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Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Case You Forgot the City Is Recording Your Picnic

posted by on July 24 at 13:48 PM

This Saturday, about 35 people, some with giant fake cameras on their heads, will take photographs around Cal Anderson Park from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to protest the city’s video surveillance program. Here’s what they’ll look like:


Local artist Paul Strong, Jr. says he’s holding the demonstration, called the Camerahead Project, to remind people that video surveillance cameras are recording their every move at Cal Anderson Park and three other parks around town. “The project not only raises the questions of who is watching who and who is watching the watchers, but also … why we are being watched at all,” he says. “There is so much going on in the news about wiretapping and data mining, all these little thing that happen locally go right by.”

The mayor’s office installed the cameras at Cal Anderson Park in March and the city council ratified and expanded the program to three more parks in June—representing an unprecedented government surveillance of Seattle parks. The city code allows police, parks department employees, and city IT staff to view the recordings for broadly defined investigation purposes.

Strong hopes the council will take down the cameras, which cost the city more than $400,000, but he will have to be patient. The program isn’t scheduled for an audit until it’s been in effect for 21 months—in March of 2010. But the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is already anticipating the review. “We want to make sure it is an objective and serious audit that looks at what, if anything, they’ve accomplished,” says spokesman Doug Honig. The group opposed the legislation when it went before the city council, and Honig says the ACLU will distribute fliers at the event this weekend.

As an example of a failed surveillance program, Honig points to England, where millions of cameras around the country the have had a negligible impact on crime. While crime did drop directly front of cameras, it rose outside their view. “The logic is to have more and more because they displace crime,” Honig says. “That moves us toward a surveillance society when government is recording and keeping records on our activities, even when they are legal and law abiding.”


Strong says inspiration for the project comes from the book cover of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, which depicts a camera-head person and a kid winding a slingshot. And, accordingly, he fears the cameras could lead to an Orwellian society. “The next generation of these cameras may have facial recognition and they could just start tracking you everywhere,” he says.

The parks department did not respond to a request for comment.

RSS icon Comments


Facial recognition software has such a high false positive rate that it's not very useful.

As opposed to mannerisms, eye blood flow, and hand vein recognition.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 24, 2008 1:56 PM

Can I forget that I ever read Little Brother too?

Posted by Chris B | July 24, 2008 2:06 PM

Or try this fun experiment I've been doing for a few years: Carry a little camera around everywhere, and whenever you see yourself being recorded (like the entryways of grocery stores or Target), start taking pictures of the screen showing you. I guarantee you someone from security will show up in mere seconds. And when you ask them why they have a right to photograph you but you don't have a right not to photograph them doing it... the look on their face is priceless.

Posted by Andy Niable | July 24, 2008 2:12 PM

#3, because you're in their store?

Posted by w7ngman | July 24, 2008 2:13 PM

This distrust of surveillance is confusing to me. What is behind it?

Posted by Timothy Wind | July 24, 2008 2:17 PM

Looks a bit like DC Comics villain Warmaker One

Posted by jmr | July 24, 2008 2:19 PM

Right on. And when we go to the park, people can SEE us, too. This horrible outcome can be avoided if you pour acid on your face, rendering your features "blank," to conform with those who fear an "Orwellian Society" due to security cameras and point to England as an example, where there is no evidence of an Orwellian Society; meanwhile right here in the USA we do have one without so many security cameras cuz we do nothign 'bout high crimes and misdemeanors.

Also blank thinking: attacking cameras in general as useless.....I guess about 50 million parking garage owners, apt. house owners, and others are wrong to have cameras????????

Because anti crime measures move it out of certain areas, that's not good enough, unless it TOTALLY eliminates crime the measure is no good is the kind of logic that would lmake you support

-eliminating all cops -- look we have cops and we still got crime!!
--all jails
--all laws. Dang this murder law we still got us some murders, it only makes people go do it in the dark and shit, so let's throw it out!!!!!!!

Am not pro or con on cameras just the privacy argument is silly when you are in public anyway and the "it doesn't work" argument resting on how they reduce crime only where we got 'em is a weak argument.

My door lock only reduces crime right here in my house. Should we not have doorlocks, keys, etc.?

Posted by PC | July 24, 2008 2:20 PM

#5, "he fears the cameras could lead to an Orwellian society"

Posted by w7ngman | July 24, 2008 2:24 PM

#8, I mean: explain what that means and why it is distrusted.

Posted by timothywind | July 24, 2008 2:31 PM

Residents, anyone?

