No Responses

A running Record of the Zero Transparency Policies of the PUD, Port, County and City Councils From 1/12/2022 Onward

A running Record of the Zero Transparency Policies of the PUD, Port, County and City Councils From 1/12/2022 Onward

 I have written many times about the lack of transparency from our political institutions in relation to broadband. Just about everyone working on critical issues is reporting this same shortage of institutional transparency. From here on, I will record the questions I ask of the aforementioned political entities and note who does and doesn’t respond. I will update this living document weekly.

Here are the questions I have asked of our officials so far. I have removed my explanations in the interest of simplicity and because I’ve written about these issues before.

  1. Have you committed to high resolution testing that will ensure accurate, 21st Century speeds, allowing us to compete with countries that already offer fiber to the premises for lower cost than we do like RRUL testing?
  2. Have you set any standards for last-mile connections?
  3. What standard are you setting for cost?


No Response update  3/24/23:

No governmental entity has provided a real progress update on broadband backed up by measurable results. 

The PUD specifically now has three supposedly progressive commissioners, but has made no measurable progress on broadband. Further, they have made no progress on the concept of partnering with local schools, libraries, or other steel structured public entities to build Solar VPPs (Virtual Power Plants). They are determined to stick with their "Corporate Welfare to PSE Handout Plan," which will take at least 15 years to implement and includes buying obsolete infrastructure. The PUD still has no concrete plans to make the power green, like the solar VPPs, which are being used in many other places in the country. See this video. 

The only thing we know for sure is that it will be more expensive than PSE. Now I'm no fan of PSE, but is the PUD unaware of how poor most people in Whatcom County are? Can the general public really afford a solution that costs more? The answer is "no." So who would think of a “solution" that costs more? Wealthy, well-connected politicians who don't live in the same world the rest of us, that's who. 

The Port’s Rob Fix ultimately plans to give away most of the $30 million grant the port received from the state to private entities like Comcast, WAVE, Verizon, etc. This corporate welfare will be given away instead of being used to build a truly public network. While over at... 

The City, they are still refusing to work with the Port in any meaningful way, or establish a real Dig Once policy, mostly because of the chokehold Eric Johnston, head of public works, and city council-member Lilliquist have on things.  

Mayoral Candidate Kim Lund refuses to respond on the topic of broadband and doesn't even list it as a priority on her website. She is tied to the same pro-big-telecom campaign management team as Ramel and Shewmake, so this is no surprise.  

I will soon be writing a separate article which will include how Bellingham School Superintendent Greg Baker chose to ruin the plans of his own assistant Superintendent, Jay Jordan, to put up external Wi-Fi access points during the pandemic for only $8k. Had they done so, it would have provided citizens with safe access to public fiber. Lund had no objections to this and even helped dump money into virtually worthless big telecom solutions instead of into fiber infrastructure via the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation. I personally made sure the schools and the Foundation had all the information I've given to all of you, so it's obvious that Lund simply doesn't care about getting the whole picture. 

As we all know, Seth Fleetwood has been a disgrace and has done a terrible job on infrastructure progress in general, especially broadband infrastructure. 

No Response update from 8/9/2022 to 11/20/2022:

I haven't written in a while because there wasn't much to say. Even though different candidates gave us their views of what the PUD, Port, City Hall and County should be doing, as usual, very little progress is actually happening. For example, the PUD is pushing public power, but after I met with their general manager a few months ago, I can tell you that they have no real plan. The GM’s suggestion was that the PUD simply buy up a bunch of aging, rotting infrastructure that PSE doesn't want anymore, and spend the next 10 to 15 years repairing it. Then, maybe, they'll run green power over it at some point. 

So, is the PUD installing green power? No. Are they purchasing it from somewhere nearby to reduce transmission loss and make it a real benefit? They don't know, but they do think it's a good idea. Unfortunately, this is how the PUD approaches just about everything: lots of flash, no real progress. So, onto broadband.

I spoke with Commissioner Deshmane yesterday; to save time, I'll paraphrase. He told me that just about everything I predicted has happened. For example, I warned our county executive that Starlink was NOT a good option for the Nooksack people. I wrote an article about it.  And, as predicted, it's turning out to be an awful fit. Why? Because, even after Elon Musk himself said he needed more fiber on the ground to make Starlink work well, Whatcom County leaders listened to WAVE and local 5G investors instead of independent, honest experts.

Commissioner Deshmane and I talked a lot yesterday about the shortcomings of wireless and the need for fiber in the long term. He told me no one at the Port or PUD is really talking about wireless or Starlink anymore. Atul and I agree, we need fiber, lots of it, and it has to be reliable and inexpensive to hook up to and use. So, in short, they should have listened to me years ago. Starlink and 5G service is not even as fast or reliable as outdated, inadequate old Comcast cable. Hell, even Comcast is taking advantage of 5G’s internet shortcomings by running ads like this.  Is this what progress looks like?

And as much as I hate to say good things about Comcast, they're right, 5G IS NOT REAL INFRASTRUCTURE. But since Christine Grant and the Shewmake cartel are linked to a local 5G investor and WAVE, we can expect our "leaders" to push 5G anyway. 

Finally, where is the TAGNW Broadband Strategy Document John Servais wrote about a few months ago? You know the one that was ready to publish but got sidetracked by special interests. Where is that? Well, it's still in revision because 42nd District Democratic Chair Jamie Douglass is trying to rewrite it so he and his son can use their connection with Christine Grant at the PUD to access public funds and start yet another private company. They are rewriting the strategy document not only to appease special interests, but so they can pretend they came up with every idea in it. Fortunately, we preserved the original document in John's article

Where are our pragmatic, rational, leaders?

