Tag Archives: mary fallin

Clearing the Air on the Oklahoma E-cigarette War

Kaye Beach

Feb. 11, 2014

Recently I wrote an article for The Oklahoma Constitution on the politics and money behind the e-cigarette bans in our state.

Many credible health experts have also noted a curious imbalance regarding the claims made by some public health advocates about
e-cigarette health dangers. . . .  Judging from the reaction to the sudden spate of prohibitions on vaping in our state, the public t buying the hype either. What most people want to know is,  why are they being banned? Who is being hurt by the use of an electronic cigarette? . . . This innovative technology is not a threat to public health but is a grave threat to the entire multi-billion tobacco industry as it exists today.

. . .You’ll find TSET grant funding everything from OETA to bike racks, but let’s look at the “Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control” incentive grants that are driving the vapor bans.

You can read the article ‘Clearing the Air on the Oklahoma E-cigarette War’ in its entirety  at The Oklahoma Constitution.

Also, you may want to see this rebuttal to the OK. State Dept. of Health’s alarmist e-cigarette advisory. FINAL OSDH rebuttal 2 9 2014

And if you haven’t done it yet, subscribe to The Oklahoma Constitution!

Gov. Fallin Banishes E-cigs, Promotes Dangerous Drugs Instead

fda approved

Kaye Beach

Dec. 30, 2013

On Dec. 23, 2013 Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order (Executive Order 2013-43) banning the use of e-cigarettes or personal vapor devices on any and all property owned, leased or contracted for use by the State of Oklahoma “including but not limited to all buildings, land, and vehicles owned, leased or contracted for use by agencies or instrumentalities of the State of Oklahoma.”

There are many problems with this approach and as a result a backlash is brewing in Oklahoma.

Many are outraged by the action itself apart from the issue of e-cigarettes entirely. Oklahoma is a decidedly populist leaning state and the public generally frowns upon unilateral, un-deliberated decision making such as the edict issued by Governor Fallin in 2012 banning all tobacco use on state property and her most recent arbitrary addition of e-cigarettes (which contain no tobacco)  to the previous ban. It is also arguable that this executive order exceeds the scope of power of the Governors office.

The order becomes effective on Jan 1st, a mere ten days after the governor issued it and despite the order being announced right before Christmas when it could have been overlooked entirely, it has prompted a cadre of Oklahoma citizens (many of whom neither smoke or ‘vape’) to answer the call for an assembly at the state Capitol on Jan. 1st at 1PM to express their disapproval of her unilateral lawmaking and poor reasoning for issuing the e-cigarette ban.

If you want to know more about this event, follow this link to Snuff Out the BAN! 

As of today about 100 (and rising!) Oklahomans have committed to demonstrating their ire with the Governor by showing up at the Capitol on Jan. 1st.  Some of the participants plan to go as far as actual civil disobedience but all will stand in evidence of their disapproval of the governor’s stroke-of- the pen, unilateral lawmaking.

One thing that makes the e-cigarette prohibitions so politically explosive at this time is that the devices are now used widely enough that many people have had some direct or indirect experience with them and have witnessed the benefits.  We have used the devices ourselves or have friends and loved ones, otherwise hopeless smokers, that have succeeded in reducing or quitting smoking with vapor products where all else has failed.  Many have experienced close contact with vapor users and have appreciated the absence of any noxious odor associated with cigarettes and they have shared the enthusiasm of those that have freed themselves from the health burdens of smoking.  We have asked our doctors about using e-cigarettes and have most often been told that ‘vaping’ is far safer than continuing to smoke.

These alarmist statements being made by our public officials regarding vapor devices directly contradict our own experiences as well as defy common sense and as a result, many are beginning to smell a rat. I don’t know if these officials realize it, but their overwrought reactions to the rise in popularity of these relatively benign vaporizing devices is causing them to lose public confidence and personal credibility.

Fallin’s executive order lays out the reasoning behind the ban.  I find the reasoning weak.   A lot of this has been covered in a rebuttal to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Public advisory on E-cigarettes which can be accessed here.

One faulty point that Fallin uses to justify the need for a ban is the result of an embarrassing misreading of existing e-cigarette research by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.  Executive Order 2013-43 states that secondary e-cigarette vapor contains formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde?!!.

The actual research that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is basing this claim on (see footnotes for their sources) did show a minute increase in formaldehyde that began when the subjects entered the testing room and BEFORE they even began using the e-cigarette.

In the study cited by OSDH the researchers themselves note that the increase in formaldehyde might be caused by the person in the chamber itself, because people are known to exhale formaldehyde in low amounts”

If you want to know more about this, Dr. Farsalinos, a Greek cardiologist and researcher does a great job covering the actual findings of the German study that Fallin and the OSDH are basing their formaldehyde claims on here

Protecting Public Health?

Governor Fallin, by acting in what may appear to be an overabundance of caution, chose to limit the ability to utilize technology that is already helping thousands of Oklahomans successfully reduce or quit cigarette smoking altogether.  She did this without public discussion or debate and without the input of our elected representatives and she did so even though there is little disagreement among scientists, whether for or against, that ‘vaping,’ is much safer than smoking.

