Monday, August 9, 2010

What's Next for those all seeing cameras!

Over the last decade there have been attempts to pass at the state house legislation to allow law enforcement to set up cameras to be used when people go through red lights.  The latest attempt was last year when the proposed bill was not voted out of committee.  The city of Minneapolis set up their own camera system but the Minnesota Supreme Court said no, because it violated state law.

Will there be attempts in the 2011 legislative session to promote the red light cameras, or even speed cameras?  According to a news report there is now technology being tested to have these types of cameras be used for more than speed and red light violations. Such violations as tailgating, making illegal turns, and other similar violations could be recorded. 

With billions in deficit in the state budget being predicted for 2011-2013 will the legislature in 2011 promote these types of cameras as "revenue raisers"? or as some people call the cameras "cash cows". 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Domestic surveillance and intelligence gathering-Minnesota Style, Part 1

On Wednesday, August 25, 2010, the first meeting of a legislative created work group will meet to review the landscape of criminal intelligence gathering and use of investigative and intelligence databases by law enforcement in Minnesota.  This work group was created in SF2725, Section 6.

Over the past two years at the legislature there has been pointed and heated discussion over initiatives by the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension(BCA) such as SF1103-HF1449 introduced by Senator Betzold and Rep. Lesch and the issue of GangNet which is an investigative/intelligence database administered by the Ramsey County Sheriff.

The discussion of intelligence gathering and surveillance is not new to Minnesota, from the recent past of a private database organized by the Minnesota Police Chiefs Association called MJNO which had millions of records on individuals to where Minnesota state authorities during World War 1 collected information and did surveillance on its citizens.

What this work group will be discussing and the recommendations it gives to the Minnesota Legislature next year can and will have a great impact on your privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is there conflict?

In the Star Tribune today it was pointed out that there may be some questions as to the process how a former employee of the Minnesota Department of Education was given a contract to do state work. More than likely I contend is that the reporter used the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to get some of the information he needed for the story.  It is stories like this why it is important for the media and citizen's to use our state's freedom of information law to find what government is up to. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You are a have not?

I went to Century College today to ask for a fall schedule of classes because I was interested to take a course or two.  I was told by the admissions office they have have gone "green" and no longer have paper copy's of the class offerings.  So I asked them what my options are.  They said I would have to go online to review the catalog.  I then said what about the people who do not have access to the internet or a computer.  Basically, I was told tough luck.

In Minnesota there are still a great number of Minnesotans who do not have a computer or have access to the internet.  Many people wish to have a paper copy for a number of reasons from because they may find it hard to read or understand it and may want someone to help them with it or they just want it in paper form.

Monday, August 2, 2010

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

According to the Star Tribune today the University of Minnesota is implementing one of the toughest conflict of interest policies in the nation.  My question though is who is is going to watch the watchmen?  The U of M has made it clear that the report forms are not available to the public.  It was the University a couple of years ago that made it so that these kinds of reports are no longer public pursuant to an advisory opinion from the Department of Administration. 

How will the University make sure that there is no conflict?  How will they police it?  Will they do annual reports?  The public needs to be the watchman!