Topic: People (328)

Sharon Shewmake: Corporate Democrat, Riveter, Tied to Big Telecom

Still No Dig Once Policy? Here’s Why

Still No Dig Once Policy? Here’s Why

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• Topics: People, People, People,

There are two main points to this article, but I can sum it up in one paragraph for the impatient reader. After seven years of working on broadband issues, I’ve uncovered two main reasons we don’t have a real Dig Once Policy. The first is that a core group of Democrats, who are all linked to Sharon Shewmake, a long-time proponent of 5G and specifically Verizon, are also all connected to the same local big telecom donor. The other reason is that big telecom reps. have confirmed to me that when it comes to meeting with our officials, they basically enjoy an open-door policy and meet regularly, while the public has basically no say.

I should note that the Republicans are just as corrupt in this regard, but the “corporate Democrats” especially annoy progressives because they pretend to care and then, time and again, stab us in the back. For example, I was on an e-mail thread recently with a group of professionals who had spent months working on a Broadband Strategy Document and Dig Once Policy. We were told by PUD Commissioner and Broadband Chair Christine Grant that she was going to tank a Dig Once Policy after all. Sure, she talks about it in public now, but this is what’s going on in the background.

We should have seen it coming when, earlier this year, the PUD hired a new general manager. He specifically told me he doesn’t believe in Dig Once, or exercising PUD Retail Authority (e.g. the PUD being our service provider), or really competing with the big telecoms at all. He also told me that the few low-income connections the Port/PUD are providing won’t come with any guarantees of quality or price.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Grant has been holding invite-only, closed door meetings prior to the upcoming Broadband Infrastructure Projects Open House on June 14th. I made a stink about this, but Grant is still meeting with her adherents. She closed her “No Dig Once” email with, “I hope to see some of you there” meaning …her hand-selected favorites?

She is also trying to censor information going to the Kitsap PUD representative who is working with us regarding a Local Utility District (LUD). Briefly, a LUD is a version of a community-run internet provider, as opposed to a simpler, more efficient PUD-as-provider model. Grant originally requested that all questions submitted to the Kitsap rep. be passed through her for consideration and approval. (Public works director Eric Johnston also employs this tactic when trying to protect special interests in the Broadband Advisory Group (BAG).) After I made a stink about how inappropriate that was, the public was magically allowed to speak at the meeting as they always should have been. I paid for this with the Corporate Democratic side of the party, as they immediately started spreading rumors about me.

When pushed about why our elected officials can’t give us even the most basic policies, Whatcom Democrats head, Andrew Reding, dodged and did what they usually do for Shewmake’s candidates: He pretended that holding them accountable was some form of abuse, saying, “We won’t be bullied into Dig Once.” Bullied?! Into …efficiency? All Dig Once really says is that whenever we excavate we agree to do as much work as possible to prepare for the future. The funny thing is, Reding helped us write the most recent Broadband Strategy Document, and personally agrees with Dig Once. In fact, the idea is overwhelmingly popular with the public. So, what they’re really saying is that if the Corporate Democratic Royalty doesn’t personally like someone they will screw over the other 250 thousand people in Whatcom County just to prove a point, no matter how reasonable the idea is.

Once I realized there were common responses coming from the neo-liberals, I did a bit of digging into their donations and found that the Shewmake Corporate Dems share a common telecom donor. This donor is also Mayor Fleetwood’s good friend, and has written me threatening e-mails about 5G and wireless. This donor  claims to be an environmentalist who doesn’t invest in fossil fuels, but seems to back many greenwashing projects that are as bad, like NOx producing Hydrogen in Natural Gas. and 5G, which is awful for the environment creating unnecessary increased energy usage and tech waste. You simply can’t be an environmentalist and support 5G.

It turns out, this person donates heavily to the Shewmake crew, especially Alex Ramel. But almost everyone else is taking money as well: Sidhu, Shewmake, Grant, Ramel, most of the County Council, and most of the City Council. Is it done out of citizenship and generosity, or to buy votes for his investors? Don’t take my word for it, look it up here: donations.

Dig Once would directly affect this investor and his big-wireless pals by creating actual competition. Dig Once would give people direct access to fiber, allowing them to create networks of their own with better performance at lower prices. But, if you’re invested in big-wireless you don’t want public broadband. Which could explain why the Shewmake Corporate Dems keep pushing technologies that are favorable to this investor and big telecom—but not the public they supposedly serve. It would also explain our elected officials reluctance to complete a fiber network. How long can they keep telling us that we’re still 15 years away? Forever? What if we replace them?

The Shewmake Riveters are often pushed as the only solution for women in Whatcom County. So I’ve asked many strong, progressive, Bernie/Warren-supporting women if they felt they were represented by the Shewmake Riveters. They all resoundingly said NO. These women are all full-time workers and small business owners. They want representation from pro-women candidates, and they want the infrastructure they need to compete. In short, they can take care of themselves and just need and want equity, equality, and opportunity. They don’t see that in either the Republicans or Corporate Democrats. They say that, “while the Shewmake Crew seems strong on some social issues they fail them in every other way and put corporations ahead of people. Especially when it comes to their daily lives and expenses.” Just look at how unaffordable daily life has become. They are also annoyed by the complete lack of accountability and transparency they see from the establishment, as their own lives require accountability and transparency everyday.

