Localblogging

OpEd: Southern New England states must honor commitment to cutting transportation pollution

Sen. DiMario (D-36), Rep. Cortvriend (D-72)By Sen. Alana DiMario and Rep. Terri Cortvriend

In the decade-plus since the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) was first developed under the Carcieri administration, there has been growing, bipartisan consensus that we must end our dependence on fossil fuels for the health of the people in our communities and our planet. No one disputes that reality.

And in that decade of work and planning and a worsening climate crisis, no one has come up with a better solution to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. TCI would cut greenhouse gas pollution from motor vehicles in the region by an estimated 26% and generate a total of more than $3 billion dollars over 10 years for the participating jurisdictions to invest in equitable, less-polluting transportation options and to help energize economic recovery.

It isn't a political landscape that dictates what we must do here; it is the physical reality of the world in which we are living, and an absolute necessity to take action to reduce those emissions. 

This week Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker cast doubt on the agreement their states signed with Rhode Island and Washington D.C. to take action on TCI, with Lamont saying high gasoline prices would probably mean his state legislature wouldn’t support it, and Baker following, saying he wouldn’t stay without other states. We are so disappointed.

That’s unacceptable and short-sighted. We should all be outraged by the idea of staying dependent on and beholden to giant fossil fuel corporations that take billions in taxpayer subsidies while raising gas prices and raking in record profits, all while polluting the earth and making our communities sicker. These are the costs we all bear every day, and it’s long past time the fossil fuel companies take some responsibility for the damage they have done. A model like TCI is still the best plan we have to significantly reduce emissions and help fund Rhode Island’s off ramp from fossil fuel dependence.

It should be noted that Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut together account for almost three-quarters of transportation emissions across New England. We need to do our part to address it.

Here in Rhode Island, our legislative leaders have — fortunately — expressed receptiveness for TCI. The Ocean State has both the ability and the responsibility to move forward on this concept regardless of whether our neighbors uphold their commitments.

In the upcoming legislative session, we will be working on a plan to center equity while reducing transportation emissions and creating a funding stream for modernizing transit. While a regional commitment would be more effective — and we look forward to reaching out to neighboring states to broker such an agreement — nothing could be more ineffective than longer inaction.

As elected officials it is our duty to keep the health and safety of our communities front and center in the decisions that we make. Leading the region in implementing the concepts of TCI does exactly that. For too many decades we have deferred acting on climate change, and there is no more time to waste. If we aren't here to fight for the bold and necessary changes to address the most pressing issues facing us and to reduce the burden on future generations, then why are we here?

Sen. Alana DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) and Rep. Terri Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown) are the sponsors of the TEAM Community Act (2021-S 0872/2021-H 6310), which creates the statutory framework to implement TCI.

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02871, Localblogging, GA

OpEd: Why Rhode Island needs municipal broadband infrastructure

By Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

I could not have predicted the incredible sense of urgency for fiber broadband that has swept Rhode Island and the nation in just five short months!   

Millions of dollars in federal funds are available to states, but to access the money the feds are mandating states invest in deploying fiber broadband to unserved and underserved citizens. That’s one way to make sure Rhode Island, one of only two states in the country without any broadband governance or investment over the past eight years, starts deploying fiber to your home and business.  

US News.com reports that Rhode Island is ranked 37th for high-speed internet access; Rhode Island is ranked 49th for access to faster, more advanced Gigabit internet connection. Over the past decade, while Rhode Island sat on the sidelines as this technology soared, many states and municipalities invested in fiber broadband. We need to catch up, and fast. 

Seventeen states have already earmarked federal dollars for broadband including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Rhode Island could see $112 million in capital projects for fiber broadband.  The U.S Treasury is pretty clear that state capital projects must focus on 100 Mbps (download) and 20 mbps (upload).

Currently 45% of Rhode Islanders do not have 100/20 internet speeds, according to OOKLA Speed Test Intelligence Jan 2020-Aug 2021.  Go to www.speedtest.net to see your download/upload internet speeds. 

Local government should not be in the broadband business, just as local government is not in the airline business. Local government is in the infrastructure business; building sidewalks and bridges. Government is well-suited to build broadband infrastructure and lease it to internet service providers (ISPs), just as governments often build and own airports and lease the gates to airlines that compete for customers. Competition will bring better services and lower prices.

A municipality could build and own the conduit (pipe) and the fiber (glass) for the public good so businesses and residents have an “open access network.”  Any ISP that wants to do business pays rent to the municipality to offer their internet services.  Residents and businesses have a choice of internet providers and a municipality has a recurring revenue stream.   

Longmont, Colorado, is an example of a successful municipal broadband project. NextLight began building its award-winning fiber network in 2014 and now offers 90,000 residents access to 1,000 Mbps service with 60% take rate (residents subscribing to fiber broadband). There’s also Wilson, North Carolina; Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Everett, Mass.; to name a few. Municipalities would have to perform a cost benefit analysis.  If municipalities make bad decisions there will be failures, which is true of any infrastructure project.

This business model could be an economic opportunity for cable companies.  Municipalities have something that private and for-profit companies do not have and that’s “patient” capital.  A city or town has the financial ability to bond to build over 20 to 30 years, something private companies cannot do because Wall Street will only look at a 3- to 5-year rate of return.

