Thursday, August 29, 2013

Minn Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA): SLOW DOWN

After I finished reading the Star Tribune story on MSFA's kick into "high gear" I thought of this song by Simon and Garfunkel, "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" 

Remember the words "Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last."

This is what the MSFA needs to do.

I find puzzling Ms. Kelm-Helgen's statement "We don't have much time here, and I'm concerned about the schedule."  Well don't be.  Assume leadership and say we want to do "due diligence" on the Wilf's financial info and want to be sure that they are in the position to finance their end of the bargain on the new Viking's Stadium.  It has been my experience over the decades observing and participating in the governmental process that speed and due diligence do not mix.

Such an undertaking as the Viking's Stadium deal for sure needs to take the time to make sure all the i's and t's are dotted and crossed.  The public also needs to have confidence in this late go around of research and "follow the money" scenarios.  

By the way at the end of the process the audit/investigatory report should be public as Governor Mark Dayton has promised.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shh! Chief Harteau's advisory board at work in secret

A number of people selected by Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau for an advisory panel to help with the Departments problems are currently meeting as the Chief said in a tweet to me doing: "subcommittee meetings w sharing of ideas, perspectives & thoughts, with specific recommendations to rpt to full committee"

But again this is all being done in secret with a sense of anonymity and total disregard for transparency.

Now who are the who's, who are deciding the direction with recommendations about the Minneapolis Police Department's perennial problems and are meeting in secret without the public input?

A good question, as WCCO's Jason DeRusha would say.  I did a data practices request and got the names.

I encourage the public and particularly those people who want to finally put a stop to the antics and bad behavior of some Minneapolis cops and to rid of the institutional patterns, policies, and practices that perpetuate the same bad behavior over and over again to:

(1) Demand public meetings of the Chief's advisory council and it's subcommittee meetings.

(2) Contact the Advisory Council members to see and hear what they are saying and doing.

As a quote I read only recently is how the Chief and the Advisory Council should guide iself:

         "Only by opening our doors can we build trust, and truly serve and protect"

The Minneapolis Police Department is not doing this now.

Please note below are the names of the Chief's Advisory Council as given to me exactly by Minneapolis Police Department and my tweet interaction w Chief Harteau:

Hassan Mohamud
Somalia Community Islamic Dawah Center

Bill Ziegler American Indian Community
Executive Director Little Earth of United Tribes

William Means American Indian Community
MN O.I.C. Council

Bishop Richard Howell Arnetta Phillips  African American Community
Shiloh Temple

Renee Jenson  Mental Health Community
The Barbara Schneider Foundation

Mark Anderson
The Barbara Schneider Foundation Mental Health Community

Pastor Charles Graham  Reverend Joan Austin
Macedonia Baptist Church Bapist Church

Silvia Ontaneda
Consulate General of Ecuador to Minnesota Ecuadorian Community

Harry Davis Jr Circle of Discipline

Dominick Bouza Salvation Army Harbor Lights
Operations Director The Salavation Arny Harbor Lights Center

Amay Yang Hmong Community Executive Director
Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association

Fr. Michael O'Connell Catholic Church
Ascension Church

Shane Zane Downtown Improvement DID
Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District

Joanne Kaufman Warehouse District
Executive Director, WDBA

Phil Davis Mpls Community College
President, Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Jana Metge
Citizens for a Loring Park Community 1st Precinct

Michael Rainville
Resident NE Mpls 2nd Precinct

Kate Lee
Near North Neighborhood 4th Precinct

Doris Overby
Standish Neighborhood 3rd Precinct

Marian Behr 5th Precinct Executive Director
Whittier Alliance

Adonis Frazier Circle of Discipline

VJ Smith  Makrim El-Amin MAD DADs

John Delmonico MPD Federation

Sondra Samuels Northside Achievement Zone

Scott Gray Mpls Urban League

Velma Korbel  Director of Civil Rights
City of Minneapolis

Michael Browne ` Director OPCR

12 Aug

  1. Now if the next meeting of advisory group not til September. What are they working on now during interim?
  2. ; subcommittee meetings w sharing of ideas, perspectives & thoughts, with specific recommendations to rpt to full committee

Friday, August 16, 2013

MNsure: Locked doors and names

This past week I visited the offices of MNsure, Minnesota's new health exchange program.  They are located in a newly renovated building in downtown St Paul.  There was no sign yet stating that MNsure was there, but I had help in locating it by people being trained to be possible navigators or something like that in another building.

