Drivers Who Use GPS to Avoid Ticket-Camera Speed Traps Are "Cowardly," Says DC Police Chief

Like most large cities overrun by criminal street gangs—in D.C., the primary affiliations are the Republicans and the Democrats, but there still Baseball Furies, Lizzies, and Libertarian dead-enders around—Washington has started installing surveillance cameras at virtually any location in which the city might generate anywhere betwee $30 and $200 per speeding or missed-sign ticket.

In response, more drivers are using GPS units that include info on surveillance cams and beep when you drive near one, cautioning the driver to slow down to avoid an infraction. The DC police response to this is reported by David Freddoso in the DC Examiner:

D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier doesn't like it. She told The Examiner that those using the application are employing a "cowardly tactic" and "are going to get caught"

"It's designed to circumvent law enforcement," she said last week—"law enforcement that is designed specifically to save lives."

So let's get this straight: If I slow down when my GPS beeps, that doesn't save lives. What saves lives is when I speed, get a $200 ticket in the mail a week later, and then send a check to the District of Columbia government.

If you're not convinced by this logic, you're not alone. Joe Scott, the founder and CEO of PhantomAlert, told me that most police departments approve of his product precisely because cameras only affect driving behavior when people know they are there.

More here.

Despite claims that the traffic cameras (and other surveillance cams in public places) are there to increase safety (which they don't), they are there to raise revenue and watch more people (because watching people is the best fun there is). Can't the police just add the cost of an overpriced chocolate bar to each ticket issued? We'll call it a good-faith donation.

Reason on these cameras.

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  • KingShamus||

    So, you get a GPS, but using it to slow down is cowardly. You have a cell phone, but aren't allowed to operate it in a car.

    What's next? Banning the radio if it's on an AM talkshow?

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    My GPS has already saved me from getting a couple of tickets.

  • ||

    Hey D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier: feel free to take a fat-finding visit here to Akron. I will kick you so hard in the vagina that you'll be tasting a mix of tuna and my boot for weeks.

  • ||

    ugh, "fat" = "fact"

  • Tomcat1066||

    No matter how much they may say it, I just can't believe government officials who claim crap like this is about safety. If it were, then cops would be ecstatic about the fact that it makes people slow down. No, this is about revenue and nothing more.

  • Atanarjuat||

    If people who use GPS to avoid tickets are cowardly, then cops who use automated cameras to give tickets are fucking lazy.

  • Fluffy||

    If you're not convinced by this logic, you're not alone. Joe Scott, the founder and CEO of PhantomAlert, told me that most police departments approve of his product precisely because cameras only affect driving behavior when people know they are there.

    Well, the only way his logic works is if the claim is that knowing that cameras exist, but not knowing where they are, will make people slow down more.

    After all, I know that highway police use radar detectors - but if I knew exactly where they were hanging out, and knew they were nowhere else, I might slow down in range of the radar, but drive 90 everywhere else. While if I don't know where they are, I might slow down everywhere, just in case they're in that next bunch of trees or around that next bend.

    I'm still highly anti-surveillance, but the logic isn't quite as absent as Nick thinks it is.

  • ed||

    No worries. Congress is working on the Family Surveillance and Safety Act. For The Children.­™

  • ||

    At the margin, if the driver slows down just for the camera, then the camera is still effective - just less so than if the driver thought it could be anywhere. The obvious response is to put cameras everywhere, so there is nowhere the cameras can't see. Ugh.

  • ||

    ugh, "fat" = "fact"

    RC'z law?

  • Mike in PA||

    Hmmm... Just an idea here...

    Why don't we just let people use their devices to avoid the cameras. Then install cameras anyplace where congestion is high. Government is missing a golden opportunity to control our traffic patterns. I used to think government pined for control above all else, but this looks like the dollar is an even more powerful aphrodisiac than control.

  • ||

    The obvious response is to put cameras everywhere, so there is nowhere the cameras can't see.

    Huh. And all this time I thought the obvious response was to shoot the politicians in the face, particularly the ones that legislate such surveillance.

  • ||

    We have speed traps all over the place the last six months or so. Couldn't have anything to do with revenues.

