Bill Alert: HB60 to be heard Monday in the House Government Operations Committee

I just got notified that the House Government Operations Committee has added HB60 to its agenda on Monday February 10 at 2PM. The meeting will be held in Room 20 in the House Building and this is the first agenda item. If you can be there to speak as a member of the public, I strongly encourage you to do so. Public opposition is the best way to kill bills like this!

Press Release: UTOPIA Event in Centerville

With Internet Service Faster Than a Centerville Wind,

UTOPIA Wires City’s Businesses for the Future

 

Centerville’s Mayor, UTOPIA and Wired Businesses Hold “Fiber Friday” Event

to Demonstrate Benefits of Fiber Optics

 

Consider these dilemmas faced daily by Utah businesses:

 

  • ·         An advertising agency has recently given employees the choice to work from home one day a week—a great morale booster that also reduces driving and improves air quality. But the need to send large graphics files back and forth makes it practically impossible because the internet connections at both the business and the employee’s home are too slow. The employee has no choice but to abandon what was supposed to be a great idea.

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Utah County Association of Realtors Planning Anti-UTOPIA Meeting in Orem

See below for update.  It appears that astroturfing isn’t just for the Utah Taxpayers Association anymore. The Utah County Association of Realtors, a very powerful lobbying group, has been organizing a “public forum” entitled “What does UTOPIA mean for your home?” and has been using robocalls to promote attendance at it. The call says that UTOPIA will be in attendance, but they never extended an invitation to them. They did, however, extend an invitation to the Utah Taxpayers Association and two anti-UTOPIA candidates for city council. Unsurprisingly, the low-scruples ousted Utah County GOP Chairman Taylor Oldroyd is the prime organizer.

I’d advise UTOPIA supporters in or around Orem to show up to the meeting at 1031 W. Center St. Orem on Tuesday October 25 at 2PM. There will no doubt be disinformation by the truckload that will have to be countered.

UPDATE: Per Chris Nichols, the president of the Utah County Association of Realtors, the Utah Taxpayers Association has been un-invited from the event. He stated that his goal is strictly to discuss the implications of transfer of title when a homebuyer has chosen to finance the installation including how it appears when doing a search on the property. He also made it clear that any attempts to derail the discussion beyond that would be thoroughly unwelcome.

Chris also stated that UTOPIA was invited, but the person whom he named as “someone who has done work for UTOPIA” was not a name I’m familiar with. Granted, I don’t know everyone on their payroll, but if the PR department doesn’t know anything about it, it kind of maybe didn’t exactly go to the right person. Sounds like they both had their wires crossed on that one.

For the record, he was pretty mad at me and spent over 10 minutes chewing me out on the phone. I tried to explain why I formed the opinion I did, but he had no interest in hearing it. The website for the event links straight to the light-on-facts UTA website and lists a smattering of candidates for city council in Orem, both of whom are anti-UTOPIA (though one of them is being a realist about the situation). These combined with questions that appear to imply that the UTOPIA contract causes significant real estate sale issues created a very bad public face. The website itself also has no contact information as to who the responsible party would be.

My take? He wasn’t holding a tight enough leash on his employee Oldroyd who then worked with the UTA to try and sneakily co-opt the event for his own political purposes. My publicizing of it was very embarassing (and understandably so) and he needed to take it out on someone right then and there. Hey Chris? No hard feelings this time, but maybe try to be a bit more understanding of where someone else is coming from next time around. A lot of bloggers wouldn’t be as gracious as I am to heavily update an article to show both sides.

UPDATE 2: For those who are interested, I have a copy of the robocall used to publicize the event. Link is below.

UCAR UTOPIA Robocall

Utah Taxpayers Association Spews More Lies

Several UTOPIA member cities are gearing up to start taking votes on the new Utah Infrastructure Agency designed to help fund new construction of the network. The Utah Taxpayers Association is trying to get people to show up at these meetings to protest the UIA and try and kill it. In their effort to do so, they continue to distort, twist, and outright lie in their efforts to rile people up.

First off, the UIA bonds are not an unconditional loan. They are funds that will be secured by payments from subscribers. If there aren’t enough subscribers to secure repayment, the money doesn’t get touched. You would think that such an arrangement would be acceptable to an organization that purports to represent taxpayers as it clearly shifts the burden from the taxpayers as a whole to the subscribers. Attempting to characterize the UIA as a big grab-bag is a big lie.

Secondly, the UTA says that UTOPIA is running a $20M deficit in “operating expenses”. The problem, however, is that their version of “operating expenses” is entirely unclear. I’m betting that they chose to include equipment depreciation and possibly even the bond payments in that figure in order to paint a much more dire picture than actually exists. For all of the accusations by the UTA that UTOPIA doesn’t disclose enough information, it’s hypocritical and extremely irresponsible of them to distort the numbers for the purposes of supporting their arguments.

Remember the last time the UTA tried to organize an anti-UTOPIA protest? UTOPIA and its supporters showed up and ended up turning half of the attendees into subscribers. Let’s show them it can be done again. Centerville meets tonight (October 19) at 7PM, Orem is October 26 at 6PM, and Payson is October 27 at 6PM. All meetings are at the respective city hall. Let’s show the UTA that lying won’t get them very far.