Posted by Fnarf | July 24, 2008 2:39 PM

$400,000 - well that is nothing - money runs like a river thru the city council

vote no more

vote no more

the council needs to hear NO for a change

these cameras suck, need to designate a "this is where you give the camera the finger space" -- free speech friends -- and you can bellow FUCK YOU, too -- more free speech

and there are now park rangers on patrol at Cal Anderson, keeping the undesirables under control -- you know, like the unwashed public enjoying the sunshine

Posted by Adam | July 24, 2008 2:39 PM

#5 and #9 lead me to believe the schools the schools must have stopped assigning that book 24 years ago.

Posted by Snowball II | July 24, 2008 2:43 PM

Cameras in parks are legit. It's a public place, and what you do there is, well, public. You may not like them, and that's fine. It's good to be suspicious of government surveillance. Just give the cameras the finger when you walk by, and sit somewhere that's out of their view.

Posted by Greg | July 24, 2008 2:44 PM

"While crime did drop directly front of cameras, it rose outside their view."

So the cameras serve to move crime out of public parks that I enjoy with my family and into the back streets and alleyways?

Works for me.

Posted by rjh | July 24, 2008 2:46 PM

The hipsters are just pissed that they can't torch a bowl in Cal Anderson anymore.

Posted by w7ngman | July 24, 2008 2:52 PM

Not necessarily @14. Unless the park cams have 100% coverage, it's more likely people just do their muggings and crack smoking in the same general area (i.e. still in the park), but in places where the cameras can't view their actitivies, for example, directly beneath them.

Posted by COMTE | July 24, 2008 2:53 PM

@12, I have read the book. This is a dialogue. I am asking a questions to bring up a new one.

Posted by Timothy Wind | July 24, 2008 3:00 PM

Actually, Seattle Police already use license plate scanning software for the cameras mounted on their patrol cars. It's not just at the major intersections, folks. They say it's for detecting cars reported stolen... sure.

Posted by zellers | July 24, 2008 3:10 PM


I'm sure that's part of it but definitely not all of it.

Posted by Sir Learnsalot | July 24, 2008 3:10 PM

@13 sure, if all of the public is allowed to log on and view a live stream of the cameras instead of just a select few.

I can't seem to dig it up right now, but either the Metro Transit Police or the County Sherrif's were busted for purposely focusing security cameras on females with low cut tops and nice rears. Must have been snitched on by a janitor or something, I doubt the police would violate their blue wall/code of silence thing to snitch on something like this.

Posted by Anon | July 24, 2008 3:10 PM

I would like to contribute to this slog by relaying a story that happened to me
( again ) yesterday.

I left the homeless feed under the Cherry Street Freeway viaduct and visited the ferry terminal and proceeded to first hill where I started reading the Seattle Weekly and The Stranger.

Being interested of course in my ongoing complaint with the city and council and county and library about their portions of responsibility for certain discrepancies with my e-mails and and art and witnessing of homeless reporting for The Stranger, Low Earth Orbiter and their affliates, namely legitimate business e-mails proposing support for specific sponsorship....

I was reading on 1st Hill almost to Summit Ave, on a bench where the bench is built into a wall ( brick retainer flower separation area from the condo (huge old tower) (not the new condos), when a private security gaurd and his partner came out of the building and profiled me reading the two Seattle Wednesday Weeklies.

I say profiled, because they were half way across the street ( one had a badge and flashlight, the other had a sport coat and mustache ) and they pointed to the dilapitated ( somewhat dilapitated by Capitol Hill Standards ) and turned to me and asked loudly,

" Is this your roll over here in the doorway?"

{ * authors note : paraphrase is as close as it gets in this writing because by the end of the ordeal I was so god damned mad I have to be very careful that I don't carry this story slanderously over to the University Of Washington Police story directly after this. }

I said something like excuse me and by the time we argued as to the reasons they were profiling me, my relationship with Nick Licata of the Seattle City Council, Senator Eric Oemig of Washington State and a number of other heated exchanges, one of which when the uniformed badged private security officer touched me with his hand and then denighed it and his mustached partner said I could have avoided it by " complying ",

... we argued about the police coming the fact that there was no no tresspassing sign, or private bench sign or any other DON@T SIT HERE BECAUSE YOU ARE HOMELESS SIGN READING HERE... and after what seemed an unbearable heaviness of shit, we soon were at a stalemate....

until what happened later that same evening.