 “We have every reason to believe the hazard posed by electronic cigarettes would be much lower than 1% of that posed by (tobacco) cigarettes . . .if we get all tobacco smokers to switch from regular cigarettes (to electronic cigarettes), we would eventually reduce the US death toll from more than 400,000 a year to less than 4,000, maybe as low as 400.” –Joel Niztkin, MD, MPH, DPA, FACPM, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians

As pointed out by The McCarville Report, there is no reason to believe that electronic cigarettes present a public health hazard.  Nevertheless, Governor Fallin implemented this ban under the guise of safety and protection of public health.

Given this fact,  it is interesting to note that implicit in Governor Fallin’s new (and ALL tobacco control) policy that deters smokers from using vapor devices as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, is promotion for pharmaceutical smoking cessation products including Chantix which, unlike e-cigarettes, is actually implicated in some truly dangerous adverse side-effects.

OSDH pushing pharma

(Read the resource page for policy implementation for Executive Order 2012-43 at OK.gov. Promotion of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline that recommends and provides pharmaceutical smoking cessation products is part and parcel of the policy. http://www.ok.gov/health/Wellness/Tobacco_Prevention/E-cigarettes_and_Other_Vapor_Products/E-cigarettes_and_State_Property/)

Chantix is FDA approved but does that mean it is safe?

The FDA itself warns that this drug can cause serious psychiatric problems, including suicidal thinking.  In addition a wide range of side effects attributed to Chantix have been reported including cardiovascular events, diabetes and renal failure.   Source  In 2009, the FDA approved smoking cessation drug, Chantix, was deemed to require a ‘black box’ warning on the label to alert users to dangerous possible side-effects.

chantix black box

As of March 2012 there were approximately 2,500 lawsuits filed against Pfizer over adverse effects of Chantix.

How does banishing a product like electronic cigarettes that have no indication of significant adverse effects and instead promoting a drug like Chantix protect the public’s health?

What we are finding when we take the time to research the facts about vapor devices and products, is that something is awry.  E-cigarette bans are not in the best interests of public health. Banning them through executive order is an example of poor policy-making that undermines representative government at best and blatant protectionism for established corporate government partners at worst.

 

Mary Fallin: Stroke of the Pen, Law of the Land?

fallin 11

Kaye Beach

Oct. 10, 2013

“Stroke of the pen. Law of the Land. Kinda cool.” –Paul Begala, political  advisor to President Bill Clinton, on executive orders. (Source: The New York Times, July 5, 1998)

On Tuesday the Journal Record published an article that caught my eye;

Fallin reverses agency rules process

“An executive order, quietly issued by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, is changing the way state agencies develop new rules and policies” http://journalrecord.com/2013/10/08/fallin-reverses-rules-process-capitol/

The word ‘quietly’,  in regards to government actions,  is always a sure hook.

Governor Fallin’s Executive Order 2013-34 was filed on Sept. 10, 2013.

What the Executive Order says is that upon filing a Notice of Rulemaking Intent with the Office of Administrative Rules, the agency should simultaneously file a copy of the complete text of the proposed rule to the Governor and the appropriate Cabinet Secretary.  Further, if within 45 days either the Governor or the Cabinet Secretary disapproved the Proposed Permanent Rule then said proposed rule cannot be adopted.  Period.  End of sentence.

The Journal Record explains;

Before the  order, if a state agency needed a rule change, its officials took the proposal to a member of the Legislature for consideration. Lawmakers and agency representatives negotiated the rule. Often a rule was authorized via joint legislative resolution during the legislative session. Under the state’s administrative procedures act, both the Legislature and the governor had the authority to override a rule or policy change made by a state agency. http://journalrecord.com/2013/10/08/fallin-reverses-rules-process-capitol/

This executive order, however,  appears to go against the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act which clearly states that the “Legislature reserves to itself” many rights regarding the rulemaking process.

Six specific rights reserved to the state legislature regarding the rulemaking process are enumerated in the Act but  these two stand out the most;

3. The right and responsibility to designate the method for rule promulgation, review and modification.

And

5. The right to disapprove a proposed rule or amendment to a rule during the legislative review period independent of any action by the Governor by a concurrent resolution.

This executive order removes those rights reserved to the state legislature regarding agency rulemaking with one stroke of the Governor’s pen.

I wonder if the Legislature will mind being having their authority removed by Executive Order?  Can Oklahoma statute simply be erased simply by the Governors decree?

Should be interesting.

Medicaid ExSPAMsion Effort Calls for A Response

Kaye Beach

Oct. 5, 2013

There is an awful lot of work going on both before and behind the scenes to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma.

I think the recent uptick of Oklahoma pro-Obamacare propaganda, social media feather fluffing and “like” padding lends the effort a distinctive SPAM-like flavor but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take this campaign seriously.  In fact, conservative policy-watchers caution against letting our guard down now.

Medicaid expansion, of course,  is an integral part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) And the states have a choice in whether or not to expand the deeply flawed and expensive system.  25 states, including the state of Oklahoma, have chosen to reject Medicaid expansion.

