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Cops want lawmakers to impose strict limits on body cam footage

MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley

Well, if we’re going to have to fight to see the footage what’s the point? Another AP story says, “Minnesota lawmakers waded Thursday into a thorny debate over access to footage caught on police body cameras, which aim to increase trust but have raised privacy concerns. A police-backed proposal to put strict limits on who sees body camera videos was introduced in the House. A Senate version isn’t far behind, but even those most involved in the debate warn it’s a complex issue that may need more than one legislative session to solve.”

As you might expect the liberal OpenSecrets blog doesn’t have much patience with the campaign to repeal that medical device tax. Clark Mindock writes, “A number of Democrats are on board for the repeal too. In fact, the tax is anything but a wedge partisan issue. But the bipartisanship may not have much to do with ideology: Republican lawmakers heading the effort have clear ties to the medical device industry and so do many of the Democrats who have signed on as cosponsors to the repeal. … In the nonpresidential 2014 cycle, donations dropped back down to $6.3 million, about the same level as in 2010. The top recipient that cycle was Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) who has sponsored several versions of legislation to knock out the tax and took in $92,549 from the industry. … Democrats received money from the medical device industry in 2014. Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, both of Minnesota, came out on top of that list with $47,249 and $39,900 respectively.”

Speaking of Sen. Franken: Michael McAuliff at The Huffington Post writes, “With a bevy of fellow senators and natural gas industry experts angling to jack up profits by boosting gas exports, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) had a reminder for them in a Senate hearing Thursday: You didn’t build that gas boom — taxpayers did. … ‘We’re hearing senators talk about discoveries of reserves of natural gas in their states as if this is just a discovery that happened out of nowhere,’ Franken said. ‘This is because of the taxpayers doing investments in research into three-dimensional microseismic imaging, done in Sandia National Labs.’”

It’s been too long since we last had a story about “The Chairman.” Allison Sherry of the Strib reports, “Minnesota’s Republican party was fined another $26,000 this week by the Federal Elections Commission for failing to disclose almost $250,000 in receipts, payments and debts from 2009 to 2011. This is the second large fine levied on the state party in four years. In 2011, the Commission fined the party $170,000 for misrepresenting its debts during the same time period. A second case was opened up in 2012 after the party’s former Chairman Anthony Sutton resigned and his then-finance chair alerted the party treasurer there were another $249,000 in invoices in Sutton’s office that had not been reported to the feds during their first investigation.” He was another guy who was reliably great copy.

What was he going to say, really? The AP tells us, “A Minnesota man is pleading guilty to charges tied to a failed coup in the West African nation of Gambia. Forty-six-year-old Papa Faal of Brooklyn Park pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts. Faal admitted in court he bought semiautomatic rifles in Minnesota, broke them down, and hid them in barrels that were shipped to Gambia. Faal, a U.S. citizen of Gambian descent, said he participated in calls with others trying to overthrow Yahya Jammeh, president of the former British colony.”

Save the tullibee! In the Strib Jim Umhoeffer writes, “When anglers land a prize walleye, northern, lake trout or muskie, they usually don’t think about the modest tullibee, an important prey species found farther down the chain. Yet as the tullibee goes, so goes our beloved game fish. ‘Tullibees are a great “canary in the mineshaft” species,’ said Peter Jacobson, a DNR habitat research group supervisor. ‘If you have tullibee in a lake, you know things are pretty good. If they are declining, you know something is wrong.’ Yet there is a significant decline in tullibee numbers, Jacobson said.”

The feds are staying busy. Stribber Randy Furst reports, “The talk around the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis has been that more criminal cases are showing up in federal courtrooms since Andy Luger was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota in mid-February last year. New data obtained by the Star Tribune appear to bear that out. Overall indictments are up from 183 in 2013 to 303 in 2014, an increase of 66 percent. In addition, more defendants are being indicted, rising from 235 in 2013 to 495 in 2014, a 110 percent jump.”

Loan forgiveness for doctors working out-state is getting another run at the Capitol. Christopher Aadland of the Minnesota Daily says, “Since the start of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers have placed an emphasis on serving communities in greater Minnesota. Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, introduced a bill earlier this month to offer loan forgiveness to students who plan to work in rural areas in the state. The bill would expand an existing loan forgiveness program administered by the Minnesota Department of Health that has seen its funding shrink in recent years. Currently, Clausen said, the program only supports about 70 professionals during a four-year cycle. He said he’d like to see an additional 200 people added to the program while expanding the number of careers it supports.”

I keep telling Mom, “Just hang up on them!” The AP says, “Financial scammers who target elderly or vulnerable Minnesotans would face stiffer penalties under a law Gov. Mark Dayton included in his two-year budget proposal. The proposed law would tack on an additional $10,000 fine for consumer fraud crimes committed against vulnerable or older adults. That group could expand beyond seniors, but officials haven’t yet decided on specifics. Seniors make up about one-fifth of financial abuse victims nationwide.”

Good piece in Slate on Wisconsin’s Scott Walker. Jamelle Bouie writes, “Unlike Mitt Romney—who was merely adopted by the world of racially polarized politics—Walker was born in it and molded by it. As MacGillis notes, Walker’s home turf of metropolitan Milwaukee is home to ‘profound racial inequality, extreme political segregation, [and] a parallel-universe news media,’ that predate Walker, ‘but have enabled his ascent.’ If any candidate could run a rigid campaign of polarization — aimed at winning as many white voters as possible — it’s Walker. His language is already there. In his Iowa speech, he touted voter-identification laws and portrayed disadvantage as a pure product of personal failure.”

Also, this from The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart. “Walker’s rise is a reminder that among Republican primary voters, and especially Iowa-caucus goers, the market for ideological or even stylistic innovation, may be smaller than the media assumes. Because the most striking thing about Scott Walker’s speech at the Freedom Summit, and his emerging campaign message more generally, is how retro it is. Walker concedes nothing to the conventional wisdom about what the GOP must do to compete in a more culturally tolerant, ethnically diverse and economically insecure America. And the GOP faithful love it.” 

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/30/2015 - 07:52 am.

    “…what’s the point?” (re: body cameras)

    The point is that the police and their legislative allies are going to do everything in their power to make the body cam videos of no use to the citizen.

    They will, however, attempt to make these videos available to the police in a wall of defense. In particular, expect to see the police either showing (or touting) a video when they feel it supports their position, while stonewalling access in those cases where it does not support them. This is what the legislature is up to.

    All this, of course, is exactly the opposite of what the ordinary people sought in promoting police body cameras – to protect the citizenry, not the police.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 01/30/2015 - 10:01 am.

    Body cam footage: not that complicated.

    Unless the encounter results in an arrest, citation, complaint, injury or complaint against the officer, it should be private, not to protect the officer but to protect the citizen.

    Don’t overthink it.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/30/2015 - 01:38 pm.

      Those cases are the only ones at issue.

      I don’t think anyone wants the other kinds of interactions to be made available to the public – except maybe the police, for training purposes.

      The cases you iterate through are the problem areas. That’s where citizen access counts.

      I agree: don’t overthink it.

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