In the end, neither Republicans nor Democrats helped us during the pandemic. Many of us can see now that if voting actually mattered they’d make it illegal. And most of us feel unrepresented, except maybe those big telecom donors of Shewmake’s crew. So wouldn’t we have to be out of our minds to vote for almost anyone who was in office during the pandemic?

Real progressives agree that this is why we don’t have a Dig Once policy; because party donors don’t want it, and the Shewmake Cartel is happy to take their money and pretend to care about you. They don’t.

We need progress.

About Jon Humphrey

Citizen Journalist • Bellingham • Member since May 23, 2017

Comments by Readers

Jonathan Scanlon

Jun 15, 2022

Hi Jon. I am a Whatcom Democrats member, Elected Precinct Committee Officer, and Executive Board member. I am speaking for myself here. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the Whatcom Democrats website recently, but there’s a lot of support for Dig Once at Whatcom Democrats. Dig Once is part of the Whatcom Democrats platform and several resolutions in the past few years support Dig Once. See more at https://www.whatcomdemocrats.org/about/#platform-resolutions

If you are a Democrat, Democrat-leaning, or Democrat-interested, then I’d encourage you to join an upcoming Whatcom Democrats meeting to listen in and see just how “corporate” we are. See the upcoming events here: https://www.whatcomdemocrats.org/upcoming-events/

There are a lot of allegations in this opinion piece that are not backed up with evidence. I’d encourage you to conduct more research and join our meetings to learn more. You’ll find that we’re far from corporate at the grassroots level of the party.

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Jon Humphrey

Jun 15, 2022

Joanthan, if any of what you said is true than where is our Dig Once Policy already. There are plenty of “Democrats” in office.
So, it is you that don’t have your facts straight. I have worked for years, mostly with the Democrats, on Dig Once and broadband. I was instrumental in developing your current Dig Once stance. Although you guys never give me credit because I’m not a mindless drone that agrees with everything you say and I call you out when you’re full of shit. 
The elected officials you give us have tanked it every time. So yes, some of the Dems. support it but Grant, for example, was parading around WAVE executive Melissa Miller at the broadband event last night, Sharon has screamed at me for 9 minutes to protect Verizon, the BAG is a joke filled with big telecom reps, the COB council wouldn’t even give the public access to the existing network during a fucking pandemic… The list goes on. Read my articles. Everything is backed up.
So how about you give us some Dems. that will follow through on this instead of making false accusations about me. My research is solid.
Bottom line, there is an existing network at the COB and we still don’t have access to it. The Port/PUD projects are a joke. Etc. Etc. See my articles.
In short, give us real results and real candidates instead of lip service and corporate Dems. that you always have to clean up after. 
Real solutions. Real results. Not whatever the fuck this is. Saying you support something is very different than implementing it. More doing, less bullshit. That’s my advice to you.

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Jonathan Scanlon

Jun 15, 2022

Jon, I reached out to you in good faith. I called you in. And, I’m met with f-bombs.

I’ll take the advice from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Thanks for showing who you are.

 

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Jon Humphrey

Jun 15, 2022

Oh please, get real. I know this game. You focus on personal issues that don’t matter and sidestep answering any of the legit concerns brought up here. Where is our access to our public network?! Where is our Dig Once Policy?! Where are your answers? Why can’t your candidates, like Sharon, answer for themselves? Saying you support something is different than accomplishing it.
So no, you did NOT reach out in good faith. You ignored the years of hard work and research I put into this on behalf of the community and pretend to be offended by my cursing. That’s bullshit. What you should be offended by, like every worker in the US currently, is how you keep producing candidates that screw over workers after pretending to care about them on the campaign trail to protect corporations. Like how we can never expect real gun control when Larsen takes bribes from Lockheed Martin as our elected officials proved again this week.
One of the big reasons Christine got elected was because I endorsed her, made her initial connections with important people in public broadband, and trained her. I was also told NOT to run by the Democrats because of the gender they believe I associate with. I was told, “we need you but as a woman.” Then Christine lied to me to get elected. Then she immediately began screwing this community over just like the rest of the Corporate Dems. 
Sharon tells her students she doesn’t believe in a minimum wage. Really, at a time when women still earn less than men for the same work? When the cost of living and necessities are unbearable?
So yeah, LOL, the problem is my cursing not your terrible candidates. Get real. Do some real work. Give us real results. The rest is just noise.
We have 7 years left according to the IPCC report to reverse climate change. So maybe, since my middle class family may starve to death while your assholes candidates sit around and pretend to be offended by everything, I don’t care how it makes you feel. You’re also out of your mind if you think I’m going to apologize for legitimately holding the Dems. accountable. I do it to the Republicans too, but they never whine as much as the Corporate Dems.  
How about this instead? Admit your candidates are bad Republicans in disguise and replace them with good ones that aren’t assholes. Because we are out of time.
Your fake offense is a distraction from the real issues. People are waking up and they see that. The Democrats were given everything they needed to be powerful and they decided to kill the golden goose instead of give us progress.
Do you expect citizens to welcome you with open arms after abandoning them during the pandemic?! Do you expect to never be held accountable? All of our elected officials sat on hundreds of millions of dollars during an emergency. Satpal even made sure it went to big telecom for virtually worthless solutions instead of building a fiber network. Christine did the same. The new Port/PUD system is NOT a true fiber system, btw and big telecom isn’t the least bit concerned about it. Oh, and they still don’t really have a workable plan.
Todd Donovan and Carol Frazey have never done anything useful broadband wise. The entire City Council continues to preside over a fake Broadband Advisory Group setup by a corrupt public works director to protect special interests. Christine’s friends, corrupt public works director Johnston and WAVE executive Milissa Miller, are both voting members on it. Just a coincidence, I’m sure. 
Still, I know this game, you’re going to focus on personal issues instead of real issues. You are going to sidestep giving us any real response or holding your candidates accountable. That’s why the Corporate Dems. are a joke, and the progressive are sick of it.
I will not apologize for NOT letting you continue to spit in the face of workers with lies and false promises. Get something done or make room for someone who will.
Oh, and I’m not a Republican or a Conservative in any way. That’s the new lie everyone is telling. I’m sure knowing the truth won’t stop you from making things up. It never does. Still, as Bernie says, “focus on the issues.” And with that, where are our answers to our legit concerns?
In case it wasn’t clear, your opinion matters very little to me. My “true colors” are that I care about this community. Yours are that you care about protecting corrupt politicians no matter how much they hurt it.