  • ||

    Warriors! Come out to play-ayyyy!

    Had to be said.

  • Joel||

    I liked fat-finding. Any study of traffic-cams is just looking for a way to find money.

  • Mad Max||

    'cameras only affect driving behavior when people know they are there.'

    Why, Holmes, I don't know how you do it, but once again, you've hit upon the answer.

  • Rhywun||

    So when is a fine imposed by the state NOT just a way to raise revenue?

  • ||

    Cowardly is a little strong. It's usually reserved for SWAT teams that go into innocent people's homes and shoot their dogs. Maybe she should have gone with unpatriotic?

  • Untermensch||

    Got pulled over in Wyoming a few days ago for doing 8 over the posted limit. Was being passed right and left by others, but the cop picked us to ticket because we had out-of-state plates and were the least likely to contest the ticket... The state got $80 but it costs Wyoming because my wife refused to stop in Wyoming for anything (gas, meals, etc.) that we would have done, and we pulled it across the Nebraska border on fumes. Thus the ticket had a negative (albeit small) impact on the non-government economy in Wyoming.

    Despite what the cop said about slowing down, it was obvious it was all about revenue or he would have pulled over the speeders from Wyoming who were going faster than we were.

  • ||

    Police forces all over are going totally nutso with parking tickets, boots, towing, speeding tickets, etc. Where I live they started going to residential neighborhoods and searching around with those plate scanners to find cars to boot, sometimes while they're in the driveway.

  • Tricky Prickears ||

    If you are ever driving down the Atlantic City Expressway, and see a NJ State Trooper parked on the median, don't worry. It's empty. The SP put empty cars out there just to get people to slow down.

    In Philly:

    An Institute evaluation of red light cameras in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, found that after red light violations were reduced by 36 percent following increased yellow signal timing, the addition of red light cameras further reduced red light violations by 96 percent.



    Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Especially to pedestrians trying to cross at intersections. Initially, the cameras caused an increase in rear end collisions, as you might expect, but now, they are clearly marked.

    and

    The Parking Authority and the city don't get any money from the cameras. And the company that provides the cameras is paid a flat rate per camera per month, no matter how many violations occur. After operating costs, income from the program goes to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.



    According to my little bit of research, Philly seems to be the exception, rather than the rule. Too many cities and municipalities are using these cameras to generate income.

  • ||

    I think the idiot Chief's remarks read pretty clearly like revenue, and not safety, are the primary concern.

  • ||

    If you are ever driving down the Atlantic City Expressway, and see a NJ State Trooper parked on the median, don't worry. It's empty. The SP put empty cars out there just to get people to slow down.


    My fair city of Cuyahoga Falls, OH has employed this technique for decades in random places. Also, I don't know how this works for other high-density areas of the country, but the sheer number of bordering jurisdictions in the Cleveland-Akron area lead to some interesting driving decisions. People see anything with a light-bar nearby and they slam on the brakes even if they're traveling below the speed limit. Never mind that in many cases, it's clear that, say, Copley Police don't have jurisdiction in the City of Akron, and the Akron PD doesn't have jurisdiction in Cuyahoga Falls and Rent-a-Cop Inc. doesn't have jurisdiction anywhere...

    Just a funny observation.

  • ||

    Timon19,

    Does Muzak still fill the air in Cuyahoga Falls?

  • Michael||

    @Fluffy:

    While if I don't know where they are, I might slow down everywhere, just in case they're in that next bunch of trees or around that next bend.

    I don't think that's the case here. People obviously aren't slowing down knowing there are cameras but not where they are located. D.C. must be losing revenue due to motorists circumventing the system, otherwise it would not be an issue. Ironically, it's the camera tracking services the police chief is complaining about that are getting people to slow down, and not the actual cameras themselves.

  • ||

    ugh, "fat" = "fact"

    RC'z law?


    Indeed.

  • ||

    Actually, if you have to travel to Akron to find fat, you are not doing it right. I can throw a rock and hit a quivering gelatinous blob of immense obese guy right now. And the IT department won't be here for two hours.

  • ||

    Pro Lib,

    Of course! All the way to Seneca, too!

