July 18th, 2013
Thanks to our public works crews
Throughout the state, local municipalities have, for the past several weeks, dealt with rainstorm ravages to their infrastructure on a daily basis. The damage to roads, culverts and bridges has ranged from annoying to devastating in scope, and the impact to local citizens ranges from inconvenience to desperation to save property and access to homes.
Williston’s Public Works Department, both its road crew and water and sewer departments, deserve our highest praise in keeping the town operational throughout this turmoil. Repeatedly working overtime, usually well into the night, and postponing individual planned vacations for the good of the community, their service has been nothing short of heroic, as they prioritize and frantically address the constantly changing landscape caused by torrential rains. One can only imagine the frustration that comes with having to redo a major washout repair, a day or two after the first attempt, and placing temporary “Band-aids” on scores of washouts, with the intent of rebuilding once the weather resumes a sense of normalcy.
We should publicly express our heartfelt thanks to director of public works, Bruce Hoar, Kim Richburg and the town’s Road Crew: Rick Peet; Mark Russell; Roger Boyer; Paul Latreille; Rick Wixson; Leon Stokes.
Update from the Senate
On the drive home from a work meeting in September, I caught a radio program featuring the Brookline, Mass. police chief and a staff attorney for the Massachusetts affiliate of the ACLU. They were discussing law enforcement’s use of advanced license plate readers (ALPRs) in Massachusetts. These vehicle-mounted cameras are able to capture video images of hundreds of license plates an hour and match the plate numbers against law enforcement records. It was clear to me from the beginning that these devices have great potential to aid law enforcement, but that they also have the potential to threaten individual privacy.
After doing some research, I learned that several dozen law enforcement agencies in Vermont were using these devices on their cruisers. The Legislature had no idea, and from the notes and calls I received from constituents, neither did most Vermonters. Most troubling was that the images detailing our whereabouts were being stored in one master database for many years, whether we’d done anything wrong or not.
To address this civil liberties issue, I introduced S.18. The bill, which passed both the House and the Senate and is now law, sets new parameters on the use of ALPRs, creates a protocol for access to the database, and restricts the amount of time that law enforcement may retain information on people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
As technology continues to advance, we’ll struggle more and more to protect individual privacy, but we must do so lest there be no difference between public and private lives.
I want to thank Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn and Allen Gilbert of the ACLU-VT for their work striking a healthy balance between legitimate law enforcement needs and Vermonters’ privacy.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this bill or any State issue.
State Senator, Chittenden County