WITH LOCAL SCANNERS OF EMERGENCY RADIO "TRAFFIC" ABOUT TO GO SILENT
ENCRYPTION VERSUS THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW
A WHKP Station Editorial
June 16, 2016
HendersonCounty is about to take a giant step backwards, literally back to the days before radios and wireless communication.
Very soon, maybe as soon as the end of this summer, all analog scanners capable of monitoring sheriff’s, EMS and local Rescue Squad communications will go silent. A new system of “encrypting” emergency radio traffic will prevent any private citizen or member of the news media from listening to it.
The roll-out of a new radio system in the county already covers EMS and the Rescue Squad and will soon block out fire department and sheriff’s department radio communications…and Hendersonville Police are looking at signing on to it soon as well.
Even though we’re sure the county’s legal heads have found a way around it, state law is very clear…police radio traffic is PUBLIC information. With the encryption of public information, say good-bye to transparency…and to holding the people we pay in our emergency services accountable through PUBLIC access to PUBLIC information.
The total cost to the taxpayers of keep all this local emergency radio traffic secret will be about $1.7 million…just to start. This technology changes literally over-night and starting down this road of keeping public information secret, will almost immediately require updating and will become an on-going, ever-growing expense to the taxpayers.
Much of the “news” you hear and see on radio and TV and read about in the newspapers and on the internet now, starts with scanner traffic Once encryption is fully implemented, what you’ll get will be “filtered” through so-called public information officers and media specialists who conceivably, will tell us only what their department heads want us in the media, and you in the public, to know…and that’s all. Period. Not that it’ll happen, but the potential for abuse always increases with secrecy
Supporters of this new encryption argue that in this age of terrorism and in the interest of homeland security, encryption is necessary…terrorists and the more sophisticated criminals are already doing it. The fact is, what the “bad guys” have is probably light-years ahead of anything local agencies will be able to provide, keep up, with or afford.
So when we start down this endless path of fighting crime and terrorism more with costly technology that deprives citizens of their right to information than with manpower, citizen support and common sense , there is no end to it or to the cost of it….or to the loss of the public’s right to public information
And in the end, we would argue the public is no safer or better off because of it.
When we sign on to this practice of keeping legitimate public information secret and filtering it through the special interests of internal department staff people, the public’s right to know and access to the same information that you and I pay law enforcement, fire, EMS, and rescue squad personnel to have, is not only diminished but will be sacrificed and gone…in spite of state law, and long-standing public policy, which says such information is PUBLIC information…
Which of course is a MAJOR victory for the terrorists and criminals.
This has been a WHKP station editorial. As always, we invite your comments…on our comments.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman
A deep dis-agreement between Henderson County Sheriff Charlie McDonald and Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake has been going on for a while...and has now effected the make-up of inter- agency co-operation.
That disagreement between the two departments led Sheriff McDonald to announce to officers at the sheriff’s office that there will no longer be active participation by Hendersonville Police on the county’s SWAT and Drug Task Force teams.
The rift between Sheriff McDonald and Chief Blake apparently goes back to an East Flat Rock woman mental patient who was shot to death by three county deputies in April of this year. Kay Campbell was shot to death by the three deputies while they were waiting for involuntary commitment papers to arrive and she, according to deputies, pulled what appeared to be a weapon which placed them in fear for their lives.
A “Letter to the Editor” in the local newspaper, critical of the way the incident was handled, then led to a response from Police Chief Blake, who is quoted (on the WLOS-TV web site) as saying, among other things, “I disagree completely with the actions of law enforcement.” Chief Blake is also reported as saying to the letter writer that the first mistake they made was to send an officer to negotiate with a mentally disturbed person.
Upon learning of Blake’s response, Sheriff McDonald announced to his own department there would no longer be active participation between the two departments on the joint SWAT and narcotics teams, due to what the sheriff calls “philosophical differences” on the use of force.
Chief Blake now says his response to the letter writer was a targeted reply by e-mail to the writer, retired Judge Steve Franks…and the chief says someone, apparently in the police department, forwarded that e-mail to the sheriff’s department. Chief Blake says, “I have apologized several times and my true intent was only to explain our department’s policies and was not intended, the chief says, in any way to criticize the sheriff or his department’s policies.
Deputies were called to Ms. Campbell’s home in East Flat Rock one afternoon back in April by her caregiver who initially reported an assault. Ms. Campbell had apparently threatened to commit “suicide by cop”.
The three deputies were recently cleared by an SBI investigation and by the local district attorney.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman Updated 3am 06/17/15
On Friday, June 17, 2016 , deputies from the Henderson County Sheriff’s office responded to Pardee Hospital after a patient reported being a victim of an armed robbery earlier in the morning.
The victim, from the Flat Rock area, was released from the hospital with no visible signs of injury after being seen by medical personnel. The victim told deputies a known acquaintance displayed a firearm, and stole cash as well as firearms from the residence.
After further investigation today, detectives have charged Dakota Cruz Bass, age 20, of Banner Farm Road, in Mills River and Georgie Ann Mendoza, age 34, of Somerset Street, in Hendersonville, with three felony counts each ofConspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, Larceny of a Firearm, and Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon.
Both Bass and Mendoza are in the Henderson County Jail under a $108,000.00 secured bond.