Later that evening I was awakened by a flashlight shinning in my eyes on the bus stop grate ( heated ) near the night owl stop just north of Red Square on the University of Washington Campus.

This has happened to me before, and usually the campus police are polite and reasonable.

As a matter of fact one time the UW Police were so polite they drove right up on the grass between campus buildings just to say hello. That night the episode of blonde ( she was short and very cute...) was unconfrontational.

Last night, the two naughty dark brunette haired female officers were anything but the previous encounter.

I can say this with confidence because in my 45 years on planet earth, I have talked to many many different police and military officers in and out of uniform in many different capacities as a person, employee, business manager and father.

I am very well aware of how people with control issues use authority to try and dominate power in a " situation ", and can verbally fight 'escalating' dialog lick for lick, as they say in a dynamic world of dualisms.

Ha ha to club Purr, I have never entered your establishment... yet I do love to lick the kitty if you know what I mean.

Anyway, we had a good argument again that night... me and my shadows.

So I left the highstrung officers with tight ponies hanging off their heads and hands on their guns and words like manic, and... oh ya this one is the really good one about authority....

I was " Camping on my pillow. "

Thom Yorke of Radiohead you should have been there.

It was my brief case you see.

The one where I keep my Social Security Papers and my toothbrush and shaving kit and extra shirt and socks.

I have invented for myself a very limited use paradigmn of

" waiting for disability travel all utility bag ".

( remember batkids.... I am not Bruce Wayne yet....)

PLease dear reader, I encourage you to take time to savor the next statement the police officer(s) made.

" This is my land.... I pay taxes. "

{ *! Again the author must be careful because we had already had a little pow-wow over whether or not the SKY CAMERAS and COP AUDIO RECORDERS were recording the incident and I was ASURRED BY AGENTS PONY TAILS that they were indeed recording the event, and by now I was REALLY GOD DAMNED FUCKING PISSED OFF BECAUSE I SLAVED FOR YEARS SELLING GROCERIES TO THESE PREEMIE MILITARY GESTAPO BRATS HIGH ON GEORGE W.BUSH and DICK CHENEY's NEW FORM OF MIND CONTROL AMPHETAMINE FOR THE BRAIN. }

Needless to say I had already tried to show them my sockless feet with the blisters in attempt to educate them as to why I was "sockless in Seattle" with a closed container of piss [ I pissed in a bottle so I wouldn't be accused of public urination or be labled a sex offender or whatever other new rube they try to come up with to cover their asses] and a bottle of shampoo along with my boots 'STINKY SOCKS' { quote from agent loud ponytail I AM IN CHARGE OFFICER GESHTAPO }and coat and "pillow".

Ya Taxes.

Can you believe that shit? I walk for days on end picking up trash and being a nice guy in the park throwing my garbage in containers watching the city set people up for the new forms of electronic entrapment and high tech sattelite mind control, listening to ultra high frequencies studying private security zones and playing the stupid fool while the Feds use my
e-mail zones to sort their court dates ( I have lost a number of access security passwords and e-mail lists to family and friends among other people besides Frank Blethyn and Bill Gates, I have alerted indivduals as to the possibility of fraud and identity theft and virus from being a computer nerd in the dumb ass sense of the phrase, in hopes that their business remains safe, and these SUPERCOPS tell me
" their land and taxes " is worth more than my "pillow".

I hope they have a VERY LUCRITAVE UNION CONTRACT NEGOTIATION NEXT TIME AROUND WHILE THEY GET THE CUSHY JOB .... remember fledgling musician poets and political bands and lyricists, they have HAIR.... that means they don't go to where the DNA may put THEM in FORENSIC HARMS WAY.

So... anyway, I went straight to the University of Washington Police Station, pushed the night button, talked to the camera and microphone and requested an officer.

While I waited, one of their new super cop cars left the station, at least one State Patrol Trooper and the third I'm not sure of at the moment because I'm just not the goddamn BIONIC MAN.

Then a UW patrol car arrived, and a second UW 4X4 patrol vehicle arrive and the two officers

( one bald and one ... well he was in the shadows so I don't remember him very well.....)

{by the way... has any of you out there in 'I've been harrassed land' ever noticed how the STREET LIGHTS convienently TIME THEMSELVES to go on and off.... I have noticed it since the late 1990's},

where I was treated very politely by the Bald headed police officer and noticed the partner left after a couple of minutes.

