Sunday, January 30, 2011

NH GOP Needs to Explain Platform to GOP Reps

See, the thing is that the NH GOP voted to modify its platform mere weeks ago to expressly include protecting the right of citizens to hold their public servants accountable.
The New Hampshire Advantage cannot survive without safety and security for individual citizens. In order to ensure peace and tranquility in our communities, Republicans: ...
Will work to amend the wiretap statute to allow citizens to make audio/visual recordings of interactions with public officials
Can't say I'm too fond of the notion of servant government "allowing" free People to exercise inherent rights (such as monitoring their own employees -- can you imagine threatening to arrest your boss under similar supervisory circumstances?), but as Rep. George Lambert is fond of saying, "On the job means on the record." Somebody really needs to inform the Republicans on the House Criminal Justice Committee of their declared principles...

I wasn't at the previous hearing, so I don't know what the "feeling" of the room was then on HB145: "permitting the audio and video recording of any public official while in the course of his or her official duties." This day, 1/25/2011, others were hopeful afterward. Me, not so much. Utterly avoided was the existing legal requirement for an "expectation of privacy" before threatening specious felonies, until Rep. Mark Warden brought it up. And AG Rice predictably fumbled and stumbled, deflected and dissembled in deference to status quo authority.

Lots of nitpicking, strawmen and red herrings (including still from the NHCLU, unfortunately). "What if someone wants to go into a private office?" Umm, can they go there NOW? Is it your assertion that once this bill is passed, I could commit murder, too, if only I have a camera? "How will evidence be handled in court?" Well, like any other evidence, I'd think. How's it handled NOW? But what's it got to do with THIS BILL? "What if the moon were made of orange marmalade?" NURSE...! (speaking of which, Rep. Jenn Coffey did a great job, too: she's rapidly getting very good at this, isn't she?). And the ever-popular, "police officers aren't public officials." Groan...

Very little discernible open support from the committee, beyond 2 lonely freshmen Reps (so once again, I must ask: Have they read their own platform?). It seems to me at this stage marginally likely SOMETHING should pass (through the House, anyway, particularly since IT'S A GOP PLANK! Did I mention that already...?), but I fear it'll be watered down beyond all recognition or teeth. And yet still "good enough" to be the enemy of "the better"...

(As I've mentioned previously in these related chronicles, Radley Balko has a piece on the police state's "war on cameras" in the January 2011 issue of Reason magazine.)

Selected testimony from Carla Gericke, Denis Goddard, and Bill McGonigle

The whole shebang

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