Tag Archives: tax

1/3 Oklahoma’s Budget Dedicated to Corporate Incentive Payouts

The New Economy-How do we like it so far?

The New Economy-How do we like it so far?

Kaye Beach

Dec. 3, 2012

Welcome to the New Economy!

The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up:

  • $80.3 billion in incentives each year
  • 1,874 No. of program

Check out the interactive map that shows spending incentive spending state by state here

Oklahoma

Oklahoma spends at least $2.19 billion per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:

  • $584 per capita
  • 37¢ per dollar of state budget

Read more about Oklahoma

Here is the NYT accompanying news report;

Tax Incentives to Companies Bleeding Towns Dry, With Few Results

Sunday, 02 December 2012 09:51 By Louise Story, The New York Times News Service | Report

In the end, the money that towns across America gave General Motors did not matter.

When the automaker released a list of factories it was closing during bankruptcy three years ago, communities that had considered themselves G.M.’s business partners were among the targets.

For years, mayors and governors anxious about local jobs had agreed to G.M.’s demands for cash rewards, free buildings, worker training and lucrative tax breaks. As late as 2007, the company was telling local officials that these sorts of incentives would “further G.M.’s strong relationship” with them and be a “win/win situation,” according to town council notes from one Michigan community.

Yet at least 50 properties on the 2009 liquidation list were in towns and states that had awarded incentives, adding up to billions in taxpayer dollars, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Some officials, desperate to keep G.M., offered more. Ohio was proposing a $56 million deal to save its Moraine plant, and Wisconsin, fighting for its Janesville factory, offered $153 million.

But their overtures were to no avail. G.M. walked away and, thanks to a federal bailout, is once again profitable. The towns have not been so fortunate, having spent scarce funds in exchange for thousands of jobs that no longer exist.

One township, Ypsilanti, Mich., is suing over the automaker’s departure. “You can’t just make these promises and throw them around like they’re spare change in the drawer,” said Doug Winters, the township’s attorney.

Yet across the country, companies have been doing just that. And the giveaways are adding up to a gigantic bill for taxpayers.

A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

“How can you even talk about rationalizing what you’re doing when you don’t even know what you’re doing?” said Timothy J. Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Times analyzed more than 150,000 awards and created a searchable database of incentive spending. The survey was supplemented by interviews with more than 100 officials in government and business organizations as well as corporate executives and consultants.

A portrait arises of mayors and governors who are desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them. Many of the officials said they feared that companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States.

Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages. States compete with other states, cities compete with surrounding suburbs, and even small towns have entered the race with the goal of defeating their neighbors.

While some jobs have certainly migrated overseas, many companies receiving incentives were not considering leaving the country, according to interviews and incentive data.

Read more

Oklahoma State Questions – OK-SAFE Helps to Clear the Confusion

Kaye Beach

September 24, 2012

OK-SAFE, Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise, a trusted source for research and analysis on the issues, has just released their recommendations on the state questions that will appear on the November election ballots.

Much appreciation to OK-SAFE for their hard and thorough work in analyzing these measures!

_____________________________________

OK-SAFE, Inc. – Fall 2012
There will be six state questions on Oklahoma’s crowded November 6, 2012 ballot. Below is the Ballot Title, the Ballot Language, and OK-SAFE’s recommended vote and assessment.

SQ 758 and SQ 766 deal with property taxes . Because both questions may be perceived as a tax reduction, there may be puzzlement about our recommendation of a NO vote on both questions. The question before us was, does either question result in an actual tax cut, i.e. does the measure provide tax relief for everyone and effect reduced government spending? The answer was no. Standing on this first principle, OK-SAFE could not support either question. Transferring the tax burden from one group of people to another is neither conservative nor a tax cut – it is legislative sleight of hand. (Emphasis mine)

You can access these recommendations on the front page of OK-SAFE’s website or download the entire document here

Oklahoma Alert-STOP the Backroom Dealing!

Backroom dealing!!

Kaye Beach

July 19, 2012

Why is the Oklahoma legislature, in flagrant disregard of our state Constitution, bailing out a private organization?  How do you or I get one of these generous donations of taxpayer money?

Over $2.2 million has already been funneled through the state Department of Agriculture over the past 11 years to the Youth Expo and now lawmakers want to bestow another $ 2 million of our tax dollars to this private organization.

Who is Bob Funk? 

Bob Funk is the lead cheerleader for this “World Series of the agriculture industry” also known as the Youth Expo. Bob Funk also happens to be a big Republican campaign donor.  Apparently his pet project, the Youth Expo, is facing some financial difficulties.

Maybe he should have sunk his own funds into the project instead of sinking so much into campaign donation but either way it appears the bills will get paid.

There is a problem though.  While our legislative leaders are only too happy to help Mr. Funk out, it is illegal!   Our state constitution prohibits giving gifts of taxpayer money to non-government organizations.  Apparently this sort of funny money business has been going on for years but lawmakers are now making a greater effort to hide their political payola.  At least in the past the money, questionable as it is, was at least included in the state appropriations bill.  Not so this year.   Instead of slipping the gift in the appropriations bill, it appears that our lawmakers and the Ag Dept. made arrangements directly with Mr. Funk and added and bonus to boot!

Read the Tulsa World article about the whole mess.

It makes me wonder how many more sweet deals have gotten past us. It doesn’t matter one bit if the organization is a good cause or not-this is not how we want our government operating!

Thankfully this is not yet a done deal.  Call the Governor’s office and your state legislators first thing in the morning and tell them to do the right thing and stop this!

July 20, 2012A reader comments;

‘I just got a call back from Comm of Ag Jim Reese. 7:48 AM. I called his office this morning @ 7:28 AM. He said he has read the constitution and he does not think it is illegal for a private entity to receive tax dollars. He said “What is illegal about it?” “I have to buy staples and paper”’

How does Commissioner Reese miss the fact that the money being given or “gifted” if you will, is not for any good or services?  It is a GIFT of our tax dollars-NOT a payment.

 

Don’t know who your state senator or representative is?  Now is a darn good time to find out.  Click here

Contact info for House members

Contact info for Senate members

Governor Mary Fallin – 405-521-2342 or info@gov.ok.gov

If you are still fired up after that-give these two a call too!

Commissioner of Agriculture – Jim Reese – 405-522-5719 or jim.reese@ag.ok.gov

 State Treasurer – Ken Miller – 405-521-3191 or ken.miller@treasurer.ok.gov

Senator Anderson calls on Gov. Fallin to reject ObamaCare

Kaye Beach

July 3, 2012

Oklahoma Senator Patrick Anderson is stepping to the fore and encouraging Gov. Fallin to go on the record in refusing to implement Obamacare.  We are waiting. . .

For Immediate Release:  July 3, 2012

Anderson calls on Gov. Fallin to reject ObamaCare

State Sen. Patrick Anderson urged Oklahoma’s chief executive to join her fellow Republican governors across the country and state for the record that she will not implement ObamaCare. Anderson, a Republican from Enid, said Gov. Mary Fallin needs to be on the front line with those governors who have already announced they won’t submit to the federal health care law.

“Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Rick Perry in Texas, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida and Nikki Haley in South Carolina have officially stated they will not implement ObamaCare in their states in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last Thursday,” said Anderson. “Oklahoma needs to join these other states and be a leader, not a follower, in the opposition to this law and the substantial burden that it will place on taxpayers.”

Anderson said despite promises from the President, the end results of the federal health care law would be disastrous for citizens, for Oklahoma and for the nation, with many reports pointing to a revised estimate by the Congressional Budget Office saying the price tag for the law had already risen from under $1 trillion to $1.76 trillion.

“In the short-term, the economic brunt will fall on the middle-class. Those who already have insurance will see their out-of-pocket costs skyrocket, while those who don’t will be forced to purchase policies far more costly than they would have been without this federal mandate,” Anderson said. “Businesses are going to be hamstrung by red tape and regulations that will derail economic growth and recovery. At the federal level, this will dramatically worsen our national debt. At the state level, Oklahoma’s Medicaid costs will soar and it will force budget cuts in education, transportation and public safety.”

“We have had enough time to consider last Thursday’s ruling, and we know that the end result will be larger deficits, greater costs to working Oklahomans, and punitive regulations that will cripple many businesses,” said Anderson. “Governor Fallin needs to make Oklahoma’s position clear and tell President Obama that she will not choose to implement this new tax on the taxpayers of Oklahoma.”

For more information, contact:

Sen. Patrick Anderson

405-521-5630

 

For Immediate Release: Rally For Healthcare Independence Sat. July 7, 2012 Oklahoma State Capitol

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 3, 2012

Contact Jon Scolomiero, the Oklahoma Tenth Amendment Center

jon.scolamiero@tenthamendmentcenter.com

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma—On Saturday, July 7, 2012, 9-11 am, The Oklahoma 10th Amendment Center, in conjunction with numerous other like-minded activist groups and individuals, will gather for a Rally for Healthcare Independence on the south steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision last Thursday that upheld the most onerous portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), including the individual mandate – liberty-loving Oklahomans once again find themselves at the losing end of Washington, D.C.’s continued big government policies.  Now that the Federal Government has been given the power to force individuals to buy health care insurance, into what other actions will individuals be coerced under the guise of a tax?

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists the seventeen powers specifically enumerated to the Federal Government.  Health care is NOT an enumerated power.  The 10th Amendment to the Constitution states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Thus, any health care policy must be left to states to enact at the behest of their citizens – if they so choose.  America’s Founders instituted government to protect the liberties of individual Americans.  In fact, the majority believed that power could not emanate from a central government, that it must be dispersed among states, in order to protect the states and maximize the freedom of the individual.

In 2010, Oklahomans overwhelmingly supported State Question 756- The Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment – which, among other things, prohibits making a person participate in a health care system.  Our state has spoken on this issue.

Last spring, Oklahoma, along with the states of Louisiana, Florida, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin refused to implement the Health Insurance Exchange plans inherent in the PPACA.  Again, our state has spoken on the issue.

Attendees of Saturday’s rally will have an opportunity to hear speakers who can educate them in some of the many ways Oklahoma citizens and legislators can band together to continue defending individual liberties.  All Oklahoma legislators are invited to attend in order to assist and address their concerned constituents.

Please join us for this important rally on the south side of the Capitol steps, Saturday, July 7th, from 9am to 11am, and find out what you can do to prevent Oklahoma from succumbing to ObamaCare – and other unconstitutional federal overreaches.

 

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Reality Check: If the Affordable Care Act is “a tax,” does that make the law invalid?

Kaye Beach

June 30, 2012

Good analysis and good question  by Ben Swann of FOX 19 news Cincinnati

It may be one of the most important rulings the U.S. Supreme Court has made in the last 100 years.

Is the Affordable Care Act constitutional?  Is it constitutional to have an individual mandate that requires Americans purchase insurance?

In a 5 to 4 vote the court ruled, yes.

Why did Chief Justice John Roberts rule the way he did?  What does the ruling mean?  And could this ruling actually mean that the Healthcare law is now invalid? link

OG&E Smart Meters – Controlling the Consumer

Kaye Beach

Dec, 6 2011

The more I look, the less I find to like about smart meters.

Personally speaking, my biggest concern is the privacy issues. Smart meters brings the prying eyes of corporations and the government right into your very home.

 

EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center on Smart Meter privacy issues;

Privacy implications for smart grid technology deployment centers on the collection, retention, sharing, or reuse of electricity consumption information on individuals, homes, or offices. Fundamentally, smart grid systems will be multi-directional communications and energy transfer networks that enable electricity service providers, consumers, or third party energy management assistance programs to access consumption data. Further, if plans for national or transnational electric utility smart grid systems proceed as currently proposed these far reaching networks will enable data collection and sharing across platforms and great distances.

A list of potential privacy consequences of Smart Grid systems include:

  • Identity Theft
  • Determine Personal Behavior Patterns
  • Determine Specific Appliances Used
  • Perform Real-Time Surveillance
  • Reveal Activities Through Residual Data
  • Targeted Home Invasions (latch key children, elderly, etc.)
  • Provide Accidental Invasions
  • Activity Censorship
  • Decisions and Actions Based Upon Inaccurate Data
  • Profiling
  • Unwanted Publicity and Embarrassment
  • Tracking Behavior Of Renters/Leasers
  • Behavior Tracking (possible combination with Personal Behavior Patterns)
  • Public Aggregated Searches Revealing Individual Behavior

Read more from EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center http://epic.org/privacy/smartgrid/smartgrid.html

 

OG&E Positive Energy® Smart Grid

OG&E is building the Positive Energy® Smart Grid in partnership with customers to improve energy efficiency. As the technology continues to rollout across OG&E’s service territory, it not only helps Oklahomans use energy more wisely, but it helps us meet the growing demand for energy and the desire for environmental stewardship.

The smart grid uses a secure wireless network for two-way, real-time communication with smart meters installed on the outside of customer homes. In the future, that meter could communicate with programmable thermostats or other technology inside customers’ homes.

http://www.oge.com/environment/EnergyEfficiency/Pages/Smart%20Grid.aspx

Federal Funds Push Oklahoma Deployment

Norman Oklahoma began deployment of smart meters in a program study which began January 1st, 2010.  OG&E planned to extend its Smart Power rollout to all of its customers beginning in 2012 contingent upon the success of the Norman study and after approval from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.  But that is not what happened.

On Dec 29, 2009 OG&E received a grant from the Dept. of Energy for $130 Million.

“The Company’s original plan was to review the results from the Phase 11 Norman Project and then perhaps within five years establish system wide deployment, however, after applying for and receiving the grant of $130 million in 2009 from the DOE, OG&E’s timeline for deployment of Smart Grid was moved up.  OG&E saw the additional funding by the DOE as an opportunity to move sooner rather than later, on the deployment of system wide Smart Grid technology, even prior to receiving the study results from the Norman Project.”