Oklahoma’s stance against Medicaid expansion is well-established,  however some think that this could change.  As reported by the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs, ‘Will Oklahoma expand Medicaid?’, Oct. 2, 2013;

“. . a consultant for Gov. Fallin’s re-election campaign — who is also a consultant for entities promoting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion — is on the record saying Gov. Fallin “hasn’t slammed the door either. If it were dead on arrival we wouldn’t be taking our time and energy to do this.”  Read more from OCPA
While we are swivel-heading back and forth over other sensational current events, pro-Obamacare forces are mobilizing.  For instance, the Oklahoma Hospital Association which is leading a PR campaign for Medicaid expansion based on their discovery through market research that by reframing the issue, Oklahomans are a little warmer to the idea of Medicaid expansion.
The strategy of framing the issue as the rejection or acceptance of  federal money — rather than pitching it as Medicaid expansion — appears to be supported by a recent survey done for the Oklahoma Hospital
Association. Read more from NewsOK

The fact remains that majority of Oklahoman’s oppose the implementation of Obamacare and 46.2 percent of Oklahomans across the board specifically oppose Medicaid expansion but the Oklahoma Hospital Association doesn’t seem to mind going the extra mile to  manipulate the public on important policy issues nor the investment of time and  resources  it takes to carry out the time tested strategy of grinding them down.

Jonathan Small, OCPA  does a great job tackling Obamacare boosters’ favorite deceptive arguments such as  “if Oklahoma doesn’t act, our tax dollars will be sent to other states.” and the “it’s our money” line of thinking in this recent article
We should take note,  Obamacare supporters are feeling rather optimistic that Governor Fallin might cave to pressure.
“. . . Fallin is, above all, a creature of Oklahoma’s corporate elite. And many of them — Chambers of Commerce and the big hospital interests, to name two — think the Medicaid expansion is a splendid idea”  Link
Big business does have a lot of pull so please take a few moments this week to fortify our Governor and encourage her to hold fast to her promises not to expand Medicaid.
**Read this excellent editorial by Jonathan Small and Sen. Tom Coburn,

Expanding Medicaid threatens Oklahoma’s bright future

 

Remind the Governor:

The Office of Governor Mary Fallin

Oklahoma State Capitol
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Local: (405) 521-2342
Fax: (405) 521-3353

Tulsa Office of Governor Mary Fallin
440 S. Houston Ave., Suite 304
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74127

Phone (918) 581-2801
Fax (918) 581-2835

Homeland Security Drones that can tell if you are armed or not tested in Oklahoma

Fallin_UAS_0

Mary Fallin: “We’re not interested in spying on anyone.”

Kaye Beach

March 28, 2013

I heard about the DHS drones that can determine if a person is armed or unarmed but I somehow missed the part that they were being tested in Oklahoma.

EXCLUSIVE: DHS Small Drone Test Plan Calls for Evaluating Sensors for ‘First Responder, HS Operational Communities’

03/07/2013

. . .The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is testing a wide variety of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) sensor platforms, including one that can determine whether individuals are armed or unarmed, for use by first responders and frontline homeland security professionals.

The testing is taking place at the Oklahoma Training Center for Unmanned Systems (OTC-UC), a unit of University Multispectral Laboratories (UML), a not-for-profit scientific institution operated for Oklahoma State University (OSU) by Anchor Dynamics, Inc. UML is a “Trusted Agent” for the federal government, technology developers and operators.

. . .

SUAS sensor platforms are being tested for use by “first responder and homeland security operational communities” that “can distinguish between unarmed and armed (exposed) personnel,” as well as conducting detection, surveillance, tracking and laser designation of targets of interest at stand-off ranges, according to the RAPS Test Plan obtained by Homeland Security Today.

There’s also a requirement to test SUAS sensors for how well they can capture crime and accident “scene data with still-frame, high definition photos.”

Read more

The Oklahoma State University Multispectral Laboratories

The University Multispectral Laboratories (UML) is expanding its role as a trusted agent with the US Department of Homeland Security and international governments.

http://www.okstate-uml.org/content/homeland-security

Gov. Fallin and Steve McKeever’s Drone Questing Collaboration

fallin red queen

Kaye Beach

March 27, 2012

Interesting article published today by FastCompany;

Inside Oklahoma’s Quest To Dominate The American Drone Industry

How politicians, universities, and aerospace firms are teaming up to turn the Sooner State into America’s UAV capital.

. . .Oklahoma businesspeople, academics, and politicians are collaborating through an organization named USA-OK, which aims to make the heartland state the focal point of American UAV development. A quasi-affiliated group, the Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council (PDF), was formed via an executive order from Governor Mary Fallin in 2011. Both organizations are lobbying for commercial drone test sites in Oklahoma and increased government assistance [that means your tax dollars!] in luring more large military contractors to the state.

Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Science and Technology and a prominent figure in the state’s UAV industry, told Fast Company that Oklahoma is already home to approximately 15 companies servicing the UAV industry. . . According to McKeever, the state offers a variety of incentives and subsidies for aerospace companies of all sizes.

McKeever and Fallin are busy luring this industry to Oklahoma meanwhile Mckeever and Fallin killed HB 1556 which would have simply required law enforcement to get a warrant before engaging in targeted surveillance of individuals and prohibit weaponization of the drones.

. . .Last month, the FAA announced that they are seeking six domestic test sites for UAVs. Due to the obvious commercial possibilities in, say, selling small aircraft for $1,000 a pop to farmers and real estate agencies looking to do aerial monitoring on a budget, UAVs are potential huge business. Giants such as Boeing and hundreds of smaller companies see commercial UAV usage as a gold rush waiting to happen.

