NYC trying to fast-track legislation to police ownership of air-quality detectors and Geiger counters

Ken sez, "The Village Voice has a great overview of a uber-nanny NYPD's deputy commissioner (of counterterrorism, natch) attempt to fast-track a piece of legislation that would make mere possession of many sensors, from Geiger counters to asbestos detectors, illegal without a police permit.

Send you to jail, illegal, too. Luckily, dozens of university researchers, public-health professionals, and environmental lawyers were somehow alerted and showed up at the city council session, blocking the quick enactment with old-fashioned argument and analysis. The commissioner is still dead set on taking away your ability to test for pollutants without a license (it's For the Children?!), but they pledge to 'accommodate all the concerns' as they draw up the new bill."

When the Environmental Protection Agency promised that the air surrounding Ground Zero was safe, Vallone said, independent testers proved that such assurances were utterly false. Would these groups really have to get a permit before they started working? "It's a good question, and it has come up prior to this hearing," Falkenrath replied. "What I can assure you is that we will look extremely carefully at this issue of the independent groups, and get the opinion of the other city agencies on how to handle that, and craft an appropriate response." And if people use these detectors without a permit, Vallone asked, do we really have to put them in jail? Afraid so, Falkenrath answered.

Councilman John Liu was considerably less impressed. Why, he asked, should a community group like Asthma-Free School Zones have to tell anyone, much less the police department, that they're testing for air pollution? "We have no interest in regulating air-quality sensors around schools," Falkenrath promised. "That's not what this is about."


(Thanks, Ken)

(Image: PICT4460.JPG, a Creative Commons Attribution licensed photo from Gothick_matt's Flickr stream)