I found a whole lot of surveillance cameras this last week in Ludington public restrooms, fourteen total, twelve hidden. I would not be surprised if there were more.
I went to the Ludington City Hall tonight, August 26, 2013, looking to get the City Hall to quit breaking the law and invading the privacy of our guests and citizens in illegal and illicit public bathroom surveillance. For having such a quaint notion, I was upbraided by several Ludington public officials, beginning with ZBA/Board of Review member Wallace Cain, continuing with Mayor John Henderson, City Manager John Shay, City Attorney Richard Wilson, and ending with a see/hear/say-no-evil bit by Police Captain Mike Harrie, sitting in for Police Chief Mark Barnett, who was home "watching the movies", if you know what I mean. The whole amoral bunch will have their ridiculous comments ridiculed when the video from this meeting becomes available (except for Harrie's, whose comments came after the meeting). Here was the public comment I gave, complete with pictures, and links that are only available here.
"Tom Rotta reclining at 137 E Dowland Street.
Tonight I want to discuss criminal law and its implications as regards the continued illegal surveillance of our citizens and our guests in areas where they deserve to have their privacy respected. It also ties in with my FOIA appeal, which due to an unwritten change of policy in these proceedings, I have not been able to give my side of the appeal at the last few meetings where I have appealed to this body for justice under state FOIA law.
I humbly ask the city council to re-establish the right to state my case for appeal in FOIA matters, since the City has seemingly proven time and again that they have no interest in transparency by violating the Open Meetings Act and FOIA at will.
In the Michigan Penal Code, section 750.539(J) it says: "A person shall not... Surveil, Photograph, or otherwise capture or record another individual... under circumstances in which the individual would have a reasonable expectation of privacy." As far as definitions, 'person' can refer to a body corporate, such as the City of Ludington, and "reasonable expectation of privacy" has historically covered bathrooms, even public bathrooms. When one steps up to a urinal, or one sits on a toilet, he expects to do so with privacy, and should not be able to look up and see a recording camera pointed at his private parts. This is a felony violation.
And this is what happens at the Waterfront Park's men's room. I set up a ladder and took a picture with my camera placed in front of their illegal surveillance lens and at the same angle and I took this still picture."
"As you can see the toilet and urinal fixtures are plainly visible, as is much of the common areas. From this angle, the City Government knowingly videotapes a profile of you at the urinal where they can see your 'Johnson'. Notice you can clearly see the handicap assistance bar around the toilet; that is the same height as most men's private parts.
But this one camera is not the only illegal camera in the men's room there."
"You will notice a vent right above the men's stall where it looks as though a little damage has happened to one of the vertical slats. A zoom into that particular vent reveals:"
[Another view here] "A camera pointing down, discretely recording more bathroom activity. It is hard to determine where exactly this camera is pointing but its purpose appears to be to record activity where men expect privacy. But women at the Waterfront Park have 'eyes in the sky too. They not only have the obvious camera pointing mainly at common areas, they also have a "duct" camera."
"Here is a faraway shot showing another busted slat in the ventilation."
"And here is a zoomed shot of the hidden camera in the woman' restroom. What is the purpose of this hidden camera in the women's restroom pointed down over the stalls? I can only guess at lewd and lascivious purposes. But let's take a look at other public restrooms maintained by our City Hall. Here's the men's room at the North James Plaza:"
"The break in the ventilation screen is less noticeable, but the camera is obviously there."
"Once you zoom into the bottom left side, a closer look sees that this hidden camera goes back to the City's locked maintenance room. The women's side appears to have the same type of well-hidden camera in their duct.
But one could claim that these were put there long ago, by some unknown pervert that once worked for the City. When we take a look at the new $100,000 men's and women's restrooms in Stearn's north bathrooms, however, we find that someone has put covert cameras in to look at you in your most private moments."
When you sit down at the first men's stall, you look up and see a hard-wired smoke detector, but this in itself is odd since the original blueprints for this bathroom has the smoke detector's above the stall, and the electrical floor plan...
"... created for this renovation shows no connection for a hard-wired 'anything' in that area. But when we take a zoom into this "smoke detector..."
"... you see some camera lenses pointed at you and your crotch. You then go to the second stall:"
"And again see the 'smoke detector'. But guess what? It sees you too!"
"What an infringement of your privacy! But seriously, could the City spend money on such things as smoke detector cameras? Yup, as seen by this receipt here."