State authorities inside Oklahoma issued a strategic drone plan detailing ways to build up the local UAV industry. These plans center on bringing one of the domestic UAV test sites to Oklahoma, which already tests military UAVs. . .

The FastCompany article mentions the Oklahoma UAS [DRONE] Summit held this Tuesday in Norman, but like the media in general, provides little detail on the conference.  (No mention of ‘Pesky Critters’ at all.)

This week, a major UAV convention took place in Oklahoma as well. . . .The agenda includes discussions of UAV use by emergency first responders, the Homeland Security Department’s proposed domestic spy drones. . .

Drone manufacturers even have lobbyists. [You don't say!]  . . .Michael Toscano, the organization’s president, advocates the integration of commercial drones into American airspace. Toscano, in an interview, stressed job creation possibilities if the FAA legalizes commercial drones.

AUVSI spent big dollars in lobbying on the FAA bill that expanded the use of drones in US airspace.  Their money was well spent too.

As a PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by Republic Report shows, the industry group all but wrote the legislation. “Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word,” it says. Read More

Mr. Toscano wasalso  right by Gov. Fallin’s and Stephen McKeever’s side on Jan 17th at a press conference held at the State Capitol in order to unveil the marvelous benefits of drone technology that is being cultivated with our tax dollars.

Interestingly, Toscano thinks that there is no need for addition privacy regulation.

Toscano says the drone industry thinks existing laws are sufficient: ”We believe that your Fourth  Amendment rights are protected.

Well that figures since legislation like Oklahoma’s HB 1556 might interfere with what Toscano sees as an open market.

Toscano. . .says there are nearly 19,000 law enforcement entities in the United States, of which only 300 now have aerial surveillance capacities.

“Those departments have helicopters which cost about $1,500 an hour to operate,” Toscano says. “You can fly these drones for maybe less than $50 hour. A lot of smaller departments can now afford this technology.” read more

Fallin_UAS_0

At the Jan. 17th press conference, McKeever said;

 “We fully recognize that reasonable people could have reasonable concerns and these must be dealt with that’s what our elected officials and government authorities are for.”

Fallin added that;

“We’re not interested in spying on anyone.”

Mary Fallin isn’t counting the little people.  Maybe she doesn’t consider what we would consider spying as spying.  Maybe she just thinks of as over sight.

Did you know that ‘OverSite’  is actually another great surveillance technology program  being promoted out of OSU’s Multispectral Laboratories and tested on unsuspecting Oklahomans at sporting events. 

‘To look at their RV parked at a game or concert, you’d never know that inside is all this technology and more’ link

umlThe Oklahoma State University Multispectral Laboratories (UML) is a public-private partnership “between the University and Anchor Dynamics Inc (ADI), which receives support from Ponca City Development Authority and ConocoPhillips, designed to accelerate commercialization of new technologies.”  http://www.okstate-uml.org/content/company-history

The UML acts as a “Trusted Agent” for U.S. Government, technology developers and operators.

Naturally, like the non-spying drones,  this is being done with a little boost from the non-spying Department of Homeland Security

The proof of concept demonstration was funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Link

OverSite incorporates facial recognition technology and a trick camera to spy on the crowd without them ever knowing a thing.  (but it’s not spying! It’s ‘OverSite’!) Read more 

And with all of the time, energy and money that has been spent, not one thing has been done to address the biggest concern of ordinary Oklahomans which is their privacy and safety.  It is the ordinary people of this state, after all,  who are paying for the ‘incentives’ being offered to court the drone industry here.

Little people, little problems.  We have our nightmares and they have their dreams. . .

Stephen McKeever, a transplanted Brit living in Oklahoma, dreams of turning his state into the capital for drones — the unmanned aircraft that, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts, will swarm the skies by the thousands within two decades. Read more

‘Pesky Critters’ and the Oklahoma Drone Summit 2013

UAS summit

Kaye Beach

**Update June 11, 2013

“Most recently in March 2013 Oklahoma was host to a UAS Summit in Norman,
OK which provided a platform for the state to describe its plans and
objectives with respect to UAS. The Summit covered a diverse set of
subjects and topics including the use of UAS for agriculture, advanced
weather monitoring and research, along with law enforcement and military
applications of UAS technology” Link

March 26, 2012

The 2013 Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit was held today in Norman. http://www.uasoklahoma.com/agenda2.pdf

I would have loved to attended this event but the attendance conditions were quite intimidating even if I had of found out about it in time.  I did scout about for information on social media where often tech events are heavily covered, without much luck.  Monitoring twitter proved disappointing.  Strange since the Summit included a ‘social media’ meeting last night.  Actually, I found just one person that was attending the event that was using twitter.  Courtney E Howard, the Editor in Chief – Avionics Intelligence.  You can read her tweets on the event here

This tweet of Howard’s I thought was rather funny;

People do say things [about #UAVs] that are ridiculous & they say it loudly.–Professor of Political Science at University of Oklahoma (OU)

She is quoting one of the last panelists in the line up today who were covering Privacy and Social Implications of drones.  This panel was chaired by Prof. Stephan Henderson

I wonder what ridiculous things people say loudly about the drones?  One of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard about drones actually comes from one of today’s speakers at the Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit.  His name is Kirk Kloeppel and he was slated to speak on the Department of Homeland Security’s RAPS program that Oklahoma was chosen as the test site for back in June of 2012.  RAPS stands for Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety.

