Police camera-scan data create new privacy problems

With city governments resigned to having no control over citizen data they acquire, Eric Roper’s Strib story on what the cops are scanning off your license plate seems even more relevant: “Police in Minnesota and across the country are increasingly using small car-mounted cameras to scan thousands of license plates and pinpoint — in real time — stolen vehicles, suspended drivers and criminals. Those same cameras also record the time, date and location of every car they see and store the information. That disturbs privacy advocates, who want more details about the cameras and are calling for standards to govern how police classify and retain plate-reader data. … When a Star Tribune reporter requested data on his own license plate under Minnesota’s open records law, the Minneapolis Police Department responded with a list of dates, times and coordinates of his car that illustrated his daily routine. Over the course of a year, cameras in squad cars logged him heading to work on W. Franklin Avenue at 8:07 a.m. one day, returning home on Portland Avenue S. at 6:17 p.m. on another, and parking three times late at night outside a friend’s house in Uptown. Police had captured the car’s license plate seven times. Minneapolis police declined to comment on why it keeps the license plate information so long.” OK. I admit it. White Castle, 1 a.m. You got me.

The countdown for shutting off the big coal-fired coal plants on the North Shore … has been slowed. John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune writes: “Minnesota Power will get more time to decide the future of two of its older coal-fired power plants after action by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday in St. Paul. The PUC board went on record saying they believe it’s in everyone’s best interest — economically and environmentally — to retire or repower the old plants at Taconite Harbor and Hoyt Lakes by the end of 2016. But the commission stopped short of ordering that move, instead giving Minnesota Power until March 1 to come up with a plan for the power plants.’ ”

North Dakota is blaming Minnesota for Japanese … beetles. Blake Nicholson of the AP says: “Japanese beetles have turned up in North Dakota for only the second time in more than half a century, but officials do not believe it has anything to do with extreme drought in states where the destructive pests are more prevalent. One expert thinks the bugs simply hitched a ride on trucks carrying nursery plants across the Minnesota border. Infestations of the beetles that feast on everything from rose bushes to corn crops are found mainly east of the Mississippi River. But they have turned up in traps in southeastern North Dakota this summer.’ “

Beware the cilantro! The PiPress version of this story says: “The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is telling consumers not to eat fresh cilantro sold at certain stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin because of potential salmonella contamination. … The cilantro was sold in bunches and shipped to stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan between July 26 and Aug. 6.” They never say this about bacon.

Remember Marilyn Hagerty, the nice North Dakota lady who lauded The Olive Garden’s breadsticks? She’s getting a journalism award. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib: “Hagerty is now planning a trip down Interstate 29 to Vermillion, S.D., where on Oct. 4 she will receive the 2012 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media. The award, recognizing lifetime achievement, will be presented at the University of South Dakota and is named for USA TODAY and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth, a South Dakota native and 1950 USD journalism graduate. Hagerty also is a USD alumnus and was on the student newspaper as Neuharth’s first editor 65 years ago. Neuharth will be there to honor Hagerty as ‘a model journalist dedicated to serving local communities through consistently fair, truthful and relevant coverage.’ ”

The GleanSpeaking of fine dining, Tom Horgen of the Strib reviews a new taproom in Nordeast: “Taprooms are all the rage right now. But the few breweries that have opened a pint-selling operation did so on the fly, reacting to last year’s change in Minnesota law. Indeed [Brewing]’s gorgeous 12,000-square-foot facility is located in a rehabbed century-old warehouse just a few doors down from Uppercut Boxing Gym. It contains a 30-barrel brewing system (the same size as Surly’s) and a canning line that can shoot out 36 brews a minute. Its jewel, however, is the taproom, which looks more like a real bar than any that have come before it. The cozy, old-world pub features a 37-foot-long white-oak bar and vintage furniture scavenged from the old Miller Publishing Company’s club room. There’s also a 45-seat patio.”

On his weather blog, Paul Douglas writes:At first I thought it was a typo — I had to go back and check it again. The percentage of Iowa in extreme drought jumped from 30.74% last week to 69.14% this week, a nearly 40% jump. I’ve never seen that before. … The steady spread of drought conditions since May 29 has been striking; more details from NOAA: “The latest drought monitor is now available in the region. Once again, extreme drought continues over much of Kansas and Missouri. However, portions of the area have now been upgraded to the highest level of drought, ‘exceptional.’ ”

The upside is that Minnesota farmers, less affected by the drought, are looking at very substantial harvests and near-record prices. Elizabeth Baier of MPR reports: “The USDA estimates the 2012 Minnesota corn crop at 1.27 billion bushels, slightly better than last year’s production. Although the average yield for Minnesota is projected at 155 bushels an acre, a one-bushel decrease from last year, Minnesota is expected to produce a record overall corn crop because farmers are harvesting more fields this year. On the soybean side, the agriculture department estimates the state’s farmers will harvest about 263 million bushels, a slight decrease from last year. … The price of corn has jumped nearly 40 percent in the last two months, from about $5.50- to more than $8 a bushel.” … And my high school farming buddies out near Montevideo will still complain about crops, prices and weather.

At Power Line, you really owe it to yourself to read the contortions Steven Hayward goes through to remain a “climate skeptic” and grab at the latest rip on NASA’s James Hansen. But … Paul Mirengoff’s processing of that latest Wisconsin Senate poll is also good stuff: “How should conservatives … respond to these results, assuming that, collectively, they are reliable? The Buckley rule holds that we should support the most conservative of the electable candidates. [Mark] Neumann and [Eric] Hovde are considered more conservative than [Tommy] Thompson, although Hovde is a political newcomer and thus has no real political track record. The latest poll results do not show either Neumann or Hovde to be unelectable. Thus, the Buckley rule militates in favor of Neumann, I would think, followed by Hovde. However, while Neumann and Hovde may be electable, the latest poll results indicate that neither would be easy to elect, while Thompson’s prospects in the general election are fairly good. Thus, considering that Wisconsin could determine which party controls the Senate, and taking into account that Thompson is a legitimate center-right candidate, one could make a pragmatic case for Thompson.” And what do we imagine William Buckley would think of — or say to — Mark Neumann?

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Pete Barrett on 08/10/2012 - 05:25 pm.

    Open To All?

    Can I give the Mpls. Police any license plate and get the tracking info? Could a jealous person use that to stalk an ex-lover?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/11/2012 - 01:10 pm.

    Think of the potential

    According to the book, Stasiland, the East German secret police, the Stasi, collected the smell of thousands of “suspicious” citizens. They did this by breaking into homes and stealing dirty laundry, especially socks and undies which they kept stored in labeled glass jars. They could then use the laundry to match scents in their investigations of political crimes. If the GDR was around today they could learn some new techniques from our police.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/12/2012 - 08:44 am.

    Buckley’s rule

    Problem is Republicans no longer know the difference between a dingbat and a conservative.

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