LETTER: League of Women Voters supports three ballot items

Friday, April 2, 2010 | 12:24 p.m. CDT; updated 3:49 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 2, 2010

COLUMBIA — The League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County announces their support for the following ballot items pertaining to the City of Columbia. After member discussion of all ballot items,the League supports three items and opposes none.

League of Women Voters lends its full support to the Columbia School Bond Issue. The increasing number of students in the district as well as the need to maintain a high quality of education means that passage of this bond issue will benefit the district and entire community.

League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County supports Proposition 2, the City Charter amendment allowing the city manager to designate an acting assistant city manager in his absence or illness. We believe this to be wise, reasonable and sound business practice.

League of Women Voters supports Proposition 4 to remove the requirement that the director of Water and Light be a registered engineer. We believe it important to find a director for this department where leadership and management skills are critically important. This proposition recognizes the changes over time and current needs for a Water and Light director.

Elaine Blodgett is the president of the League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County.


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Liz Mitchell April 2, 2010 | 11:50 p.m.

It is both gratifying and extremely informative to see the LWV endorsements for next Tuesday's election. It is even more informative to note which ballot items are NOT supported by such an esteemed body. Especially Proposition 1.

Nope, don't see Prop 1 listed here along with the League's other endorsements. Makes sense, though, as the League is a thoughtful group whose endorsements reflect a thorough understanding both of the issues we face here and of Columbia's nature as a small city whose prosperity depends on maintaining at least a kernel of small town ease and trustworthiness amongst its citizenry. This ambiance cannot be maintained by surveillance cameras spying on its residents and visitors.

Since video cameras have been shown to be ineffective in the the cities that have spent precious resources in this surveillance experiment, perhaps we can learn from such mistakes and NOT respond to anecdotal incidents with a knee-jerk adoption of a thoroughly failed policy which is meant to catch criminals, but is more likely to be abused by stalkers and busybodies under the auspices of Missouri's own Sunshine Laws. Remember, municipal government's camera surveillance will be part of the public record, immutable and available to any citizen who wishes a copy. Anyone. Like your boss, your former spouse, or that a-hole from school you could never shake and that you didn't quite know why they always had it in for you.

The widespread use of surveillance cameras has been discredited as a law enforcement tool (look at the BBC and other reputable British press sources for an early 2009 report on surveillance cameras' efficacy -- one arrest per each 1000 cameras per year in London, the most videotaped population on the planet!). We must seriously wonder if the use of such surveillance might really benefit our own community.

Myself, I have some SERIOUS doubts on the value of camera use in most places. I do not object to using cameras in high-risk areas where foot traffic is rare and confined, such as parking garages where pedestrians are vulnerable as they come and go from their cars and security staff are rarely present. Any business or individual living or working downtown already has the right to have as many cameras as they like in their business or home. They may cooperate with the police department and release any footage they have to the authorities, as well, where a crime has been committed within range of private cameras. The BIGGEST difference, though, is whether ANYONE can access the footage obtained from these cameras. Sunshine Laws would make CITY OWNED footage a PUBLIC RECORD, available to ANYONE who wants it.

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