Some potentially damning evidence has come forth against the Florida Department of Transportation regarding a tollbooth policy permitting the detention of motorists paying with large bills.
Our hero of the day, Joel Chandler, secretly taped his conversations with tollbooth attendants when attempting to pay a $1 fee with a $20, $50, or $100 bill. They required that he disclose personal information on a form unless he could come up with a smaller bill, and when questioned regarding the policy, at least one attendant threatened to phone the Highway Patrol and have Chandler arrested. He was detained at the booth until he could provide the required information.
Upon further investigation, the policy appears to have been created in an effort to catch the owners of counterfeit bills; however, whether or not to detain a motorist for questioning was solely at the discretion of the attendants, whose suspicions were motivated by racial descriptions in 87% of cases. Additionally, while the policy resulted in $16,000 worth of counterfeit bills being discovered, none of these discoveries were reported to federal authorities and the printed forms cost a grand total of $32,000.
Now Chandler says he will be filing a class-action lawsuit against the Florida DOT. Inter-department e-mails indicate that the DOT scrambled to suspend the policy, meanwhile sending an e-mail to Chandler claiming that there was no policy or evidence of such a policy to speak of. Between the racial profiling, illegal detainment, needless waste of state funds and internal cover-up, it would appear that the DOT is in a heap of trouble.