Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Body cameras, attitude, legislature, and what's next

It has been a long time since I last wrote on these pages.  One huge reason why was my experience this past legislative session on the issue of body cameras.  I have said to many it was the most bitterest experience I had at the Minnesota Legislature in being there for four decades.  As many of you know I do not get paid for the work I do at the People's House.  It was time to reflect and assess, which I have done.  Like a "firebird" I have raised myself from the ashes of the past legislative session.  I will still be involved in the process, but with a different focus and effort

What have I been up to.  Here is a sample.  Communication I sent to interested parties today:

Next Monday, August 15, 2016, Public Record Media will be holding a free workshop for the public at the Duluth Public Library, 520 West Superior St.  From: 6:30pm to 8:00pm

This email is a follow up with more detail in which you may have an interest in to share with others or use in an announcement on Facebook or other type of media.

This will be our third year coming to Duluth.  The response from the residents of the Duluth community has been unbelievable. We have had continued interest from the community with communication from them with questions about freedom of information laws and how to use it since our first time in the Zenith City, in 2014.

This year we are a taking a different approach to our program, not necessarily a broad program explaining what freedom of information is.  But focusing on specific elements of the law with two presenters.

JT Haines, Duluth attorney, who has worked with Public Records Media as counsel in past.  He will explain important points about the use of the law to get access to public data.  He has focused as part of his past duties on proposed mining operations in northern Minnesota, such as Twin Metals and NorthMet projects.  He will share his experiences

The other presenter will be Rich Neumeister, an advocate for open government and an avid requester of public records.  The presentation by Mr. Neumeister will focus on the new body camera law which was passed by the Minnesota Legislature.  The law took effect on August 1, 2016.  Many people believe that the use of body cameras will bring transparency and accountability to the public on the use of police powers.  On the other hand, there are umpteen people who believe that the law is so geared towards law enforcement that there is in reality no clarity or onus.  Are they tools of surveillance and investigation............or a gadget to monitor how police do their duties?

Another topic covered in the program will be about the concept of inspection when one goes to the government agency to see and review the data individuals have requested.  In Minnesota law, it is very clear that people have a right to inspect data about their government or data that government has on them.  But in recent years, various agencies and entities are putting roadblocks for the public to get access to government data. 


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