Saturday, May 23, 2015

UPDATED!!! Is The First Amendment Dead In The Town of Paradise Valley Arizona?

UPDATE!!! I'm pleased to report that the town council tabled the drone ban ordinance acknowledging it needed to be studied.  They put off consideration until October at the earliest.  

A half-dozen or so people spoke against the ordinance and nobody supported it.  

I'm glad the council had second thoughts since this was created out of fear and misunderstanding. Frankly I'm proud of their taking the high road.  

As for those of you operating drones in Paradise Valley or for that matter anywhere, please fly safe and be considerate  of others.  

Town of Paradise Valley, AZ—In arguably the most expensive real estate in the State of Arizona they are proposing the most draconian camera drone ban ever!
The town’s council will be voting on this draft ordinance during their May 28, 2015 meeting. 
They want to outlaw any use of a drone without a single use permit and fee.  It further outlaws the publishing of all aerial images in somewhat ambiguous and vague language. 
Make no mistake; this would criminalize drone use if it were passed.  “Paradise” here is apparently an oxymoron! 
The biggest rub here is that the FAA has exclusive jurisdiction of the skies.  Further those including any government agency or private business like Google would be in violation by capturing or publishing aerial images of the town’s land and structures.
I guess some of the town’s father’s think they can require citizens to purchase permits before they should be able to enjoy the our long established rights in Paradise Valley. 
Perhaps this hastily and poorly thought out draft law needs a little more thought and its author needs some remedial education with respect to our Bill of Rights.
Maybe those interested need to contact these officials:
The Town of Paradise Valley, AZ and it’s Council:
Mayor Michael Collins
Vice Mayor Paul Dembow
Council Members::
Jerry Bien-Willner
Mary Hamway
David Sherf
Mark Stanton
Maria Syms
Town Manager: Kevin Burke
Town Attorney:Andrew Miller
Their e-mail addresses are below:
Below is the town’s draft ordinance along with my video directed to these officials:


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Public Relations for Drone Pilots has Challenges

Los Angeles, CA—The explosion of civilian multi-rotor camera drones is just beginning.  People are reacting to seeing them for the first time. 
My experiences with the public seeing my drones in action has been mixed.  Thankfully the vast majority of people are amazed and they enjoy seeing them fly.
A minority of “drone detractors” react with exhibitions of hostility, hatred and ignorance.  In the last two years I’ve had just a scant few unsettling encounters while flying my drone.
For reasons I don’t understand I’ve been only been confronted by women.  They advise me I’m breaking the law, and then they call or threaten to call the cops.  They obviously don’t know the law. 
I usually ignore them, shoot my video and leave the area when my flight is over.  If the cops respond to their call I don’t know because I’ve always moved on prior to their arrival. 
Three women on separate occasions were downright nasty and even emotionally disturbed.
I’ve never been negatively confronted by police and have sent my drone into the air in front of them.  The cops seem to be curious and enjoy learning about them.
I have no clue what drove these women’s nastiness and anger.  Taking a friendly approach never helps and responding with similar hostility is pointless and counter-productive.
Moving to another location in one case was little help as one woman jumped in her car and actually followed me! 
It’s obvious these women are clueless of why we send our drones up or that they are safe and not invading their privacy.   I’m really proud of the videos I uploaded to YouTube and simply want the world to see just how much fun I have while capturing the stunning images.
The civilian camera drones are here to stay.  Our First Amendment right to use them to capture images, trumps those hastily passed laws along with attempted future legislation outlawing them.  
The safety record of the civilian multi-rotor drones is unblemished despite the two million already in the hands of civilians.  
I have a habit of sending my drone up in the early morning hours avoiding potential busybodies that might take exception to my drone.  I also position my controller and drone behind my car to shield my activities from strangers. 
We must remain polite, friendly and civil even when people become nasty.  I’d rather make friends than enemies out of anyone.  I will continue to take the high road with anyone hostile to my drones

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Venice, CA Like You’ve Never Seen It!

Venice, CA—In this community there are stark contrasts in people and lifestyles.  Let me take you on a magic carpet ride to the better side of town along their famous canals!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Courts Rather Than The FAA May Soon Settle the Issue of News Media Use of Camera Drones.

Washington, DC—Suddenly, the FAA has allowed CNN and a Las Vegas agency ArrowData to begin using and testing drones for electronic newsgathering over populated areas under a section 333-waiver application provision.  
Until now the FAA has banned so-called, commercial use of drones while completely ignoring important First Amendment issues. 
As of now many media companies have opted to refuse applying for section-333 waivers because the lack of FAA regulation in effect already allows drone newsgathering.
The FAA just issued a curious memo saying the media can’t use the drones, but they can accept and publish drone video from third party hobbyists.  That begs the question, are the rights of hobbyists somehow greater than news publishers?
Soon the FAA and media content creators may be clashing in a courtroom.
The real issue and mission of the FAA is about safety in our skies. However, to date the nearly two million multi-rotor camera drones have not been involved in a single death, significant injury or property damage anywhere. The 7000 registered helicopters on the other hand have suffered numerous deaths along with epic destruction of property.  
The drones used by hobbyists have been proven to be safe.  There really is no evidence whatsoever that use of drones by the media would be any different.
There are two ways for courts to become involved to settle the potential conflict.  One is for the FAA to cite someone because they used a drone for newsgathering.  The other way would be if a media company or individual simply sued the FAA seeking a Declaratory Judgment that would actually enjoin the FAA from obstructing newsgathering efforts. 
With respect to electronic newsgathering he FAA has to date been placing itself above our Constitution’s First Amendment.  A judge may yet slap the FAA.   The FAA cannot simply trump the Constitution of the United States.
Here is the latest and somewhat ambiguous FAA memo on the drone newsgathering subject:

