Someone to Watch Over Me
by Geoff Kelly - posted 6:45 pm, January 28, 2009
Because I’m in a critical mood:
About that new voice over internet protocol phone system being installed in stages in City Hall: Seems like a good idea, notwithstanding the screwup that left several departments without any phone service yesterday—progressive, modernizing, money-saving over the long haul.
But in his December report on the new system to the CitiStat panel, the city’s IT chief, Raj Mehta, explained that one of the benefits of the system is that the mayor’s office will be able to order and review reports of all phone activity in City Hall. That makes a certain amount of sense, in terms of efficiency; it’s nice to know which employees are wasting time on Dial-a-Joke. (I acknowledge the anachronism.)
But government is not any an ordinary business. City Hall is political. Should Byron Brown and his chief political officer, Steve Casey, be allowed to monitor calls made and received from the offices of those they consider political opponents? If that’s okay, will they make their phone records publicly available, without requiring a lengthy Freedom of Information request process?