Q: What were the results of the SmartPower project in Norman?

A: Since, the Norman project will not be fully implemented until June of 2010, there are and were no results from that project at the time this Application for pre-approval was filed.

 

Q: Why is OG&E requesting pre-approval to move forward with Company wide deployment before the Norman Project (Phase I) is completed ?

A: The Company believes a window of opportunity was created for further deployment in 2009, with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which contained an estimated $3 .4 billion in stimulus grant funding for Smart Grid investment.

Responsive Testimony of Tonya Hinex-Ford for Oklahoma Corporation Commission 05-21-10

OG&E’s full rollout of the smart meter/smart grid is not based on any actual significant evidence that this technology is a wise choice for Oklahoma, that it would save energy or money, but rather because of the opportunity to for OG&E to receive millions in federal funds.

OGE in Oklahoma City, Okla, $130 million grant, “Oklahoma IOU plows ahead with system-wide project plans,” (SGT, 2009-Aug-25);

COMPLAINTS

I received a call from a gentleman last week who told me how he was pressured by an OG&E meter reader to install a smart meter on his house.  This man has a notice on his current analog meter stating that he does not want a smart meter installed and he has sent in a certified letter stating the same to OG&E.  The OG&E employee at first refused to give his name or to call his supervisor as requested by the homeowner but finally relented and the smart meter was not installed on the man’s home.

If you have a complaint about your smart meter in Oklahoma, you can file a complaint with the Corporation Commission at  www.occeweb.com  Click on “Complaints”  “Public Utilities” and fill out the form.

One lady in central Oklahoma submitted her concerns to the Corporation Commission and asked about relocating the meter on her house.  She shared the response with us.

Thank you for your e-mailed correspondence regarding Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OG&E).

I have reviewed your concerns regarding Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OG&E) and I understand your objection to the implementation of the Smart Meter Program.

However, there are no provisions that allow a consumer to opt out of the use of a smart meter. (Emphasis added) Additionally, if a meter is moved for the convenience of a consumer, in accordance with the rules of the Commission, the consumer will bear that cost.

However, as a courtesy, I have forwarded this matter to the Company for review. You may be contacted by a representative of the Company to further discuss your concerns.

I hope that this matter can be resolved to your satisfaction.

Respectfully,

K. Dobbins

Kimberly Dobbins, Manager
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
Consumer Services Division
Public Utility Complaints

Oklahoma Smart Meter/Grid – Just Trust Us

People are being told that Oklahoma’s Smart Meter/Grid system is substantially different from systems in states. Concerns about privacy, safety and health are being downplayed.   I have seen no evidence that this is true but will be following up on these claims.

Here is what a little research into the system being utilized by OG&E turns up;

OG&E has selected Acatel-Lucent to build its communication system for the smart grid.

OG&E, Alcatel-Lucent, Osmose and ABB] OG&E selects communications, field inventory and DMS partners for smart grid

Alcatel-Lucent will work with OG&E’s WAN team to build a multi-tiered IP/MPLS communications network across the utility’s 30,000 square mile service territory. The network will include a 6.0 gigahertz, point-to-point microwave backbone system, plus a 3.65 gigahertz point-to-multipoint layer. The WAN will transport two-way data traffic from smart devices on the power delivery distribution system to enable real-time automation and advanced metering.

http://www.freezepage.com/1322596800SOCPXHYKEH

Besides being two way communication devices, another  fact to remember about smart meters is that they to whatever degree that they do work to reduce your energy use is by changing your behavior.

Smart metering

Smart metering is primarily intended to make consumers more conscious of energy consumption, thus leading to reduced consumption during peak periods and an overall reduction in the production of greenhouse gases.

Informing the user is merely the first step: facilitating the desired action by consumers requires two other capabilities:

  • The use of tariffs to encourage energy consciousness (whereby high instantaneous demand during periods of peak demand is charged a premium price)
  • Direct control of major household appliances

A fuller exploration of these topics can be found in the Alcatel-Lucent white paper, Smart Metering – Enabling Greater Energy Efficiency.2

CONTROL

In this Alcatel-Lucent strategic whitepaper, they are marketing to utilities the dream of controlling the consumer.

CONTROLLING THE CONSUMER

In the long-term, we can envisage distributors or energy retailers wanting to be able to incent customers to allow them to control non-essential demand.

For example, in exchange for a favorable tariff, the customer would allow the distributor to regulate their air-conditioning in order to shed load at times of excessive demand.

This is not a dream. The technology is ready. Domestic appliance manufacturers are starting to implement standard remote control protocols that would enable this sort of control. All that is required is the political will and a rollout of enabled smart meters.

Read more

“Incent” or Coerce?

Can they incent you into giving up control over your air conditioner?

First of all, I don’t think incent is even a word. But I am sure that with the right incentives they can get you to do a lot of things you you’d prefer not to do. “Incent” or incentivize, in my opinion, is a stand in for a more appropriate term such as “coerce”.  They can make it completely unaffordable for those who prefer to continue to set their own thermostats controls themselves but that strikes me as a negative method which deserves a negative term like “coerce”

 

Alcatel-Lucent gives the features and benefits of smart meter technology;

RECORDING USAGE DATA

Maintain data records of the usage within the meter at configured intervals for a set amount of time.

REMOTE INTERVAL METER READING

Interrogating the meter usage data at configured intervals ranging from 15 minutes to every three months.

REMOTE ONE-OFF METER READING

Interrogating the meter usage data on an ad-hoc basis.

REMOTE METER ACTIVATION, SUSPENSION, AND DEACTIVATION

The ability to configure a meter to be off (deactivated and not assigned to a customer account), to be on with a configured maximum capacity, and to be suspended (deactivated but remaining configured to a customer account).

CUSTOMER INFORMATION ON CURRENT AND HISTORIC CONSUMPTION

Providing a display unit (probably remotely from the meter itself). Equally this could be a web interface to the customers account.

Network Monitoring/

Demand Response

Multi utility

Metering

2-way Communication

Monitoring

Intelligent House

Devices

Intelligent Energy

Management

METER DATA MANAGEMENT

Assembling and storing the data received from each customer, partitioning it by customer, by customer type, by geography, by retailer (if appropriate), etc. Providing the statistics required to manage the service (for example, gross demand from a given geography by time over a given period, gross demand by customer type over a given period, etc.)

Formatting for transmission to the retailer (if appropriate), archive management.

FLEXIBLE TARIFFING AND RATING

Applying the tariff plan appropriate to that customer, customer type, retailer, etc. and creating the appropriate billing records for onward transmission to the customer.

REAL-TIME TARIFFING AND RATING

Applying the above in real-time. This is of great importance in the case of pre-paid metering.

CREDIT LIMIT CONTROL

Implementing a rules-based decision tree when credit expires or a credit limit is reached dependent upon customer, customer type, retailer, etc.