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Police, Deadly Force, Body Cameras and The Public’s Right To Know

Los Angeles, CA—We’ve become the video nation.  Whether we like it or not our images are captured hundreds of times per day.  Privacy died long ago any apparently we’ve grown accustomed to the camera invasion.  The city of Los Angeles has recently taken steps to place body cameras on every patrol officer. 
Cops have become a natural target for cell phone and camera-armed citizens.  Cops are always prone to getting into confrontations primarily with dysfunctional people who are just being themselves.  That kind of interaction always makes for interesting video.
The best and earliest examples of captured video of a infamous police interaction was the Rodney King case in Los Angeles two decades ago.  The video was ugly to say the least.  Cops were using batons to restrain King after a vehicle chase.  King was injured and sent to the hospital. 
That unblinking and legendary video recording shot by witness George Holliday was soon delivered to the KTLA-TV newsroom.   That video proved to be the prime evidence in the case. 
The video was broadcast relentlessly worldwide and evoked strong emotions from both the police haters and their supporters.  Was the action justifiable?  The cops were tried twice.  Once in state court where a jury deadlocked favoring acquittal.  They were tried again in federal court where two officers were convicted.
The video became a flashpoint that only ended after 53 lives were lost in the destructive riot following the first jury’s failure to convict the accused cops.
Videos of cops doing their jobs bring out voyeurism in the human species.  The popularity of the TV reality show, Cops seems endless.
Because of technology the media has showcased news stories with videos involving cops. Without video these stories would never see the light of day in news broadcasting or publishing effort. 
The idea of cops wearing bodycams is ostensibly to promote accountability and to preserve the best evidence. 
I know that most cops behave well and will almost always be exonerated by video.  Only a total fool would misbehave under the watchful eye of the camera.  The result here has to be an unqualified success because most people will behave accordingly.
The bodycams should deescalate police confrontations and conflicts and will result in fewer arrests and instances of violence.
People that are in physical conflict with police have no more right to privacy than cops performing their duties.  Raising privacy issues when violence erupts is pure baloney.
For the bodycam recordings to have any meaning whatsoever as evidence, any instance of force or violence should become an absolute public record.  Hiding the videos while claiming privacy issues is beyond problematic.
Congress and the various Sate Legislatures should make it absolutely clear that every instance of force or violence captured by any law enforcement operated camera is a public record. 
We can count on the media to blur images of overly graphic violence electing to describe rather than display it.  However credibility and accountability dictates the public’s right to know about violent events involving official police actions.
The public should never have to guess what happened when there is taxpayer provided video equipment documenting any violent act.
There will always be those public officials that will want to control what's released to the public or not. They must be over-ruled. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Black Lives Don’t Matter Especially When Other Blacks Murder Them!

Baltimore, MD—Saying that, “Black lives matter.”  is disingenuous at best.  The display of rage and anger every time some black career criminal dies fighting cops during arrest situations is always epic.
Such is now the case with that career drug dealer, Freddie Gray who unfortunately died after an arrest by Baltimore police.
What goes nearly unnoticed are the thousands of Blacks murdered by other Blacks in this nation.  Certainly the media dare not publish the statistics in every major city in America.
When I was a Chicago cop I learned about the African-American violent and bankrupt culture first hand.  In the Windy City African-Americans were and still are the minority.  When it comes to crime however it’s a different story.
My duties took me to the Cook County Jail and observe that 90% of the inmates were Black.  The same was true for every Chicago violent felony court call.  Last was the Cook County Morgue. There was always a never ending sea of Black murder victims.  They were shot, cut, strangled, stabbed or simply beaten to death.  This was and still is a very routine end of the line for Chicago’s young Black males.
The White communities of Chicago don’t generate even remotely the savagery of African-Americans. 
The Whites that understand the truth of the Black Culture of Violence do what they can to avoid Blacks.  They don’t want to hire, live near them or associate with them in anyway.   This is in concerns for their very survival. 
Should Whites dare to express their understandable fear of Blacks they are branded racists.  Is that really racism?  The media never acknowledges the dangers surrounding African Americans so many White people in nice neighborhoods remain ignorant of the very real peril posed.
There is no shortage of African-American apologists with high profiles.  They condemn the reaction of Whites that refuse to accept violent Black behavior as some legitimate reaction to being poor or the ancestors of slaves.  I say hogwash.
Tolerance to ignorance, indifference and misdirected hate has done no favors to the Blacks of this nation. On the contrary it’s made matters worse.
Public schools tolerating Ebonics over English and accepting the refusal of their students and their mothers to escape poverty is beyond unacceptable.  Notice I said mothers excluding the fathers. Where are the fathers?  Far too many African-American men are little more than sperm donors.  That separate scandal simply fuels massive poverty and pain for their children.
Our tolerance for the modern African-American culture is nothing less than genocide.  All American’s need to come together to end this fatal African-American cultural disease.
This is not about genetics or skin color.  It’s about senseless violence, disrespect for life and the absence of kindness.  
We may be embarking on a very long and hot summer.  Social media is a huge new weapon for violent riot organizers.  Violence, division and hatred may bring unprecedented pain to our nation this summer.  It’s always the minorities that suffer most from the aftermath.