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Lisa E. Papp

Jun 16, 2022

With all due respect, Jonathan Scanlon, it seems that if the “Progressive” Dems including Sharon Shewmake and other leaders here truly wanted to make public fiber optic broadband happen, the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County would actually have broadband by now. Seven years ago I signed the Bellingham Pro-Broadband Change.org Petition: https://www.change.org/p/mayorsoffice-cob-org-bellingham-whatcom-county-public-fiber-optic-network! Seven years ago!!

I have visited many U.S. states and also traveled internationally. During my time in various cities, I’ve happily been able to use broadband. In some of those places, I’ve spoken with residents, business owners, or tourist industry professionals about some of the infrastructure and services that most benefit their city and residents. Broadband is one of the services most often mentioned as an important benefit or a necessity. 

Jon Humphrey’s excellent and thorough articles have helped educate the general public on broadband and also on the lack of transparency and lack of actual progress being made here to implement broadband. Sadly, the Broadband Advisory Group seems unfairly and heavily weighted toward Big Telecom. The BAG’s selection committee rejected Jon Humphrey’s application, the general public’s most educated and vocal broadband advocate. So what if he curses and sometimes offends people? Those of us who have spent time on the East Coast perhaps use more direct language and are not as easily offended by cursing or confrontation. Jon is expressing his frustration and anger at the lack of transparency and true progress. I, and many others, are also frustrated and angry at the lack of progress on broadband and other issues.

Why does it seem that some of our representatives and government officials, including the COB’s Public Works Director, do not want more solutions or policies that will benefit the greater good rather than often seeming to most benefit corporations, R.E. developers, and Big Telecom? Actions and work accomplished speak louder than words.

As far as supporting Democrats, Republicans, or Independent candidates on broadband or other issues, I don’t vote “the whole ballot” either Dem or Republican, as those two camps urge us to do. I vote for the candidates whom I feel are the most qualified, most authentic in who they are and their values, and are open-minded and forward-thinking. I, and many others, believe we will continue to experience fallout from various questionable policies (including extreme mandates and lockdowns) enacted over the last couple of years by the Biden administration, Jay Inslee, and some other states Democratic Governors. Many “Progressive” Dem representatives and citizens supported the harsh, damaging mandates and lockdowns, for example. I know many former Dems who will be voting Republican this fall and going forward.

 

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Richard Baila

Jun 17, 2022

Jon and lisa

I have to admit I agree with you.  This green washing in Bellingham has to stop. Years ago an artical was published in the New Yorker talking about the 2000 watt society. I’m voting a straight ticket from now on  No Incumbents..   My new motto is Avoid Organized Crime ReElect NO ONE!!!.

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Mike Sennett

Jun 17, 2022

Re donor(s). Name Names.

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Jon Humphrey

Jun 17, 2022

Yes, the formula is obvious. Don’t reelect anyone who was in office during the pandemic. They all abandoned us.
Mike, I have provided you with more than enough information to find the names using the search tool I provided without overstepping my bounds. I know it’s the standard way to discredit people by saying, “if you don’t name names and put yourself and everyone you care about in peril so I don’t have to learn how to use a computer, etc. this isn’t legit” but the donors are also private citizens not elected officials. We walk a fine line with this. Use the search tool and details. It’s not hard.
I received an update from the PUD. Christine, who is incapable of saying anything for herself apparently, had Atul Deshmane call me on her behalf to say that “golly gee, since this article they all support Dig Once.” Again, then why did they hire a new General Manager that doesn’t? Why won’t they commit to being an ISP? Etc. If they support it, it’s time to commit to it. Anything else is bullshit.
That goes for all of elected officials. 
More than likely it’s a stalling tactic. The Dems. have been in power and pretended to care for 7 years now. They’ve had good Dig Once policies to work from for that long too. They were just stalling. Pretending to care makes us think they’re progressive while keeping special interests happy. So they put up a claim to care about it on their website, then take no action. To them, it’s the best of both worlds. They get to trick us into voting for them, then screw us all over once in office to keep special interests happy. You know, the usge. 
Time for results. Granted, the Republicans are all about not doing anything about broadband equity and equality too.
It shows us that there really aren’t 2 different parties. There are just special interests playing games. 
Really all we have is the Super Batshit Crazy Corpratist Party (the Corporate Dems.)
And the Ultra Batshit Crazy Corpratist Party (The Republicans).
Time for something new. Our choice is the one you hate or the one you hate.