First reports from the RAPS trials being run in our state struck me as pretty ridiculous since the press release from the Governors office studiously avoided mention of the rather obvious role that the police would play in the DHS’s RAPS program.

Governor Mary Fallin Joins Department of Homeland Security, Oklahoma National Guard to Announce New Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program in Oklahoma

Gov. Fallin assures the public that ‘drones for use by the military or police investigations will not be tested at the Oklahoma site.’

Source: NewsOK, June 29, 2012, Oklahoma chosen as test site for drones http://newsok.com/oklahoma-chosen-as-test-site-for-drones/article/3688386

Here is an excerpt from a reporters observation of the very first trials of RAPS;

FORT SILL — The small, winged drone quietly soared overhead as SWAT team members closed in on a building at Fort Sill.

When a suspect sprinted from the structure, the drone banked through a cloudless afternoon sky in an effort to track the person.

A few miles away, two Lockheed Martin technicians sat in a converted bedroom of a ranch-style house using a laptop computer to control the drone’s movements. They followed the action on a video relay.

NewsOK, Dec. 31, 2012 Wary eyes shift to the skies as unmanned aircraft are tested in state

So the RAPS program itself might strike some as being at least mildly ridiculous but what Kirk Kloeppel is best know for, his ‘Pesky Critters’ would almost certainly strike most as utterly ridiculous.

robofly

Pesky Critters was written by Kloeppel in 2005.  Here is a brief excerpt from the paper;

“The hunter-killer pursues specific individuals and eliminates them. These devices have the unique deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) signature for individual leadership in their memory and examine the environment for a match. Once the proper candidate is isolated, the fly inserts a probe into the victim, injecting a toxic substance or altering the victim’s own genetic material with a virulent composition, causing quick incapacitation. The victim notices the “sting” from the robot but considers it a pest and thinks nothing of the consequences.

A day or two would pass before the targeted leader is not a further factor in the warfighting. These miniscule vehicles offer a unique, stealthy cap ability for a government. From the exterior, the robots appear to be common houseflies. They mimic the performance of the housefly in nearly every aspect except for the internal composition. Their innocuous existence offers implementers military advantages. While the development of a hunter-killer weapon may breach legal boundaries, its potential is illustrative of the possible alternative applications, many of which, such as the intelligence and surveillance approaches, are perfectly legal.

The above scenario may seem implausible—something dreamed within the mind of a science fiction writer—but the capabilities are closer to reality than one might imagine. The design, manufacture, and use of an unmanned aerial vehicle the size of a common housefly is feasible and worth exploring.”

Read 34 more pages of ridiculousness here

Or check out some more recent work by Colonel Kirk Kloeppel;

Air Force scientists are looking for robotic bombs that look — and act — like swarms of bugs and birds. In a recent presentation, Colonel Kirk Kloeppel, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s munitions directorate, announced the Lab’s interest in “bio-inspired munitions.”

These, “small, autonomous” machines would “provide close-in [surveillance] information, in addition to killing intended targets,” the Colonel noted.  And they’d not only take out foes in urban canyons – the self-guided munitions would “operat[e] within buildings,” too.

Jan. 1, 2008 Wired, Air Force: Bug-Like Robo-Bombs for Indoor Ops

Or this Kloeppel presentation from 2009

Here is the most ridiculous thing of all about the drone explosion that has been actively courted and developed by Gov. Fallin with our tax dollars; not one thing has been done to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of the people she was elected to serve.

In fact, it was the direct intervention of Gov. Fallin and Stephen McKeever, her Secretary of Science and Technology, that killed the fairly narrowly tailored legislation that would have simply prohibited the police from doing targeted surveillance of individuals and equipping them with weapons.

This is what I call ridiculous!

Mary Fallin puts an end to Oklahoma’s drone privacy bill

Mary Fallin puts an end to Oklahoma’s drone privacy bill

fallin dronesKaye Beach

March 13, 2013

House Bill 1556 authored by OK Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, working in conjunction with the Oklahoma ACLU,  would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before using drones for surveillance and prohibited civilian drones from carrying weapons.

But today the Governors office put an end to this bill.

Reported by KFOR-TV March 13, 2013;

Bill on drone surveillance put on hold

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before using a drone for surveillance has been put on hold.

House Bill 1556 will be held over for the next session.

. . . The move comes as a result of opposition from Gov. Mary Fallin.

Read more and watch the video report at KFOR http://kfor.com/2013/03/13/bill-on-drone-surveillance-put-on-hold/

Enjoying a groundswell of popular support that notably spans the political spectrum, HB1556 appeared to have a great chance of being passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives until the Governor’s office decided it was time to intervene.

Citing concerns that pending legislation would hurt Oklahoma’s chances to be one of the six states chosen by the FAA to be a testing site for drones, Governor Fallin’s office took issue with the bill.  However, upon closer inspection of the FAA”s application by the bill’s author and the Dir. Of the OK ACLU, Ryan Kiesel, it was found that the FAA is explicitly does not automatically treat pending legislation as a negative.  

This fact, when raised made no impact on opposition to HB1556 by the Governor’s office which begs the question: Why would the Governor be opposed to the passage of this very modest bill?

