Big Brother to Expand Surveillance Cameras to Public Areas in Annex
Whatís next - Ban on Shoes?
By: Pat Hunter
February 7, 2009
The Loudon County Capital Project Committee met nearly 2 months ago (Dec. 15) to discuss several big ticket matters. The Capital Projects Committee is comprised of Committee Chairperson Nancy Marcus and fellow commissioners Bob Franke, Wayne Gardin and Roy Bledsoe (Commission Chairman). Purchasing - Maintenance Director Leo Bradshaw handed out a list of Capital Budget projects to discuss with the Committee.
Director Bradshaw gave the status of several Capital Budget projects including spending $10,000 for camera surveillance equipment. The new surveillance equipment will be installed in the Annex basement meeting room and the main floor public area of the Annex. Nobody on the Committee bothered to ask why cameras were needed in the commission meeting room or main level of the Annex. Loudon County is installing surveillance cameras without guidelines to guard against abuse. There are no regulations on the use of the surveillance equipment and there there was no public debate about this issue.
Another $50,000 was listed for updating the camera system at the Jail located in the Justice Center on Sugarlimb Rd. Surveillance cameras used to watch prisoners at the jail/justice center make sense but what is driving Mayor Arp and Commissioners to install more surveillance camera equipment in public places such as the Annex? Why this obsession to spy on the public?
Mayor Doyle Arp and Commissioners were instrumental in creating a situation where the Sheriff and deputies no longer attend commission meetings or provide security. For years the Sheriff or his deputies would open Loudon County Commission meetings with ceremonial protocol commencing with hear yea, hear yea, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. The Sheriff's presence created a sense of security and peace of mind and of knowing that if something unexpected happened, the Sheriff or his deputies were there to step in and restore order. Several years ago, a hot head male commissioner tried to attack a female commissioner and the Sheriff quickly intervened and brought order by escorting the male commissioner out of the public meeting.
During Mayor Arpís administration, a metal detector was installed in the commission meeting room. The metal detector was placed away from the main side entrance door, which has been used by the public since the Annex was built. Grant money, your tax dollars, helped pay for the detector. Now the litigation tax has been increased again, to help pay for an officer to work the metal detector machine but that may take a while because collections are down.
Red Warning signs began to appear at all county building prior to consulting with Commission or seeking prior approval. Mayor Doyle Arp mentioned that he was concerned about derelicts with guns showing up at meetings.
Former President George W. Bush dodged a shoe-wielding newsperson who thought that he was a tyrant. During a press conference in Iraq, a journalist threw shoes at former President George W. Bush and he ducked twice. A protestor threw his shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during a recent trip to Britain, referring to Wen as a dictator.
Is this really about security, spending tax monies or just wanting to keep an eye on citizens? What else can taxpayers expect from Mayor Arp and Loudon County Commissioners; perhaps more surveillance cameras or maybe a ban on shoes at public meetings?