Human technology

City Council Votes Against ATO Dezoning, Bans Facial Recognition Technology | Campus


More than 150 people attended a WebEx meeting on Monday evening, many of whom were adamant against the zoning change of the historic home of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. West Lafayette City Council agreed with the crowd – for the most part – and voted 8-1 against rezoning.

PCM Properties initially proposed to build a mixed-use building on the land, with apartments, parking and shops.

Dan Teder, the lawyer representing PCM Properties, which owns the land, said the ATO members had not re-signed their lease in 2020, so PCM considered other options.

Councilor Nick DeBoer argued that PCM has raised the rent “above market” to drive out its tenants.

Teder also said much of the property was damaged and in poor condition due to neglect of the fraternity residence.

Many former ATO students present at the meeting disagreed with Teder.

“PCM has denied any responsibility for maintenance and therefore the building is considered unsuitable for housing by them without these improvements,” said a former student named Kevin in the comments section.

“In the framework leases, they denied that the damage caused by the floods and the emergency exits were to be repaired as owners and on us as tenants,” he added in a direct message. to an Exponent reporter.

Prohibit facial recognition

Monday’s meeting quickly turned into a heated debate over a bill to ban the city government from using facial recognition technology. The council voted 5-4 in the initial vote to pass the bill, although Mayor John Dennis promised to veto the bill in his second and final hearing at the council meeting on the 1st. November.

Councilor David Sanders, who sponsored the bill, said the ban is two-fold: facial recognition data should not be used if it is collected, and violations will be punished with legal action.

“There is a national movement to address the expansion in the use of facial recognition technology,” Sanders said. “The point is, this is the ‘Big Brother’ tool.

“If we are to take on ‘Big Brother’, this is a tool that we should not allow the government to have. “

Sanders called facial recognition a “privacy breach” and said it had been used to control and manipulate people abroad and at home, including to identify Black Lives Matter protesters.

He said the aim of the ordinance is to get hold of problematic technology before it’s too late.

Councilor James Blanco said that while facial recognition technology is accurate in identifying white men, it has also been shown to misidentify people of color and women.

“If someone you are trying to find is a person of color or a woman or a woman of color,” said Blanco, “there is a lot of evidence that it will lead you in the wrong direction and not target people. .

“I would even say as a law enforcement tool it’s not good. Not at this time. “

Dennis spoke out against the bill, citing the letter from WL Police Chief Troy Harris saying banning the technology will make it harder for police to identify and catch criminals. He said he would do everything in his power to veto it.

“We have no interest in monitoring the public,” Harris wrote in the letter, “but we do have an interest in using the state and federal databases available to assist any time members of our community are victims of an attack. crime.

“The story you hear about people arrested for improper facial recognition software is an example of human error, bad policy and bad procedure.”

Morton’s school

City Council also voted unanimously to designate three new historic neighborhoods, including Morton School and the West Lafayette sur Chauncey fire station. One of West Lafayette’s oldest structures, Morton’s School is known for its educational and architectural significance and for the close partnership it once had with Purdue.

Climate action plan

After several weeks of protests, the council proposed its climate action plan to reduce carbon emissions. West Lafayette intends to reduce its emissions by involving local communities and businesses. Dennis said he hopes to create a “climate resilient community” by encouraging individuals and organizations to promote environmentally friendly programs.

As part of the plan, solar panels are installed in the wellness center and Evie car charging stations are added in front of town hall, Dennis said.

“Industry is the one that emits the most greenhouse gases,” said Shannon Kang, consultant and president of Purdue Student Body. “So, I have the impression that the impacts which are a collective project should be something about this show”,

Indigenous Peoples Day

City council voted unanimously to change the second Monday in October from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

“I am in favor of historic preservation until it comes to the whitewashing story,” said Kathy Parker, resolution sponsor and board member.


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