This unanswered question takes me back to the press conference that I attended that was held by Gov. Fallin, along with her Secretary of Science and Technology,  Stephen McKeever,  and drone industry representative Michael Toscano, the president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International on Jan 16, 2013 at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Fallin_UAS_0

When it came time to take questions from members of the press, not surprisingly, the very first question asked was in regards to privacy and civil liberties.  At that time the Stephen McKeever made it crystal clear that they were not amenable to any statutory or even policy level changes that might protect the privacy rights of Oklahoman’s.  McKeever was quite clear in his statements explaining that while it was not unreasonable to have some concerns about drones and privacy, he was opposed to any real efforts to secure our privacy rights for fear that it might hinder  the drone industry in some way in our state.

That is when I knew that any legislation to advance the protection of our rights was going to be an uphill battle to say the least. 

Recently, the Congressional Research Service issued a report;  “Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues”

The report states that “perhaps the most contentious issue concerning the introduction of drones into U.S. airspace is the threat that this technology will be used to spy on American citizens.” 

That this is an issue is not a surprise to anyone. Yet with all of the time, money and effort invested by this state to ensure that Oklahoma becomes drone central, USA,  nothing has been done to hear the concerns of Oklahoma citizens or ensure the rights of Oklahomans are protected.

There has been years of groundwork laid in making Oklahoma the premier state for the drone industry.

In 2009 the Unmanned Systems Alliance of Oklahoma (USA-OK) was created to promote the emerging unmanned systems industry in Oklahoma.

In 2011, Gov. Fallin issued an Executive Order to create the Unmanned Aerial Systems Council and appointed 13 members to her Unmanned Aerial Systems Council.  The council was to advise the governor on ‘all issues related to UAS, including education, economic development, job creation and investments’ so that Oklahoma could become a national leader in the UAS industry. 

This Council was created to advise the Governor on “all issues related to UAS”

How surveillance technology laden drones might infringe upon our Fourth Amendment rights has not been a primary or even secondary issue worth considering when officials were obviously working so hard at covering all the bases.

In all of the materials covering Governor Fallins efforts to develop the drone industry in Oklahoma that I have read, I have found  but one brief mention of the fact that drones present a real threat to our civil liberties.  It is in the Report of the Governor’s Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Council, released on July 8, 2012.   This recommendation made by the Oklahoma UAS Council, a small as it was, is one that should have been given some attention.  It wasn’t.

The Oklahoma UAS Council stated that  “The growth of UAS has the potential for enormous good and economic benefit for all residents, introducing new capabilities simply not possible at present. As with any new technology, however, new capabilities come with the potential for abuse. The state of Oklahoma takes these issues and concerns seriously. We support calls for thoughtful and informed dialogue to address these concerns and for the industry to work with privacy advocates, policymakers and legislators to provide the necessary protections against misuse.”  Source: Report of the Governor’s Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Council  A Strategic Plan for the Development of an Unmanned Aerial Systems Enterprise in the State of Oklahoma 

To my knowledge, no one from the drone industry or the Governor’s office reached out to the ACLU, OK-SAFE, or any other organization that is known for privacy advocacy in the state.

No.  It was not until HB1556 gained real traction and only after a last minute attempt by the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce to kill the bill in committee did the Governor’s office make any effort to connect with anyone and that was to put the brakes on the bill.

Rep. Wesselohoft worked openly and diligently to address any possible concerns by law enforcement or any others over the language in the bill.  Nevertheless, he was sideswiped by the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce shortly before the bill was to be heard in the House Aerospace and Energy committee when a Chamber representative told him that her organization was unhappy with the bill but refused to specify exactly what was problematic denying the Representative any opportunity to address their concerns.  The Chamber representative then proceeded to pass out to all committee members what was described as a ‘hit piece’ on the bill in an attempt to kill the legislation.

Despite this last minute attempt by the Chamber to sink HB1556, the bill passed the committee by a vote of 23-4.

To protect the rights of the people of the state of Oklahoma is the first duty of our elected representatives,  especially the Governor.  In reality, protection of our rights has registered dead last on Governor Fallins drone ‘to do’ list and this is unacceptable!

Another example of what I consider to be bad faith on the part of the Governor regarding the drone issue is her studied lack of forthrightness on the nature of the Dept. of Homeland Security’s RAPS program currently active in Oklahoma.

On June 29, 2012 Gov. Fallin announces Oklahoma is the first state chosen by the Dept. of Homeland Security as a testing site for small unmanned aircraft (drones) in the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) program.

Gov. Fallin assures the public that ‘drones for use by the military or police investigations will not be tested at the Oklahoma site.’

Source: NewsOK, June 29, 2012, Oklahoma chosen as test site for drones http://newsok.com/oklahoma-chosen-as-test-site-for-drones/article/3688386

However, the Dept. of Homeland Security’s own documentation describes the RAPS program to include; “real-time law enforcement tactical operations support, and crime scene situational awareness.”

DHS explains that “Typical test scenarios include search and rescue missions, fire and
hazardous material spill responses, and simulated law enforcement tactical operations.”

Source: Privacy Impact Assessment for the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) Project http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy/PIAs/privacy_pia_st_raps_nov2012.pdf

And then on Dec. 31, 2012 we get a real New Year’s surprise from a news article describing the first RAPS tests taking place in Oklahoma as a SWAT policing exercise.