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Atul Deshmane

Jun 24, 2022

There are many statements that I need to address in Jon’s original post:

1. I don’t support attacks on Representative Shewmake on broadband. It is simply not her focus BTW. Even if she had policy positions on dig once, etc… I dont believe it would be driven by big telecom.

2.  I don’t support attacks on Commissioner Grant. She has repeatedly demonstrated through actions and policy positions that she is dedicated to improving the public infrastructure for broadband. 

3. Jon is repeatedly demonstrating a fallacy which I will try to demonstrate here:

          A. I don’t like the current situation or the direction we are heading on policy 

          B. Therefore, we need to educate our elected leaders on what is in the public interest

          C. When they don’t do what I would consider reasonable to do, I will show frustration

          D.  Then I will start saying things that I hope will evoke them and use language that is evocative

          E. When people attack me for saying things that they deem offensive, I will attack them as shills

I completely support practicing A and B above. I have made the mistake of practicing C and D as a private individual prior to being in local government. After that I realized that practicing D only works in the short term and later back fires. Finally I have realized that practicing C is something to practice very carefully. So my philosophy on how to behave publicly is profoundly different from Jon… and I think the proof will be in what we all do when we see people practicing D and E. Do we appease it? Or do we repudiate it? I encourage the latter.

Regards, Atul

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Jon Humphrey

Jun 24, 2022

Thanks for confirming everything I said is true here Atul. Telling the truth in an assertive way is not an attack. It’s the truth.

1. Thanks for confirming that Sharon has never taken broadband seriously even during the pandemic. And yes, she did yell at me for 9 minutes to protect big telecom.

2. Is Christine incapable of speaking for herself. The truth is that you still have no solid plan and your current efforts are half-assed.

3. Yes many of you are shills and it’s good when we call you out on that.

So why don’t you try giving us some real results for a change instead of cleaning up after bad candidates. I’m sure your party appreciates your inappropriate loyalty. 

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Dianne Foster

Jul 02, 2022

Jon,

Thanks for your persistance and donation of your expertise in the public interest.   I receive regular requests for donations from Sharon Shewmake, and have tried “reply” to take me off her list.  As I assume she has not received these replies,  I found her email address and let her know how I feel.   The first time I heard her speak up at WWU, I knew she was a corporate Dem,  as she was shilling for the real estate companies that are salivating to take over our neigborhood back yards.  This group is in cahoots with Hammer Properties and construction firms that would love to tear down historic homes and build highly unaffordable multi-family compartments for college students.  They have been quite successful, as they demolished those unique houses on Billy Frank Jr. street for a huge ugly apartment building that will charge students about $1400 per month for a tiny space.   Just calculate how much money the predatory landlords will make in the absence of publicly funded student housing,  as provided in most civilized countries.   The BFJr. houses were build in the early 1900’s and called the “Town of New Whatcom”;  they housed the uppercrust of Bellingham, including the first fire chief.   There was no attempt made to preserve the unique features, such as leaded glass cabinets and wood mouldings.   It was just another sellout by COB to the developer class.

I do believe Sharon has taken me off her mailing list;  I wouldn’t vote for an even worse Repug,  but don’t live in the 42nd LD,  so don’t have that choice.  Like you,  I’m sickened by the money wing of the party.  We need to get money out of politics, period.

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 03, 2022

Well, I don’t use conspiracy theories but I found out another hilarious fact that sounds like a conspiracy theory lately that is also linked to the Corporate Democrats and telecom. The Corporate Dems. literally party with special interests and in no small way. It explains why the Corporate Dems. are trying to remove anyone pushing for municipal fiber (aka the PUD/Port serving as an ISP) from projects and focusing on corporate welfare schemes for Ziply/WAVE instead. They are even threatening non-profits that give out free computers and help kids go into STEM fields to achieve their corporate welfare goals. 

Once a year there is a giant party at one of the WAVE executives million dollar mansions. Most of the corporate Dems. attend. One attendee described the party to me as a “hookers and blow” party with “no car there being worth less than $120,000, many more than that.” Christine, Atul, Shewmake, Johnston, etc. go, get wined and dined, and then choose to keep screwing us over. That’s how it happens here. Now, I am hardly one to turn down a great party, and believe in the rights of the individual and am a true liberal, although I do not drink much or do drugs. So I want to be clear that I’m not getting down on them for having a good time. Everyone deserves that. But the focus of the party is to buy politicians off, and everyone going there knows that. And they allow it. 