No response update from 5/26/2022 to 8/9/2022

I apologize for not providing an update for a few months. I was working on the TAGNW Broadband Solutions document which special interests, and their corrupt allies in our government and the Whatcom Democrats, ruined. Please see John Servais' recent article on that and the petition update. This all started after I linked several Democrats from the Sharon Shewmake Democrats to a local big telecom investor.  

PUD: After using embedded Democrats Jamie Douglass and Andrew Reding to rewrite the TAGNW Connectivity Broadband Solutions document to remove critical items on behalf of special interests, Commissioner Grant is now dodging setting up the LUDs (local utility districts) she pushed so hard for. The anti-public broadband new general manager she pushed hardest to hire is only offering to help proposed LUDs “setup contracts for backhaul with WAVE or Comcast.” Leaving all of the responsibility and expense up to the taxpayers as it was before the PUD hired their new general manager and broadband manager positions. So, in short, they have more help than ever before and are still doing a whole lot of nothing.

Grant does plan on abusing her position to help the Chair of the 42nd Democrats setup a private broadband company with his son. This company will initially only serve a few homes in Blaine. So after all of their chest beating about broadband we’ll be lucky if Grant and Deshmane can pull off serving 5 to 10 homes in over 8 years of broadband being an issue. 

Port: Speaking of doing nothing, after receiving millions of dollars to start a rural broadband project, the Port has admitted on their own website that they haven’t even begun to hang fiber yet and may not even do so by the end of the summer. Also, they're only working on one small area in East Nooksack. As I’ve reported on before, their system is NOT a proper fiber system, and comes with no guarantee of pricing or performance. It also will only serve customers the big telecoms didn’t really care about anyway. The cost of hooking up to the system is also being pushed off on mostly poor residents and may cost in the thousands since the cost of connection is being left up to the private providers who are using the Port’s system. The Port is strategically leaving out these critical details in their propaganda.  
The direct quote is, “The Port is current working on constructing a open access fiber project in East Nooksack that was funded in partnership between the Port, the County and the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) The Port is excited to be able to provide quality high speed broadband to rural Whatcom County.  The Port anticipates fiber to begin to hung by the end summer.” 

Again, note the word anticipates. The truth is the project was supposed to be done by the end of the summer and it hasn’t really even been started yet. 

County: The county has stopped talking to citizens about anything related to the interest of big wireless companies as advised by our own county attorneys to protect special interests. The county has also reported no progress on a Dig Once policy and Kaylee Galloway seems to have stopped work on it since the Shewmake Democrats ruined the TAGNW Broadband Strategy Document to protect special interests. 

COB: The council was supposed to consider adopting the Broadband Advisory Group’s (BAGs) recommendations but it was not on last night’s agenda. Note that the group is only allowed to make recommendations. So whether they’re good or not is immaterial as they set no standards. All final decisions are left up to public works director Johnston who has sat on our existing public fiber network throughout the entire pandemic and will continue to do so. He has always, and will continue, to abuse his position to protect big telecom and other special interests. So the BAG was a giant dog and pony show designed to produce no results as I’ve reported on before. 

County Executive: The county executive gets his own blurb this time as his immaturity and work against the public interest deserves highlighting. Satpal tells experts, like me, that cursing somehow negates our decades of professional experience and invalidates the way that the laws of physics work. He also believes he knows more than the world’s top experts about broadband. The arrogance of the Shewmake Democrats like Satpal truly knows no bounds.  

No responses update 5/3/2022 to 5/25/2022

This time I'll just note the one exception.

County - Thanks to Kaylee Galloway and Tyler Byrd for engaging the public on the Geneva Cell Tower issue I wrote about here and here. Kaylee has also kept up to date on developments regarding Dig Once and Port/PUD plans.

All other entities, the Port/PUD and COB are stonewalling on any real developments. All refuse to have a public discussion/debate on the issue. And all refuse to develop advisory groups that are not riddled with special interests and their sympathizers. Of course, they're all playing off their half-assed efforts as progress. It's all about what they can say on the campaign trail, not real progress. Any solid plan is still at least 2 years away with no real county-wide network completion date set. The PUDs new plan is to push the responsibility onto neighborhoods and not to even act as a provider even though they can. It's exactly what big telecom wants.    

From 4/24/2022 to 5/2/2022

Sadly, almost all of the information I received in this period also had to come through back channels as the entities themselves generally did not respond.  

PUD: Christine Grant has stepped down from the Port's ISP/special interest party "broadband committee." She will be replaced not by the more experienced Commissioner Deshmane and NOT by the PUDs own broadband expert Andrew Trikin, but by the anti Dig Once, anti PUD as provider new GM Chris Heimgartner. I mean, why not hire a broadband expert so he can NOT participate in broadband meetings... I honestly have stopped trying to make sense of anything they're doing. Deshmane may look into giving us a map of projects like Mason County has enjoyed for many years, but this is doubtful as no projects are under way other than compiling inaccurate data from inaccurate testers for an inaccurate map. 

Port: The Port confirmed 3 projects, but with no details. They say the now $12 million they're putting into their projects will go to a site in Ferndale, Blaine and Nooksack. However, since any one of these sites can easily justify all $12 million, it's obvious that their efforts will be very half-assed. I have confirmed with other sources that they are also not acting on all of their contracts and not installing as much fiber as they could be this spring/summer. 