FORT SILL — The small, winged drone quietly soared overhead as SWAT team members closed in on a building at Fort Sill.

When a suspect sprinted from the structure, the drone banked through a cloudless afternoon sky in an effort to track the person.

A few miles away, two Lockheed Martin technicians sat in a converted bedroom of a ranch-style house using a laptop computer to control the drone’s movements. They followed the action on a video relay.

The simulated chase this month was among the first test flights in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program designed to evaluate the possible civilian use of “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.”

Source: NewsOK, Dec. 31, 2012, Wary eyes shift to the skies as unmanned aircraft are tested in statehttp://newsok.com/wary-eyes-shift-to-the-skies-as-unmanned-aircraft-are-tested-in-state/article/3741815

Governor Fallin misrepresented this program.  That is very concerning to me.

What is it that the drone industry plans on doing in Oklahoma that makes a simple piece of legislation protecting basic rights so offensive to Governor Fallin?

Here is the bottom line for the grassroots activists who are rightfully outraged by the governors direct role in quashing this bill; it is up to you to make sure that such actions by our governor politically painful enough that she will think twice about disrespecting the rights of the people of this state which she has sworn to defend.

First, call her office and register your opinion of her actions.

The Office of Governor Mary Fallin

Local: (405) 521-2342
Fax: (405) 521-3353

Don’t forget.  You can also connect with Governor Fallin on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMaryFallin

And Twitter https://twitter.com/GovMaryFallin

No need to be rude or threatening but tell her this is truly a blatant example of profits over people and she needs to get her priorities straight!

Contact the news stations and ask them to investigate the relationship between the industry and state officials.  Ask them to cover the ire of the people of this state about the amount of investment in this industry and the lack of attention to our concerns about privacy and arming the drones with weapons.  Do your own research and see what you can uncover.

Find out where Governor Fallin is speaking and show up with signs to let people know how little she respects them.

And last but not least, when she runs for re-election, make this issue a campaign issue that she will have to answer to!

Be creative -  but please do something to expose this problem!  If we don’t make this an issue-no one else will!

Gov. Fallin: Oklahoma Will Not Pursue a State-Based Exchange or Medicaid Expansion

Press Release

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gov. Fallin: Oklahoma Will Not Pursue a State-Based Exchange or Medicaid Expansion

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today released the following statement announcing that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of a state-based exchange or participate in the Medicaid expansion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):

“For the past few months, my staff and I have worked with other lawmakers, Oklahoma stakeholders and health care experts across the country to determine the best course of action for Oklahoma in regards to both the creation of a health insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Our priority has been to ascertain what can be done to increase quality and access to health care, contain costs, and do so without placing an undue burden on taxpayers or the state. As I have stated many times before, it is my firm belief that PPACA fails to further these goals, and will in fact decrease the quality of health care across the United States while contributing to the nation’s growing deficit crisis.

“Despite my ongoing opposition to the federal health care law, the state of Oklahoma is legally obligated to either build an exchange that is PPACA compliant and approved by the Obama Administration, or to default to an exchange run by the federal government. This choice has been forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama Administration in spite of the fact that voters have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to the federal health care law through their support of State Question 756, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the implementation of key components of PPACA.

“After careful consideration, I have today informed U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of its own health insurance exchange. Any exchange that is PPACA compliant will necessarily be ‘state-run’ in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement. It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American health care and the fiscal stability of the nation.

“Furthermore, I have also decided that Oklahoma will not be participating in the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid. Such an expansion would be unaffordable, costing the state of Oklahoma up to $475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years. It would also further Oklahoma’s reliance on federal money that may or may not be available in the future given the dire fiscal problems facing the federal government. On a state level, massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would require cuts to important government priorities such as education and public safety. Furthermore, the proposed Medicaid expansion offers no meaningful reform to a massive entitlement program already contributing to the out-of-control spending of the federal government.

“Moving forward, the state of Oklahoma will pursue two actions simultaneously. The first will be to continue our support for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s ongoing legal challenge of PPACA. General Pruitt’s lawsuit raises different Constitutional questions than previous legal challenges, and both he and I remain optimistic that Oklahoma’s challenge can succeed.

“Our second and equally important task will be to pursue state-based solutions that improve health outcomes and contain costs for Oklahoma families. Serious reform, for instance, should be pursued in the area of Medicaid and public health, where effective chronic disease prevention and management programs could address the trend of skyrocketing medical bills linked to avoidable hospital and emergency room visits. I look forward to working with legislative leaders and lawmakers in both parties to pursue Oklahoma health care solutions for Oklahoma families.”

Oklahomans Get New ‘OverSite’ to Stop Terrorism at Sporting Events, Political Rallies

Kaye Beach

Oct. 23, 2012

An article published yesterday by Oklahoma’s News 6 introduces us to a new technology system designed to keep us safe from terrorism as large events such as sporting events, the State Fair and even at political rallies. It’s called “OverSite”

Given the fact that the OverSite system incorporates facial recognition, that ought to be a real hit given that we are governed by an administration that frequently confuses legitimate First Amendment protected activities as possible indicators of terrorism.

Crew Demonstrates Technology Aimed To Pinpoint Terrorists At Large Events

 Oct 22, 2012  News On 6

A sniper with a high-powered rifle was on top of the Case Center at the University of Tulsa on Monday.

