Liveblogging: UTOPIA Board Meeting, October 27, 2008

This is a liveblog of the UTOPIA Board Meeting on October 27, 2008.

10:43AM The meeting is now adjourned.

10:42AM Sorry about the hiccup. Looks like my hosting company had to do another emergency reboot.

10:36AM UTOPIA is also working with RUS and has finally been able to open a dialog. The head-end is also nearing completion and there was mention of video production services. Could this mean that public access is in the works like on iProvo?

10:33AM The plan is still to bring in business providers and more business accounts.

10:29AM Todd Marriot is delivering an update on the network status. They plan to have 4-5 new triple-play providers Real Soon Now™ and are still working with Tetratech and PacketFront. They’ve also been doing upgrades to the core to make it “carrier class”. The current plan, however, is unwritten. As I’ve found on my own, they have been visiting city councils to give them updates and have been doing so in groups of two to avoid having to make them open meetings.

10:26AM The motion to create Finance, Construction and Membership committees carried.

10:23AM The topic at hand is the lack of data available to evaluate. Marriott’s position is that they still need to carefully guard a lot of data. Amazingly enough, he had a meeting with Royce Van Tassell and the UTA now supports UTOPIA’s success as best for the taxpayers. It’s good to heard that UTOPIA is working with one-time rivals to bring good ideas in-house.

10:21AM Todd Marriott is now presenting an update on UTOPIA’s status.

10:20AM The motion carried for reform the executive committee without Centerville.

10:19AM Paul Cutler has asked that Centerville remain on the executive committee since they would normally have another year of service. Brent Grotegut of Payson has spoken strongly against this as he believes the current executive committee membership is responsible for the problems UTOPIA has experienced.

10:18AM The executive committee has also been reorganized, but I’ve had a hard time following just who was asked to fill which positions. Hopefully those changes will be posted on the website along with the meeting minutes. Reps from Layton, Tremonton, Orem, and Brigham City will all be part of the committee.

10:13AM Kane Loader of Midvale has been elected as the new chairman of the board. He replaces Alex Jensen of Layton.

10:12AM The meeting is getting underway now.

10:10AM Unsurprisingly, reps from Comcast, Qwest and the Utah Taxpayers Association are on-hand to see things unwind. Steve Oberbeck from the Salt Lake Tribune also came into the room.

10:01AM Looks like we’re starting a bit late today. I’ve already noticed that several of the board members have changed including the reps from Murray (who is now Jeff Dredge) and Centerville (who is now Blaine Lutz).

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21 Responses to Liveblogging: UTOPIA Board Meeting, October 27, 2008

  1. SirTomster says:

    Thanks Jesse

    Did Marriott say why he doesn’t want to release the data? Or just made that statement with no reasons?

    Interesting on the open meetings, what do they fear? When I read that the only thing that comes to my mind is that the sky is falling.

  2. Jesse says:

    It’s the same story as it always has been: they don’t want Qwest/Comcast/Fontier/etc. using it to derail the project. I spoke with Marriott, a few UTOPIA employees and some board members to make sure they know that failing to disclose information is causing a minor panic and encouraged them to get more information out there for public consumption.

  3. Fisher says:

    What was the swaying factor in the UTA decision?

  4. Jesse says:

    I’d really like to know that too. I’ll have to get a hold a Royce and find out.

  5. Capt. Video says:

    It’s just amazing to me that Todd would admit in an open public meeting that there have a plan, but it’s not written to avoid having to share it via GRAMA Request, etc. As well as admitting they are meeting with small groups to avoid meeting the legal requirement of open meetings.

    Is that not just admiting that you are taking actions to meet the legal requirements while avoiding to meet the spirit of the law?

    I guess it’s more amazing that Todd could make his presentation, give no number of specifics, just some fluff and the above admission….and when he asks, “Any questions?”, not a single question is asked by the board. Not ONE question???

    We have a hundred million dollar project underway, it’s not really going well, no details are provided and there are no questions from those responsible to insure the the project is being well managed???

    The entire meeting takes only 30 minutes?
    Are things really going that well? These is no need to dig in and examine ANY issues.

    Who are these board members and why are they not doing their job?

    Only Payson’s representative spoke out…and was ignored.

    Is no one else concerned that we have a $100 million dollar plus project underway…..with “NO WRITTEN PLAN” to make it successful. What company is the world would accept that statement from their CEO???

    What cities citizens would accept their city avoiding the open public meeting laws by holding meetings in small groups as a matter of public policy!

    …and this all appears to be “business as usual” at UTOPIA and does not raise an eyebrow???

  6. Capt. Video says:

    My guess is the UTA is working with UTOPIA to bring them around to selling the network as iProvo did?

    I just can’t see the Utah Taxpayers Association (which is not made up of individual taxpayers but is a business protection association that represents the likes of Qwest and Comcast) supporting anything more than moving UTOPIA from public to private?