County: Kaylee Galloway remains a beacon of hope and integrity. She continues to work for the public good. I hope the system doesn't change her as I've seen it do to others. 

COB and Mayor Fleetwood: No response on broadband. I contacted public works director Johnston about the parking meters in Fairhaven too. I posed 5 very reasonable questions and he is ignoring 4.5 of them. Having only half answered one. 

Here are the questions Johnston refuses to answer. He will most likely try to force us to find the answers via public record requests, which is a wasteful tactic he often uses. 

1. Who is the LTE provider for the new parking meters in Fairhaven?

2. Who is acting as the ISP?

3. How much are you paying per month for the connection fee per month?

4. Are you partnering with "Pay by Phone" or some other entity? Please identify them by name and indicate what percentage of fees they are receiving monthly.

4a. Does this entity own the meters or are they directly owned by the COB?

5. Why was this project considered more important than others during a state of dual emergencies? Meaning the pandemic and climate crisis that still continue.


From 4/14/2022 to 4/23/2022

All entities continue to stonewall when it comes to responding in writing to questions. However, I was able to glean some information from public meetings. 

PUD: The Port did mention that they have applied for another $30 million in grant funding. The keywords here are applied for. There is no reason to believe they’ll get all of it, or any of it as funding is generally given to big telecoms for obsolete services first, and with the PUD refusing to exercise their own retail authority there is no income stream to build out new infrastructure with. So they are relying entirely on grant money which may not always be there. Again, the cost of a county-wide network would be about $160 million. 

At the WAPUDA meeting Grant and Deshmane mentioned the problems with RDOF funding I mentioned in this last update, but again, there is no reason to believe anyone will actually try to do anything about it. 

Mentioning things like this might sound good, but they are counting their chickens before they hatch for political reasons. The truth is that construction hasn’t even begun on a county-wide loop and while they may serve up to 10,000 unserved people with internet this summer, there is no guarantee of speed and their network is not a true fiber network, they have set no Dig Once policy, and there is no public plan for the county-wide loop we need yet. To make matters worse, underserved people whose connections are so bad they might was well not have them, will see little relief from their efforts because they are considered served by the establishment who is still trying to protect big telecom with their actions. So, it would be fair to say that no real progress has been made at this point other than securing about $10 million of the needed $160 million.   

Port: Basically, the same as the PUD, but with one addition. The Port does sometimes convene a group on broadband. The group is made up almost entirely of special interests, including reps. from the telecoms, and the people the Port likes the most instead of actual unbiased experts. For example, Commissioner Deshmane is the broadband expert at the PUD but the Port insisted on the much less knowledgeable Grant. There is no representation for the public from a public expert that is not tied to special interests. The Port is doing things they way they like, by including good old boys and girls that won’t cause any trouble with Rob Fix instead of people that will look out for the public interest. 

City Council and Mayor: Still sitting on our publicly owned fiber network. Public works director Johnston has changed his tune from, “there is no issue” to “there is an issue but the big telecoms need to solve it.” Knowing full well that they never have or will and that creating competition with our existing network would make telecoms have to change their behavior for the better. It’s just another way to protect big telecom.

County Council: Please say thank you to Kaylee Galloway. She continues to push for progress among largely uneducated opposition. We met and sorted through the information put out by other entities.

From 1/31/2022 to 4/13/2022

PUD: This is by far the biggest update. I met with the new PUDs General Manager. The results were not good. While the PUD did hire an individual to oversee broadband the new General Manager definitely plans on standing in his way and keeping him from making any significant progress.

Here are the details:

The new GM was hired with great insistence from Commissioner Grant, who as of this hiring has officially lied to everyone about her stance on broadband. Although Commissioners Deshmane and Murphy have generally always supported her, she chose to take no real action during the pandemic and is taking no real action now. 

The new GM they hired moved here to retire and was most likely hired as a political favor to others. He was grossly incompetent when it came to his understanding of fault location. 

He was unaware that fiber has fault location down the centimeter. Has blown off all of the advantages of underground infrastructure and does not believe in a Dig Once Policy, even though it saves 90% of the installation cost. On top of this, he pretended like the PUD is poor and can't fund necessary high accuracy testing projects to get the data needed to really understand where to lay fiber and wants to only fund any broadband expansion with grant money which will not be available forever. He also pretended like they couldn't afford even a handful of external public access points. 

His overall plan is to only target unserved areas and not compete with special interests in any way. This means that no self-sustaining system will ever be put in place and there will be no revenue stream even though this is largely how Mount Vernon funds their own expansion and it's a proven model in general. 

Since the Port/PUD was only able to secure $10 million this year in grants, and a county-wide network would cost about $160 million, at this rate we're looking at about 16 years before we get close to the progress made in Anacortes. 

At least he was honest in telling me that they are not guaranteeing speeds of any kind while the Port is lying to you about providing Gigabit service. As I've mentioned before, their service will NOT hold up to load testing and they're using the same tricks as big telecom in their marketing. At best a handful of unserved people will get connections. THis will be spun as progress on the campaign trail.

Furthermore, after taking no real action during the entire pandemic and refusing to exercise the PUDs retail authority to be an ISP, Commissioner Grant is now abusing her position at the PUD to try to force a neo-liberal corporate Democrat into Commissioner Murphy's seat. She is now saying in the background that she can't do anything unless Murphy is replaced even though he generally supports her and she could act now. She hopes to replace his seat with a Democrat recommended by corporate, big telecom supporting, Democrats like Sharon Shewmake. 

