By on March 25, 2015

PROPSFistbumpEye spy tag tech

Whenever law enforcement attempts to harness the ease and efficiency of new technology they’re often branded as bullies. “It’s an invasion of our right to privacy,” screech conspiracy theorists, wagging their tattered copy of George Orwell’s 1984 in the face of suspected government intrusion.

The fact is your right to privacy went out the window a long time ago. Take, for example, the average errand-running citizen’s trip to the bank. Perhaps you’ve posted a note to remind yourself to deposit checks first thing Monday. This information is on your smart phone and your home computer, and thereby somewhere in the cyber cloud as well. Everyone at Google, Apple and Amazon likely already knows you are going to the bank before you even start the car.

As you back out of the driveway, your neighbor’s yard security camera picks you up. You pass through several traffic lights where you are photographed in case you speed through a red light. In addition to the camera time, your trip has also been recorded by your smart phone location software, passing that information along to Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps and several other apps that are eager to know where you are at all times. If subpoenaed, a “black box” in your vehicle can be tapped to find out how fast you went, how often you applied the brake and if you were wearing your seatbelt.

On the way to the bank, you stop for coffee and a fill up at Maverick. Smile, you’re on camera as you pump your gas. Your credit or debit card also informs anyone who wants to know that you were at Maverick at 8:42 a.m. and purchased $64.22 in fuel and a $2.50 cup of coffee.

At the bank, your every move is recorded by video surveillance cameras and kept on file for at least 90 days. Your banking transaction is recorded and shared with other banks, credit card companies and your utility company, where you’ve opted to pay your monthly bill with automatic withdrawal from your checking account. In less than 15 minutes, every creditor who is waiting for a sufficient balance in order to process your payment now knows you’re ripe for the picking. Computers in a warehouse somewhere in a state you’ve never visited begin writing checks for you before you even make it home.

Get pulled over on the way back and your license number is radioed to dispatch and retrieved from a state database. The cruiser’s dashboard cam records your indignation at being pulled over for driving 37 miles per hour in a 30 zone. The officer’s body cam also records an unflattering image of your howling. When Jackson Police Department gets its e-citation system up and running, your license plate will be scanned, logged and verified on the spot. Your speeding ticket is written by a computer and emailed to you while the data is also sent to police headquarters, the town’s finance department and municipal court.

You get home and write a letter to the editor complaining that the Jackson Police Department shouldn’t need to use license plate recognition software because it will destroy the feel of your small town street-walking/chalking parking cop: “I have a right to privacy,” you kvetch.

Not on this planet you don’t.


DISSTongueTwilight Zone: District 2

Many in the community have watched the District 2 Resort and Commercial Zoning land development regulation revisions with keen interest. Judging from the heavy turnout at recent meetings, and the majority of public comments calling for a “community first, workforce housing first” approach, citizens of Jackson are scared to death by the commercial build-out numbers and possible restructure of the lodging overlay.

Our leaders need to listen to their constituents. Some do, some don’t. What too often happens at the town and county level is electeds are moved more by stakeholders than jobholders. One real estate agent trumps a half-dozen skids living in Curtis Canyon. Ballparking it, I might offer that one real estate agent or developer cancels out every four or five man-on-the-street opinions.

Opposition to the District 2 build-out proposed in the LDR revisions and concern for workforce housing is overwhelming. The Town Council has heard from Patty Ewing, Pete Muldoon, Barbara Allen, Bruce Hawtin, Hank Phibbs, Leslie Petersen, Leif Routeman, Sandy Shuptrine, Kathy Tompkins, Klaus Baer, Alli Noland and too many others to mention.

These brake-pumpers are balanced by a handful with skin in the game.

“Don’t stagnate District 2,” said Cabin & Company Owner/Broker Tom Hedges, adding that worrywarts are displaying “unnecessary communitywide concern.”

Paul Duncker’s comment is even more dismissive. The architect, who no doubt wants to get busy designing shiny new buildings in Jackson’s core commercial zone, wants people to calm down.

“Don’t get scared by alarmist comments from your peers, from the newspaper,” he told the council. “Look at the historical pattern as to what the future of Jackson might look like.”

OK, let’s.

People who moved from Jackson in the 60s or 70s or even 80s wouldn’t recognize it today. When the economy is good, development runs wild. Little concern is given to where workers will live. “Housing has always been tough in this valley,” is the oft-repeated mantra. That statement doesn’t fix the problem, it only deflects blame and postpones solutions.

About Jake Nichols

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