Shewmake sees helping WAVE executives out as “helping women out” since she is directly lining the pockets of one very wealthy WAVE executive that happens to be a woman. HOWEVER, what about all of the poor young people (including young women) in STEM fields, crippled with college loan debt, a rising cost of living, and more. I guess they’re not women to Sharon. This, again, is why the strong liberal women I know wish the Democrats would pick Dems. more like Warren and less like Shewmake to represent them. Actually I think most of us do. There are so many better candidates out there.

Again, a public fiber network with costs as low as Anacortes would create next generation jobs for everyone, including young women, but Sharon doesn’t care about them. She even is trying to weasel out of her responsibilities to them by saying, “broadband is not in my wheelhouse” after going out of her way to protect local 5G donors, etc. Well, that’s unacceptable at this point. A lot of people truly suffered during the pandemic because of inadequate broadband. All she had to do was read a book like “Fiber”, talk to me, etc. She didn’t have time for that in almost a decade? Of course she did, she just doesn’t actually care about us. 

The strong liberal women I know also find it disturbing that Sharon, Grant, and most of the Corporate Dems. never seem to speak for themselves but only through others. One said, “the only time I see them speak in public is when they seem to be reading from a carefully prepared script. There is no way to have a real conversation with them. I don’t know that anyone actually has.” So again, really, the Dems. couldn’t have found a woman to run that would protect women’s rights that isn’t as corrupt as Sharon? Of course they could have. They don’t want to.     

A reminder WAVE charges $900 per month for GIgabit and $25,000 just to get hooked up in the County. The same service is $70 per month and $100 to get hooked up in Anacortes.

I will close with Atul’s hilarious statement about policy above. Just about every policy Grant has taken credit for came from me or someone else. Then she attached her name to it. The truth is that why we need local change terribly they have been advised to give us token changes and simply get photo ops so they can run for higher level positions. The new “Dig Once” policy the Dems. are working on ignores the many standards in the one I already wrote for them Dems. like 2x2” conduit with 144 strands of fiber in it by default (aka the Mount Vernon standard). I am trying to get it into the doc. but the point is that they’re following in the footsteps of the COB and writng a fake one. They want the credit to go to their candidates, but in a way that doens’t annoy special interests. So we had a perfect document, and now the Corporate Dems. are fucking it up and when I stick up for the community they personally attack me. I’m hardly the first to go through this. This level of corruption has to stop.

So while I see your point about not voting for Sefzik, a person who also is not taking broadband seriously or the needs of average citizens and is a puppet of his donors too, it’s obvious that it’s time to write-in instead of voting for Sharon. Sharon will keep making our lives harder too. Sadly the parties chose again to give us another Clinton vs. Trump like choice.  

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Dianne Foster

Jul 03, 2022

Jon,

I agree with you -   I’ve been voting for the “lesser of two evils” most of my 75 years.  (sigh).   The thing to remember is,  even the lesser evil is still evil.  We need an honest and viable third party in this country.

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 03, 2022

I’d also say we need to add ranked choice voting and lowering candidate registration fees to that. It’s also obvious that the Democrats need different leadership in both the 40th and 42nd. We need real progressives not fake ones. I mean, when the chair if your party is out there threatening a non-profit that gives free computers to poor kids and helps them win STEM competitions to protect Shewmake and other corporate interests, who have never given a shit about most of us, it’s time for change.  
No issue highlights that more clearly than Dig Once since it is litearlly the most reasonable infrastructure item we could have asked for.
I helped the Dems. draft their first Dig Once policy about 5 years ago. Then again recently. They support Dig Once, or so they say, but then their candidates never follow through and they never hold them accountable for it. It can’t be a coincidence after all of these years. 
By saying they support it they get to pretend to be progressive. By never doing it they keep their corporate donors happy. By attacking me and non-profits that want something better like the municipal network Anacortes has or at least the PUD as a provider in cases where there is a monopoly,  they protect the wealthy while appearing progressive.
It is obviously what they have degreded into. Just another party of weatlhy people protecting other wealthy people at the exepense of most of the rest of us. In our neck of the woods most of the corruption comes down to Shewmake and the candidates that surround her and the part of the party that protects her. We can do better. Any decent candidate would protect women’s rights since they’re human rights. We don’t need to keep running the same anti-citizen candidates to protect our rights. In fact, many other canidates would do a better job. 

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Satpal Sidhu

Jul 08, 2022

Jon, you have right to express your opinions about ‘dig once’, however truth and facts may not support such a pipe dream in our developed communties. This concept is in practice all over United States for new housing and commercial developments. When you talk about established cities / communties where all utilities have been in existance, your rhetoric of ‘dig once’ it just that, rhetoric. I have not really seen you having a professional dialogue except disparaging people to prove you are so right. This does not promote well your ideas and people are tolerating your idea but not really see beyond that. You are now welcome to get on your soap box about County Braodband team and me. You are welcome!

