Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Monday, Feb. 9, 2015

Invasion of privacy

This is an answer to Arthur D. Brook’s question about the Google app, which appeared in the Feb. 2 Viewpoints section. Quote, “Where are the protestations by civil libertarians, progressives, conservatives, the ACLU, Hollywood personalities, news media about this app that appears to infringe on the privacy rights of individuals as well as the safety of public servants?”

I can certainly tell you that I’ve been having the same problem in Centerville concerning residents not showing up for council meetings where they actually vote in more programs that spend more and more of our money needlessly. And at the same time, they monitor residents through their Police Stalker cameras and CopTrax.

The idea of using the Google app to monitor residents from police squad cars came out when a group of us visited the 911 call center. The first city in the U.S. to be tested with this app is Byron. Centerville intends to buy some of this equipment from Google and has already bought new equipment from Stalker Co. (appropriate name). At the call center, they revealed to us that this new app would be used to automatically scan vehicle license plates. All a policeman had to do was just drive through any parking lot, look in the direction of the license plate with his Google glasses (armed with a tiny camera), and each license plate would be photographed and all information about the driver would download to his screen and all saved permanently in the cloud.

The same would happen when stopping a driver. The officer would look at the face of the driver, and the driver would be automatically recognized from license plate information and cloud data. Two of us spoke up about this app being an infringement of our civil rights and the 4th Amendment; however, a former policeman in the group quickly disagreed with us, saying that it was better for law enforcement safety.

Doesn’t the 4th Amendment guarantee us privacy? Who wants his own face on a police computer when he’s done nothing wrong? Now our freedoms have been taken away all in the name of safety. It’s dangerous to walk across the street, but do we have to be monitored crossing the street? Are we in a police state?

Basically, our illustrious leaders are using more and more of our hard-earned money and using it against us, rather than for us. It would be far better to have fewer at-large City Council members and more representation of residents. If we had a councilman for each area of our cities, we would have more competition between councilmen to improve his/her area, and we would have a councilman to contact and speak to for our area. As it is, they vote in unison every time, and we have to accept everything they do. Like it or lump it. We no longer have a voice in our local governments.

Many residents don’t even know this app exists because this is not widely published. The local newspaper reports only what goes on in City Council meetings and hardly ever asks the hard questions of council. I urge every resident in the Middle Georgia area to take off his or her own rose-colored glasses and monitor leaders and voice opposition when freedoms are at stake. Attend those City Council meetings. We once were able to trust them because they looked out for us. But evidently, money speaks louder to them now than our freedom.

-- Geraldine Parker


Finding time

It is simply amazing to me the lack of concern my community (African-American) have for our youth. I have attended three youth education centered events in Macon, one in Warner Robins and my foundation also sponsored one in the last two months. The turnout was very poor at three and moderate at one. Now we complain, march, protest and cry about the lack of concern others have for black life. With what I’m witnessing in our community that is a joke. We are the ones not concerned about black life.

Two of the events had police officers demonstrating procedures on handling situations, lawyers giving sound advise on the legal system, a bullying symposium which showed a direct link between school suspensions and bullying (Who has the highest suspension rate? Black males.) and a former gang member spoke at one event about what made him join. A county commissioner called for a meeting for the community to voice their concerns.

Our youth can’t learn if we don’t get them educated. The killing will continue and most likely it won’t be by a cop. Now on the other hand, a gymnasium was packed to the roof to see a well deserving young man sign a college football scholarship. It just seems to me, if parents, students and the community can attend a football scholarship signing, why can’t they find the time to hear attorneys, police officers, a judge, youth leaders from the hip hop community, concerned city officials, male mentors from fraternities, educators and more?

-- Charles McGhee

Warner Robins

Board blues

To start toward reaching what has failed to materialize in Bibb County’s educational system, one must first remove those in leadership. A member of the Bibb Board of Education recently lamented about losing some control by fostering talents outside of the board. Educators who are seeking personal recognition by way of personal power is a base of major conflict. Board member Wanda West, one of the strong supporters of the last full-time superintendents, was recently confronted via the election of a new leader. A formal removal is appropriate.

My recent letter did not name board member Lester Miller as the person who made slanderous remarks about me on his BOE Facebook page. He told me he lost his temper, and that, taxpayers, is a clear signal of his temperament and total lack of self control. Remember, Miller is second in command handling tens of millions of our taxpayer dollars. He nor any of the board has broached a need for vocational classes for a high percentage of the failing students.

What brought me full circle was the failure of the current individual acting as our superintendent not doing what she promised surrounding Miller’s actions As you know they spent money like a” drunken sailor” on legal issues and in this case she just did not respond as she assured me she would. She called me, but upon telling her of Miller’s comments, she had assured me she would get back to me.

Folks, this is only a character issue, but given the turmoil in a failed system, it becomes big.

-- Joe Hubbard