THis is all very sad because the PUD did a nationwide search for a GM and could have hired anyone, but chose to keep the establishment happy instead. Hell, commissioner Deshmane could have been the GM, but that didn't keep Grant from stabbing him in the back at our expense. 

Port: Is lying to you about providing Gigiabit service. See previous updates.

County: Is regurgitating what the Port and PUD are saying and passing it off as progress. It is not. 

City: Continues to sit on their existing fiber network and protect big telecom.

The State: Is helping special interests by scuttling rural broadband projects and handing out corporate welfare. See this update. 

The Political Establishments: Meaning the major parties. Admit that public fiber is overwhelmingly popular with the citizens but that the elected officials simply don't care about what the citizens want.

Week of 1/12/2022

PUD: No response 

Port: No response

City Council and Mayor Fleetwood: No response. Note: As of approximately three months ago, the City Council removed real public commentary at their meetings. They have been replaced by “free speech nights” that only some council members attend. These nights only happen once a month. 

County Council: Kaylee Galloway asked for more information. 

Week of 1/17/2022

PUD: No response 

Port: No response

City Council and Mayor: No response. 

County Council: Kaylee Galloway asked for more information. 

Week of 1/24/2022

PUD: No response 

Port: No response

City Council and Mayor: No response. 

County Council: Kaylee Galloway, Tyler Byrd, P.U.D. Commissioner Atul Deshmane and I talked about the importance of high resolution RRUL network load testing again. Commissioner Deshmane wrote in support of the idea. Stating that, “In my opinion this testing is an essential part of understanding our current situation. This will be an extremely helpful compliment to the other efforts in the County by the PUD, Port, and City.” Commissioner Deshmane remains the consistent voice of reason and transparency at the Port and PUD. I can’t figure out why he is not heading up the broadband project for the PUD. He has more experience and more knowledge than Commissioner Grant, has worked on the issues longer than she has, and he believes in transparency. He would not have left us to rot during the entire pandemic, with no real explanations, like the rest of the commissioners have done.

A few weeks ago, a voting member of the BAG contacted me on behalf of the political establishment to tell me that, “I do agree that the speed test” (“Mlabs" in the case of the COB study) “is not as accurate as a longer test would be, but RRUL will not be adopted by the city government as long as you keep putting out polemics against city officials. I hope you realize that one day.” So, they wrote to me on behalf of powerful public officials and staff members to tell me that members of the establishment, like Fleetwood, Johnston, Grant, Bell, Sheppard, Fix, Briscoe, etc. know their studies are bad, and there is a better solution, but they just won’t do the right thing because of personal issues they have with being held accountable and having to answer to the pesky public. 

The funny thing is, RRUL isn’t “my” test. I just use it. It was developed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to overcome the many problems with tests like the ones COB and PUD/Port are using. So, they know their test is bad and are refusing to do better because they want to punish someone; that someone is me, a pesky middle-class constituent who data-challenges them. Well, that means they’re willing to punish all of us to control one person. Does that sound like something a public official should do? Does it sound like they achieved their goal? It should be noted that the inaccurate studies they are running are very expensive, too. The COB’s invalid study is being run by the pro-big telecom company, Magellan, will be at least $100K. 

I believe this e-mail was written largely on behalf of a sub-group of the Riveters trying to influence the upcoming election for Senator Erickson’s old seat. As Sharon Shewmake pulled me aside, out of view of others, years ago and yelled at me for nine minutes on behalf of Verizon. She was not able to best my well researched arguments, so she stormed off in a huff and did what she always does: She lied pathologically about the incident and tried to smear me on behalf of the establishment like she has done to many others. Her aide sat down with me for 20 minutes after starting with, “I agree with you,” and thanked me for my volunteer work. True to form this would not stop Sharon from pathologically lying about the incident, claiming I “mansplained” the topic to her and that her aide was afraid of me. Really, the guy who sat with me for 20 minutes and told me he agreed with me? The guy who offered to meet with me about two weeks later? I wasn’t mansplaining, I’m an expert on the topic, but Sharon is so insecure she is threatened by anyone who knows more than she does about anything. Sharon won’t listen to experts, especially if the gender she thinks they identify with isn’t the one she likes. This includes allies who care very much about women’s rights issues like myself. Also, I’ve never seen anyone mansplain a topic like Sharon. Sharon is a bully who specializes in mansplaining topics to others, especially ones she doesn’t understand. Then she gets angry if you don’t allow her to abusively spew inaccuracies at you. 

I am also 90% sure that Commissioner Grant, a close friend of Shewmake and part of the Riveters sub-group, used her influence at the PUD to try to muzzle me after receiving some odd e-mails this week on my communication style from Deshmane; they CCed the PUD’s lawyer and old general manager. The topic I was being chewed out for? Bringing up the IPCC Climate Report and the fact that if we don’t do something soon, we might starve to death. Since I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong, I was annoyed. So I did what I always do: I investigated.            

At first I wasn’t sure if it was Commissioner Grant or Deshmane, as both are heavily linked to Shewmake and her campaign manger, but putting the pieces of the puzzle together, coupled with Deshmane’s continued transparency and reasonable reactions to events over the years, it’s hard to believe it’s not Grant. Especially after she chewed me out for my last article that held the Port and PUD accountable for their lack of transparency. The PUD has yet to provide real answers, a real schedule, or a real update on the progress of broadband in our county. Grant says they talk about it every meeting, but there has been no real progress. We need more than talk. 