  • ||

    "D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier doesn't like it. She told The Examiner that those using the application are employing a 'cowardly tactic' and 'are going to get caught'"

    They're just not going to get caught by cameras. Gasp, that means real police will have to do police work? If actual police have to stop people who run red lights, they might find drunk drivers, stolen cars or even outstanding warrants. We can't have that kind of cowardly behavior.

  • ||

    A recent expo in the Chicago Tribune revealed that most red light camera tickets were going to cars making a right turn on red without coming to a complete stop. Think of all the lives that have been saved!!!

  • ||

    I lived in Columbus for three years, but the first thing I think about when I hear the name "Ohio" is the Pretenders' song. Then I think about OSU being Florida's biotch. Only after that do I remember that I once lived there.

  • ||

    I lived in Columbus for three years, but the first thing I think about when I hear the name "Ohio" is the Pretenders' song. Then I think about OSU being Florida's biotch. Only after that do I remember that I once lived there.


    Just couldn't let it go, could you, O Resident of America's Flaccid Wang.

  • ||

    Flaccid? It's an erect challenge to the Caribbean and South America. TR had it constructed to intimidate the rest of the hemisphere.

  • ||

    "Just couldn't let it go, could you, O Resident of America's Flaccid Wang."

    The raises the question, just what is the status of the country's erection in the seconds after ejaculation, represented here by the Florida Keys? And isn't there a certain pride in calling the nation's ejaculate home?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Tin soldiers and Nixon comin'...

  • ||

    Listen, North is up. Period. Flaccid. The Keys are seepage from burst sores.

  • ||

    If you say so. Do people still live in Ohio?

  • ||

    "Listen, North is up."

    Peter North?

    OK, We are a prudish nation, and therefore likely to use the missionary position. As such, the buttocks would be facing up. The wangular member would be facing down, as is depicted on the map.

  • ||

    Pro Lib,

    Shockingly, yes. 11.5 million. Despite the best efforts of our political machine.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    PL - yes, and you know what? Some of them are actually youmg! I am sure you're not used to that.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    *young

  • Tricky Prickears ||

    People see anything with a light-bar nearby and they slam on the brakes even if they're traveling below the speed limit

    On the AC Expressway, people just take their foot off the gas and coast down from 90 to 75.

    What I've noticed in these densely populated surburbias is active traffic signs that tell you your speed. They don't take pictures of issue tickets, just flash red and blue lights when you're more than 5 mph over. It actually works, in residential neighborhoods.

  • Tricky Prickears ||

    of - or

    Damn, my desktop is out of service, so I'm using this old shitty laptop I bought on ebay.

  • Mike M.||

    Eventually all of our automobiles will have Al Gore mandated golf cart motors, and safety won't be an issue any longer.

  • ||

    Old? There are 18 million people here. And most of them aren't old. Most of the old people flew away with aliens, anyway. Didn't you see Cocoon?

  • ||

    "Eventually all of our automobiles will have Al Gore mandated golf cart motors, and safety won't be an issue any longer."

    Let's just cut the crap and install speed governors on all cars that would be remotely controlled by the authoritah.

  • ||

    Hmmm.. No wonder they don't want to put in more roundabouts. No lights, no camera, no action.

    I think a great law suit will come after Cap and Tax is passed: Huge amounts of fuel are wasted (and the respective carbon footprints) by stop and go traffic. I think the EPA should outlaw or tax the cities based on the number of stoplights and stop signs.

    Of course, that will be right after they tax the CO2 in my breath..

  • ||

    Eventually all our cars will have data logging and GPS with an integrated speed limit map. Every month you'll get a bill for your indiscretions.

    If you exceed the speed limit by more than seven miles an hour, the vehicle will shut itself off and summon the polizei. Or a spike will shoot out of the steering wheel and impale you.

  • ||

    Us cowards just pay our tickets. One would think the police would prefer it that way. The other option is for the people to grow a pair and slaughter our petty oppressors. If I was a cop and I had a choice...

  • ||

    Eventually all our cars will have data logging and GPS with an integrated speed limit map.

    I would not be a bit surprised. I look forward to the hack which will prevent automated reporting/fines for breaking the speed limit, though.

