Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Your papers please ...

Today, I found that I needed some information from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to prepare for an upcoming media appearance. Rather than calling the director’s office in Oklahoma City and doing it over the phone, I decided to just run down to 440 South Houston and talk to a local case worker. That was a terrible mistake.

I thought I was familiar with the Oklahoma State Office Building in Tulsa. I have visited the various state agencies there for years. It was never really that bad. You just parked up front and walked into the building, just like you would at any other office building. BUT NOT ANY MORE. The first thing I noticed was that all of the parking close the natural entrances was now reserved for EMPLOYEES ONLY. At the moment I thought, “That makes no sense at all. Why not make the more accessible parking available to people who are coming and going rather than to people who park in the morning and stay for the day.” But, I was to learn that there was a method to their madness.

Apparently, either a revolution or a terrorist attack is imminent and it is going to begin at 440 South Houston. All of the entrances to YOUR STATE OFFICE BUILDING have now been closed but one. That entrance is on the basement level and is guarded by about ten thousand dollars a day’s worth of Oklahoma State Highway Patrolmen. I was not in great mood after circling the building four times before I found the da***ed entrance and was certainly not happy when a surly trooper was not satisfied that I had placed my three hundred dollar smart phone, the keys to my car, my wallet and all of my money in the filthy tub that was offered. He also demanded that I surrender my eyeglasses and the hundred dollar Mount Blanc pen in my shirt pocket. Foolishly, I said, “I’m not very likely to stab anyone with a hundred dollar pen.” The trooper, dripping with attitude, then said,”How would you like to carry it back to your car?”

Having barely made it through security, I noticed that the door to DHS was directly outside on the other side of the building. I walked through the door onto the patio and up the steps to the DHS door, only to discover that the only entrance to DHS is now internal and to re-enter, I would have to walk all of the way around the building and go back through security again. At that point, I said the h**l with the OHP and DHS, walked all the way around the building again to my car and drove away.

I have a few suggestions for Governor Henry. First, read the constitution. The Fourth Amendment says that all citizens have the right to be secure in the persons, papers and property from unreasonable searches and seizures. It is totally unreasonable to require every person entering a state office building to surrender all of their belongings as a condition of entry. Particularly, I would prefer that personal items like my eyeglasses, pen and wallet not be placed in a greasy tupperware tub that has contained the sometimes dubiously clean belongings of every other entrant to the building that day. Second, you should run our state government in such a way that you don’t need ten grand a day’s worth of state troopers to guard the bureaucrats. If state employees are really that afraid of the people they serve, something is really wrong with the system. Third, if you can’t do either of the first two, at least put the troopers back into their cars where they are needed and contract the security out. You will at least save some of my tax dollars. It makes no sense at all to use expensive OHP troopers to guard an office building when everyone else, including the City of Tulsa, does it much more cost effectively with private security firms.

America is quickly becoming a police state. Everywhere you turn some jerk with a uniform and an attitude is demanding your papers and your property. Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave.


Blogger Redstater said...

It's just dreadful that you would have to temporarily surrender your $100 pen? and what was it $300cellphone? just so other Americans in a public building can be protected from any possible attack, I mean when has a public building EVER been attacked here in Oklahoma?

The nerve of these people, really... and making one-time visitors park further than employees who must go there every day.... really, You should be able to drive a Ryder rental truck right up to the front door and park it if you want to...

Wait a minute, I just realized something... you are an idiot.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

The United States Constitution says:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Do you believe in the constitution or not? My person and papers includes my personal effects such as my pen, cellphone, briefcase, etc. These represent a considerable investment. Further, in these days of contact infections like Meth Resistant Staph, there is a certain degree of personal risk involved in placing personal items into a container used by large numbers of people many of whom have dubious personal hygiene. Further, it is degrading to have to divest yourself of your phone and PDA which you depend upon for running your life and practice ... much less remove your shoes and belt just to enter a Federal Court House.

These searches are conducted without warrants upon no probable cause as a condition of entry into public buildings. This is the very type of search and seizure that the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the Fourth Amendment. The fact that our government has become so remote and alienated from the population that it needs such extensive security to protect itself from the people it serves is the problem. The fact that we refuse to target known terrorist profiles and instead inflict indignity upon the whole innocent population is another.

Thomas Jefferson is probably rolling over in his grave.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Bill Kumpe said...

Oh yes, I forgot something. You should change your screen name from "Redstater" which is a misnomer to "Police Stater."

8:50 AM  
Blogger cadent6092 said...

I am an older person. I remember the day when you dressed up to board an airline flight and were not required to strip just to approach the boarding area. I remember the day when you sat with your friends and loved ones while they waited to board.

I remember the day when public figures walked the streets and were not afraid of the people in their community. I remember the day when public officials were concerned that the public have easy access to their services.

And, I remember the day when no one would have dared ask a member of the bar to stand in the lobby of the courthouse in stocking feet, holding his pants up with one hand with his belt in the other while a bailiff "scanned" his body and ran his shoes through an x-ray machine.

Benjamin Franklin said, "They who would abandon liberty for security deserve neither." We have abandoned our Fourth Amendment right to privacy of our persons for at best a transitory security that is illusory and can always be defeated by a determined foe.

An Old Lawyer

5:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home