Commissioner Deshmane asked me to hold all of the commissioners accountable when I speak about PUD failures and not Grant specifically, but that would be unfair. Grant fought to have control of broadband at the PUD over the much more experienced Deshmane, and although they all share some blame, Grant is most culpable. My advice to her is: You are a public official now. People care about this issue, and you have failed them during a pandemic. Stop trying to smear people working on the public’s behalf and get to work, or make room for someone who will! Our planet is out of time and our people are sick of games. 

The PUD has hired a new general manager and a broadband position, both of whom who will start in February. But the fact remains, the Port and PUD have yet to give us a clear plan. Who will be the first to get service? They haven’t even started working on a study or map yet. Are we to wait another 15 years when we could be done in five? When they could hook up anchor facilities like schools and libraries in a few months? Sorry Commissioner Grant, but a big part of taking on roles includes the responsibilities that come with them.   

Here is a link to the Mason County Fiberhoods project. Here is a link to the work being done in Anacortes that many of you have seen referenced on the gigantic road signs leading to the ferry terminal. Here is a link to the CPUD system that serves Leavenworth and the surrounding area. Mount Vernon is just as happy to tell you where you can get fiber, and so is everywhere else in the state perusing fiber networks. So why can’t we know where our PUD/Port even plans to start? Keep in mind that the only reason to hide what is going on with these projects is either that no real work has been done, or to protect special interests. In a transparent, public system, there is simply no desire to hide information.

Hiding information just seems to happen here in Whatcom County where most of our officials are busy playing games and protecting special interests, where we have decided the people are on a “need to know basis” for how their money is being spent, including when and how they will get access to this critical resource. It is elitism at best.

Ken Bell still refuses my offer for a public debate on the topic. The offer is still open. In fact, allow me to extend it to all of the commissioners and council members. You know why they won’t debate me? Because, deep down they know they still are making decisions without knowing enough about how the technologies they are using even work.   

It should be noted that the Port just received an additional $4 million in broadband grants that must be spent by the end of the year. Will they do something significant? Or piss it all away on big telecom? Maybe they’ll give us $4 million in inaccurate studies. At a minimum, they should tell us their plan. 

I will continue to update this log weekly. Hopefully, I will have some good news eventually. Maybe the PUD/Port will even provide a map of their planned roll-out of fiber, like the Mason County Fiberhoods. 

Week of 1/ 31 / 2022

PUD: Commissioner Deshmane responded to let me know that although they find community network projects exciting, the way the Port/PUD requested their funding was not done in this logical manner. Meaning by focusing on areas and specific projects, rather than by wires themselves. This is not Deshmane's fault. Commissioner Grant fought for the broadband position and continues to drop the ball on key issues. However, this is not all bad. The Port plans to put some fiber down. See the Port section below for details. As usual, Commissioner Deshamane is the one actually working on our behalf while Commissioner Grant simply takes credit for his work and the work of others. 

Grant continues to spend her time on distractions like utilizing PUD resources, at our expense, to try to intimidate people instead of working on the issues even though she is the broadband committee head (see last update for details).  Ziply is starting to randomly lay claim to some areas in the county just to stall communities working on their own solutions. They have until 2028 to even start installing poor quality DSL or hybridized DSL/fiber services. Whatever they come up with, we should note that, like CenturyLink, most Ziply customers do not get, or have access to, real fiber services. Sadly. Washington state law allows telecoms to bully communities like this. 

The good news is that communities can overcome this bullying by simply getting organized and showing they can provide better service for themselves. You see, while a telecom can lay claim to an area, the service they provide has to be equivalent to the service the community can provide on its own. Since Ziply won't provide real fiber services in most cases, citizens can show they can provide a better solution by installing fiber. It would be nice if our elected officials got rid of laws that allow telecoms to bully their taxpayers. 

Port: The Port did not respond directly, but did state publicly that they have a $4 million grant that must be spent within a year. They are supposed to start running some aerial fiber soon (on power lines), but have no concrete details. Just plans. Commissioner Deshmane urges us to keep an eye out for a press release soon. The Port provided no report on their own. What does soon mean? Well, it could be anywhere from three weeks to a full year. No matter what happens, we are NOT looking at a complete solution from either the Port or PUD this year. Why? Politics. They have the money, they know there is a need, yet they still play games. 

City Council and Mayor Fleetwood: PUD Director Johnston responded only to let me know he would not be providing records from the COB Magellan broadband study directly. I wrote about that here.
Johnston dodged all other questions. The usual. 

County Council: No Response.


Contact information, is provided below in case you’d like to ask our officials why so few of them seem to believe in accountability, free speech, etc.

COB Public Works 





About Jon Humphrey

Citizen Journalist • 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

Todd Lagestee

Nov 24, 2022

Hi Jon- I had a really good meeting with the PUD General Manager, (GM) Mr. Chris Heimgartner, and previously Christine Grant. They were very open about their plans and the needs going forward for public power.


As a former nuclear operator (mechanical) on submarines, I know a little bit about power generation and yet even I learned a bit from the GM. There is a study commissioned to evaluate the cost of switching to public power. I’m looking forward to the results in about March or so.


In the meantime, a positive outlook and support for the process will be what either allows our community to coalesce around the idea of public power, which WILL cost more for a period of time; or we stay under the control of our for-profit, power-overlords, PSE.