CAPACITY REGULATION

This can include the temporary reduction of power to a “social minimum” where credit becomes an issue or configuring the meter to suit the circumstances of the particular customer.

LOSS OF POWER NOTIFICATION

In the case of power outages, the meter can transmit a “last gasp” that alerts the distributor to a failure in the network.

REMOTE DEVICE READING AND CONTROL

In the longer term, there is the ability to register remote devices in the premises, to read their configuration and, upon suitable authority, to regulate them. The example, cited above, of raising the temperature of air-conditioning is a typical application. Others could be the activation of other devices (for example, washing machines, when the lowest tariff threshold is reached).

Read more

Alcatel Lucent (Yes. The same guys implementing Oklahoma’s Smart meter/grid communications system) has had a very interesting document turn up in WikiLeaks’ newly released “Spyfiles”

 Alcatel-Lucent Unified Lawful Interception Suite

1357 ULIS adds lawful interception functions to Alcatel-Lucent products, adapting their internal interfaces to the standard lawful interception interfaces of law enforcement agency monitoring facilities.

The Alcatel-Lucent 1357 ULIS is a complete communications interception solution. It provides government authorities/LEAs and network operators with an integrated system for transparently intercepting and extracting real time information from vast amounts of voice, data and multimedia communications over virtually any type of network.

http://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/files/0/81_ALCATEL-LUCENT-1357-ULIS2008.pdf

So Alcatel-Lucent is adapting their products to permit “law enforcement monitoring facilities” to intercept your data.

For interception to be lawful, it must be conducted in accordance with national law, following due process after receiving proper authorization from competent authorities. Typically, a national Law Enforcement Agency  (LEA) issues an order for LI to a specific network operator, access provider, or network service provider, which is obliged by law to deliver the requested information to a Law Enforcement Monitoring Facility.  Link

What sort of data can Alcatel Lucent intercept?

The Alcatel-Lucent 1357 ULIS is a complete communications interception solution. It provides government authorities/LEAs and network operators with an integrated system for transparently intercepting and extracting real time information from vast amounts of voice, data and multimedia communications over virtually any type of network. (Emphasis mine) .  Link

But it says “Lawful Interception” so what is the big deal?  What do you think it takes to ‘lawfully’ intercept information these days?  A warrant?  A subpoena?

Not necessarily.

For some relevant background on Lawful Interception and the newer laws and policies that show that “lawful” may not mean what you think it does, see Lawful Interception: Technology that is legally watching you

The Bottom line?

Based on the law as it stands, you will likely never know if law enforcement or intelligence services are using intercept or intrusion technologies against you. If you do, then it may be accidental or long after the fact.

Read more-Lawful Interception: Technology that is legally watching you

So what is the state doing to protect our sensitive data?

Not much.

Oklahoma HB 1079, The Electric Usage Data Protection Act was passed into law and signed by the governor on May 24, 2011.

There is little protection afforded to the customer of their personal data collected by the smart meters.

HB 1079 authorizes OG&E and other utility providers in the state the right to share your meter usage data, without your consent, to various third parties for purposes of “development, enhancement, marketing, provision of energy-related products and services or promotion of public policy objectives.”  The third parties, according to the bill, will keep our info “confidential”

The bill does not define what “confidential” means legally.  The law states that a representative of the third party has to state that they will keep the information confidential in writing so maybe a copy of this statement or form would give a better idea of the parameters.  Also, there are no penalties provided for improper uses of our data in the bill which make it hard for me to believe that our privacy is being taken seriously at all.

The Electric Usage Data Protection Act went into effect on Nov 1, 2011.

Read the bill http://www.scribd.com/doc/62786738/Oklahoma-HB1079-The-Electric-Usage-Data-Protection-Act

I agree with Alcatel-Lucent.  It is  all about control.

_____________________________________________

Howard and I gave some attention to the topic of smart meters on our October 21, 2011 show.

Citing concerns with the health effects, privacy, safety and accuracy, some residents are telling their utility company NO!  They do not want the new meters installed and they say they are being told that unless they comply, they will lose service.

Here is the audio for that show; A4L_2011-10-21_64k.mp3

IS TOTAL SOCIALISM IN YOUR FUTURE?

Guest post by Ken Moore

kenmooreok@cox.net

August 1,  2011

Real conservatives in Congress/legislatures have always told us that enough savings to balance any budget can be made by cutting fraud, waste, abuse, outrageous programs, etc.  The reason this is so hard to do now is that this President and this Senate are determined to tax the middle class into permanent hard times that are bad enough that they will accept extreme taxes in exchange for the federal government’s doling out enough small amounts of tax credits, favors, welfare, etc. so that we will have enough money/government entitlements to maintain a minimum middle class lifestyle existence.

Over time this “middle class existence” will become extremely over-regulated, burdensome, motivation-killing, and less than fulfilling to talented entrepreneurs:   It will include $7-$8 gasoline; uncontrolled border with Mexico; almost unlimited welfare for illegals;  favoritism for public sector workers resulting in more budget-busting government salary caused by union paybacks for influencing and/or throwing elections;  “free” cradle-to-grave government health insurance for everybody which will ration care that, for instance, requires you to wait  8 months or more get on chemotherapy if you get cancer; surveillance cameras watching everybody while recording “suspicious” activities such as what churches and organization meetings they attend; people being economically forced to live in inner city high rises to save energy and/or meet government Section 8 or other welfare requirements; total individual income/social security tax burdens of 65% and upward; extreme control, burdens, and taxes on  small business, a 25% value-added tax (VAT, which is a federal sales tax) on everything people buy; etc., etc.

Cooperating/chosen wealthy people and political socialists will become the new ruling class.  The rest of the wealthy will be taxed into becoming middle class like us.  “Cooperating” means letting the government pretty much control big business companies with guarantees that they will not be allowed to fail. Guarantees fulfilled by spending our tax money. The ruling class will help the government to maintain control.

You don’t like all this?  You need to become active politically, and do what you can to see that it doesn’t happen.  Many, many lawmakers from both parties and the President need to be voted out in 2012, but it will require lots of work.