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 08, 2022

LOL, oh boy, here we are again. Yet another baseless Corporate Democrat attack with no substance, no answers to the legit questions this article raises, and no data from Satpal. Why did the entire Shewmake Cartel let you rot during the pandemic, especailly on broadband? Satpal knows, but he isn’t going to tell you. Satpal says he has “truth and facts” but provides none beause he actually doesn’t have them. Shhhhh….
You see, after 8 years he still hasn’t even bothered to read a book on the topic. Sound like the kind of person we should entrust hundreds of millions in tax payer money to? I guess 8 years just isn’t enough time for Satpal to read one 200 page book in. I, on the other hand, have lost count of the tens of tousands of pages of documents I’ve read just on broadband. 
Anyway, let’s get started.
So, in short, Satpal you still have not bothered to read “Fiber” by Susan Crawford, look at other local communities with successful Dig Once (or similar) policies like Anacortes, Chattanooga, Santa Monica, or Mount Vernon or looked at the TAGNW Broadband Strategies Document and well researched Dig Once policy attached to it. Other good dig Once policies I’ve provided to our government are from Santa Monica and San Francisco and I connectd you all with the FOA and Community Broadband Networks who could have provide you with even more info. All of these resources are referenced in the TAGNW document.
It’s good when you display your incompetence. For example, you pushed Starlink as hard as possible while even Elon himself was saying he needed more fiber on the ground for it to work well and when it was obviously unaffordable for the poor and the performance questionable.
You ignored the immense environmental impacts too. You just couldn’t be bothered to do any research before spending millions. Then, after doing no research you gave millions to big telecom for virtually worthless, temporary, wireless solutions that tests at, when they even worked, 2 Mbits. About 1/12th of the federal high speed standard and below the federal minimum standard. I sent you data on all of this and you chose to ignore it.
So you, Sharon, Ramel, etc. ignored this basic necessity even when it was shown that other developed countries like South Korea have 100% fiber to the home coverage for $24/month for Gigabit symmetrical service. Gigabit is $900 a month with WAVE and $25,000 to hook up. Gigabit in Anacortes is $70/month with a $100 hook up fee. Everywhere that buried public fiber is available the prices are lower than here and the service is better. It helps address virtually every social and economic concern, but I guess high paying next generation jobs, telemedicine, educational opportunities, etc. just don’t appeal to you or the Shewmake cartel.   
You refused to fund more accurate testing methods like RRUL even though you claim to be an engineer. You sat on hundreds of millions of dollars during a pandemic and let your citizens rot to protect special interests instead. 
There is no argument among objective professionals. Buried fiber is the best solution and it does not cost much. Everything else is a compromise. All of the well-researched data is in my articles.
So, as usual, way to make no real arguments against me. My “soapbox” is built on sturdy facts. Yours lies because, as you proved here with a reply that has no substance, you are incompetent.
Still, I invite you to a public debate on the topic. I know like Ken Bell you don’t want light shown on this topic, but what the hell. Why not try again? 
Oh, I wonder if voters know about your connections to WAVE and the telecom investor I listed here. Could it be that Satpal is protecting special interests? I mean it’s only obvious if you look. 
And yes, we need a county broadband team that has citizen representation on it. Not incompetents, special interests, people with no skill you personally like, and corporate shills. You know, just do the opposite of what you have now. 
Why is there no citizen representation? Oh yeah, because then you couldn’t line pockets with out tax dollars.  
Now please, complain about the way I say things. Because you totally deserve to be molly-coddled after letting citizens starve and lose their homes during the pandemic when you could have written a check, using our tax money, and prevented most of it. You know, done your job and something useful for a change. 
The broadband team is a joke. You still have no Dig Once policy, your unserved area connections have no guarantee of service or fixed price for hook up, you have no plan for a county-wide fiber solution, and even the 2 LUDs that might happen will only serve about 40 homes and construction won’t begin for at least another year. In fact, the Port/PUD still has no real plan. That’s the bottom line. 
So let’s do some numbers:
Maybe 40 properly served locations in 9 years, a bunch of half assed connections for the poor you’ll take a photo with, but even that isn’t a certainty. A county-wide network never even as our neighboring communities expand theirs. All of this why Whatcom County becomes harder for working families to afford to live in. That’s your legacy. A constant message of telling people to “settle for nothing now, settle for nothing later.” And ignoring experts that don’t agree with you. Just like Christine Grant and the whole Shewmake Cartel.
In closing, the only pipe dream here is the one you had when you had before writing this reply.

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Satpal Sidhu

Jul 08, 2022

Jon, just making long commetary of buzz words and putting down others does not do any good to your ideas or argument.  You are welcome to your world! 

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 08, 2022

Again readers, another reply with no numbers and substance. Satpal says Dig Once is a pipe dream but does not tell you how much it will actually cost or even why he fells that way.
So again, I’ll fill in the data he refuses to while he uses buzz words and baseless accusations to try to derail a legit conversation to protect his corporate donors. 
Here is a document putting the average cost of laying fiber at only $27,000 a mile. Guess what they recommend? A Dig Once Policy.
https://ustelecom.org/dig-once-a-solution-for-rural-broadband/
Now that’s a nationwide average. So here’s another one that is more in-tune with our region. 
This one puts it at an average of $55,000 a mile.
https://www.otelco.com/fiber-infrastructure/
Last time I spoke with Mount Vernon they put it at $120K (open trench) to $180K (boring) a mile. The cost of materials went up a bit since the pandemic but this is still about the avearge cost. 
I can go on and on. The bottom line is that most of the cost of fiber is in excavation. So doing the most work whenever excavation is done is just common sense (aka Dig Once). It’s also a lot better for the environment. 
The economic benefits of a fiber network are also enormous. Chatanooga generated $2.7 billion off of their network.
https://epb.com/newsroom/epb-news/epbs-fiber-optic-network-generated-269-billion-economic-benefits-past-decade-study-shows/
So public fiber makes money. It doesn’t lose it.
You see Satpal, this is how you provide a real answer, with real arguments, using real numbers. My arguments are based on well researched facts like this. You should try it sometime. 
Notice how he also avoids public accountability? I kind of want someone that’s in charge of hundreds of millions to believe in accountability, don’t you? 

