Civil liberties


Dog owner data is public once again, hunters and fishers can go undercover, and when soliciting a prostitute goes on your driving record: public records highlights

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

As I usually do, Whistleblower pored through the latest newsletter of the state Department of Administration’s Information Policy Analysis Division within minutes of it landing in my inbox. The division is the main agency that weighs in on what’s public and what’s not when it comes to state records. The Legislature didn’t pass a general data practices bill this session, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t tinker with the law. As usual, most of the changes are about information sharing between agencies and making more information secret.

To wit: names, addresses, driver’s license numbers and dates of birth of hunters and fisherpeople will no longer be public:

(more…)

How I made a door-to-door alarm salesman vanish. What do you do?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

It was a sultry summer evening in south Minneapolis. I was helping my son and his friend from across the street look for bugs underneath rocks in my front yard. A young man with a stubbly beard walked up my steps and crossed my lawn.

“Is this your home?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered, antennae twitching. I noticed his gray tennis shirt had a corporate logo on it, and that he held a binder in his hands.

“How long have you lived here?”

“Who are you?” I said. I’m sure he could almost taste the hostility in the air, but he kept smiling. He said he was selling alarm systems for Pinnacle Security and that in this neighborhood –

I cut him off. “Do you have a city solicitor license?”

(more…)

Hunt for Rachel from cardholder services takes me to a company in Florida, but she wasn’t there

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Last month, a Whistleblower reader sent me on a quest. Rachel from cardholder services has called this guy, as she has zillions of other people, and he wanted her to stop. You can’t tell where she’s calling from with your caller ID, and once you get a live person, he or she won’t tell you either. She has even called people at the FTC, who so far haven’t been able to stop Rachel, or her sidekicks Heather and Michelle.

A reader named Bill claimed to have found Rachel, after he followed the recorded directions, got a breathing human and badgered the person to give him a callback number. That connected him with a credit repair company called DHC Financial Services Group LLC at 5300 Recker Highway in Winter Haven, Florida. That’s right, Florida, Whistleblower readers.

The company pitch: “Our mission is provide each and every client with a financial plan that will eliminate your debt 3-5 times faster than your current payment practices, without having to make any larger payments than you currently are. We guarantee to show each client an initial savings of $2500 in interest and finances charges overall or the service is free.”

(more…)

A robust debate over drive-throughs, electric mobility scooters, civil rights and personal responsibility

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Ariel Wade called Whistleblower last week to say she had been refused service at the 24-hour White Castle. Her story was told in words, pictures and video on Sunday. The reactions to the story have been strong, judging by the phone calls, emails and more than 200 online comments. I knew that would be the case, so I warned Wade ahead of time, knowing that many of them would be nasty. That’s something I’m having to do regularly now, because commenters are ready to pounce on anyone who speaks publicly about feeling they’ve been mistreated by the system. Some have asked me why we allow commenting at all. My response is, because the news audience of 2009 expects and demands it, and I would rather have those discussions going on with the source of the chatter in close proximity. Our web site allows users to turn comments off, if they turn you off.