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Tiburon: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But It’s a Crime To Leave

It must be a crime to leave Tiburon. That’s the only thing that would explain how the town in California can manage to get away with photographing every license plate that enters and leaves the town. Why would you spy on people without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed? Why would you treat public roads as if they were gates and public towns as if they were private country clubs? Entering and leaving the town must be a crime. Tiburon must be a prison. Either that, or the town doesn’t have American freedom on its mind…

“We have an obligation to spend as few tax dollars as we can.”
– Police Chief Michael Cronin

Oh. I see. The latter, then.

They want to take pictures of everybody on the road? All right, then. Let’s take a few pictures of them.

What kind of town would approve such a thing? You think the town of Tiburon, California is a Republican town? Think again. This is a fundraising map from the 2008 election via Fundrace. The blue dots are contributions to Democrats. The red dots are contributions to Republicans:

Tiburon Campaign Contributions

What kind of a Town Council would unanimously approve such a thing? You think these are Republicans? Federal Elections Commission data show that Mayor Alice Fredericks is a contributor to Democratic causes and candidates: Lynn Woolsey, John Kerry, Barack Obama. Councilman Richard Collins gave to Democratic state legislator Joe Nation and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley. Not one of the members of the Town Council has given a cent to a Republican candidate.

4 comments to Tiburon: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like, But It’s a Crime To Leave

  • Joseph

    Technically this isn’t spying on people because a license plate is ruled to be on public display and it’s not an invasion of privacy or an unwarranted search because of this. I know this because I was a defendant in a traffic case that started with a police officer in a tiny town on the opposite coast running the plates of every car that passed the only entrance to this town. :-)

    I’m not advocating this approach, but if the town had a murder like the article says and it’ll make people feel safer, then it’s not a republican or democratic issue. But I don’t get the just “take a picture” approach. That does seem like compiling data for no really useful reason. The system should be reading the plates in real time, looking for people with suspended licenses and outstanding warrants… that would be of more use to the community. If anything, the data on any non-violatng plates should be destroyed a day or two later at the most; I doubt they’d have undiscovered crimes that would take 30 days to notice.

    I know an old-time private eye who used to have boy scouts to go to malls and write down every license plate and then he had a friend run the plates and they were able to locate people who’d skipped bail or had outstanding warrants. I don’t if the boy scouts got badges or not though. :-)

  • Jim

    Thanks for the detailed info. I know it’s not strictly a constitutional issue because there is apparently no “expectation of privacy” on the road, but it doesn’t have to be illegal to be spying, or snooping, or what have you. I think in this case there are some class issues going on, too; the town is very well-off.

  • Tom

    How much more evidence do we need that we now live in a prison society where your every move is watched by some spy cam, other (paranoid)citizens, & both our phone calls and e-mails are monitored? Geez, Louise – and i thought the former Soviet Union was bad! Most of our media is distraction (buy, buy, buy!) and propaganda (“nothing to see here, move along” – like they ever tell us any of the real goings on in important social matters – like our government printing money out of thin air).

    As with the issue of climate change, it’s already too late – the (virtual) fences surround us, and we’re presumed GUILTY now until verified as being innocent. Dude, Where’s My Country!

  • ramone

    lou dobbs ought to know about this. he can use it in his run for resident.
    every town… every road… lou is watching you! you job stealing aliens!
    you twelve to a subaru peach pickers! you emergency room loiterers! you pot smoking south of the border runners! SMILE! you’re on lou dobbs camera. :)

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