By Doug Porter
Not long ago former mayor Bob Filner dialed up Voice of San Diego, purportedly to opine on the local homeless veterans situation. The subsequent interview covered a wide variety of topics but was mostly short on substance and long on defensiveness.
Filner still doesn’t get that regardless of whether it was as was mayor or street sweeper, his behavior was wrong. While acknowledging he’d given his political enemies “the ammunition,” the former mayor remains in denial about his actions. (And, yes, it is simultaneously true our city was denied the benefit of a progressive agenda.)
This week we learned one possible reason why Filner emerged from the shadows of his newly adopted Los Angeles. His former chief of staff Lee Burdick is making the rounds, pushing a soon to be released book: “Bob Filner’s Monster, The Unraveling of an American Mayor and What We Can Learn from It.”
The self-published account is based on a journal she kept while working the mayor’s office. Burdick gave an interview to 10News reporter Allison Ash:
Burdick told Ash that said she did not defend Filner, but she did support him during the 8 months he was in office. However, when asked if she regrets ever working for him, she said, “If we only had it all to do over again, I would have trusted my instincts which told me: Bob Filner was an ass. His political career was littered with circumstances showing that he was an arrogant, pushy congressman, and I should not have disregarded my intuition that he would be a horrible boss.”
The book covers many of the stories making the rounds from the summer of Filner’s fall, including allegations of wiretapping, the City Attorney’s disruptive role, and the former mayor’s bad behaviors.
Here’s a snip from the Union-Tribune’s coverage:
Written from her personal journals, Burdick’s 249-page memoir describes life inside the doomed administration, fractured relationships between city departments, alleged lawbreaking by public officials, and what Filner staffers believed to be a covert eavesdropping operation targeting the mayor’s offices at City Hall.
“I wrote the book because I felt that people could benefit from seeing their government more candidly and openly than they could at the time, and that some good could come from it,” Burdick said.
Filner did not respond to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s requests for comment.
Lee Burdick also penned an op-ed for Voice of San Diego expressing her anger towards her former boss and the consequences of the decision to work for him:
Emotionally, I’m modestly better than a basket case: alternating between extraordinary optimism that my next great opportunity will be revealed at any moment and bone-chilling fear that my dog and I will be homeless in a matter of weeks. Oh, and I’m angry. Still. Very. Angry.
I’m angry, first and foremost, at Bob Filner, who was so clueless to the wrongness of his actions against a bevy of women who did nothing but support and respect him in his elected capacity. I’m angry that he did absolutely nothing to shield his staff – who all changed their lives to come work for him – from the consequences of his nuclear implosion. And I’m extremely angry that he may have soiled the Democratic brand in San Diego to the point we may not have the opportunity to lead our city from the mayor’s office again for another generation.
And, of course, I am angry at myself for choosing to work for a man I suspected had a personality deficit disorder. I disregarded my own instincts and intuition that warned me against his toxic approach to politics in my belief that the opportunity to advance the public interest from the mayor’s office was too good to pass up. And now I’m paying the price.
As is true with all things having to do with Bob Filner, it didn’t take long for some dissenting opinions to emerge in social media. (Bronwyn Ingram was dated Bob Filner.)
@vosdscott Lee was an apologist for Bob’s behaviour. When a few staff attempted an “intervention” she stopped them, saying nothing’s wrong.
— bronwyn ingram (@bronwyn55294663) January 27, 2016
Dirtboxes Scooping Up the Dirt on You?
At Wired.com there’s a story up about Dirtboxes, which are Stingray devices mounted on airplanes to conduct surveillance on cellular phones.
Stingrays and Dirtboxes are mobile surveillance systems that impersonate a legitimate cell phone tower in order to trick mobile phones and other mobile devices in their vicinity into connecting to them and revealing their unique ID and location. Stingrays emit a signal that is stronger than that of other cell towers in the vicinity in order to force devices to establish a connection with them. Stingrays don’t just pick up the IDs of targeted devices, however. Every phone within range will contact the system, revealing their ID.
They not only pick up trackable data from phones; Stingrays and Dirtboxes also can disrupt phone service for anyone in their vicinity whose phone connects to the devices. This means that potentially millions of people in Orange County had their phones unknowingly connected to government surveillance devices and may have experienced service disruption as a result. Last year an FBI agent admitted the disruption capability for the first time in a court case involving a Sprint customer.
While story focused on the use of the technology in Anaheim, it suggests the likelihood that Dirtboxes are being used in other cities.
As of this year, California laws require local agencies to obtain a warrant in conjunction with Stingray use, to have established a usage policy for it and to make that policy publicly available.
This makes the NBC7 News story about the First Amendment Coalition of California legal battle with the SDPD all the more interesting. They’re seeking more information about how the police use stingray technology in San Diego.
It seems as though the Justice Department has filed a “Statement of Interest” in the case asserting the federal government’s interest in protecting the information at the heart of the matter.
The government is arguing release of this information would allow “criminals and terrorists to piece together information about cell site simulators’ use and capabilities and thereby develop methods to evade them.”
Kelly Aviles, attorney for the First Amendment Coalition, pointed out that counter measures for the technology already exist. A mobile app alerting people when a Stingray-type simulator is being used and a cellphone case blocking simulators access are both commercially available.
From NBC7 News:
“It’s innocent citizens who aren’t aware their information is being gathered,” she said. “To insure we have adequate safeguards for people who are innocent and not the subject of criminal investigations, we have to be able to have information about the technology in order to have an intelligent debate about the technology.”
Also included in the DOJ filing is a reference to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI, signed by the SDPD. Without this agreement, [Department of Justice Attorney Marcia] Sowles said, the department could not buy the simulator equipment.
Part of that agreement includes this section:
The San Diego Police Department will, at the request of the FBI, seek dismissal of the case in lieu of using or providing, or allowing others to use or provide, any information concerning the Harris Corporation wireless collection equipment/technology, its associated software, operating manuals and any related documentation (beyond the evidentiary results obtained through the use of the equipment/technology), if using or providing such information would potentially or actually compromise the equipment/technology. This point supposes that the agency has some control or influence over the prosecutorial process. Where such is not the case, or is limited so as to be inconsequential, it is the FBI’s expectation that the law enforcement agency identify the applicable prosecuting agency, or agencies, for inclusion in this agreement.“
In other words, the technology is so secret the government will deny the pursuit of justice to protect it.
On This Day: 1932 – First U.S. unemployment compensation law enacted in Wisconsin 1985 – The song “We Are the World” was recorded. More than 40 artists were involved. The proceeds went toward worldwide hunger prevention. 1986 – The space shuttle Challenger exploded just after takeoff. All seven of its crew members were killed.
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