  • T||

    Wait, Kathy Lanier's minions don't have the stones to go out and write the damn tickets and risk confronting motorists and people using GPS are cowardly? Have your boys in blue sack up and start writing the tickets themselves, Kathy. Then we can talk about cowardly.

    In the meantime, if you're going to use technology to harass me, I'll use it to avoid your harassment. Quid pro quo, baby.

  • JB||

    Whereas the DC police are useless cunts.

    Look at the murder solve rate in DC. Fuck them pigs.

  • MNG||

    Cowardly? Oh man that is rich like Richie Rich. The hurbis of the police sometimes cannot be parodied...

  • ||

    They just got rid of the Redflex speed van in my parish after the driver of it decided to park on private property to ticket people and the land owner had his little ticket mobile towed away and the guy actually had the balls to get snippy with the land owner.

    We now have a state law that seeks to have all speeding ticket revenue sent to the state instead of staying local in the local PDs accounts. Well what do you know who is screaming the loudest about the state wanting that money, none other than the cops that installed the cams with not other premise but for SAFETY. Well if you still have the cams wouldn't you still have the safety you original only sought? What does it matter to you if the cash goes to the state if your still safe? Unless of course your just a bunch of lying humps of shit (which you are) and it was all about the money all along perhaps.

    Here is the real kicked the state claims it will take the money collect and spend it on what? You got it SAFETY! You can't write this kind of shit if you tried.

  • KingShamus||

    "David | July 17, 2009, 8:15am | #
    Hey D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier: feel free to take a fat-finding visit here to Akron."

    Fat-finding is perfectly appropriate here. Most of these taxpayer-funded learning trips are just gussied-up vacations anyway.

  • ||

    I fully expect it to become mandatory that we allow our cars to be tracked. And each time we commit some traffic offense, a lien will be placed on our vehicles. Quite automatically.

    Too bad we don't hold government actors to the same ridiculous and arbitrary standards they hold us to, huh?

  • Surge||

    So when is a fine imposed by the state NOT just a way to raise revenue?

    Fines related to driving are NEVER EVER about revenue. All other fines imposed by the state are highly questionable.

  • ||

    I still like my idea that all fines are paid to the Public Defender's office.

  • ||

    "I still like my idea that all fines are paid to the Public Defender's office."

    That's actually a good idea.

    In other news, the state has abolished all traffic fines, and will instead impose administrative corrections fees when violations occur.

  • ||

    Isn't the PD filled with lawyers who can sue the city over those sorts of shenanigans? ;-)

  • ||

    "Isn't the PD's office filled with lawyers who can sue the city over those sorts of shenanigans?"

    I was thinking of Orlando's mayor Buddy Liar. There's a state law in Florida that makes traffic enforcement of moving violations uniform throughout the state. Red light cameras are not legal under state law because an officer must have actual knowledge of the violation. Hence, the requirement of an officer's personal knowledge of the violation is applied "uniformly" throughout the state.

    Enter Buddy Dyer and Orlando's budget shortfall. He put in red light cameras despite their illegality. His claim is that the red light tickets are municipal code violations rather than moving violations despite the fact that red light running is clearly listed in the state's statutes (which are supposed to be uniformly applied).

    If that explanation seems long and stupid, then you are beginning to understand the difficulties of having good ideas. So stop it. Every good idea will be bastardized by some a-hole politician like Buddy Dyer. (Florida Lottery = all proceeds will go to education! Yay! Day after Lottery is approved, all funds that had previously gone to education were moved elsewhere, leaving education with less money than before).

  • ||

    So, the almighty D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier feels that those using GPS to avoid donating to the public coffers are cowardly. I find that interesting. This is the same D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, that has made every effort to circumvent the D.C. v. Heller ruling. So using her logic, I guess those that wish to get a handgun for personal protection are cowards too by extension.

    Anyone that has the power of observation and reasoning beyond that of common garden slug knows that traffic violations have very little to do with safety and everything to do with revenue. This is especially true of traffic light cameras and speed trap cameras. When it comes to speeding tickets, I have come to the following conclusions:

    • I average 1 speeding ticket every 5 yrs.
    • I pay an attorney to fix the ticket.
    • I spend $350.00 per ticket.
    • That averages about $70.00 a year.
    • There are no Toll roads in my area.
    • Conclusion: I am simply paying a toll for using the roads my way.