Republican Study Group Issues Proposed Budget Cuts

•Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy. $445 million annual savings.
•Save America’s Treasures Program. $25 million annual savings.
•International Fund for Ireland. $17 million annual savings.
•Legal Services Corporation. $420 million annual savings.
•National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annual savings.
•National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annual savings.
•Hope VI Program. $250 million annual savings.
•Amtrak Subsidies. $1.565 billion annual savings.
•Eliminate duplicative education programs. H.R. 2274 (in last Congress), authored by Rep. McKeon, eliminates 68 at a savings of $1.3 billion annually.
•U.S. Trade Development Agency. $55 million annual savings.
•Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy. $20 million annual savings.
•Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding. $47 million annual savings.
•John C. Stennis Center Subsidy. $430,000 annual savings.
•Community Development Fund. $4.5 billion annual savings.
•Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid. $24 million annual savings.
•Cut Federal Travel Budget in Half. $7.5 billion annual savings
•Trim Federal Vehicle Budget by 20%. $600 million annual savings.
•Essential Air Service. $150 million annual savings.
•Technology Innovation Program. $70 million annual savings.
•Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program. $125 million annual savings.
•Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.
•Beach Replenishment. $95 million annual savings.
•New Starts Transit. $2 billion annual savings.
•Exchange Programs for Alaska, Natives Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts. $9 million annual savings
•Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants. $2.5 billion annual savings.
•Title X Family Planning. $318 million annual savings.
•Appalachian Regional Commission. $76 million annual savings.
•Economic Development Administration. $293 million annual savings.
•Programs under the National and Community Services Act. $1.15 billion annual savings.
•Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.
•Freedom CAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.
•Energy Star Program. $52 million annual savings.
•Economic Assistance to Egypt. $250 million annually.
•U.S. Agency for International Development. $1.39 billion annual savings.
•General Assistance to District of Columbia. $210 million annual savings.
•Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. $150 million annual savings.
•Presidential Campaign Fund. $775 million savings over ten years.
•No funding for federal office space acquisition. $864 million annual savings.
•End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services.
•Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. More than $1 billion annually.
•IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget. $1.8 billion savings over ten years.
•Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees. $1 billion total savings.
•Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees. $1.2 billion savings over ten years.
•Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of. $15 billion total savings.
•Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress.
•Eliminate Mohair Subsidies. $1 million annual savings.
•Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. $12.5 million annual savings
•Eliminate Market Access Program. $200 million annual savings.
•USDA Sugar Program. $14 million annual savings.
•Subsidy to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). $93 million annual savings.
•Eliminate the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. $56.2 million annual savings.
•Eliminate fund for Obamacare administrative costs. $900 million savings.
•Ready to Learn TV Program. $27 million savings.
•HUD Ph.D. Program.
•Deficit Reduction Check-Off Act.
•TOTAL SAVINGS: $2.5 Trillion over Ten Years

*UPDATED*Ada Oklahoma- Tuesday Tea Party Gets Touchy When Ken Miller Crashes the Party

UPDATE-11/3/2010

I did get to talk to Mrs. Catherine White and after doing so found myself twice as mad as before!

Catherine is a genuinely nice, gentle lady and the antics that Ken Miller imposed on her have caused her more than a little discomfort. She is trying to help others get involved and informed.  She managed to get 75 people out to that event, and that is a feat no matter how you slice it.  Much preparation went into the meeting and she was distressed that 5 people left the event right after sitting through Ken Miller’s public hissy fit.  I hope she takes this all as a learning experience and uses the bad behavior as an example of why the grassroots needs to be involved in the political arena.

As far as her take on the whole mess, Catherine was not impressed with Ken Miller at all!  She said that he spent a good deal of time canonizing himself as  “the were the most holy, stainless, pure and angelic person” and then treated the crowd to 30 minutes of hurling accusations at Al Gerhart.  She didn’t mention the specific accusations but did find it notable that while Al sat quietly through the rant;  “he didn’t make a peep” she said, Miller was “jumping up to get his two cents in” when it was Al’s turn to speak.  Catherine would not allow Al to use his time to shoot back but reminded him that he was there to inform them about the state questions so Al got little time to defend himself which I think is just as well and Catherine handled that matter very appropriately.  She was concerned about all of those people who showed up to be informed and made sure that they were.

Here is the advice I gave to Catherine by email after we spoke;

I understand your concern about this situation reflecting poorly on you or tea party efforts.

My advice is to turn it into a learning experience for them.  We are just regular folks that generally take things at face value because in our daily lives that works.  Unfortunately, politics seems to follow a different set of rules but far from discouraging us, this fact should indicate to us that our input is sorely needed.

What happens is that the good people, upon getting a whiff of the bad smell emanating from the political arena, pinch their noses and go home.  Well, this is exactly what serves the stinkers best!
I always say that I wish I didn’t know had bad it all stinks because now that I do, I cannot turn my back on it.  Why?  Because the dirty dealings that are going on in politics translates to all of us being taken advantage of in many ways not the least of which is in our pocketbooks.

The grassroots are the only political force that can resist the corruption and therefor we must serve as the moral compass in our chosen parties and government.  This is what the grassroots are for.

Rather than being bewildered by the bad behavior rampant in politics, we should turn the tables and insist (just like you did!) that the players follow the rules that we all do with each other ever day.

When you see this type of bad behavior displayed openly, doesn’t it make you worried about what goes on behind closed doors?  It is as bad as you would imagine.

The best advice I have gotten to date on how to navigate the political arena, and you will no doubt be familiar with this bit of wisdom;

“Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves”

Kaye Beach

Oct 31, 2010

No longer content to wait on their Party to hand out assignments or provide them with walking lists, modern day rabble-rousers are doing it all. They lobby, teach, organize events, help write legislation, block walk and even serve as civil watchdogs.

While our government runs us through a meat grinder in their quest to transform government, there is a growing number of Americans who may have been called the liberty sensitive “canaries in the coal mine” but as their numbers continue to grow they look less like canaries and more like a flock of freebirds (or possibly magpies to some aggravated lawmakers. Perspectives will vary)

They print their own political signage, run radio ads, make use of high tech tools like robo calls, databases and websites to inform voters and shine the light on political shenanigans.

But it ain’t all sunshine and roses.

Al Gerhart, of the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance and Sooner Tea Party along with the hosts and attendees of a recent Tea Party meeting in Ada got a surprise visit last Tuesday.

Gerhart was scheduled to speak on the state’s ballot initiatives and upcoming Tea Party activities when State Representative, Ken Miller, Republican candidate for the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s office turned up unannounced at the event. He asked if he could speak in response to an ongoing Tea Party campaign, www.kenmillerlied.com , an effort to expose instances that activists believe demonstrates deceit on the part of Rep. Miller.

Ken Miller has received some un-welcomed attention from grassroots activists and the media on matters pertaining to the Governors Spy Cam scheme, tax credits, and his role in the Tax/Fee bill that was passed at the tail end of the last legislative session.

The hostess of the evening, Mrs. Catherine White, graciously allowed Rep. Miller the floor in order for him to have his say.

I am told The Oklahoma State Representative began his talk tame but grew temperamental before long.

After offering a bit of personal background about himself, Rep. Miller turned his attention to the matter that inspired him to attend the Ada event in the first place.

“Litter”


Rep. Miller is quite put out with the quantity of “litter” being strewn about the state and he is pretty sure who is responsible for it.

Now, as far as campaign materials go, the signs in question are unusually discreet ones measuring app 3″ x 18″. They hardly seem to qualify as litter but perhaps the difference between litter and valuable information is in the “eye of the beholder’ as one Oklahoma Representative told members of the House when he was asked to clarify the difference between a “Tax” and a “Fee”.