The same situation happened inside the FEDERAL LOCK-up where








Any way this is all getting redundant except to say that after I left the voluntary visit inside the station where 'THE BALD HEADED OFFICER ASSURED ME THEY WEREN@T RECORDING THE INCIDENT', I left hoping to god that someone will believe I am not a snitch and informant and fully aware that some cops get all the breaks while some homeless dissenters get alot of shit.

The really frightening thing is as I walked away hearing 'voices' what I believe to be snaptically trained nuero paths after extreme shocking in Gasworks Park for talikng anti Dick Cheney take at sunrise,
I heard what I believe to be high pass frequency bands of send and receive 'tort'-u-us dialog and interrogations, some different caliber exposions went off and part of me is worried that they weren't harmless firecrackers....

and to be quite truhful, part of me is quite truthfully frightened that they were the worst kind of harmful shots.

Posted by kieneker, daniel bennet special to the stranger. | July 24, 2008 3:18 PM

Aslo : - A dialouge should not include platitudes or books based on fantasty

Posted by Timothy Wind | July 24, 2008 3:18 PM

oops, I missed the second t in my name... by the way 22, do you work for the cops?.

Posted by daniel bennett kieneker | July 24, 2008 3:21 PM

oops, I missed the second t in my name... by the way 22, do you work for the cops?.X"

Posted by daniel bennett kieneker | July 24, 2008 3:22 PM

Fun with laser pointers. Take a cheap laser pointer, figure out the voltage needed to power it and then build a battery pack that supplies that voltage using AA cells so that you have an increased power capacity (Note to the terminally fucking stupid, this is not increasing the output power of the laser, just how long you can leave it turned on.) Figure out where the cameras are pointed and then find a place where you can hide your laser pointer and have it pointing at the camera. Turn laser pointer on and leave and blind camera. Unless something obstructs the laser beam it's going to be invisible, and most of the CCDs used in video cameras wash out when you hit them with coherent light from a laser. Eventually the laser diode in the pointer will burn out, or run out of power or perhaps someone will find it and throw it away. But until then that's a blind camera.

Posted by Timothy Wind | July 24, 2008 3:51 PM


Posted by Cook | July 24, 2008 4:11 PM

i know he's a troll, but i don't care.

i'ma laughin at 23 for the rest of the day.

Posted by Future Mrs.daniel bennett kieneker | July 24, 2008 4:40 PM

Oh, be quiet, ECB @27.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 24, 2008 4:47 PM

I don't get too worked up over the cameras. They're in a public park. Anyone can take a picture of anything any time in a public park. There is no legal expectation of privacy in a public park. So the privacy issue is overblown, at the very least.

My biggest objection is that I suspect it is a complete waste of time and money. $400K? Nearly a half million dollars? For cameras in 3 or 4 parks? I wish I had that contract. I'm not convinced it will prevent or help prosecute any real crime. And how many actual live cops could you hire for a half million dollars? Wouldn't that be a better use of the money?

Posted by Reverse Polarity | July 24, 2008 5:01 PM

@30 - yeah, we get it, you don't have a sex drive, so you've never done it in a public park.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 24, 2008 5:32 PM

lol, self-referential (meant @29) now the joke is on me

Posted by Will in The Mirror Darkly Seattle | July 24, 2008 5:33 PM

It's $850,000 for the whole program. And you know why the Mayor and Parks Department say they shoved the cameras into Cal Anderson Park despite unfulfilled promises from the Mayor's Office that there would first be an opportunity for public input? It was done as an emergency measure to curb vandalism in the park.

At an October, 2007, meeting hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, Julien Loh and Lynda Petersen were asked for specifics about the then-proposed park surveillance cameras. In an e-mailed response from Ms. Peterson sent Thursday, October 4, 2007, to meeting attendees, we receive a document that stated:

"The City’s Inter-Departmental Team (IDT) will work with law enforcement, the neighboring communities, organizations such as the ACLU, and use best practices learned from other cities to ensure that the cameras will be an effective tool to maintain public safety in our Center City parks while preserving the public’s civil rights."

and also:

"The IDT will work with the community and gather their input as they put together their plan and recommendations. The plan will be put together based on information about each park, the particular public safety issues of each park, the unique needs of the community and data collected by Parks staff and SPD. To get much of this information, the community will have to be engaged."

It is my understanding that such an engagement with neighboring communities never occurred. However, July 17, 2008, at a meeting of the Capitol Hill Community Council, Tienney Milnor (Seattle City Attorney's liaison to the East Precinct) stated that she believes it did happen but was simply not well-publicized.

