Wednesday, January 15, 2014

City of Seattle: "interested in the option of a municipal internet utility"

I thought and hoped that when Seattle Mayor Ed Murray shut down the failing effort of Gigabit Squared on January 7th that a more robust effort to get fiber to the premises would be made. 

I had hoped that they would make an effort to pursue a municipal option to better serve all of Seattle. 

I sent a brief note to Ed Murray with the link to a study completed in 2009. The study completed at the end of the Greg Nickels administrations, and at the beginning of the Mike McGinn administration.

Below is the brief reply I received today from Ed Murray's office.

Responding to your requst: 14-00002629

City of Seattle
Edward B. Murray

SR#: 14-00002629

Dear Michael Baker,


Thank you for the note. We've been reading the report, and are interested in the option of a municipal internet utility.


Please click here if you have further questions.

Bennett Barr

Office of the Mayor
600 Fouth Avenue 
PO Box 94749 
Seattle, Washington 98124-4749

Well, a brief request got a brief response. But, if memory serves, this would be a half-a-billion dollar effort.
They are looking at the study, good, they have an interest in making this a utility, even better.

Municipalities have done a delicate dance in order to get something going without ending up in court. Pursuing this as a utility is the way to go.

What the city could do is create / partner with a non-profit or create a municipal utility for the part that actually interfaces with the public as an ISP.

The duopoly of cable and telecom regularly win in court to stop such efforts citing that they provide comparable service. If they were capable of rolling this out on their own then we wouldn't still be having this discussion.

In order to get complete coverage for all of the city at about the same time, including the poorest of neighborhoods, a municipality has to put in its requirements that the entire city must be covered (that effort by private enterprise just failed); it has to demand Fiber To The Premises (FTTP). It must provide uniform rates so some neighborhoods would not get screwed because of the location of their home or business.

Gigabit Squared was, at best, going to serve a few of the better off neighborhoods, and at worst create a digital divide.

The combination of all 3 requirements is something that a commercial outfit has not and cannot commit to doing. Some parts may be something 1 provider could attempt. Former Mayor Mike McGinn went for that low hanging fruit and it failed to deliver where our fiber already existed, and it would have created a digital divide. 

This was known in 2009. We've lost 4 years. I sent the link to Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle.

It is my, now slightly out of date, opinion that the city update the 2009 study and move forward with a municipal fiber-optic network.

Well, it looks like I'm not alone in thinking this way.

Go, Ed Murray!

One thing to look at would be to leverage existing assets and experience.

I know this sounds nuts, but, I would have the Seattle Public Library a partner in the project. They are the only information based governmental agency that fights to protect your right to keep your personal information personal; they have and manage an information network; they already have brick and mortar offices throughout the city. 
If not them then the city can invent a non-profit, a municipal entity, like that to be a facilitator.
Seattle City Light could be a partner. They have the poles, and a business interest in remote energy service to homes in Seattle.

So, two major entities, 1 of them is a non-profit tasked with delivering all three major city requirements, the other with a business need and the poles everywhere.

This has been a studied, rolling something like this out; the costs, the likely rates, and how much capital it would take (taxes, you know, the money we use to buy things that the private sector is unable to provide). 

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
Seattle, Wa

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Stranger: 2014 the Progressive Moment?

Charles, with all due respect, you are missing a paragraph about the workers taking control of the tax policy machine that currently tilts the economy in favor of those that benefit from the failed supply side economics. 
The job secretors are not creating more jobs that pay a living wage because; there isn't enough demand for products and services; there aren't enough people that make a living wage to demand more products and services.
Attempting to artificially inflate a demanding economy from the bottom-up while tax policy remains as it is is a temporary feel good measure. 
The $15 dollar an hour minimum wage will be overcome by inflation in time and we will be right back where we started as long as the growth in the economy is structured to benefit supply side economics.

I'm not an economist, just a middle age white guy experiencing stagnant wages, while my union coworkers are voting on their participation in the race to the bottom today.

The Stranger: 2014 the Progressive Moment?

posted by 

New Yorker:

Along with Elizabeth Warren, de Blasio is the most visible face and potent voice of a new political spirit. For the first time in decades, liberalism is once again becoming "a fighting faith" (Whitman's phrase, revived by Schlesinger). This spirit has almost nothing to do with the perpetual battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, or the Center for American Progress against the Third Way, or Clinton vs. Warren in 2016. It is the political articulation of a wide and deep sense of outrage and disenchantment, which is why it has legs. It has to do with a sense that the deck is stacked in favor of the few, that ordinary people's aspirations hardly stand a chance.

Bill de Blasio and Elizabeth Warren are not the only highly visible signs of a turn in the times, but also Wendy Davis and our very own Kshama Sawant. But what is this all about? How and why is it happening? The truth, I think, is that, with the collapse of the ideology that supported a market-centered governmentality, more and more white Americans are finding themselves disenchanted and living in a raw society that, while they were dreaming of eternally rising home values and privatized pension plans, has removed almost all serious protections from poverty and not grown in any real (productive) economic way in 40 years.

What Obama has shown is that caution and pragmatism is getting us nowhere. Stronger language and action is needed if the crisis of inequality is to be resolved. And this is the thing: We need to claim the word crisis. At the moment, there can only be an economic crisis, a crisis of those who find the value of their financial assets falling at an alarming rate. If this fall is stopped, the crisis for them and everyone else is over. And so today there is no crisis. But as a French sociologist pointed out in a lecture at the LSE, a crisis can not just end like that. A crisis must be resolved by a conflict. 2014 might be the year that the left and the working class reclaims, reinstates, renames the content of the crisis.

Charles, a friend of mine recently increased the pay of some of his employees to ensure that all of his employees make at least $15 an hour. A good thing to do but the underlying tax structure should encourage him to do this in come way, or, to the fundamental point, the larger economy controlled by multinational corporations needs a serious tax policy structure change.

What we currently have now are corporate board members sitting on each other's corporate boards with the only incentive being to maximize each other's pay checks. Somehow the benevolent corporate overlords will create jobs without demand? No. The wealth will trickle down? No. They work harder? No.
They have paid for the tax policy that ensures the perpetuation of the economic model. 
And to hell for everybody else, including my friend that increased the wages of a few employees on his own, including the City of Seattle.
Figure it out, everybody.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
Seattle, Wa

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The public opinion trial of Edward Snowden moves forward

The New York Times is stating their opinion that Snowden isn't a criminal but a whistle-blower.
We obviously have not been shown all of the evidence from either side, and never will.

If the NYT opinion becomes the sustained opinion then the discussion changes.
U.S. Courts will not be the venue for framing the discussion as long as Snowden stays in exile.

There is a trial going on right now framed as Snowden being a whistle-blower. It's very public, and the public gets to ask questions and give opinions.
There are advantages to Snowden, and the public at large, by trying a case in the court of public opinion.
This trial is not subject to the same secrecy it would be subject to had he faced trial in the United States, the same secrecy that produces a government that acts in secret as the NSA has been accused and admitted to acting.

We are nearing the punishment phase, the problem is that too many people are confused on who lost at trial.
NSA is guilty.

Hopefully this gets solved faster than the Catholic Church branding Copernicus a hieratic.
"Heretical" Copernicus Reburied as a Hero - CBS News
Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower -

Seattle Predictions, 2014, Number 1

Over the past few years I have written lists of predictions. This year I will just post them as they occur to me.

Here is the number 1:
New Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will discover that dealing with light rail advocates (up zone developers, same thing) is worse to deal with than it was dealing with sports fans when he was in the Washington State Legislature.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
Seattle, Wa