 

 

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Satpal Sidhu

Jul 08, 2022

The economic benefits of a fiber network are also enormous. Chatanooga generated $2.7 billion off of their network.
https://epb.com/newsroom/epb-news/epbs-fiber-optic-network-generated-269-billion-economic-benefits-past-decade-study-shows/
So public fiber makes money. It doesn’t lose it.

 

Jon,

EPB is a a conglomerate of Eletric Power, Telephone, Internet, Television and Fiber network provider  in Chattanooga. Like as if our city owns PSE, AT&T, Comcast and few other services under a PU District. 

EPB is located in densly populated area with 191,000 customers in monopolistic situation.  It is a city owned utility established in 1939.  You cannot compare this situation to Bellingham.

EPB story is:

In 1939, we served our first customer with electricity and began a more than 80-year mission to enhance the quality of life for our community. As our infrastructure grew and changed over the decades, we soon realized that we could give local homes, schools, and businesses better access to communications technology. So in keeping with our mission of service, we created the first community-wide fiber optic network. 

Chatanooga generated $2.7 billion in ALL of their services not fiber.   In fiber revenue was approx $180 million and expenses were $155 million. If there is single utility providing all those services ‘dig once’ makes sense.

Again, you can bambozzle yourself and the readers with numbers and I wish you so much joy in your own world. Keep having fun.!

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Jon Humphrey

Jul 09, 2022

Here we go again readers. Satpal actually proves yet again, that muicipal fiber and Dig Once are the way to go while trying not to. LOL.
Let’s start with the Community Broadband Networks Map of the many successful public broadband projects nationwide Satpal ignores. https://muninetworks.org/communitymap
By his own admission the Chattanooga network is $25 million in the black and continues to make more and more money every year since the expenses surrounding it are largely one-time expenses like installation of conduit and fiber, etc. But in fact, it makes much more than that for its citizens.
Anacortes has a municipal network, btw.
The actual quote from the article is “EPB’s fiber optics system, which EPB launched in 2009 with the assistance of a $111.7 million federal stimulus grant during the Great Recession, has helped generate an estimated 9,516 jobs and has lured an extra $244 million in business ventures using the fiber-optic network, according to a study by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Economist Bento Lobo. The study also estimates that Chattanooga has helped attract $110 million in research projects and saved businesses $260 million in improved power reliability from 2010 through 2020.” So they generated $25 + $244 + $110 + $260 (the savings from having a smart power grid which requires fiber, also an environmental benefit) = $639 million in the black. So the $2.7 billion made by EPB shows us that the best way to make even more money and increase the quality of services is to make both power and broadband municipal.
There are many social benefits which we know Satpal doesn’t care about since he let a quarter million people rot during the pandemic instead of using our funds to significantly help our communities. In fact, he gave millions to big telecom for virtually worthless solutions. How do we know we RRUL (Real-Time Response Under Load) tested them. This is the most accurate connection test available. I sent many RRUL results to our elected officials and put together a proposal to do a county-wide high-accuracy test. Satpal blocked it, knowing that it would show the public the truth about other, non-fiber, connection types. The study cost only $11,000. Satpal tried to say that there was no money for something like that. Again, abusing his position to protect big telecom.
He also refuses to debate the topic in public and is ignoring all of the local success stories too from Kitsap, Mount Vernon, Anacortes, Leavenworth (CPUD), the Tulalip Tribe and hundreds more.
Still let’s shift gears. Satpal says he is going to abuse his position to prevent monopolies even if it’s the best solution to have a municipal network with ISP. Like any hardcore, Reagan era Republican Satpal simply hates the idea of public infrastructure. But wait, we were told he was a progressive Democrat. Well Sharon says the same things Satpal does, btw, so I hope that clears that up for everyone. They’re Reagan era Republicans, at best…
So here is an different example. Mount Vernon has 9 local net-neutral providers on an OpenAccess network. They started with a simple $500,000 loan and now the network pays for its own expansion. They have attracted many next generation jobs to the area. This is far from the monopoly situation he describes and one of many workable models. Kitsap and CPUD also use OpenAccess models.
He also refuses to tell us why there is no citizen representation on the good old boy/girl broadband council he serves on. While they have this data they refuse to allow anyone that disagrees with Rob Fix and Satpal to speak. So we have no representation through our elected officials. Staff tell them what to do and do NOT care about public input, the facts, etc.   
Fiber is critical infrastructure needed to make all communications work well, like the roads of the digital world. According to Satpal we not have roads because technically public institutions have a monopoly on those and he wants to use our tax money to make a handful of private individuals wealthier.  
Here are economic specific articles: 
Here are economic specific articles:
“Fiber Important to Future Economy”
and
“Home Value Incrases and Fiber”
and
All of the other data I provided over the last 8 years! Plus all of the data out there via FOA, Community Broadband Networks and more. They are ignoring the facts and cherry picking data that allow them to line the pockets of their wealthy donors instead of looking at what is best for their citizens.
Here are some of the topics brough up in this article and discussion Satpal are trying to dodge.
1. Why do you have a non-transperant broadband group full of big telecom reps. with NO CITIZEN representation?
2. Why do you never consider the many successful projects in WA state alone, including in towns right next to us? How about the rest of the country? How about the rest of the world? Fiber to the Home is the standard in the rest of the developed world, btw, it’s a public utility in most cases. It’s also much less expensive than here.
3. Where are any of his numbers? For example, an estimate on Dig Once?
Satpal ties to bamboozle us by cherry picking one topic, EPB here, and even then we can easily show it WAS a good idea and they’re in the black.
Here is another article comparing the different technologies. Wireless and Starlink are NOT EQUIVALENT to fiber. In fact, they require it to work.
https://nwcitizen.com/search-results/e1991d69e8933bc9a71920b85f83400d/
I can go on and on, becuase I’ve DONE MY HOMEWORK.
Satpal, Rob Fix, Ken Bell, Sharon Shewmake, Gina Stark, are economists that are afraid for real data because you are incompetant.
So thanks Satpal for proving, yet again, that muicipal fiber and Dig Once are the way to go.
One last thing, Satpal says we can’t compare other successful cities, etc. to Bellingham/Whatcom County. Well why not?
According to Wikipedia, Chatanooa has about double our population in both the city and larger surrounding area.
So if we made half of what they do with public fiber we’d still make at least $319.5 million.
So every comparison Satpal makes against better infrastructure breaks down under real analysis.
But since his goal is to protect his, and Sharon Shewmake’s, special interest donors, he just makes things up. He says that real facts are “bamboozling” no matter how much data there is. This is NOT a good trait for our County Executive to have, yet just about everyone connected to Shewmake (including Satpal) has this unfortunate trait of lying when they aren’t getting their way. We need a County Executive that deals in facts and real numbers. Not fuzzy numbers.

