The Utah “Taxpayers” Association thought it would get an upper hand with a BBQ in Orem just before the city council voted on a new construction bond. Unfortunately for them, the plan backfired when UTOPIA made a surprise appearance at the event with their “mobile command center” and started actually talking directly with the meeting attendees, many of whom had no opinion of UTOPIA yet and came to get more information. According to my sources, about half of the 250 or so attendees ended up registering their interest in UTOPIA services, a major coup for the network that upstaged their most vocal opponent.
Apparently what convinced a lot of the undecideds was the UTA’s refusal to disclose who pays their bills. That lack of transparency translated directly into looking like they have something to hide (hint: it’s Qwest and Comcast dollars) and left many looking at their fantastic claims skeptically. I’d like to say that there were some talking points to address, but an eyewitness account called it so much kool-aid drinking, a series of incomprehensible rants filled with insinuation, innuendo, insults, and no concrete addressable facts. In contrast, UTOPIA discussed their new business plan with individual residents and offered demonstrations of how well the service can work. Truth has power and it wasn’t on the UTA’s side.
In attendance were Rep. Mike Morley, UTA VP Royce Van Tassell, UTA President Sen. Howard Stephenson, Rep. Steve Sandstrom, and Sen. Margaret Dayton (who did not speak). UTOPIA openly challenged both Stephenson and Van Tassell to provide outside oversight of their plan, an offer which they declined to accept. Considering that the UTA regularly chides UTOPIA for mismanagement and secrecy, I would think they’d jump at the chance to look at things from the inside. If nothing else, they could fabricate some juicy new attacks from half-truths. This says a lot about the true motivations of the Utah “Taxpayers” Association. If they really wanted to keep an eye on UTOPIA for the benefit of all taxpayers, why would they turn this down?
Please, UTA, consider holding more of these events. As many as you want. You come out looking like fools and UTOPIA gains even more customers and mindshare. I’ll even volunteer for the dunk tank.
Also, see coverage from the Deseret News and Daily Herald. Bonus: I’ve got about a paragraph in the Herald article.
As a side note, I saw it reported that the connections on the new plan will be $50/mo plus service, but I don’t know if that’s accruate and haven’t gotten a reply to an e-mail I sent Monday seeking clarification. It’s also unclear how much a service provider tacks on top of that if that is the case, though it had better be well south of $20/mo for Internet. You’ll know more when I do.