Miranda Retort

You have a duty to presume my innocence.
You have a duty to respect my right to silence.
You have a duty to preserve evidence.
You have a duty to be a fair witness.
You have a duty to treat me as a human being.

American Traffic Solutions in My Town

As is the pattern for so many growing towns, my home of Dripping Springs, TX now bristles with cameras. The latest is a rolling ticketing machine presented as part of a school zone safety program. American Traffic Solutions operates the machine. For a taste of their reputation, check out reporting on their activities in Scottsdale, AZ. Revenue enhancing relationships between local government and companies like ATS deserve skepticism. Safety is often a cover for cronyism. We need some journalism in this town. Who is making what off of this deal? Who is spending the generated revenue, and on what are they spending it? What non-revenue generating methods were considered and dismissed?

Update: I sent the four Hays county commissioners this charming email.


ATS is known for corruption and cronyism. They should not be invited into our community. This dirty association is unbecoming.  I’m concerned Dripping Springs is becoming yet another revenue enhancement town. The van blocking the shoulder in front of Dripping Springs Elementary is an unwelcome sight. A crossing guard, a real person there to help instead of robotically levy a regressive tax, would be a real attempt at safety. This is the right and proper job of a peace officer. Unfortunately, they are preoccupied with the mass incarceration of peaceful people. Instead, we get a public/private camera scam that surveils us as we go about our daily lives.



Ryan Boren

Dripping Springs

Update: KVUE interviewed Constable Ron Hood and came away with little. The article does report some numbers, however.

American Traffic Solutions provided both vans to the county at no cost. In the first year, Hays County will receive 25 percent of the money from those fines. After the first year, Hays County will receive 60 percent with the rest going to ATS.

This feels like a familiar narrative. ATS gives a free taste, ATS takes a percentage generous enough for in-kind kickbacks, local government gets hooked on regressive revenue.

These cameras are generating complaints. The flash is triggering unexpectedly. The line from ATS as relayed through Constable Hood’s office is that the flash builds up to a point of needing to discharge. We’ve had this happen to us several times, bringing into question the frequency and pattern of these build-up discharges. At the very least, this is a bad user interface backed by the threat of fines and force that we must deal with daily.

A free toy, thoughtlessly used.

Update: This piece from KXAN is typical local journalism that carries water for authority and asks no questions.

More press release reporting.

Update 2015/09/29: The van disappeared from Dripping Springs elementary a couple weeks-ish ago.

Looter to Who? James Baldwin on Racism in America

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Ryan Boren:

Time for a reread of Baldwin’s The First Next Time.

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

In 1968, essayist, novelist and activist James Baldwin spoke with Esquire about racism in America, Dr. Martin Luther King, poverty and police brutality. In our current era of high profile police violence in communities like Ferguson, Missouri, and protests in Baltimore, Maryland, Baldwin’s words sound as prescient and, unfortunately, fresh as they did forty-seven years ago, proving the slow pace of progress in America, and how much hard work we have left to do. Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Q. How would you define somebody who smashes in the window of a television store and takes what he wants?

BALDWIN: Before I get to that, how would you define somebody who puts a cat where he is and takes all the money out of the ghetto where he makes it? Who is looting whom? Grabbing off the TV set? He doesn’t really want the TV set…

View original 114 more words

A Civil Libertarian Reading List

Some of my favorite civil liberties books from the past decade-ish.

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age

The Torture Report: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program
http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/study2014/sscistudy2.pdf .

The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power

False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency

State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War

Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent

Carry On: Sound Advice from Schneier on Security

Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

Humane and Pro-Growth: A Reason Guide to Immigration Reform