Utah Broadband Provider Summit Wrap-up

This morning, I went to the Utah Broadband Provider Summit at the Salt Lake City Public Library to see what the state will be doing in regards to broadband mapping in Utah. There was a lot of good discussion, but I left feeling like as smart as the people in charge may be, they’re not entirely equipped for the enormous task ahead of them.

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GOED Holding Broadband Summit

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development will be holding a Utah Broadband Provider Roundtable on October 4 as part of the Utah Broadband Mapping, Analysis, and Planning Project. It will be held from 9AM to 11AM at the Salt Lake City Public Library at 210 E 400 S. Anyone involved in providing broadband or creating broadband public policy is invited to attend. Make sure you RSVP by Thursday September 30 by sending an e-mail to broadband@utah.gov. For more information, visit their web page.

Mayor Curtis Holding an iProvo Meeting

And here you thought that everything iProvo had been said or done. Provo Mayor John Curtis will be holding a meeting on economic development on Thursday September 30 which will include a breakout session on iProvo. If you find yourself wondering what’s going on with the network or how (if?) the city is still using it, this is your shot. The public has been invited to participate at the Covey Center for the Arts (425 W Center St) from 7PM to 8:30PM.

Utah Taxpayers Association Holding an Anti-UTOPIA Rally

Not content to pen astroturf editorials and send deceptive last-minute postcards, the Utah “Taxpayers” Association has plans to hold an anti-UTOPIA rally in Orem on July 13. The BBQ/carnival (heh) will be in Orem City Park, 300 E Center St, from 5-7PM. I’d encourage UTOPIA supporters to show up in a counter-protest to correct what will undoubtedly be a series of half-truths, hyperbole, and plain old-fashioned lying. And, unlike my challenge to a throw-down that went unanswered, they can’t exactly run away from you if you call them on it.

As always, be respectful and don’t act like a jerk. You aren’t going to win anyone over with an attitude. I’d like to be there myself, but I’ll be out of town on business.

Want to attend NAB2010 in Las Vegas? Readers can go for free

I’m very excited to announce a special deal for blog readers: admittance to NAB2010 for nothing at all. The National Association of Broadcasters holds an annual convention in Las Vegas to showcase all of the latest and greatest in content production and distribution for television and film. This year, they have an exhibit area on broadband as well as a conference exploring online content distribution. The free Exhibits Only pass (which is normally $150) includes access to the opening keynote and state of the industry address, info sessions, and the Content Theater and Destination Broadband Theater.

The convention runs from April 10-15 in Las Vegas, a relatively short drive from here. As a 14-year former resident of Sin City, let me tell you right now that if you want to go, you had better get a pass and a hotel reservation now. If you don’t, you’ll be staying in Mesquite or Primm and driving an hour each way. NAB is the biggest convention in the city and all of the nice hotels, not-so-nice hotels, and better dumpsters will be booked for the week.

So don’t delay: go register now with the code A913 to get your free pass today.

Utah Taxpayers Association Uses Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt Ahead of Brigham City Vote

The City Council in Brigham City will be holding a final vote on the UTOPIA SAA on Thursday December 10 at 7PM. This vote will determine if the SAA will move forward or not. Ahead of this, the Utah Taxpayers Association has decided to start up a campaign of disinformation to try and get residents against it. The following mailer was sent out to all residents of Brigham City (no doubt at a considerable cost to the UTA).

UTA Postcard Side A

UTA Postcard Side A

UTA Postcard Side B

UTA Postcard Side B

In their usual style, it purposefully misrepresents the SAA and plays loose with the facts. Here’s a few highlights.

  • Before UTOPIA came to town, private companies would not invest in Brigham City. Both Comcast and Qwest refused to provide broadband service to residents despite repeated requests from the city to do so. After Brigham City joined UTOPIA, both companies started to roll out services. Chasing away private capital indeed.
  • Sure, your house could be sold at a foreclosure sale if you fail to pay your part of the opt-in SAA. The same thing happens when you fail to pay your property taxes, your mortgage, or any other expense associated with owning a house or taking a loan out against it. Yet, for some reason, the UTA doesn’t seem to think those items are unfair. Nice spin, guys, but not paying your bills will, surprise, result in consequences. No duh.
  • The UTA has purposefully inflated and misrepresented the city’s share of the expenses associated with the SAA. Brigham City has chosen to pay to hook up all city buildings with UTOPIA service. That accounts for well over half of the money the UTA is talking about and provides a legitimate service to the city. It is also entirely unknown what costs, if any, the city will have to carry for the bond to go through. This is because it depends entirely upon the number of people who sign up. Unless the UTA has some kind of magic crystal ball that I don’t (which I seriously doubt), they’re just making crap up. Again.
  • The UTA is actually calling it a negative point that you’re paying $25 and don’t get service included at that price. I hate to break this to them, but there isn’t a provider on earth that would provide even a single part of a triple play for just $25/mo., at least not without line subsidies (like Qwest and the USF). This is just a nonsensical argument. It’s like complaining that the taxes you pay for roads don’t include a car.
  • The UTA also points out that the money from the sale of your home will be used to pay off the costs of the SAA. Again, duh? What, does someone expect that the bond magically disappears because you sold your house? It’s another nonsense argument.

The flier is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to derail a project with significant community involvement and backing. The UTA isn’t looking out for taxpayers; they’re covering for their members. Let Brigham City’s residents spend their money how they want to, m-kay?