Jon Humphrey

Nov 24, 2022

So readers, I am going to do us all a favor and keep this argument based on mathematics, science and progress instead of allowing yet another establishment lap dog to turn it into a political shit show.
Is public power a good idea?
Yes. It potentially is a very good idea.
Is THIS PUD, under THIS LEADERSHIP, capable of giving us good results?
Maybe, if they stop showcasing Christine Grant and focus on people who know what they’re talking about like Atul Deshmane. Since the Democratic party generally stabs him in the face, just like Berine, every chance they get though there is little hope of that.
1. The IPCC Climate Report tells us that we have less than 7 years to really start reducing emissions or we are going to die, starting with the elderly and children first mostly from starvation.
2. Climate Change related events are happening at an accelerated rate. We don’t have until 2030, much less 2050 to wait to act, but the PUDs current plan, at best, puts us at 2032 to 2037, and even then there is NO CLEAR PLAN FOR WHERE GREEN SOLUTIONS ARE GOING TO COME FROM.
3. The site Daily CO2 tells us that our emission keep going up.
4. The PUD could be installing infrastructure right now, hell they can build a power plant if they wanted to, but instead of putting solar panels on schools, libraries, etc. as a start they are planning on giving a big corporate welfare check to PSE for obsolete aerial infrastructure PSE doesn’t want anymore, because the Democrats want to push Grant, and she is an incompetent, pathologically lying, coward.
5. Jaime Arnett’s heart is in the right place, and I hope she studies enough to be competent soon, but as of right now she is not. She, like Grant, relies on people like Atul, me, etc. for advice, but the Corporate Democrats will try to keep her from getting anything useful done like they have Atul all of these years. 
6. Underground infrastructure is a better fit in high wind areas with lots of trees like ours, as proven by towns like Bandon, OR, but the current PUD GM wants to give PSE corporate welfare for busted up, old, aerial infrastructure first.
So, while Todd does understand power systems to some extent, months ago he asked me and others to speak out in support of public power. His first piece of advice to us, “don’t mention public power while talking about it.” Well, how the hell are we supposed to fight for public power if we can’t even talk about it?!
Who says things like this all of the time? Commissioner Grant. This is a telltale sign of her involvement. She takes advice from people that are smarter than her, steals it, takes credit for things she didn’t do, and then usually totally screws up the delivery anyway because she’s incompetent, scared of what Sharon Shewmake will think, etc. She is an establishment lap dog and the sooner we admit that the sooner we can get to work. Deshmane NOT Grant! Grant has proven to be ineffective at best.  
How do I know? Because of what the PUD hasn’t done with broadband. Because I watched her steal credit not just from myself to get elected, and then lie about real progress, but even from other politicians that actually wrote the PUD Retail Authority bill. Yes, she supported it, we all did cause it makes sense, but Christine WAS NOT THE PRIMARY AUTHOR OF IT. So, she has no real accomplishments. Real accomplishments at the PUD are still tied to Atul. Who, again, they Democrats are consistently too corrupt and incompetent to listen to.
So Todd himself says her, “it might cost more in the beginning.” Well why? Because Chris (the GM) and Christine just can’t think of starting out the project in any way that doesn’t begin with a big corporate welfare handout for PSE for obsolete infrastructure.
You know who doesn’t care about any of this? The planet. Whether it’s PSE or the PUD, Republicans or Democrats, etc. that allow emissions to continue to increase the planet already has a plan. It will simply shake us off like a bad case of fleas, not even care, make a sandwich, and take a nap.
Yet Todd, and by extension the Shewmake Corporate Democrats, ask you to wait another 10 or 15 years for real action that may never come with no real plan. They assure you that no real action will be taken unless PSE is involved in some way, and they assure you that any action taken will not be done with modern infrastructure.
In the meantime, the PUD could be installing solar on public buildings, like the newly proposed Lynden High School, but like the Bellingham Schools Lynden doesn’t plan on meeting LEED Gold standards, and the PUD has no plans of providing them with green tech either. It’s the same bullshit. Our “leaders” are simply still NOT TAKING CLIMATE CHANGE SERIOUSLY. And the problem is that instead of putting someone competent on the task like Atul, the Dems. want to push Grant. Not because she knows what she’s talking about, but because she meets an image they want to portray. Guess what, the planet doesn’t give a shit about that either. The games our powerful leaders keep playing are going to result in children and the elderly starving to death first, and the rest of us shortly after.
So how’s this for a positive spin Todd. How about the PUD installs some real infrastructure, and then we can write positive articles about the actual, positive, measurable, change that results in. You want positive results, then advise them to stop fucking around and do something for a change. An estimated 5 million people die every year from preventable Climate Change related issues.
Brining that number down would result in one hell of a positive article. Oh, but I forgot, we have to run totally incompetent technophobes like Shewmake instead of engineers, Environomental Scientists, or anyone else that knows their ass from their elbow when it comes to reading a gas analysis. And then we have to support nuclear missile loving Rick Larsen cause Sharon likes him too and by extension Ramel and the rest. The list goes on.
Progress Todd. Real progress will lead to real, positive, results.



Todd Lagestee

Nov 25, 2022

Jon- You asked why it would cost more? This is a fundamental issue for understanding public power. In order to shift to public power, any public agency would have to buy the infrastructure from PSE. That will have to be financed. That will create a base cost for acquiring the capital assets and then there’s the base cost for running the system (transmission and distribution) and then the cost of the power itself. That is why Jefferson County PUD had a higher base rate than PSE. It has taken about 10 years for PSE’s increased cost of power to equalize the cost with Jefferson County PUD. 