 

 

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Wynne Lee

Sep 18, 2022

Very interesting discussion. thx to everyonefor their comments. Disappointed that economist Shewmake - who i mostly support has not weighed in here with data confirming or challenging Jon’s data-based arguments. I may have to reassess my support of her.

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Jon Humphrey

Sep 18, 2022

Thaks Wynne, IDK what to say. It’s obvious that Sefzik won’t do the right thing with broadband either. You should see this change.org petition update to see how the Corporate Democrats tried, and continue to try, to punish my family and I for telling you the truth about what’s going on with broadband here. Reding will drive us out of town, on behalf of the Shewmake cartel, if they can get away with it.
https://www.change.org/p/mayorsoffice-cob-org-bellingham-whatcom-county-public-fiber-optic-network/u/30772890
Cause, attacking middle-class workers, to protect abusive corporations, is what they’re about now.
In John Servais’ article on the topic you can compare both versions of the TAGNW Broadband Strategy document that comes up in the update above. The verions I worked on that was ready to go and perfect, and the version after REding and the Corporate Dems. screwed it all up on behalf of special interests.
https://nwcitizen.com/entry/broadband-solution-status-of-a-confusing-process
And here you can see how the Port, PUD, County and City Councils, and County Executive continue to lie to us about their efforts to protect special itnerests.
https://nwcitizen.com/entry/northern-light-reprints-county-council-broadband-lies-and-i-cant-figure-out-why-theyre-lying
We learned recently that part of the reason this all came to pass is that Jamie Douglass (chair of the 42nd Dems.) was trying to start a private ISP with his son Dan. So Christine Grant abused her position in the PUD to try and rewrite the document, via Andrew Redding (chair of the 40th Dems.), to only include the models in the TAGNW Broadband Strategy Document that she and her friends in big telecom were comfortable with so she could funnel public money to her friends. All of this even though the best local network is the municipal network in Anacortes, offering Fiber to the Premises for $70 a month with a hookup of only a few hundred dollars. Here with WAVE hookup is $35,000 with $900 a month for Gigabit. If you can get it at all. TAGNW has invited WAVE, Comast, and other big telecoms to comment on the document.
Chatanooga, TN (the best network in the contry) is also a municipal network and is highlighted in the book “Fiber” by Susan Crawford. I’ve donated copies of this to the Library, Port, PUD, etc. So they are aware of it.
But, as usual, our officials are simply too corrupt to do what we need them to do. It’s why the COB sat on an existing, publicly owned, fiber network throughout the entire pandemic and continue to do so. Sharon never comments herself. She always has attack dogs do it for her, or has someone write up a response for her. All of the elected officials are afraid to debate this topic in public with me.
Still, the proof of how terrible these candidates are is in how life has gotten harder for workers in Bellingham/Whatcom County across the board and in how they contiue to do next to nothing to help most of us out.
In the end, the great thing about this issue is in how easy it is to measure. Ask them, when they lie to you about me:
1. Where is our Dig Once policy?
2. Where is our access to the existing COB network?
3. Where is our plan for a county-wide network?

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