    Further evidence of the revenue angle of red light cameras and speeding cameras:

    • Cameras are property of private companies, which takes a percentage of the fines.
    • Private companies administer the collections process.
    • The violations are no longer a criminal matter.
    • If you don't pay, you don't go to jail, it goes on your credit report.
    • Speeding cameras cost far less than paying a police officer burning up gasoline in a squad car idling for hours and performing maintenance and capital investment in a squad car.
    • Hiring one less patrol officer means less payroll, no healthcare, no vacations, no workers comp. and no healthcare.
    • Some states prohibit the use of radar/laser detectors, and have invested money in equipment that detects these detectors. The GPS data base nullifies this technology and reduces their revenue yet again.


    Sadly, the police now a days are merely tax collectors with guns and badges. They almost always arrive at the scene of a crime after it's over and more times than not, they write a police report that resembles fiction more than truth. You couple that with the condescending attitudes of police chiefs like D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier that private citizens are cowards and dirt bags until proven other wise, and they wonder why people have become cynical towards law enforcement. In essence, the truth of the matter is that D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is bemoaning a loss of revenue and once again besmirching private citizens. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and those of her ilk need to recognize that they are public servants and not our masters.

    In closing, I think it is absolutely legitimate and proper for people to utilize their GPS receivers in every possible way that makes their driving experience more manageable and less costly. Someone in an earlier posted colorfully that "I will kick you [D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier] so hard in the vagina that you'll taste a mix of tuna and my boot for weeks." I would submit that the overwhelming taste of fecal matter that she spews would override those tastes. I say don't soil you boots.

  • ||

    This vagina transportation device has forgotten her primary function.

    /sarcasm

  • ||

    "This vagina transportation device has forgotten her primary function."

    To produce wool?

  • ||

    They just got rid of the Redflex speed van in my parish after the driver of it decided to park on private property to ticket people and the land owner had his little ticket mobile towed away

    Suh-weet.

  • Guy1138||

    Funny, I tend to think that cops who wear bulletproof vests are cowards.

  • Paul||

    My GPS was stolen a few months ago...

    I'm now wondering if it was the fucking cops.

  • ||

    So let's get this straight: If I slow down when my GPS beeps, that doesn't save lives.

    He doesn't have it straight. The point is that if you feel free to speed whenever your GPS isn't beeping, that may cost lives.

    To use a private sector example for the "govt is always wrong" crowd, most stores have far more camera decoys than actual cameras to fight shoplifting. So if you think the DC Police's logic is prima facie wrong, you have to also think that the business owners you glorify on every other occasion are complete dolts too.

    If you're not convinced by this logic, you're not alone. Joe Scott, the founder and CEO of PhantomAlert, told me that most police departments approve of his product precisely because cameras only affect driving behavior when people know they are there.

    Oooh, the company that makes these things related an anecdote that makes it seem like they're OK! That's all the evidence I need.

  • ||

    Our police chief, who art in the District,
    Coward be thy Name.
    Thy cameras come.
    Thy will be done,
    We'll slow down to about 27.

    Etc.

  • ||

    Most studies have shown that radar detection actually causes heightened awareness of "dangerous" areas (whether they be hazards or speed traps) and a general awareness usually translates to greater caution and safer driving habits.
    I think the GPS devices are a great way to get a similar feedback loop and results. Obviously the police chief justified all the cameras via a projected revenue stream... and is getting less than predicted results.
    Big government is a self fulfilling prophecy... they should be figuring ways to make life safer and minimize their footprint and exposure... but that is not their mental state.
    They are mostly fear-mongers and can piss-off for most of what they do!

  • ||

    The point is that if you feel free to speed whenever your GPS isn't beeping, that may cost lives.

    Not if it's in an area where a higher rate of speed would still be safe, such as a long straightaway. And cops with nothing to do might decide to hang in one of those "cool" spots and use their radar gun, which a GPS won't help you with.

  • alan||

    Never known you to be off the mark, Tulpa, but:

    . So if you think the DC Police's logic is prima facie wrong, you have to also think that the business owners you glorify on every other occasion are complete dolts too.