"The first item is a color smoke detector camera purchased in 2000. And how did I get this document? A FOIA request for the invoices of the purchase of the Waterfront Park security cameras. Not too surprisingly, the hidden ventilation cameras were not part of the invoice. [My time was up at this point, I continue with my prepared statement.] DPW Director and Ludington School Board member Shawn McDonald was the contact for these purchases.
The women's bathroom at Stearn's Park also has a smoke detector camera able to look at each of the stalls there. Remember, the renovation was done earlier this summer."
"This is the first stall's close-up view."
"This is the second stall's close-up view."
"And this is the third. All shots were taken while sitting on the toilets. Whenever you sit in this restroom, you and your privacy is invaded by one or more people at City Hall, with approval from the highest authority. And is there a public interest in this privacy invasion? I'd like to hear it, and I invite the police chief to come with me after the meeting to further look at these cameras and discuss the implications of their placement."
For more photos and analysis (added 8-29 at 7:17 PM): supplementary-photo-pack-ludington-sees-you-poo-in-public
For an explanation of what those odd devices in Stearn's Park really are, check this out (added 8-30-2013 at 7:45 PM): some-relief-for-the-understandably-paranoid-folks-in-ludington
Craziness.... what are these idiots thinking? They need to get in some major trouble for this, maybe the city can be rid of these worthless twits and possibly find some people that would want to do an honest job running the city.
Our local police agencies only look after their own, and I am beginning to lose confidence in State agencies very quick. If they are to get into trouble, it will have to likely come at the expense of a court proceeding brought forth by one or more individuals who are sickened by how our city government has failed their trust in this, and many other issues. The parties responsible will likely avoid any punishment, because City Hall is too united in its corruption to actually point fingers at itself.
Wow. I am shocked at the sneaky tactics of local Government. Wonderful investigative reporting X.
So you don't have a problem with the cameras rolling if you go in the bathrooms to change clothes? I worry less about the guys in this regard then I do women... already had a woman I know that when made aware of what the city is doing felt violated as she at one point had to go in and change her top after her child threw up on her. Of course the other part where this does appear to be completely illegal... there can be cameras in common areas of restrooms but not aimed at stalls and such which these cameras clearly are.
Seriously? crimes against children being prevented by these cameras? how about a "parent" being a parent and accompanying a child to the bathroom instead of advocating we all surrender our most basic rights in order to let a government agency take care of the children. lots of children get abused in their homes, should we be inviting the police to install cameras there too??? it is for our own good isn't it???
Your mentality is disturbing, Jkillips. Are you advocating for the production of child pornography by hidden cameras? Are you saying that you don't mind having any walls or stalls around the toilet you're going bathroom in when there are hundreds of people around? Do you want to just install toilets and urinals out in the public square?
Xlfd doesn't voice his name? You did read the original post didn't you? You know, where he gives his name AND address?
Doesn't answer any of the questions on a 'refusal to argue' argument, doesn't recognize I put my name at the front of this thread; these are the people that come to the defense of the City's policy. Go figure; I'm glad they're on the City's side and not the public's side.
Your advocating the recording of children totally or partially undressed and their use of the bathroom facilities. What's the difference between that and a molester? That would be considered a felony and a sex crime. The question you should be asking is where are the parents who should be with the their children? Be careful Jkillips, your to willing to give up your privacy and freedoms and one day you may have none left.
The difference between what you see on the internet, TV, magazine, cell phones and everything else is that the people showing their 'boobies' did so willingly/got paid to do so... they were not secretly recorded by the city government. If you can't see where the difference is at, well, don't know what I can tell you then.... other then what has been stated before, that's its illegal. If you want to show your boobs, fine, more power to you... not everyone feels the same as you do though. And your comment about the underwear at Walmart is just silly and really has no relevance to the conversation.
Jkillips, what a disgusting show of liberal bs. Can't remember a member here being such low scum! What a shameful way to comment and side with what anybody knows is immoral and wrong. Who raised you? Wolves? Certainly can't be humanoids. You and your kind are so twisted and sick in the brain, it makes me puke! Go back under your rock, where you belong! You have absolutely no decent bone in your body after these posts! Go find a Gestapo forum where you belong pal!
Just wait until you hear Wallace Cain's arguments for the City's policy when the meeting video becomes available if you think Jkillips arguments are vapid and lacking any redeeming merit.