  7. Jesse says:

    I can’t figure out what there is to be gained by not writing anything down either. (Since I neglected to mention that, I’m going to guess you were at the meeting incognito.) Certainly he must understand that just because a GRAMA request is received doesn’t mean that you have to immediately show your full hand. Just look at all of the missing bits from the iProvo docs I asked for.

    I should note that having small meetings with city council members to avoid open meeting laws has been used regularly by both Qwest and Comcast to protect proprietary information. I don’t see this as irregular at all nor do I think that specific issue is cause for concern.

    My guess is that because UTOPIA has been meeting with mayors and city councils on a near-continual basis that they’ve already had their questions answered in a private forum and feel no need to have them addressed in a public forum. Again, that’s my best guess from poking around the Internet and seeing that since August, UTOPIA has met with Midvale, Perry and Centerville among other cities.

    FYI, I just got a response from Royce Van Tassell who said that Marriott’s comments were entirely inaccurate. UTA wants UTOPIA to succeed in that they don’t want to see taxpayers on the hook for the bonds and nothing more.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My take on Todds’ speaking was that nothing new was indeed said, and to be perfectly honest it’s the same rhetoric we hear at the internal meetings from the office. It should make some wonder why stats or even just some numbers in general can’t discussed open in an effort to show forward progress?

  9. Anonymous says:

    on Jesse’s comment “should note that having small meetings with city council members to avoid open meeting laws has been used regularly by both Qwest and Comcast to protect proprietary information. I don’t see this as irregular at all nor do I think that specific issue is cause for concern.” Quest and Comcast are not public entity’s. and Just because one person does a shady deal doesn’t me that its alright for us.

  10. u235sentinel says:

    I appreciate the work you are doing with Utopia. I just wish the West Jordan City Council wouldn’t be a short sited and bring them in. Even if it is as a non pledging city. I mean why not? No money in a bond needed and no liability. Not sure what the problem is with these people. That’s why I’m working to replace the other half in the next couple of years including our uninspiring Mayor. (Yeah, I spoke with them all about Utopia).

    If no traction we just might move to a Utopia city and be done with this city. Maybe 🙂

  11. i know says:

    From what i have heard. Uta has utopia installers do the fiber work at a very low cost and lets utopia use some of there dark fibers to light up murray footprints(waverly station and fireclay) so what i can see is uta wants utopia around. uta should put this work out for rfp not under the table stuff

  12. Jesse says:

    Wrong UTA, but point taken. 😉

  13. Capt. Video says:

    I don’t see anything in today Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News from the meeting?

  14. Jeff says:

    Still working with PacketFront? I guess that just means hardware?

  15. Jesse says:

    That PacketFront’s name came up at all is curious. One of my sources says that PF closed all Utah operations two weeks ago.

  16. Capt. Video says:

    Jesse might have been busy typing the blog, Todd said UTOPIA has severed relationship with both companies. Tetratech and Packetfront.

  17. SirTomster says:

    I actually liked the BECS system. Granted getting the current UTOPIA hardware to work with BECS would of been a pain but it would of enabled the service providers to adjust services better than what is there now.

    But maybe someone can create a similar tool that interfaces with aU.

    Oh wait. All the guys who did that stuff were DC/PF people and have all split or been laid off.

    I hope whoever you have there knows their stuff because from what I hear anyone involved in UTOPIA operations from before is pretty much gone. I guess Jamie is still around and Charles is in some other group. So anyone in operations today were not involved w/ UTOPIA a year ago (I think)

    Who knows maybe that is a good thing but I kinda think not. (At least for day to day support/issue resolution)

    Good luck guys! Glad to know all the institutional knowledge we had there is gone (not glad)

  18. Capt. Video says:

    Sadly, I was not able to attend the meeting in person, but got a good report from Jesse and others that had.

    Does the break with PacketFront or Tetratech mean the BECS system is no longer used?

  19. SirTomster says:

    Capt Video.

    I thought BECS had not been deployed yet and assumed that with all the troubles that it was not deployed due to UTOPIA’s issues. But maybe it was since I have been gone for almost a year now.

    I would be surprised if they had deployed it because it was still in discussions when I was there. And considering what has happened I figured nothing had gone forward on that part. But hey if its deployed that is great. BECS has some nice features.

  20. Capt. Video says:

    I don’t know that it was ever used. I just assumed from your email that it was in use but would not work with new UTOPIA equipment.

  21. SirTomster says:

    Oh sorry. No. At the time of my departure they were discussing how to deploy it on UTOPIA.

    I was in the NOC and I know I liked the features. Although we had some great guys developing some cool tools to be used and a few were deployed just as everything went in the toilet. After that I watched from afar and hoped it survived. Granted the information coming to light in the past week is more depressing than good and right now I would not want my city to be a pledging city. But hopefully they can recover.

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