The signs bear only a single web address:

KenMillerLied.com

“They littered my entire House District with them, and they are littered ALL over the state!” the Rep. and State Treasurer hopeful declared to the onlookers.

The Representative went on to charge that Al Gerhart, small business owner and newly minted Tea Party political activist, was fabricating the allegations found online at www.KenMillerLied.com

If you have not met Al Gerhart, I will note that he has a no-nonsense, straightforward approach that has served him well as a small businessman. These same skills have quickly earned him both loyal fans and intense detractors in the Oklahoma political arena.

I like to give credit where credit is due. One thing about Al that is undeniable is that he gets the job done! Furthermore, he does it at a price that you can’t beat with a stick.

Al Gerhart, like many other great people in this state and nation, receives nothing in return for his labor as a grassroots activist and he works harder at it than just about anyone I know.

I am very interested in finding out what those who witnessed what must have been a rather uncomfortable meeting, took away from the Tuesday night spectacle.  On Monday I plan to satisfy my curiosity and contact some who were present and find out what the folks in Ada thought about it all.

When I found out about this contentious event that took place in Ada I contacted Al to find out more about what actually happened — which he was happy to share.

According to Mr. Gerhart, Ken Miller has been badmouthing him and other Tea Party activists at Republican events since last July; other sources validate that this is true.

Gerhart says;

“We ignored Mr. Miller’s antics, after all, he was helping spread the story, I thought perhaps some of the attendees would look further into the facts.  Never in a million years did I think Mr. Miller would ever take the time to hunt me down and confront me personally.”

Apparently, Rep. Miller’s first contention at the recent Ada event was that “I and a few friends were “littering” the entire state with the KenMillerLied.com signs,” says Al.

He notes that Rep Miller “didn’t explain just how a few people could afford the cost of the signs nor how we could manage to ‘litter’ the entire state.”

Ken Miller believes that Al and others in the Tea Party Group were angered by his refusal to permit a certain bill, HB 2810, to advance in the legislature last session.

That certainly didn’t win Ken Miller any grassroots love but it also isn’t the only thing that has gotten him crossways with voters.

Rep. Miller told the crowd that this bill would have prevented the federal government from collecting excise taxes and would also allow the printing of Oklahoma currency.

According to Gerhart;

“HB 2810 did not prevent collection of Federal Excise tax, it would have merely created an escrow account for the tax should Eric Holder, the Obama administration Attorney General make good on his threats to strip road and bridge tax money from Oklahoma should Oklahoma pass a bill to make English the official state language.”

According to this story posted on The McCarville Report on Feb. 10, 2010;

House Bill 2810 allows the state to collect and then remit federal taxes and hold that money in a fund that can be invested with the state retaining any earnings from the investment.

“There is a potential for over $50 million new tax dollars to be made by the state if this bill passes,” said Key. “And that is in the current low interest rate environment. In a typical year, that figure could be four or five times higher.”

Key filed a similar bill in 1995 and it passed the House on an 89-12 vote, but was held up by the Senate.

Gerhart also insisted that there was no mention of printing currency in the bill. I did a word search on HB 2810 and indeed, the word currency is not in it, nor is “printing”, “coin” or “money”.

Here is my story about the resistance we met with on HB 2810;

HB 2810 The Oklahoma Sovereignty Act: Stuck in Liebmanns Craw

One can only hope that Rep. Miller actually read this bill before deciding to kill it early last session.

ROBO-Enragement


Rep. Miller had other complaints about Gerhart and the Sooner Tea Party.

Al Gerhart related that Rep. Miller was indignant over robo calls that the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance (a conservative coalition group initiated by Gerhart last year) issued in July to inform voters about Rep. Miller’s voting record.

“He is apparently upset that mere citizens dared to inform other citizens of his voting record.” says Gerhart.

**Note to self, robo calls do in fact, still work.


FAST TAX

Rep. Miller’s role in the controversial, last minute tax increase bill is a central point of contention between the activists and Rep. Miller that led to the creation of the www.KenMillerLied.com website.

At issue is Rep. Miller’s campaign statements that assert that “he has never supported a tax increase”, a statement disputed by others, including this well respected Republican commentator who has no known involvement in the Tea Party movement.

As highlighted by the www.kenmillerlied.com website, Rep. Miller posted this statement to his campaign website in response to the insistence by some in the Tea Party movement, including this writer, that he was not being truthful about his voting record or his role in the tax increase


In Ada, Rep. Miller admitted that he did author the bill but downplayed that fact saying that that it is part of his responsibility as the Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. There is something to this but it isn’t the point.

But focusing on it serves a great red herring for Rep. Miller to use. The reason many took issue with the bill in the first place was because they believed it was not in accordance with the Oklahoma State Constitution which plainly says no revenue bills can be passed in the last five days of session.

Rep. Miller has backed himself into a corner by making overarching statements to try to obscure his complicity in the tax increase bill.

From what I have seen, I have no doubt that Ken Miller is pretty bright, bright enough to know that the bill was a blatant violation of the law.

Isn’t his first responsibility as a legislator to uphold the law? I doubt the job description for chair of the Budget and Appropriations committee requires Rep. Miller to uphold and defend unconstitutional legislation.

Here is the oath Oklahoma officials do solemnly swear:

“that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties”

If Kim Holland caught the problem with the bill Ken Miller certainly should have!

Miller’s Tax Bill Gets theGavel!

The detractors of the tax increase bill were actually vindicated by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in August of this year;

Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Health Insurance Tax Bill Unconstitutional

Naturally, the person listed as the author of this measure earned the brunt of the ire.

There is some confusion as to the technical procedures at play in our state legislature but Rep. Miller’s blanket denial of culpability in regards to authorship and support of the bill brought about renewed outrage as he is clearly listed as the author and records show that he signed the bill out of committee as well.

The bill in question traveled an unusually tortured path on the way to its eventual passage making it tough to evaluate. The 11th hour appearance before the house and also owing to the resistance it met with from some members of the State House contributed to the mess of documentation on the measure that made sorting out exactly what happened and what it meant hard to discern. Again after researching the matter and the input of those with the credentials to decipher the meaning from the morass of papers, Rep. Miller’s culpability was validated.

See the documents and explanation here

DRT-Dead Right There

In an effort to better understand the degree of support that Ken Miller really did lend to the measure, I made several calls to both legislators and staff and it was pointed out to me that the author of a bill also has the power to quash it at any time. As a gadabout and citizen lobbyist at our state capitol, I was aware of this but asked if this ability to kill your own bill was changed by the fact that Rep Miller is the chair of the Budget and Appropriations. Does his position make any difference? The answer is no.

Had Rep. Miller really wanted to, he could have made that nasty, unconstitutional bill “DRT-Dead Right There”, as Neil Bortz likes to say

From my July 26, 2010 posting on the matter;

  1. Ken Miller authored the bill
  2. A bill cannot be altered or advanced without the approval of the author meaning that
  3. The author has sole power to withdraw their bill.
  4. If Ken Miller really opposed the bill, he could have killed it.
  5. Ken Miller did not kill it.

