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Dig Once Policy Moved Up to April 23rd

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• In Bellingham,

Thanks to NWCitizen and John Servais for allowing me to post this slightly irregular article, but the city council has oddly moved up the consideration of the Dig Once Policy I’ve mentioned in all of my fiber articles. They could be doing this because they’ve seen the error of their ways and the logic behind supporting this, or they could be planning on presenting a policy that is so outrageous that they hope to kill the idea on behalf of the big telecoms. After all, it was Ted Carlson (our pro-Verizon land use policies public works director) that prepared the policy for consideration this Monday. They may simply be hoping to do this so rapidly that they think we can’t respond in time and organize. So please, come and speak out in support of Dig Once, net-neutrality, and the 1st Amendment on Monday, April 23rd, at 7pm at City Hall. I will be there at 6pm with a protest sign. I hope you will join me.

Below is a blurb with more details:

I received the following important e-mail from James Erb (the city’s attorney) today.

“The Dig Once Policy will be introduced to the city council at its next meeting on Monday, April 23. The council packet will include additional information that may be of interest to you.”

We really need to get the word out and have people show up to speak in support of Dig Once. If it’s anything like the CenturyLink meeting, the big anti-net neutral telecoms will send lots of lawyers, etc. to speak on their behalf. Now is the time to post, post, post! The public comment period is at the 7pm meeting. Note: The speaking time is 3 minutes per person. I will review the packet and see if they hobbled the policy or not. It will be on the COB meeting website. Sorry for so many updates this week, but this one is really important.

It is very important that we understand, that regardless of our party affiliations, the attack on net-neutrality was an attack on our 1st Amendment rights. The new laws go into effect next month. Although WA state passed net-neutrality laws, the big telecoms like Comcast, CenturyLink, Verizon, AT&T and more are already attacking the legislation and arguing federal preemption of our net-neutrality laws against it. They will NEVER stop attacking our most basic rights. It’s time to support a Dig Once Policy and get something better, cheaper, and more ethical in Bellingham. Now is the time to get the word out and support this.

I will review the packet and provide an analysis on it. I will also contact City Hall tomorrow and ask for the legislation to be mailed to me immediately. They have it ready, and we can’t let them post late on Friday and then approve it on Monday without giving us a real chance to review it. It’s a classic tactic.

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About Jon Humphrey

Writer • Bellingham • Member since May 23, 2017

Jon Humphrey is currently a music educator in Bellingham and very active in the community. He also has decades of professional IT experience including everything from support to development. He [...]

Comments by Readers

David Camp

Apr 19, 2018

Jon - thanks for the excellent work you are doing on this important  issue. 

When we moved from Blaine to B’ham we were surprised to find that our internet service, which had cost $14.99 a month from Frontier in Blaine, cost more than twice as much in Bellingham, where Frontier was not allowed to operate. I guess that the City interprets “regulated utility” to mean “excess profit-protected utility” ! How else are we poor taxpayers to understand the City’s outright hostility to city-wide public fiber, and disrespectful treatment of Jon Humphrey who dared to challenge city council and the Mayor on this matter? 

Don’t mention names of federal public officials in public comment period? Federal officials who are clearly acting against the public interest in favor of the profits of the telecomm cartel? How is it that the Council Pres is actively working to protect monopoly interest and against citizen interests? Do they get their orders from the same sources as Ajit Pai?

Ajit Pai, he’s our guy, says the telecomm cartel.

He guarantees our profits

will grow to the sky

And the citizens can all go to hell.

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John Servais

Apr 19, 2018

The council packet for the Monday, April 23, meeting is now posted on the city website.  Fortunately there is no formal ordinance or resolution for the council to adopt.  Rather there is a policy statement for the council to discuss and then provide feedback to the Public Works department.   Still - this ambush style of putting it on the agenda ahead of the stated timeline has the effect of denying the public time to review and prepare comments.  

Link to council agenda and packets

The real discussion - if any - will take place at 1:50 pm on Monday in the council committee hearing - in the council chamber.  No public comment is allowed and the committee will discuss the issue at that time. Of course they will not have the benefit of citizens concerns or suggestions.  Then at the evening full council meeting the committee chair will normally briefly say what was discussed in the aftenoon - and there may be comments by other council members.  The chair will make a recommendation to the council, a quick vote, and on to the next agenda item.  Public participation?  None.  

The council could delay discussion of this issue until the next meeting in two weeks on May 7.  This would allow those interested in the issue time to study, discuss and provide written comment to the council.  And to discuss the issue online with others.  It would allow a democratic process to take place - instead of a slam dunk style of deciding public issues - a process that this mayor seems to favor.  For, make no mistake, this ambush is under Kelli’s careful guidance.  

While not an ordinance, the coulcil is being asked to provide guidance to Public Works on an important issue.  The agenda allows for an expected 5 minutes of discussion.   5 minutes.  Need more be said?  Yes.  

What is the importance of this issue?  Those of us with a tech knowledge of how the Internet works also know that we residents of Bellingham are being ripped off with extremely high fees for Internet connectivity.  With intelligent ordinances and policies, our Internet connectivity could be half to even a smaller fraction of the present fees.  But city hall is corruptly providing monopoly protection to a couple overcharging corporate giants in Bellingham.   Jon and others are trying to change this.  And this little ambush by Public Works is part of their normal sneaky process.  It needs to be stopped.  Good luck, Jon.  

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Jon Humphrey

Apr 19, 2018

What’s really messed up about this is that the map still doesn’t include any relevant information, like the size of conduit or fiber counts. Public Works was already directed to investigate a Dig Once Policy months ago. So why do they need to be told to again? Probably just to pretend like they just didn’t know, again. Their claim of 25/3 Mbps on the “newer” map means that they still don’t really know the capacity, but are stating that it meets our bare minimum requirements. Canada’s minimum requirement, provided as  a right to all of its citizens, is 50/10 Mbps. Gigabit in Japan, 1,000 Mbps up and down, is $25, $70 in Kansas City. The policy itself is pretty standard. We’ll see if they listen. WE NEED PEOPLE TO COME AND SPEAK UP! Please :). These documents do not meet the standards of my Public Records Request in many ways. 1. They have not been significantly updated. They do not list critical information like the size of the conduit, the fiber count in the conduit, etc. 2. They have not indicated that they have completed a physical locate of the resources they’ve lost. Even though I was told months ago that they’ve purchased the software to do so and the project will cost $60K. I’ve been told this is an ongoing project, but there is still not date for completion. 3. Why the lack of transperancy, still? Bottom line, there should be a complete GIS map listing all aspects of the fiber network, period. These documents are not that. My guess is that the mayor’s move here will be to try and kill the report like she has done with other reports in the past related to more broadband choices that I’ve written about previously. Oh, she says she may run again for mayor and to ask her again in a year, btw….  

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