Following is an e-mail, eighth in a thread comprising a discussion between Parks Dept. Deputy Superintendant and myself, to which I still await a response:

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2008 11:33:27 -0700
From: Phil Mocek
To: Christopher Williams - Seattle Parks and Recreation Deputy Superintendent
	Tienney Milnor - Seattle City Attorney East Precinct Liason
Cc: Jonathan Morley - CAPA Board, Chris Cooper - CAPA Board
	Kay Rood - CAPA Board, Isaac Cohen - CAPA Board, Brad Trenary
	Lisa Herbold - Legislative Assistant to City Councilmember Nick Licata
	"Randy Wiger - Cal Anderson Park Events Programmer, CAPA Board"
	Christina Drummond - ACLU-WA Technology and Liberty Project Director
Subject: Re: public input re: park surveillance?

[added to recipient list: Christina Drummond, director of ACLU of
Washington's Technology and Liberty Project]

On Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 02:37:01PM -0700, Christopher Williams wrote:
> You are absolutely right, there is always room to improve the public
> involvement process

I didn't write anything about there being such room for improvement.

I asked you specifically and repeatedly whether the process for public
involvement in the planning for installation and use of surveillance
cameras in our parks that was promised by the Mayor's Office ever

The process to which I refer was:

* described by Julien Loh and Lynda Peterson on October 4, 2008,
at a public meeting attended by representatives from Cal Anderson
Park Alliance, Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, and Capitol Hill
Neighborhood Plan Stewardship Council

* described further in writing via a document distributed by Ms.
Petersen the following day

* referenced by Tienney Milnor in response to a question raised
at the Capitol Hill Community Council general meeting on
July 17, 2008

You have not answered, but you have made no indication that any of this
did occur.

Tienney, could you please expand upon the statement you made at last
week's Community Council meeting? As a reminder, after I described what
we were told by Mr. Loh and Ms. Petersen about formation of an IDT (the
one that would work with law enforcement, neighboring communities, and
organizations such as the ACLU, to gather input on the potential
installation of surveillance cameras in public parks) you said that you
thought this had happened, but was not well publicized. Christopher
seems to disagree.

Christopher Williams continued:
> in the case of Cal Anderson Park the cameras were installed as an
> emergency response to the proliferation of graffiti and vandalism
> within the park.

Christopher, you have informed us that the level of graffiti and other
vandalism in Cal Anderson Park rose to a level that warranted scrapping
the existing plan for public engagement on a known-controversial
proposal and moving forward with a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar
investment in public park surveillance cameras. Where can the public
find a record of this extreme and presumably unprecedented level of park
vandalism? That information will surely be useful in the evaluation of
the cameras' effectiveness as a deterrent to vandalism.

Did the dire circumstances warranting this emergency action subside once
the action was taken, or are we still in a state of extreme vandalism
risk, preparing for further costly, invasive, and controversial remedies?

Soon after the cameras were installed in Cal Anderson Park, the park's
water feature was heavily vandalized. The cameras were evidently not a
deterrent in that case. Were the cameras found to be useful in
identifying the culprit?

Mayor Nickels, too, has publicly stated that the impetus for
fast-tracking the park surveillance program by installing cameras in Cal
Anderson Park in February, 2008, was vandalism in Cal Anderson Park
(March 10, 2008, 10:52 a.m., on KUOW-FM [1]). However, in the document
"Park Crime and Call Stats; Prepared By DOF with SPD Crime Analysis Data
4-22-08" [2], 2007 crime statistics for Cal Anderson, Hing Hay,
Occidental, and Victor Steinbrueck parks are summarized, but vandalism
is not among the crimes listed. That document lists "miscellaneous
misdemeanor calls", but there are only 86 of those for Cal Anderson Park
and 761 for Victor Steinbrueck Park. I find it odd that this crime
statistics document, created two months after the cameras were installed
in Cal Anderson Park and used in support of expansion of the park
surveillance program, does not mention the crime that you and Mayor
Nickels cite as the sole reason for rushed installation of those cameras.

Christopher, in your e-mail sent Friday, July 18, 2008, at 10:32 a.m.,
you stated that "the idea for cameras and Park Rangers evolved out of a
set of recommendations from the Downtown Parks Taskforce convened by the
Mayor to look at ways to make downtown parks more useable." I assume
that you meant to refer to the Center City Parks Task Force of which you
were both a board member and an operations subcommittee member.