WITH THE AIRPORT ON ONE SIDE...AND SIERRA NEVADA ON THE OTHER
Site work is currently underway at the top of the hill, adjacent to the Asheville regional Airport, in Ferncliff Industrial Park in Mills River on a $217 million investment that will be known as GF Linamar LLC,
GF Linamar is a joint venture between Swiss-based GF Automotive and the Canada-based Linamar Corporation...and the Mills River facility will be constructed in two phases over the next seven years.
The company expects to ultimately create 350 manufacturing jobs in Henderson County...most of those jobs will be developed within the next five years. They will be making light weight powertrain, driveline,and structural components to the entire North American automotive industry.
The announcement was made back in February that this major industrial enterprise had settled on Mills River, and Governor Pat McCrory was on hand for the announcement. "Two major industrial manufacturers are coming together and they've selected North Carolina as the destination for their innovative joint venture."
GF Linamaqr's Mills River facility is being made possible, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant; by a grant from the One North Carolina fund, with the held of the Golden Leaf Foundation, Henderson County's Partnership for Economic Development, and with tax incentives from the Town of Mills River and from Henderson County.
NC Works, Blue Ridge Community College, and others will all be involved in securing and training the workforce that will fill the 350 good paying manufacturing jobs that GF Linamar will create.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman
DIS-SATISFACTION WITH THE COUNTY'S PLAN
Supporters of the iconic 1926 Erle Stillwell designed Hendersonville High School are still expressing dis-satisfaction with the county commissioner’s decision to build an all new campus for the school, mostly on what was the Boyd property at Five Points.
And these supporters of the old school are continuing to float ideas on how to make the old building a viable part of the new HendersonvilleHigh School campus. One idea, advanced by Laurel Park Mayor Carey O’Cain, would, like some others, keep the existing main building and add some new ones on the Boyd property.
The cost of whatever is finally done with the old school and new campus will be well in excess of $50 million…and the president of the high school’s alumni association said recently that when you’re talking about spending 50 to 60 million dollars, there’s nothing wrong with a little more deliberation.
The fact is, the county commissioners, who control the money, have signed on to the concept and design of an all new HHS campus…and the money for the debt services on it is a big part of the county’s $130 million budget for the new fiscal year that starts in a few weeks. As O’Cain and other old school supporters have said, it appears the train may have already left the station, that it seems commissioners want to check this off the list and move forward.
Still, even as the plan for the new campus in the heart of town moves forward, no one is talking about tearing down the old main building. That’s not going to happen. There are a lot of ideas being considered on how it can be used, still standing facing Eight Avenue West, still an integral part of Hendersonville's history.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman (Hendersonville High School Class of 1966)
FLAT ROCK PLAYHOUSE TO PRESENT
NEW PLAYS AT CARL SANDBURG HOME
Two original works will debut in honor of 2016 Centennial of National Park Service
Flat Rock, NC (June 9, 2016) – Look out Connemara, there’s a new kid in town. Two new kids to be exact! In celebration of the 2016 Centennial of the National Park Service, Flat Rock Playhouse announced today plans to debut two original works to be performed by the Flat Rock Playhouse 2016 Apprentice Company during the Sandburg Summer Stage series: Spink, Skabootch and Swipes in Rootabaga Country, written and directed by Flat Rock Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant and Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Express, with book, music, lyrics and direction by Flat Rock Playhouse 2016 Apprentice Director Ethan Andersen.
“For over forty years, the Flat Rock Playhouse Apprentice Company has performed for patrons visiting the park beloved productions such as Rootabaga!, The People’s Poet, Sandburg’s Lincoln and The World of Carl Sandburg,” says Bryant. “We thought that this would be a great gift to the park to produce original works this year – in honor of the Centennial as well as our ongoing partnership and collaboration with the Sandburg Home.”
About Spink, Skabootch and Swipes in Rootabaga Country:
Follow Spink, Skabootch and Swipes and their friends into the Rootabaga Country — a magical place where whimsy reigns! Discover how the letter X made its way into the alphabet! Hit the rails with the great Golden Spike Limited as she speeds her way from coast to coast, and marvel at how Hot Balloons and his two pigeon daughters crossed the Shampoo River!
“Carl Sandburg told stories that sprang from his imagination,” says Bryant. “When his own children – lovingly nicknamed Spink, Skabootch and Swipes – couldn’t get enough of his fanciful tales, he decided to write them down for all children and families to revel in. Nearly a century later the reveling continues!”
Spink, Skabootch and Swipes in Rootabaga Country will be performed on Wednesdays and Fridays at from .
About Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Express:
Join Gimme the Ax as he travels aboard Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Express, a fantastical train that hoots, clangs, and pfisty-pfoosts all the way to Rootabaga Country in this brand new MUSICARL! Watch three boys shrink to bugs, cheer the Rusty Rats as they save the Creampuffs, and do a boogie with the Moon!
“All of Carl Sandburg's colorful characters are inside this exciting and vibrant new musical, perfect for the youngest and oldest of Sandburg fans,” says Andersen. “Come sing and dance with us and experience the joy of imagination and music!”
Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Express will be performed on Thursdays and Saturdays at from June 16 through August 13.
All of the performances are free and open to the public and will be performed at the Amphitheater next to the Main House of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.
“Don’t miss these brand new romps through the magical world of Carl Sanburg and Rootabaga Country,” says Bryant. “Children and adults will have a blast! Come PLAY with us!”