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A Critical Council Meeting

 

 

I emailed our open letter to the new County Council on Sunday January 3rd. At that time we had 177 signatures. I followed up with a brief statement at their first meeting on Tuesday January 5th.

The County Council will discuss priorities for 2021 at their meeting on Tuesday January 12th.

Letters to the Council, countycouncil@lacnm.us, before that meeting will be particularly effective. I recommend explaining how better Los Alamos broadband would improve life in the County, eg, professional productivity, effectiveness of education, and social/family cohesion. As you write, remember the platitude about honey and vinegar. However, given social distancing rules, Ogden Nash’s thoughts on candy and liquor are not appropriate now.

Since some Councilors may suggest waiting years to address broadband until after CenturyLink strings a second fiber link across the Rio Grande for LANL, I recommend you tell the Council you want them to act now.

I will attend the meeting via zoom. I’ve attended such meetings in person in other years. It’s a good chance to see the Councilors talk about what they think is important.

Here is the statement that I made to the Council at their meeting January 5th:


Hello, My name is Andrew Fraser. I live at 197 Taos Street in Los Alamos.

On Sunday, I sent an open letter to the Council that has been signed by 175 residents of Los Alamos County asking you for help with broadband. Here are 3 key points in that letter:

1. We find both that our broadband connections are inadequate and that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) available in the County offer various combinations of high prices, hostile customer service and low data rates.

2. We have poor ISP options because of failures at the federal
level. However, because Los Alamos County owns the poles and conduits that Century-Link, Xfinity, etc. use to deliver TV, telephone and Internet, we have an advantage over other communities in circumventing failures at the national level.

3. Council will be setting priorities at its Jan 12, 2021 meeting. At that meeting we ask that you establish broadband access in the County as a priority.

Now, as you investigate options, I suggest that you keep in mind that the error we’ve made in America is to treat broadband differently from other utilities and natural monopolies. It is neither regulated as a utility nor owned by the State (or in our case the County as the other utilities are here.) To address that failure, the Council should make sure that the County owns any infrastructure that would confer monopoly power over broadband communication in Los Alamos.

Thank you for your attention.

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Plans

I have waited till the new year to contact the Council because the
newly elected Councilors take office on January first. Yesterday I
talked to Randall Ryti, the Vice Chair of the County Council. He says that the Council will have an infrastructure priority in 2021. I told him that ultimately I want the County to own any communication infrastructure that constitutes a natural monopoly. I believe that optical fiber that runs to every neighborhood in the County will be the key piece of such infrastructure. I also said that my short term goal and the request in our open letter is more modest. We simply ask that the County Council make Better Los Alamos Broadband a priority NOW (BLABNOW). I also talked with Councilor Ryti about how to effectively communicate with Councilors. I hope they all appreciate that I did not set up the WordPress petition software to send new email to the Council each time someone signed the open letter. Here is my current plan:

  • Friday January 1: Send email to those who signed the open letter with a link to this blog posting. I will suggest that email from individuals to the council will be particularly effective before the Council meeting on January 12, and that I’d like additional signatures before the 3rd when I will incorporate the signatures into the letter.
  • Sunday January 3: Send our open letter to the new Council.
  • Tuesday January 5: Make a public comment at the beginning of the virtual Council meeting.
  • Tuesday January 12: Attend the virtual Council meeting. At that crucial meeting, they will talk about priorities for 2021.
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Progress (92 Signatures)

After launching this site Friday evening 12/5, I tested the SpeakOut! plugin for petitions by signing the open letter myself, and I sent email to Barbara Calef asking her to look over the open letter and test the comment function. Barbara signed the open letter Saturday morning and posted the first comment on the blog. I thank her for helping.

On Saturday 12/6, I collected a list of 70 email addresses of Los
Alamos residents by going through my address book and my old email.   I excluded friends who I suspected would not want to sign the open letter. In the evening, I sent email to those addresses asking people to look at the open letter and consider signing it. By the end of the day, we had 10 signatures.

In the morning of Sunday 12/6 I contacted both the Los Alamos Daily Post and the Los Alamos Reporter to ask if they would post something about the BLABNOW effort.

By midday Sunday we had 25 signatures, and I got a call about the open letter from Councilor David Izraelevitz. After that John Pearson (Signature #9) called and asked how many signatures we’d need to get the attention of the County Council. I told John that the evidence showed 25 signatures got the attention of one Councilor. John wondered if we’d need 175 signatures to get the attention of all 7 Councilors. I’ve known John since the 1980s when we studied nonlinear dynamics at the University of Texas.

Also on midday Sunday, the Los Alamos Reporter published our complete open letter with a link to our website for collecting signatures.

At the end of the day Sunday we had 53 signatures.

At the end of Monday 12/7 we had 73 signatures including leaders in the community and at LANL such as Pieter Swart, a LANL Group Leader. Swart’s comment highlights the importance of reliable residential broadband for productivity at LANL.

I’ve heard from two people who’ve had trouble signing the open letter.  Apparently LANL blocks our site, and an early signer told me that after her first signature simply never appeared, she signed again.  This technology is new for me, and so far I don’t know how to address these problems.

I am pleased with the response here. When I set up the petition, the SpeakOut! software offered to display a progress bar showing fractional progress towards a goal. I didn’t know what goal to set.  I thought 50 might be too optimistic. As I am writing this post we’ve moved from 75 signatures to 92. Less than half of the names are from the list of 70 people I contacted directly, and I recognize names of community leaders whom I have not yet met.

Thank you for supporting BLABNOW. Please tell others about the site.

Andy

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First Blog Post

Hello, I (Andy Fraser) am launching this site today. The purpose of the site is to make better Internet service available to residents of Los Alamos County.

To start off, I have written an open letter to the County Council that primarily asks that they make residential broadband a priority. The Council will have a meeting on January 12, 2021 at which they will establish priorities for the year. So it’s important to collect signatures before that meeting. Please click the link and sign the letter.

I don’t have any previous experience organizing advocacy. So I welcome advice on advocacy in the comments here.

Also, I welcome advice or help with the technology. I am using the WordPress Content Management System to manage/publish the site, and I started learning how to use WordPress this week. I installed it on my home workstation to practice before getting a public site at dreamhost.

(To see the comments or to write one, click on the little “# Comments” link next to the date near the top of this page.)