The report issued by you and fellow members of the task force [3]
suggests that Park Rangers "would provide year-round, all-day, every day
coverage in the nine downtown destination parks". That report does not,
however, recommend or even mention surveillance cameras. None of the 12
Task Force meeting summaries that were published contains either of the
words "camera" and "surveillance". Please explain further the evolution
of your group's set of recommendation of comprehensive Park Ranger
coverage in each of the nine Center City Parks to the hiring of six
rangers to be shared -- working in pairs -- among nine parks along with
the installation of surveillance cameras in four parks. Is there any
public record of this evolution? Did the task force itself ever discuss
the possibility of installing surveillance cameras, and if so, where can
the public find a record of that discussion?

Thank you for taking the time to discuss this. I'm anxious to learn
more about the vandalism in Cal Anderson Park that both the Department
of Parks and Recreation and the Mayor cite as the reason for emergency
installation of surveillance cameras in the park, and also about how
recommendations of the Center City Parks Task Force led to proposal and
implementation of the park surveillance program.


[3]: h t t p ://www

Phil Mocek

Posted by Phil Mocek | July 24, 2008 5:35 PM

Phil Mocek IS daniel bennett kieneker!

Also, i'm enjoying WiS's comments today. The drugs must be kicking in.

Posted by Future Mrs. Phil Mocek | July 24, 2008 5:40 PM


Stop talking to yourself, Jube.

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | July 24, 2008 6:22 PM

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ -- a measly $400,000.00 --

who cares - it is only taxpayer money


my friend will get the contract

signed, city council (un corrupted)

Posted by John | July 24, 2008 6:45 PM

Meanwhile, who's stopping the goddamn ice cream truck from blasting its shitty tunes all over the park every day? Don't need cameras to catch that one.

Posted by billy | July 24, 2008 8:13 PM

#36 - sorry your childhood was so fucked up

so the truck should have hard rock and roll


very off topic to boot

Posted by John | July 24, 2008 8:17 PM

Obviously inspired by the Residents.

Posted by Mahtli69 | July 24, 2008 9:57 PM

Thank you, Mahtli69; see my @10. Easy to miss, in the forest of crazy on this thread.

Posted by Fnarf | July 24, 2008 10:02 PM

@ 17 - So you've read 1984 but don't see the problem with a surveillance society? Wow...

Posted by Tim | July 25, 2008 5:25 AM

Phil Mocek - you are my hero. Everyone complains, mildly, at war, torture, spying, corruption, and then goes about living what remains of their lives. You are a man of action. The city doesn't deserve you, but some of us sure as hell appreciate you fighting the good fight. I will join the cameraheads, and do my best to pressure my elected officials into spending my money a bit more wisely.

Posted by Peter Porter | July 25, 2008 7:47 AM

Thanks, Peter Porter, for the statement of support. Commenters here seem not to recognize the risks of living in a surveillance society or the value of trying to avoid the creation of such a situation.

And just to clarify, I'm not familiar with the name Daniel Bennet Kieneker other than as the author of a rather rambling comment posted in this thread, (I suspect it's some kind of Slog meme that I have not picked up on) so I'm confused by the comment by someone signed "future Mrs. Phil Mocek". The real future Mrs. Phil Mocek would like to point out that she is not the author of that comment.

Can anyone reading this suggest what records I should ask for via public disclosure request in order to verify Greg Nickels' and Christopher Williams' claims about the extreme levels of vandalism in Cal Anderson Park that prompted the rushed installation of multi-hundred-thousand-dollar surveillance cameras in the park?

Posted by Phil Mocek | July 25, 2008 9:16 AM

Wow, nice work there Phil. Don't hold your breath waiting for a substantive answer - it's pretty obvious you caught Nickels Inc. in a BIG FAT LIE (sadly not the first, and highly unlikely to be the last).

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 9:40 AM

The potential of abuses outweighs the potential benifits. The security cameras as they are will only push the criminal activities into the surrounding neigborhoods.

Someone try this:

1- Sit in Cal Anderson Park on a Friday night.
2- Wait for any drug dealing, vandalism or illicit sex that these cameras are supposed to deter. (This is according to Mayor Nickles)
3- call 911

4- Wait for action.

The way the system is supposed to work is this. When a 911 call is placed, someone will jump into action and start scanning with the cameras to record this activity, the cops show up and arrest the offender, the footage will then be used for the prosecution in the offenders trial.

This will never happen!!
My guess is you will get a non-emergency brush off from the 911 operator, and the footage will not be looked at ever, unless the illicit sex is really hot. In which case, I don't think any charges will be filed.


