Morning Fizz: Inslee May Veto Bill Regulating Government Drones
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring drones, cables boxes, and loans.
1. The ACLU is worried that Gov. Jay Inslee isn't going to sign the bipartisan bill regulating government use of drone technology (with a strict new warrant process) that the group successfully lobbied for and passed earlier this year.
The ACLU sent a March 18 letter to Inslee trying to address Inslee's apparent skepticism about the bill, noting that their legislation includes a series of exemptions for government agencies including surveillance for environmental damage, habitat preservation, and wildlife management.
"The bill allows agencies to use drones for a broad range of legitimate purposes while restricting the use of suspicionless, warrantless surveillance by drones," ACLU of Washington Executive Director Kathleen Taylor wrote to Inslee.
Several newspapers have editorialized against the bill because the legislation mandates that any personal data collected not related to criminal activity will eventually be destroyed; that stipulation unnerves the media because it compromises the public record, making government activity inaccessible to public records requests.
ACLU lobbyist Shankar Narayan, however, says the "default" of the current public records law "is disclosure" and the drone law makes no change.
Inslee's office did not comment.
2. Fizz got a call from Mayor Ed Murray's office yesterday morning complaining that a Seattle Times blog post that said the city was cutting a special deal with Century Link (a Murray contributor) on broadband service allowing the company to put unsightly boxes in neighborhoods—was inaccurate.
They said they'd have a blog post of their own by the end of the day setting the record straight.
Fizz waited. And waited.
And when we contacted them at the end of the day, we were told they now had "no comment" on the story.
(The post made it pretty clear, by the way, where the writer stood on the idea of the utility boxes, calling them, for example, "refrigerator-like cabinets" that the city would unilaterally "place ... in front of people's homes." For what it's worth, the utility boxes would go in city-owned right-of-way, which homeowners do not own, though the writer added that the boxes could "diminish [land owners'] property value and attract graffiti.")
3. City planning director Marshall Foster is leaving the Department of Planning and Development to go "on loan" for at least the next two years, in the words of DPD spokesman Bryan Stevens, to the city's newly created Office of the Waterfront. In an email, Foster tells Fizz he'll be "leading Design, Planning and Public Engagement full time for the waterfront, starting on May 1st."
Nathan Torgelson, a manager with the city's parks department, will reportedly take over Foster's position at DPD.