September 27, 2007

A Citizen Rant by Cranky Cathy

Is access to broadband a God-given right? In the Pioneer Press today is the story that the City of St. Paul is still "exploring" their options for adding either a city-wide Wi-Fi, or fiber-optic, broadband network. The plan is that eventually this network will be offered to the citizens of the city.

I contacted my council member with my concerns about the city-wide broadband plan back in January when this idea first surfaced. He had a lot of justifications. All lame. I'm not voting for him this November-so there. I'm sick of the City Council wasting our time passing toothless resolutions that have absolutely nothing to do with governing the city (supporting gay "marriage", opposing the war in Iraq). My oiled street (If you live in St. Paul, you know what that means!) is literally buckling and coming apart. Most of our block has no curb-including my house. If the curb is still present, at all, it's falling apart. I'm losing about 2 inches of my meager boulevard per year to erosion. All that soil is washing right into Como Lake (a block away). Our street has been pushed back on the calender 2 times since I moved here in 2001. Now we are on the schedule for 2010.

We can't seem to find the money for infrastructure that matters, such as: street improvement and repair, property inspections, cleaning up illegal dumping, alley plowing. Yet, somehow my street assessment fees and property taxes keep going up. WAY up!-thanks to the recent whopper of a tax increase (14.6% in 2008) the city just implemented. That hefty increase is on top of the county increase and the school levy.

If people want high-speed access they should pay for it on their own and not expect my city tax dollars to help build this huge city-wide network. I don't think not having high-speed access is a form of social oppression. If we build it, what then? Does that mean everyone will be able to use it? If not, does that mean I'll be financing computers for everyones home use next? Will I be subsidizing the folks who can't afford the buy-in fee? What if the city builds this network and not as many people as they hope purchase access to it? How big of a deficit is that going to be?

I don't see why it's such a big deal in this city for individuals to shop and buy what they want and what they can afford. After all, St. Paul does not, as a city, pay for garbage removal. Each homeowner in the city of St. Paul negotiates and contracts with the hauler of their choice (I, personally, love this choice). If we can do that, why is the citizenry perceived as incapable of purchasing their own broadband if it's a necessity? Or, at least, the City Council, would have us believe broadband is a necessity. Fast internet access must be more critical then garbage removal if the city will pay for broadband network but won't contract with a city hauler.


Blogger swissmiss said...

Hey, I love broad band! Just hope they get it soon. I might be taxed too much to feed my kids, but heck, I'll have broad band!! Woo hoo!!

Our streets are the opposite. We had them completely dug up three years ago. New curbs, new black top. Very nice. Then, last summer the city came by and put down a thin coating of tar and the icky layer of gravel. Why? The road was brand new and beautiful. Ah, my tax dollars at work.

There's a house across the street for curbs and street included!

September 27, 2007 2:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Prior to my becoming a blogger, I spent a lot of time on the "Minneapolis Issues Forum" debating local issues with people who desire more than anything that people in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle/Redmond (home of Microsoft) really love and respect us for how progressive and innovative we are.

So Minneapolis has already jumped into the "free wireless" universe for those 75% of the population who might have a computer and the 35% of them, mostly young and non-voting, who want to spend their days sending for free lame text messages and raunchy jokes to their 42,500 Facebook "friends."

Needless to say my position was in the minority. And in fact I was thrown off of the extremely politically correct site because of a post deemed to be offensive because I accused somebody from St Paul of being in the employ of the St Paul Chamber of Commerce.

I agree with you 1000%, Cathy? Why is government paying for this "toy" for people who can afford it already when so many other things are needed?

Now the Minneapolis City Council, having solved that problem, is in the process of banning circuses from the city because of the way they abuse animals.

September 27, 2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

swissmiss: Thanks, but I like my little dollhouse.

Ray: YOU were outspoken? Gosh, I can hardly believe it! :-)

September 28, 2007 7:16 AM  
Blogger Kasia said...

One of our local counties is planning to have the whole county on wireless by next year or the year after (I forget which). Of course, they're also one of the wealthiest counties in the nation (Oakland County, Mich).

I guess I don't have a principled objection to doing it, in and of itself. My objection would come in when it's at the expense of infrastructure, as it seems to be in Minneapolis' case.

September 28, 2007 8:38 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Curb your enthusiasm. (Get it?) LOL!

What is wi-fi anyway?

September 29, 2007 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to move into St. Paul from the suburbs, but the housing and taxes are just too high!

September 29, 2007 2:43 PM  

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