Posted by paul | July 25, 2008 9:53 AM

Any time there is a discussion of surveillance someone always has to bring up 1984, and it's quite obvious that these people totally missed the point of the book. The problem wasn't necessarily that everyone was being watched, it was what they were being watched for that was the issue. Certain freedoms that we hold dear, such as speaking out against the government, were illegal and the constant surveillance just made it harder to get away with it.

The point? Don't get your anarchist panties in a bunch just because "Big Brother is watching." If you're doing something illegal you should either just stop doing it in public or, in the case of something you feel strongly about, work to make it legal. And if you're not doing something illegal, I honestly can't see the problem with being watched in a public space. What harm do you honestly think will come from some cop in some little room somewhere watching you pick your nose or walk your dog?

Posted by Denise | July 25, 2008 11:34 AM

Paul suggested:

1- Sit in Cal Anderson Park on a Friday night. 2- Wait for any drug dealing, vandalism or illicit sex that these cameras are supposed to deter. (This is according to Mayor Nickles) 3- call 911 4- Wait for action.

I suggest adding:

5. File public records request for records of whether recordings were viewed at that time (they're reuquired to record the who/what/when/why)
6. File public records request for copy of the cameras' recordings from that time (do this ASAP -- recordings are purged after 14 days)

Posted by Phil Mocek | July 25, 2008 12:39 PM

"Anarchist Panties" -- what a great name for the next big annoying Seattle hipster band!

Even better than "Arms Made Of Legs"!

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | July 25, 2008 12:41 PM


Orwell is doing backflips in his grave at this callow interpretation of his work.

This is absolutely the classic police state rationale - if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide...

Are you a fan of toll transponders being able to document your movements, too?

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 12:45 PM

...and in case I didn't put a fine enough point on it, fear of crime is exactly how the surveillance starts, and Orwell saw (quite accurately in my view) that the natural tendency of government/humans will be to expand that power to the Nth degree and to limit individual freedom subsequently.

And you're damn right I've got my liberty-loving boxers in a wad over it.

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 12:53 PM

Mr. X: Note that soon, every car boarding a ferry to and from Bainbridge Island will be scanned by WA State Patrol, checked against FBI records, then generating an alert for any of various reasons. See coverage in the Kitsap Sun and in the Seattle Times.

Posted by Phil Mocek | July 25, 2008 1:47 PM

I saw. Freedom is dead. Look for them to ban the use of cash money next...

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 2:44 PM


My interpretation of the book was not that you shouldn't worry unless you're doing something wrong, that just my take on the cameras in the park. My interpretation of the book was that the real point was the freedoms that had been taken away, and yet everyone always focuses on the surveillance aspect. I'd like to know exactly what freedom is taken away from a surveillance camera in a public park.

And your next comment, #49, is a classic example of the weak "slippery slope" argument that so many employ when they can't put their finger on exactly what is wrong with the current actions. Saying that one thing could lead to another is not good enough. When the time comes, we can rise up against any TRUE violations...unless, of course, our voices continue to get drowned out by all the whining about non-issues.

Posted by Denise | July 25, 2008 7:43 PM


What a grotesque misreading of Orwell's work and message. You don't go from zero to totalitarianism overnight - it always occurs in steps - in fact, as part of a slippery slope (you might think about that the next time you're taking your shoes off at an airport).

Power hungry bullying leaders like GW Bush and Greg Nickels - who are constantly pushing the envelope to expand their power - are EXACTLY at the root of the kind of totalitarianism that Orwell warned us about.

Is this as egregious as Orwell's "thought crimes"? No. But add it in with the garbage police who will be funded by .20 cent bag fees to root through your garbage, tracking your movements through toll transponders, and UK-style constant surveillance of the populace, and try and tell me again with a straight face that George Orwell wouldn't be mortified - because I think it's pretty safe to say that he would.

By the time they get around to measures that rise to the level of "TRUE violations" in your view and it will be FAR too late to do anything about it.

Enjoy your dictatorship. You are free to leave your seat and consume more crap now.

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 9:09 PM

You are still confusing my opinion on the park cameras with my interpretation of the book. Stop it. It's annoying and doesn't help your point.

I am also not talking about bag fees or cops rifling through my garbage. I'm talking about cameras in the park. I still have yet to hear how that hurts me. Or you.

Posted by Denise | July 25, 2008 9:26 PM

Simple, because it won't end there. When those don't work, it'll be a new set of park cameras (and another $400,000), and then cameras on the street light poles. And then cameras to cover the places those cameras don't. And so on, ad nauseum.