I went to the building where MNsure was in, but low and behold the door is locked.  No sign stating how I can get in contact with them, zero, zip info.  I knocked on the window for someone to let me in so I could go to a public agency of the state to ask a question or two and to see the status of my data practices request.  To no avail, people looked at me through the window, but I did not have my Sunday dress on so I was ignored.

All of a sudden a person entered the door with his special pass key and let himself in.  I followed indicating I want to go to MNsure.  He stated it was on third floor.

The elevator door opens and I proceed to the MNsure office.  Do not remember for sure, but I believe that door was locked too.  Anyway I got through the door.  I introduced myself, stating I would like to speak with either their General Counsel or Data Practices person.

As I was waiting to see if they would be able to talk with me I noticed three conference rooms in MNsure's reception area, large rooms with temporary paper sheets posted near the doorways.

Each room from left to right was named Atkins, Lourey, and Dayton.  When I saw this I was flabbergasted because I have not seen conference rooms in government agencies named after living and still serving public officials.  I thought it was just downright cornball and trite.

I have no problem with Representative Atkins, Senator Lourey, and Governor Dayton I have worked with them all and I regard them highly, but naming a room after them while they are still living or still in office, come on.

I decided to communicate with someone at MNsure about this.  I stated that naming the conference rooms after living elected officials is hokey.  The person then asked what names I would suggest.  I suggested two names immediately, former Minnesota elected officials Arne Carlson and Linda Berglin.  These two people worked together on health care, Ms. Berglin (DFL) and Mr. Carlson (GOP) in the early nineties on MNCARE.

I was told by the MNsure staff person, good suggestions, but the names of Atkins, Lourey, and Dayton will remain.

I do not believe in naming anything for people who are living and a current elected official.  Do not know if MNsure will get nice name plaques on the doors, but if they do it's like putting a campaign sign out there as long as they are current living elected officials.

But wait if they keep their doors locked like a fortress and access for the public is nil no one may ever see the signs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

St Paul cops new toy (cameras) for surveillance, raises ongoing issues

With fanfare the St Paul Police announced their new toy to be used for law enforcement purposes.  Its a mobile real time camera or cameras that can placed almost anywhere to observe the public in its coming and goings.  

Granted, St Paul Police have used stationary cameras over the last decade to monitor and do surveillance on its citizens, but questions about this new tool and their current surveillance program need questions answered.  Some of them are as follows: How effective is their surveillance program?  What has been the impact on the public's privacy and liberty? Do they keep snippets of video on people without a criminal investigation?  Do they have a audit process to see who views the scenes captured and to make sure they are destroyed if there is no criminal investigation?

I have addressed the issue of surveillance and cameras before in a previous post entitled:  Cops and cameras----Modern peeping toms?

As with the license plate readers, St Paul Police had a big roll out to promote that new technology, but rebuffed privacy and liberty concerns by saying something like this, "Hey we are just taking pictures of plates in the public, and furthermore there is no privacy in public, anyway."  Well, based on the debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives on license plate readers  (HF 474) I would beg to differ. 

The "new portable high-tech surveillance camera" that St Paul is on the hunt for is much different than the cameras used in the RNC 2008 surveillance activities.  Technology moves fast and improves on tools that we use in our everyday life or used by law enforcement.

With the possibility of St Paul and other cities/towns getting new and improved cameras there should  be public discussion.  Does the law enforcement agency have policies/protocols?  Is the camera equipped with the ability to do facial recognition with high probability with a match from Minnesota Drivers License photo database or MRAP data base?  Is the new real time camera or cameras equipped with sophisticated microphones to listen to people's conversations as they go down the street?

See I believe, you and me have a right to privacy in public places in many circumstances and situations.

As Robert Ellis Smith, one of the leading privacy advocates for nearly 4 decades and the publisher of Privacy Journal states:

"Simply because the cameras are in public places does not mean that the right to privacy does not protect many of the activities captured in the millions of images.  To concede these points is to default on our birthrights of privacy, autonomy, and anonymity, even in "public" places."