Jefferson County PUD acquired a power agreement from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), but it isn’t likely that Whatcom County could. That is why Jefferson County PUD has (finally) gotten to the point where they basically break even against PSE on a residential account with average usage. This is a basic math problem, can you do it for us?

Jon, I asked people to not confuse the issue of public power, while testifying to the UTC against the proposed 2023 PSE rate increase. You (purposely?) took my words out of context. I’m sorry that you can’t seem to understand the importance of speaking to one subject at a time when testifying to a government regulatory agency. 

There’s a lot more nuances involved but that is just a start.

Jon, if you don’t understand the basics involved in all of this, let alone the complexity of actually considering how the politics and finances intersect, then I might suggest you take a step back and stop attacking people and start trying to act constructively.


Jon Humphrey

Nov 25, 2022

That’s right Todd, just keep lying. Cause no one will ever figure it out, LOL. Again readers, notice that Todd totally sidesteps all of the legit points I made on behalf of an establishment that is pushing him around in the background.
1. He sidesteps steps how the PUD could already be taking measures like partnering with county schools, libraries, etc. to install solar and feed that green energy, with a low transmission loss, back into the grid.
2. He sidesteps the Bandon, OR issue where the PUD could start installing more reliable, underground infrastructure, and not deal with PSE at all. Certainly NOT give them a corporate welfare handout for obsolete infrastructure like Todd insists is necessary here. Why? Because the PUD GM said so and Grant went along with is, cause she doesn’t understand the issue and isn’t competant enough to question it, so Todd is going along with it now too. After all, a team in a canoe going up a creek without a paddle is still a team, right Corporate Democrats? After all, “you can’t change horses in midstream, even if the horse is on fire and the stream is made of gasoline.” Just like you buddy George Bush Jr. suggests. “Mission Accomplished” Corporate Democrats! You got a bunch of irrational fools who don’t understand infrastructre elected again. Bravo. Cause the planet totally cares if your best buddies got elected or not. LOL.  
3. He still wants us to be cowards and NOT talk about the issue directly, because the spineless corporate democrats think that being cowards during a crisis is “smart.” Why? Because the crisis never effects them. They go to the hooker and blow parities at the WAVE executives’ mansion and talk about how crazy we are for wanting the same infrastructure the REST OF THE DEVELOPED WORLD ALREADY HAS! They are disconnected from reality.
4. He sidesteps Larsen’s, and by extension the entire parties, ties with species ending technologies like NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
5. He plays the age-old game where he tries to pretend like I, or anyone else that disagrees with him or Andrew Reding, Christine Grant, Shewmake, etc. must simply not be an expert. Guess what Todd, I know a Nuke from a sub too, and many engineers, and they agree with me and understands power systems better than you, Grant, or any other wannabe from the PUD. They describe the response of our leaders as “pathetic.” Which is truly the best word I can attach to it. Grant and Deshmane have been in power for years now, yet we see no real progress. It’s pathetic. 
6. He sidesteps the fact that the PUD has had a competent commissioner for years that they not only ignore but sabotage on behalf of propping up Grant, Deshmane. Maybe we should start listening to people who know what they’re talking about like Atul and tell Christine that she can come back when the experts are done saving our species.
7. He sidesteps the missing TAGNW broadband document I mentioned. Shhhh, Sharon, Grant and their good friend, WAVE Executive Milissa Miller didn’t like that one. Cascadia Daily News Writer Ralph Schwartz also went to bat on behalf of the Corporate Democrats and simply refused to mention the link between Miller, Grant, etc. and the total lack of real broadband progress in relation to the fake Broadband Advisory Group document. I’m sure after years of issues, and piles of concreted evidnce being prestend Ralph just missed the overwhelming conflicts of interest. You know, because he and CDN wanted to. So you can’t read about the truth in the Herald or CDN apparently. Just like Shewmake, Reding, etc. expect.  
8. He sidesteps the 10 to 15 year timetable, even though the IPCC report gives us less than 7. So yes Todd, the timing matters. That’s a basic math issue. Twice as long is too long to wait.
So again readers, they are trying to turn a basic math/science issue into a political one because the Whatcom Democrats are simply incapable of doing anything that might preserve the environment enough to keep our kids from starving to death without asking PSE if they’re ok with it first. Propping up Grant, etc. is simply more important to them. After all, after years of doing next to nothing, they plan to run her for a higher-level position. You know, as we being to starve to death. Cause waiting for their royalty to get what they want is more important then their pesky voters. 
It’s why they won’t compete with big telecom either even after the pandemic made the need for a public fiber network crystal clear, the COB has an existing robust network, the telecoms continue to provide sub-par connections at a high price, we still have thousands of unconnected or barely connected people, and their projects totally crash a burn.
After all, County Executive Satpal Sidhu still loves Starlink even though Elon Musk said he needs more fiber on the ground to make it work well. Of course, Musk is also involved in trying to strong arm Twitter into being a totally fascist platform, showing that he has gone totally off the deep end and is not the kind of person we should be taking advice from. Just what we should expect from our Corporate Democrats. Musk, and by extension Trump, is their kind of guy. After all, look at all of the pathological lying that came out of the Dems. when I legitimately linked Shewmake, Ramel, etc. to big telecom. It’s on, but that didn’t stop them from lying to your face about it and attacking progressives and workers. Like the Musk loving fascists they are.  
Also Todd, are Christine, Sharon, Jaime, Atul, etc. incapable of speaking for themselves? Why don’t you stop being their pawn and start holding them accountable? While we still have a chance of turning this all around. Lives literally hang in the balance.
Cowardice is not what we need right now. If you ever get around to knowing what you’re talking about, I’ll be happy to continue this discussion.
In the meantime, the numbers don’t like.
IPCC Report = less than 7 years to reduce emissions or we die from starvation, kids and seniors first.
Daily CO2 = CO2 keeps going up, regardless of what morons like Grant, Ramel, etc. say. They have DONE NOTHING SIGNIFICANT, and they don’t plan to. Ramel’s Hydrogen in natural gas scam not only proves he’s a fossil fuel industry drone, but actually produces excess NOx (nitrous-oxide) a gas 300 times worse for the atmosphere than CO2. Even if you believe it might work it’s only a 5% mixutre, so 95% bad. It is not a solution, and Ramel know that, but why would he do the right thing when he has drones like you lying to people about fake solutions?
Bloomberg tells us that at least 5 million people die a year due to preventable climate change related issues.
Climate change related incidents are happening at an accelerated rate.
Todd is sidestepped all of this to protect the establishment. Good boy Todd. Remember who your master is, Andrew Reding and his master is Sharon Shewmake and her master is her campaign manager. An anti-environment millionaire that owns the county and doesn’t give a shit about any of us. 
Again, results, not bullshit. Give us results to print and we will. For example, how about the PUD commit sto something that would result in this headline, “the PUD has committed to providing solar power and heat pumps for any new public building in the county, including the proposed new Lynden High School. The PUD will begin retrofitting existing schools, libraries, and other public building ASAP with similar infrastructure and apologizes for not doing this sooner. Energy from these green systems will be made available to the local communities that these structures reside in when there is an overproduction in power. In other related news the County Council has ruled that all new public buildings must meet or exceed the LEED Gold standard.”