    Public policy and private actions even when they are within the same categorical frame work (security/safety/economics/,etc) are never mirror images of one another. It is a common enough mistake made on the left, say, when Keynesians don't know the difference between capital formation and government spending, here the error is just being compounded into other categories.

    However, the business owners you glorify? I'm a small business owner, and I'm an inglorious bastard on my best days. That kind of sticks in the craw, actually. Glorify? Maybe in the fiction of Ayn Rand used for the sake of argument, but no, glorification is what statist do when they get weepy about 'the firemen, the police officers the teachers', here, we are really just talking about your average squirrel out there trying to get his nut being fucked over by the nut grabbers.

  • ||

    The point is that if you feel free to speed whenever your GPS isn't beeping, that may cost lives.

    When your GPS isn't beeping, you are just as likely to be pulled over, are just as likely to fee "free to speed", as anyone who is fortunate enough to live in a town not burdened by these revenue enhancers.

    So if you think the DC Police's logic is prima facie wrong

    I didn't detect any logic in the Lanier's gruntings about cowardice.

    But lets apply a little logic. According to her, making people aware of a police presence is "designed to circumvent law enforcement."

    So, what are we to make of all those identifiable police cruisers and cops in uniform, which are, after all, highly visible in order to make people aware of a police presence.

    What's that, you say? We put cops in uniforms and drive highly visible vehicles because being aware of a police presence makes people more law abiding? But we want our speed cameras kept secret because that keeps people more law abiding? WTF?

  • ||

    alan, perhaps it's more accurate to say libertarians tend to consider the actions of business owners to be wiser than those of government officials. In most cases this is true, if only because business owners who hamstring their businesses are more likely to be punished for it than government officials are for screwing up the agency they're in charge of.

    When your GPS isn't beeping, you are just as likely to be pulled over, are just as likely to fee "free to speed", as anyone who is fortunate enough to live in a town not burdened by these revenue enhancers.

    The original question was not whether speed/red-light cameras should exist or not, but rather given that they exist, is it better for their locations to be known or unknown to the public. It seems likely that they should be unknown if any safety benefits are to be reaped.

    We put cops in uniforms and drive highly visible vehicles because being aware of a police presence makes people more law abiding? But we want our speed cameras kept secret because that keeps people more law abiding?

    Ever heard of plainclothes cops? It's quite simple; sometimes you want visibility and sometimes you don't. For example, there's usually a cop car with lights flashing in plain sight just before a major construction zone on the Intersate. In that situation the danger of speeding is extreme. Whereas in the middle of a 20-mile stretch with no exits in Podunk County, the goal is to let those who want to break the law do so and be taught an expensive lesson.

    PS: I apologize to the vocal minority of libertarians who think it's none of the government's business if you drive through a school zone at 120 MPH right after downing a six pack of beer. The above post is intended for reasonable people only.

  • ||

    I should add that I like the speed traps on the interstate where the cop car is visible, because the only people they're going to catch are those going waaaaaaaay above the speed limit and thus don't have time to slow down upon seeing the cop, and those who are not paying attention to the road while they're speeding.

  • ||

    """Eventually all our cars will have data logging and GPS with an integrated speed limit map. Every month you'll get a bill for your indiscretions."""

    I think it will be more like a radio device attatched to the speed limit sign will tell the processor in your car the maximum speed it can travel, and you car will only do the max speed the processor will allow. Sure it spoils revenue from speeding tickets but they will figure out another reason to fine you.

  • ||

    nice post..
    ___________________
    Britney
    Entertainment at one stop

  • ||

    Speeding == FREEDOM! :)

  • ||

    What a huge waste of time, me included, this post is...although I do like the one dudes comments for the DC police chief. I am sure she's on her way, bud.

  • ||

    This is why I am armed.

  • ||

    We all know that these systems are just another smoke and mirror way of providing more revenue to the police dept. What I don't understand is if these systems are doing thier jobs then why are the bitching about needing more man power and budget increases. Why not mandate that all car manufactures intall a device that if you speed it will just print out a ticket. Let's stop this madness. What happend to our rights.

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    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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