Update to: A Neighborhood Demands Answers
Squeezing blood out of a stone might be easier than getting answers from government agencies and energy oligarchs. Stonewalling, misinformation, and ‘lack of jurisdiction’ has left a neighborhood grasping at straws for answers as to why a camera was installed on a light post and when met with resistance removed.
Following the path of bread crumbs dropped by the installers and physical location of the camera, APS appeared to be the first logical step of inquiry.
Lets look at the facts:
- Three unassociated witnesses saw APS trucks with cherry pickers park under the light on the morning of January 27, 2014.
- One of these witnesses questioned the workers, wearing APS uniforms, during the installation process. The concerned resident was told that it was an “automatic meter reader”, and it was there “so they could watch the sunrise.”
- APS continues to deny that they had any role in the installation, authorization, and maintenance of any device applied to that light post.
- APS has repeatedly given false information of who to contact in regards to responsible parties.
- Concerns of a rogue APS employee or criminal activity have been dismissed without prior investigation.
- APS continues to pass the buck onto Phoenix and claims no responsibility.
The list of agencies contacted both public and private was becoming absurd. Starting at APS Customer Service, I was directed to their Construction Department, and then to their Joint Use Department. They, in turn, sent me back to the Construction Department, who told me to contact the city of Glendale Transportation Department. Glendale told me to contact Phoenix Street Transportation Department who directed first to a company name Roadway Electric and then back to APS. I was getting nowhere fast.
My final conversation with APS ended with Thomas apologizing for giving me misinformation about Glendale being the responsible party. As the official mouthpiece for APS, Thomas confirmed to me that APS lost the contract to maintain Phoenix street lights back in 2012 to a company named Fluoresco. Fluoresco, in turn, lost the contract to Roadway Electric at the end of January 2014. Thomas assured me without a doubt that APS wouldn’t, couldn’t operate on that light post. The only people who could authorize installation or removal of anything to that light post would be the city of Phoenix and Roadway Electric.
All of my calls to Roadway Electric were never returned, and I was beginning to give up hope.
As luck would have it, a kid got popped by the cops stealing in the neighborhood. They detained him under the street light camera until one of his parents picked him up. Seizing the opportunity to bring the camera to the police’s attention, a neighbor and myself walked over and inquired about its installation.
At first the officers were unaware of anything mounted to the post until shown. One officer, Crawford, was exceedingly helpful and a perfect example of how Peace Officers should respond to legitimate concerns of the public. She was respectful, courteous, and honest in her approach. I felt she actually cared. Good to her word, she passed our request for information up the chain of command, and followed up just to make sure I was being served. To Officer Crawford, I salute you.
A Sgt. Harrison from Phoenix PD HQ, downtown, called me within a couple hours after Officer Crawford’s request. She left a message and I called her back the following day. Sgt. Harrison was quick to dismiss the ‘device’ as anything related to law enforcement of any kind. She was careful not to call the device a ‘camera’ during our conversation. She actually tried to claim that after talking to an ‘APS source’ that the device was a wifi relay station for an unkown company offering wifi services. My questions of why the neighborhood was not advised of this ‘new service’ and why no one was claiming the device were dismissed with a simple, “I don’t know.”
A neighborhood’s concerns of an anonymous camera popping up did little to motivate her. At one point in our conversation I actually had to defend the right to privacy using Benjamin Franklin’s quote of, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” She was not moved. Maintaining that she knew nothing about the ‘device’ she informed me that my Community Action Officer (CAO) would contact me with more information.
That following morning our anonymous camera’s view of the sunrise was blocked by a 12 inch by 12 inch cardboard sign emboldened with the statement, “I See You Too.” Rumors and news of the sign spread like wildfire through out the neighborhood and it didn’t take long for CA Officer Manuel to call and follow up on my questions to Sgt. Harrison.
Calling from the scene of the crime, Manuel asked if I was aware of the current state of the camera. Of course I was, I had seen it earlier, and I told him as much. Who, how, and when the sign was put up remains a mystery to all but the anonymous camera’s operator. Officer Manuel was quickly left searching for words after attempting to defend anonymous spying and failing to answer my simple questions. Our conversation ended cordially but not without flare. I let be known that if it was the government, I was going begin petitioning the government for redress of grievances. If it was a company I was going to sue, and if it was a individual I wanted to prosecute. The ultimate goal of complete removal of the camera was stated plainly.
Unfortunately, the defiant sign’s life was short lived. In only two days of its existence a neighbor witnessed a white unmarked pickup truck park under the light and a tall man wearing a white hat step out to great the sign. Starring back at the “I See You Too” the man in the white hat talked with a police officer taking pictures of its audacity and instructed an APS worker, in a cherry picker truck, to take it down. Within a few short minutes the cop was headed off to file his report, the man in the white hat vanished, and only an APS truck remained.
I got there just in time to capture the fleeing culprit on video.
The purpose and intent of the camera remains a mystery.
An audible sigh of relief was heard as neighbors stepped out to meet the rising sun that morning. To gaze upon a light post that was just that was triumphant. No camera, no sign, just a light post. Neighbors shouted in exuberance to others leaving for work that day. My phone rang constantly with neighbors calling to inform me of the news. We were victorious!
Update: Down The Rabbit Hole
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