Todd Lagestee

Dec 04, 2022

Jon- I’m sorry that our communication has devolved into your ad hominem attacks. If you’ll remember, I met with you (and bought the beers and food, on my own dime) to attempt to broach a way forward, where your knowledge contributes to a positive outcome for Dig Once and eventually Public Power. Government doesn’t make evolutionary leaps, as much as we might want. I believe we have to have positive, fact-based, systematic communications to work with the public and government, on these type of complex issues.

Jon, I take exception with your unsupported claim that I’m a liar. That is the language and methodology of the very dictators you claim to be fighting. Your attitude and approach to these issues, mirrors the accusations you are lobbing against people that are doing their best for our community. 

I won’t be responding anymore to this forum. I’ve decided that our government agencies will have to move forward for the benefit of the public, in spite of Jon Humphrey and his misguided approach; and communicating here won’t accomplish that.




Jon Humphrey

Dec 04, 2022

Again readers, Todd goes for an emotional instead of fact-based argument here. We would love nothing more than to see some actual progress on infrastructure that makes sense. Like Dig Once, installing solar on public buildings, setting a LEED Gold or better standard for new buildings, and so on. And we would like it to NOT start with corporate welfare handouts to big telecom or PSE. Todd addresses none of those important points in any of his replies.
So why does someone like Todd buy a guy like me beers? Well because the establishment considers me a threat. Why? Because I have something that they don’t. Real expertise and real credibility. I also have no party allegiance. My concerns are actually about the welfare of my fellow citizens. They simply don’t know how to deal with someone that’s real and actually cares like me.
So instead of giving you real results like Dig Once, community solar, etc. they try to shut people like me down. How long have we heard this, “governments move slowly argument?” Well, our entire lives and what’s the bottom line. NO REAL PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE AND THE PLANET IS IN RUINS. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF A NUCLEAR WAR AND THE DEMOCRATS TAKE JUST AS MUCH MONEY FROM WEAPONS MANFACTURERES AS THE REPUBLICANS. I can go on but won’t.   
Where are Atul Deshmane, Jaime Arnett, Christine Grant, Andrew Reding, Jamie Douglass, The Port Commissioners, and more? Can they no speak for themselves? Where are their campaign promises? Well I can tell you where they are. Instead of giving us real progress they are busy pressuring lap dogs like Todd into speaking on their behalf because they’re too cowardly to do it on their own and too corrupt to give us real progress. In fact, they probably never intended to. Is that the kind of leadership we want? Cause that’s what we have.  
So how about this instead. The Democrats try to paint me out to be the problem when I literally trained almost every candidate from both parties on public broadband over the years. As a Corporate Democrat Todd says that 2 beers are too much to give to me for the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve given to the community in expertise. Hell, Andrew Reding tried to ruin a free computers to near homeless people program just to get back at me for telling you the truth about Sharon Shewmake’s corporate donors. Cause that’s why they are. They’re the problem.
Anyway Todd, I’ll make sure that John Servais or Dick gets your blood money back to you. I don’t want it now that I know you’re an anti-worker, anti-community, Laren/Warmongering  loving Corproate Democrat. I wish I knew that in the first place.
I did offer to pay and you insisted to because of my work in the community, but I should have known better than to think that anyone connected to Sharon Shewmake didn’t have ulterior motives. Like protecting abusive telecom companies and PSE. Anyway, the minute our leaders actually do something useful I’ll be the first to report on it. In the meantime, don’t let the door hit you in your fascist ass on the way out. You can tell that to all your buddies that made you write this too.


To comment, Log In or Register