Proudhon

48 posted on 01/30/2012 4:54:59 AM PST by from occupied ga (your own government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: ExGeeEye
Nice. What’s the source?

Pierre Proudhon

49 posted on 01/30/2012 4:56:14 AM PST by from occupied ga (your own government is your most dangerous enemy)
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To: All

who needs to have a pilot’s license? (/s)


50 posted on 01/30/2012 7:50:45 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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