To the editor:
Dear fellow Sibley County residents:
Although many of you have thrown away your latest Fiber to the Home (FTTH) packet, everyone needs to understand that if this project does not go away, you and your neighbors and family members will be paying higher taxes for years even if you do not have a "drop" or subscribe to any of the services. Yet, there is hope.
In early March, the mayor for the City of Arlington, thankfully, said no to this project with two council members. These city leaders should be commended for keeping Arlington out of this confusing scheme. Please go to your library and read the March 20, 2014 Arlington News to understand their thoughtful concerns. Meanwhile, I will attempt to summarize why many of us are so opposed to FTTH:
(1) Rightfulness: This is not right. Ensuring high-speed internet is not the proper role of government. Local government was never involved in the telephone business over the past 138 years and since March 10, 1876 America has had the best telephone service in the world.
(2) We already have it: Presently almost anywhere in Sibley County anyone can get high speed internet at a reasonable cost from more than one service provider. Why would a government entity rush headlong into trenching or boring through our cities and townships just to deliver something we can already buy now?
(3) No investment protection: Everyone - you, me, every resident in every city, every township - is on the hook if, when, this thing does not pencil out the way we are told it will. We will be liable for all debts even if you did not subscribe.
(4) Changing FTTH model: Several months ago after FTTH failed the first go-round I was told by the hugest proponent that the FTTH project was going to be structured as a Co-op, like a UFC or South Central, and that no taxpayers will be at risk. Maybe it was true then in the chalkboard stage but it is not true now. We are at risk. And we don't get to vote about it.
For whatever reasons, my city, Winthrop, seems to be the center of all this FTTH activity. Most of us are all a little unclear as to why so earlier this week, under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13, I asked the city administrator for the opportunity to view all time logs and travel logs for all Winthrop employees involved in the FTTH project going back to 2010. I would like to be assured that our taxes are paying for our city employees to work on city business and not on some non-necessary joint powers or joint county project that is not essential for Winthrop residents and already failed once.
Finally, there are many fine people that want FTTH. Regrettably, it seems that one FTTH tactic is to get these good people to bicker with each of us, family member against family member, neighbor against neighbor. This is not worth it. If anyone asks you to pledge to FTTH, please stand firm and just say no, thank you. No one wins with this project as it is presently structured.
Mark L. Santelman