Given these facts and Rep Miller’s statement that it is a “ridiculous assertion” that he “authored and supported a tax increase bill” as he stated on his website, “Ken Miller Lied” is a perfectly fair and indisputable statement.

They are watching you (but not as much as they could be)

Thank goodness the Spy Cam, InsureNet Governors Revenue deal fizzled out!

Rep Miller was also miffed about the Tea Party dragging him down the center of town with devils bringing up the rear prodding him with pitchforks right in the behind.

What!?

It turns out that the gentle tea folk did not do anything of the sort. But they did discuss (or fantasize) about doing such a show at the recent Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween Parade in OKC.

This idea was resoundingly rejected by the group as a whole as unseemly and the rest settled on handing out candy and literature instead.

The shocking thing to me is that we have a state legislator spying on a group of citizen activists. Think about that for a minute. Ken Miller is not sure who exactly put those little signs out all over the state, but when the legislation he authored reaches its fulfillment then we will understand just what a chill comes when the government has even more power to spy on the people.

Rep. Miller told the audience Tuesday night that he had nothing to do with the spy cam bill. He is telling the truth, technically speaking.

The has been no legislation in Oklahoma that I am aware of called a “spy camera bill”

The Spy Cam’s in question are actually Automatic License Plate Recognition or ALPR.


ALPR uses a video camera and optical character recognition technology to read the letters and numbers on your license plate. By comparing your plate with whatever database it might be linked up to, the device can check to see if you have any outstanding tickets or warrants. It can also see if you are on a watch list, owe back taxes or verify whether or not the vehicle is insured. ALPR can store your data allowing your movements to be tracked and cataloged.

The technology is not foolproof and requires certain features to be present on license plates in order to work optimally.

Our old Oklahoma license plates did not have the features needed to be read properly by the ALPR. The font of the characters, contrast in color and reflectivity needed to be changed before the ALPR could work properly.

**See 3M’s brochure

Oklahoma passed legislation to mandate the creation and implementation of the camera ready plates.

In 2007 SB 748 was passed

SB 748-Creates the Oklahoma License Plate Design Task Force to choose the design of a new official Oklahoma license plate. Requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission, contingent upon statutory authorization, to implement the license plate reissue using the design selected by the task force.

http://www.oksenate.gov/publications/legislative_summary/2007_legislative_summary.html

In 2008 HB 3326 was passed

HB 3326 by Rep. Kenneth Miller, directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to begin replacing state license plates with those approved by the Oklahoma License Plate Design Task Force

http://www.oksenate.gov/news/week_in_review/week_in_review_2008/wir2008331403.html

 


 

Http://www.okhouse.gov/Journals/HJ2007/2007%20HComJour.pdf

Gov. Brad Henry’s Budget Proposal for FY 2011 which was unveiled at the State of the State address proposes;

Automated Enforcement of Vehicle Insurance

The Governor’s budget proposes that the State of Oklahoma better protect Oklahomans from uninsured motorists by increasing drivers’ compliance with compulsory vehicle insurance laws through implementation of an automated enforcement system. An automated enforcement system will increase the efficiency of the current Oklahoma law enforcement, enable equal enforcement of in-state and out-of-state violators and reduce costs to existing vehicle liability policyholders. An automated system also eliminates insurance fraud by providing instant insurance verification.

Without these two bills, Oklahoma would not have the (spy)camera ready license plates that we do today.

Read more about the Oklahoma, Spy Cam, InsureNet Budget Deal

Al’s turn

Gerhart goes on to give a detailed account of what he said to the audience when time came for him to speak but I will only give an abbreviated version here with a promise to follow up after I have gathered the impressions of some of the others who were present.

 

Al says;

“I did tell the crowd of the work and expense of the KenMillerLied.com project, all of which was funded by dozens and dozens of citizens from all across the state.”

He indicated to me that he defended the efforts and actions of activists who are ordinary working people that were trying to do their part to improve matters in our state by getting involved in the political process.

Gerhart apparently covered a lot of ground despite several interruptions by Rep. Miller who was finally admonished by an elderly gentleman who stood and expressed that the Representative was being unfair by interrupting when he had been allowed his say without interference. Rep. Miller doesn’t seem to think the same rules that we follow, apply to him.

Al Gerhart expressed some surprise and doubt about the quality of Rep. Miller’s judgment in showing up unannounced to the event and acting rudely. He questioned whether Rep. Miller underestimated the intelligence of the group of people in Ada, who surely had some background about the matters raised that evening.

Pride Cometh…..

Gerhart’s conclusion?

 

“Miller is not stupid, but he is eaten up with arrogance and pride.”

 

Speaking of politicians that exhibit these qualities, Gerhart says he wonders if “the very qualities that put them in charge will not be what brings them down to public humiliation”

Gerhart left the people in Ada with some food for thought;

 

“He [Miller] had listed a long list of endorsements for his campaign, yet he left out one of the most remarkable endorsements, that of the sitting State Treasurer, Democrat Scott Meachum.

 

“I asked what sort of world were we living in where a Democrat elected official would stand for one of their highest elected officials endorsing a Republican?  Is that not insanity?”

He then makes the point that it only seems insane “because we don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

The reasoning, Al suggests, transcends partisan politics because those who stand to benefit most from a Treasurer that will play ball….

 

“. . .can’t afford to have an honest man elected to the Treasurer’s office”


Oklahoma’s Getting “Sticker Tags” Sounds Harmless Enough…So What are they?

Kaye Beach

9/06/10

Testing to continue on Oklahoma Pikepass stickers

Published: Sep 4, 2010

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT

New Pikepass windshield sticker tags should be available after the first of the year, with plans to get them distributed to all account holders in two years, a spokesman for Oklahoma’s turnpike agency says.

A second round of field-testing the stickers is scheduled to begin this week, said Jack Damrill, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spokesman.

No serious glitches were reported during an initial test of placing the sticker tags on about 500 passenger cars, Damrill said.

“We saw a few things that we needed to look at but nothing major,” he said. “Mostly people getting confused about how to put the sticker tag on.”

People might also be a bit confused by what the heck a “sticker tag” is because there is little indication of what they do or how they work in this article….

Here is just a little bit of information about these new “sticker tags”;

TransCore’s new family of eGo™ radio frequency identification (RFID) products ushers in new opportunities for electronic toll collection (ETC) and makes possible the introduction of electronic vehicle registration (EVR) applications. (Emphasis added)

http://www.transcore.com/pdf/eGo_etc_evr_brochure.pdf

They are quite an upgrade from the old ones. For one thing, these “Sticker Tags” are very versatile.

They can enable Electronic Vehicle Registration and automatic citations for a variety of offenses, among other possibilities.


Easily integrated into your existing computer system, the Electronic Vehicle Registration system captures vehicle status information that can be used for subsequent communications within the DMV and also shared with other agencies

. . . authorities can quickly augment this effort,[Electronic Toll Collection-via the RFID "sticker tags"]streamline an already stressed system, and reclaim lost revenue with electronic compliance monitoring . . .