He was demonstrating technology that can pinpoint a shooter’s location in a large crowd almost immediately.

The technology comes from Oklahoma company OverSite, and it can protect people from all kinds of terrorist attacks at big events like football games, political rallies, NASCAR races and state fairs.

Read more

Interestingly the article provides this boast about the OverSite technology;

“If we’re looking for somebody in a crowd, we have our cameras working, we can find the bad guy, put facial recognition on him, he’s identified, even if beard, mustache, glasses, hat, still gonna catch him,” Eller said. link

Really?  Color me skeptical on that claim.

We need to know, are they using facial recognition on event goers in general or only on legitimate suspects with probable cause?

OverSite’s Trick Camera-SkyCam SpyCam

Closed Facility Aerial Cameras (surveillance) – Few people watching sporting events have failed to see a camera gliding on cables high above the event and crowd providing exciting and unique angles of play and reaction.  SkyCam works with OverSite©  to develop a two-camera capability that appears normal in all ways except that one camera does what SkyCam normally does while the other is individually controlled to watch the audience and scan for faces and/or activities that might be suspect to the well-being of the people and facility. Link

Here is a little more information on OverSite from their official website;

OverSite

Protecting America’s Infrastructure

The OverSite© technology was created by Triarii Scientific, LLC (TriSci) in response to operational recognition that government agencies ranging from Homeland Security to the Department of Defense have been so overwhelmed protecting our military, training local and national emergency management personnel, finding common communications grounds, etc., that it has not been able to embrace the growing needs of a broad group defined as “Soft Targets.”

OverSite© can provide a broad selection of sensor technologies, timely analysis processes and response mechanisms such as

- Video

- Audio

- Chem-bio

- Radioactive

- Nuclear

- Retina scan

        – Facial recognition

- Weather, etc.

- On-site analysis

- Response coordination

- Centralized communications

The technology was tested before in Oklahoma on April 6, 2011;

The OSU University Multispectral Laboratories recently demonstrated the unique capabilities of an integrated mobile security vehicle called OverSite during the simulation of a terror attack at Boone Pickens Stadium on April 6, 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSa6F5JIagg

OverSite also had another test run prior to April 6, 2011 and at the Super Bowl XLV, no less.

Prior to the April 6 test, OverSite was also deployed at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas, where core system integration was tested and improved.

Since the April 6 test, the Over­Site Rapid Deployment Module, developed and integrated on behalf of the Oklahoma Nation­al Guard’s 63rd Civil Support Team, has been readied for deployment to Maryland

http://arrc.ou.edu/pdf/Sensors_Review.pdf

The federal Department of Homeland Security provided the funding for the April 6, 2011 demonstration of OverSite;

The simulation involved members of the Oklahoma Army National Guard Civil Support Team and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who with the help of OverSite responded to ten different threat scenarios.  The proof of concept demonstration was funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

https://news.okstate.edu/press-releases/849-osu-uml-showcases-mobile-security-vehicle-during-simulated-terror-attack-at-boone-pickens-stadium-

Triarii Scientific LLC – Earmarks Received 2010

2010 WMD Multi-Sensor Response and Infrastructure Project System
(Defense)
$1,600,000 Rep. Mary Fallin (-OK) Tulsa, Oklahoma

Industry of Fear

On  Sept. 19,  2011, ESPN Magazine expressed concern about the proliferation of counter terrorism and homeland security projects, including OverSite aimed at sporting events.  ESPN descibes

Industry of fear

. . .As the bullets sped toward their target, a monitor in an RV lit up. The screen flashed a triangular wedge of purple within an image of the stadium’s architectural plan. Todd Lamb, the lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, was (inside the RV, surveying this mobile command post.

. . . Lamb watched as a second purple sliver flashed, and the point where the two slices intersected began to glow. Security cameras swerved their view to the precise spot where the sniper had launched his shot, identifying the section, row and nearest seat to rushing guards. The whole thing took a little more than 15 seconds.

It was just a drill. The sniper was an FBI agent. The crowd noise screamed through loudspeakers. The bullets were pinpointed, quickly and accurately, by an OSU-developed system called OverSite along with software and sensors made by Raytheon, a defense technology and security company. Oklahoma State scientists incubated OverSite at the University Multispectral Laboratories (UML), an unconventional-warfare outfit the school launched in 2006.  After years of research and millions in taxpayer and private money, OSU tested the project in April, demonstrating its impressive results to Lamb, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and other policymakers. (Emphasis mine)

. . . At today’s games, endless lines await you. Guards search you and, if it’s your unlucky day, grope you. Cameras spy on you. Traffic barriers, pat-downs and metal detectors all carry the same message: You are safer because your surroundings are bear-trapped.

. . . For the companies developing terror-fighting tools, the money and sex appeal are in sci-fi-level detection.

.  . .Since 9/11, these kinds of devices have filled airports, convention halls and corporate headquarters, and now their manufacturers hungrily eye sports arenas. “We see it as an emerging business,” says Mark Desmarais, the program director for Clear View at Raytheon. Security companies know just how to capture that market: scare the hell out of anyone who runs a stadium.

Read more of Industry of Fear

Oklahomans should be asking their elected officials some questions about this system.

Namely;

Will data will be collected on ordinary event attendees and what is being done with that data?