Look at the expansion of Alcohol Impact Areas. When they failed to address the purported problem - as these cameras too will fail - that failure was then used as an argument to expand the program. Which, in turn will fail, and which will in all likelihood lead to yet another expansion of the program. That isn't off-topic at all - it's predicting the future behavior of our local government based on the things it has done in the past (or is doing on other fronts now).

Back in the WTO days a lot of my friends were convinced that America was becoming a police state, and I wasn't buying it. 8 years of total information awareness, near strip searches every time I fly in the name of anti-terrorism, and our own City stepping up efforts to criminalize poverty yet their persistent inability to punish police brutality has left me far less sure we aren't already a police state (albeit one with excellent upscale shopping and dining

So yeah, trends matter, and this stuff is all of a piece and it all merits our opposition. Putting cameras in the park isn't going to stop anything bad from happening - at the very best it may help solve a serious crime after the fact - but it gives the City yet another toehold into our lives - and it's no stretch of the imagination to think that other branches of government will indeed get a hold of those tapes and use them for truly nefarious purposes. This is exactly the trend toward the consolidation of power for its own sake - which can only be done by keeping the populace in fear - that Orwell warned us against.

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 9:48 PM

...ah, one other thing about this that definitely hurts me as a Seattle citizen. The sad but not surprising fact that Mr. Mocek is getting the runaround on a legitimate public records request regarding the placement of these cameras - particularly since it would appear strongly likely that the Mayor's stated justification for this initiative is, um, a big fat lie.

Of course, it's not like Mayor Nickels has ever sought to expand the power of his office mostly just to prove he can, right?

Posted by Mr. X | July 25, 2008 10:05 PM

Okay, so if I understand you correctly, you are not at all worried or upset about the current state of this issue. You don't mind the cameras. You only fear where this will lead. Got it.

It seems like paranoia to me, and while paranoia doesn't mean something won't happen, I prefer to wait until I see evidence of misuse of power before I start crying out and making a fuss. Until then, I'd like to see if their new plan actually works to do what they hope it can: keep me safe in my neighborhood park.

Posted by Denise | July 26, 2008 1:36 AM

Wow, Denise. I've tried to engage you on this, but if you don't get (or are so willfully obtuse, to be less charitable) that every single step down this slippery authoritarian path bothers me and that I've offered you a multitude of reasons why this piddling proposal (which, BTW, as a literal matter will likely never affect me as I don't frequent the particular park in question) actually does add in some way to the burgeoning police state that we as modern Americans now face we're kind of done here.

I sense that you're a somewhere between 25 and 32, and if all of you kids really internalized the Reagan era as much as you apparently did, we're more done than I thought.

Which brings me back to my previous point - which I thought in retrospect was kind of glib but as it turns out was deadly accurate - enjoy your police state- you've certainly earned it.

I hope you feel safer now.

OK - just to beat a dead horse - but the old "First they came for the communists, but I wasn't a communist..." Nazi-era rigamarole truly applies here - authoritarian government occurs in stages, and by the time you notice it happening (or, rather, when you finally get out of the denial stages about it) it's WAY too late.

Oh, and in the ungracious spirit of the staff posts on SLOG today, I will expect a full apology when it turns out that Nickels et al spend more time using this video footage to build Parks Exclusion cases against annoying but harmless winos than they do to solve petty and/or serious nuisance crimes.

This is a sad exchange for me - there are no winners in my view when younger folk don't just succumb to authority, but when they turn into little narcs for it. Ew.

Posted by Mr. X | July 26, 2008 2:21 AM

Oh, and to go back to your post # 54 accusing me conflating your arguments on the benefits of cameras with your interpretation of Orwell, and then demanding I stop talking about Orwell when you were losing the argument, it would behoove you to recall that you started that particular textural debate with your assertion that "it's quite obvious these people missed the point of the book."

Sadly, you have proved with each subsequent post just how right we were about how wrong you were and are about the substance of Orwell's work - which was primarily aimed at helping ALL of us see creeping fascism when it starts lurking into our lives.

You are wrong 7 ways to Sunday, kid. The sooner you admit it, the better off you'll be.

Posted by Mr. X | July 26, 2008 2:34 AM

What good will cameras do in my store. Once I see it they are already gone?

Posted by Amandapoker | July 26, 2008 6:55 PM

Who cares if gay men have sex in the parks after hours anyway? No kids are there I hope.

Posted by Amandapoker | July 26, 2008 7:08 PM

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