Status related to insurance compliance, as well as safety and emissions standards, can be included, increasing the efficacy of reporting processes and improving inter-agency cooperation. (maybe this is why InsureNet was canned. They don’t need them)



The information stored on windshield sticker tags can be read and compared in milliseconds to the DMV’s database to determine if the vehicle is stolen, non-compliant with governmental requirements, or if there are unpaid offenses. . . .

. . . tickets can be generated automatically through a violation processing center. (Emphasis mine)

Read More

You might remember last year (Nov. 27, 2009) when we learned;

Oklahoma to Establish Electronic Insurance Verification System

State officials are looking at beefing up the state’s electronic insurance verification system by setting up cameras across the state to randomly record vehicle tags. Cameras set up at about 200 locations along selected highways would focus in on a tag’s bar code — found at the bottom of each tag — and record it. Bar code scanners would match the tag numbers with a national database containing real-time vehicle insurance information.

http://www.newsok.com/oklahoma-could-keep-an-eye-on-uninsured-motorists/article/3420697

Soon after that announcement I began to question Governor Henry regarding the license plate scanning devices. No explanations were forthcoming from the Governor but in doing some searching online I soon found some interesting information that seemed to give more of the “big picture” on why these devices were so important to the state. The ALPR camera’s, were said to be needed for insurance verification purposes.

For more background on this issue, click HERE)

Here is a cost/benefit analysis for EVR and ALPR as stand alone and complementary systems done by Arizona in 2008. It gives a good overview of the many potential uses for these systems.

On January 4, 2010, I wrote;

The Alliance for Toll Interoperability is a fairly new organization comprised of representatives of the transportation industry from several states.  David Machamer, the Director of Toll Operations for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is on the board of trustees of ATI. (Now he is the Vice Chair) This organization has come up with an interoperable toll charging plan that requires the use of ALPR (Automatic License Plate Readers) in order to be workable.

The plan also includes other schemes for tracking motorists and charging for various roadway usage fees through electronic registration tags (RFID) as well as cellular and satellite technology

According to ATI, the Alliance for Toll Interoperability (which includes “More than 40 participating toll agencies representing 24 states & 3 countries”)

License Plate Tolling is the “bridge” interoperability technology

Read more about ATI

HOW EVR WORKS (Electronic Vehicle Registration)

Through the use of a tamper-resistant, paper-thin windshield sticker tag, similar in size to current state registration stickers, vehicle compliance can be electronically monitored as a tagged vehicle passes readers strategically placed throughout the jurisdiction. . . (so not just at tolling stations but anywhere)

The system identifies the vehicle, takes a license plate photograph of non-tagged vehicles, validates the vehicle status, and authenticates the vehicle data (the Automatic License Plate Readers are a necessary part of this system)

. . . when necessary, [the system] issues tickets or citations through a violation processing system. Electronic Vehicle Registration serves as a deterrent as well as an enforcement tool. . .

. . . no partnership is better suited to offer a system that will increase revenue and cash flow for DMV and law enforcement agencies

What do you want to bet the tolling industry will assure us that our information will be kept private?

In this 2009 RFI (Request for Information) issued by ATI, some concern is expressed in finding a solution that protects sensitive information such as, data about the account holder, the vehicle and travel. I am pleased that they seem to acknowledge that this is a concern but wonder if they did, in fact, find a solution.

This is an ongoing issue with every electronic tolling system I know of and it seems the newer ones are even worse. Part of the problem though, may be out of the tolling industry’s hands because of the new policies since 9 11 that allow for more data collection by law enforcement, with less of a requirement for warrant’s or probable cause to get it.

I have emailed the Turnpike Authority and asked them for their privacy policy on the new tags as well as the policy on the video tolling as I didn’t see the documents on the website.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask, go to http://www.pikepass.com/ and click “contact us”.

Here is how it’s going down in Virginia. Privacy advocates noted that;

The toll data is linked to the vehicle owner’s name, address and other personal information.

Privacy advocates object that electronic toll collection means that drivers leave an electronic record, down to the minute, wherever they pay a toll.

The authority’s “customer agreement” with tose who use E-ZPass makes no privacy commitment.

Their inquiries about the use of data collected by the Toll Authority were met with nonsense.

. . .both authority board Chairman David A. Darlington and Executive Director Earl J. “Buddy” Croft III say they won’t release the data until a judge directs them to.

“No information comes out of the authority unless there’s a court subpoena,” Croft said.

It’s not clear what the authority’s written E-ZPass privacy policy is.

Crawford said there is one, but, asked for a copy said, “I’m not going to give it to you.”

. . .Privacy advocates say that as long as the data exists, it will be used, or misused, for purposes other than toll collection.

For example, tag readers can be located at places other than toll plazas. That’s already happening elsewhere, with sensors placed along highways in the San Francisco Bay Area to measure traffic.

Nice.

Read more

What does EVR do?

  • Enables government agencies to automatically detect and screen motor vehicles for compliance with federal, state, and municipal vehicle regulations.
  • Enables automated enforcement actions and violation processing for non-compliant vehicles.
  • Enables automation of current government processes that are dependent on manual, visual-based inspection greatly increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Enables automated detection and rapid apprehension of vehicles reported as stolen or involved in other serious crimes

    http://www.transcore.com/I-A/evr/what-is-evr.shtml

The ATI is not the only organization that have been applying themselves to toll interoperability and all of the attractive attendant capabilities that go along with a nationally interoperable tolling system among which are increased revenue which is a great selling point used to create support among federal and state governmental agencies for toll interoperability. But ATI just happens to be the organization working on getting Oklahoma on board and that is why I have focused on them.

This past session there were a couple of bills pertaining to the Oklahoma Turnpike authority (Oklahoma has one of maybe ten completely independent toll authorities)

One of those bills, co-authored by Sen. Randy Brogdon and Rep Jason Murphy would have required that revenue bonds or bonds issued by the Turnpike Authority have a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.  It would have also required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise the tolls.  That bill died in the Senate

David Machamer, Vice Chair of ATI and Director of Toll Operations for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is also on Board of Directors of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA)

Here is a list of all Current Board Members and Staff of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

I am not so concerned with a new system of road pricing (usage/milage tax as opposed to gas tax) but the plan does not seem to be limited to toll roads (open road tolling means just that). My primary concern is one of giving the government too much control over us. This will migrate to more and more charges for less and less freedom. A Tracking, monitoring and milking system is what it amounts to.

David Machamer, heads up the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Vice Chair of the Alliance for Toll Interoperability and appointed to the Board of the IBTTA.

The IBTTA has a Dream:

– Fully automated occupancy verification supported by appropriate legislation for enforcement

http://www.ibtta.org/files/PDFs/Kohr_Dean.pdf




More about ECT Electronic Toll Collection