The best measure of fiber broadband is more than “access,” it’s the societal impacts of what it delivers - online learning, telehealth and remote work conferences.  I will not stop advocating for faster, reliable, and affordable municipal fiber broadband because it’s not just the future; it’s what will determine where we live, work, learn, and do business.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, Jamestown/Middletown, is chairwoman of House Committee on Innovation, Internet, & Technology. She serves on House Finance and sponsored the RI Broadband bill that unanimously passed the House.  

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, GA, broadband

Suicide prevention bill named for Portsmouth teen signed into law

Bill signing with Gov. McKee, Sen. Seveney, Rep. Cortvriend


STATE HOUSE – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Terri Cortvriend and Sen. James A. Seveney has been signed into law to require all public school districts to adopt suicide prevention policies and train all personnel in suicide awareness and prevention annually.

The Nathan Bruno and Jason Flatt Act (2021-H 53532021-S 0031) will require all school personnel — including teachers, administration, custodians, lunch personnel, substitutes, nurses, coaches, and coaching staff, even if volunteers — to be trained in suicide prevention and awareness. The state Department of Education will establish the guidelines for the training curriculum.

The bill is named for Nathan Bruno, a 15-year-old Portsmouth High School student who took his life in 2018.  Part of the bill is modeled after a state law passed in Tennessee and 19 other states, which was named after Jason Flatt, a 16-year-old from Nashville who died by suicide.

Flanked by Representative Cortvriend, Senator Seveney and Nathan Bruno’s family and friends, Gov. Daniel McKee ceremonially signed the bill Friday at the second annual Be Great For Nate Gala at Ochre Court in Newport.

“Suicide awareness and prevention is critical for students of all ages,” said Senator Seveney (D-11). “We must take action to ensure all adults with whom they interact at school are able to recognize the signs of students who are at risk. Nathan Bruno’s tragic death showed us how important it is for everyone who works with students to recognize the signs and to know how to properly handle those situations. It can save kids’ lives.”

Said Representative Cortvriend (D-72), “Our state and our country are facing alarmingly high rates of suicide. Children of all ages face pressure from all angles in today’s society. Social media, self-acceptance, bullies, drugs and alcohol, athletics, image, relationships, and home issues are just a few of the many pressures our children face every day. Kids need support from the adults in their lives, and this bill strives to ensure the adults they see every day at school are ready to recognize their needs and connect them to help when necessary.”

Several of Bruno’s friends formed a nonprofit called “Be Great for Nate” and an associated program called the Every Student Initiative. They approached the sponsors with the ideas that became this legislation. For more information about the Every Student Initiative and mental health awareness resources, visit bg4n.org/esi.

According to the Department of Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Rhode Islanders between the ages of 15 and 34. In 2017, 15.9% of surveyed Rhode Island high school students they had considered suicide and 10.5% said they had attempted suicide. One in nine middle school students surveyed in Rhode Island that year reported having made a suicide plan.

Editorial note: Written from a State House news release.

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02871, Localblogging, GA

Legislation banning guns from school grounds passed by the Senate and the House

STATE HOUSE – Both the Senate and the House today passed legislation which would prohibit anyone, with certain exceptions, from bringing a firearm onto school property.  The Senate version of the bill (2021-S 0073) is sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and the House legislation (2021-H 5555A) is sponsored by Majority Whip Katherine S. Kazarian.

The bills are named The Harold M. Metts School Safety Act of 2021 in honor of its longtime champion in the Senate.  Whip Kazarian has introduced the legislation for the past several sessions.

“Guns do not belong in schools, and private citizens have no business bringing a gun on school property,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). “Citizens carrying firearms in schools increases risk, not safety. There have been dozens of examples of mishandling and accidental discharge of firearms in schools across our nation.  We are working hard to improve education in our state. The presence of firearms in schools is detrimental to a positive learning environment.”            

“Our nation has suffered so many horrific and tragic school shootings. Every parent deserves an assurance that no one is allowed to enter their child’s school armed. Guns simply have no place in schools, and we shouldn’t accept a situation that allows anyone outside the police to carry them there,” said Whip Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence). “This legislation give schools the same protections already afforded to the Rhode Island Convention Center, our post offices as well as our very own State House.”

“My Office prosecutes hundreds of gun crimes every year and it is through that experience that I have seen the trauma caused by gun violence,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “The Harold M. Metts School Safety Act is a common-sense step that lowers the risk of gun violence and enhances the safety of anyone in and around our schools. I applaud the work of Senate President Ruggerio, Representative Kazarian, the General Assembly, my fellow general officers, and advocates for their work in passing this important piece of legislation.”

This legislation would prohibit the possession of firearms on school grounds except for peace officers, retired law enforcement officers, persons under contract to provide school security services, and unloaded firearms in locked containers or a locked rack in a motor vehicle.

The legislation would apply to the property of any public or private elementary or secondary school, including school buses. Activities that would be exempt from the proposed law include firearm instruction and/or safety courses; government-sponsored military-related programs such as ROTC; interscholastic shooting and/or marksmanship events; military history and firearms collection courses; and the use of blank guns used in theatrical or athletic events.

President Ruggerio’s bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration and Whip Kazarian’s bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Note: Written from a State House news release.

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02871, Localblogging, GA, RICAGV

New song wins contest at NE Filk Convention

Totally chuffed that the piece I wrote two weeks ago won the song contest at the Northeast Filk Convention.

This is really special, since it was four years ago this weekend that I attended my first filk con—NEFilk—at the suggestion of Merav Hoffman who pulled me aside at Arisia and said, hey, did you know there are whole cons devoted to filk? I hadn't.

Thanks to everyone who listened and voted, and much respect to everyone who entered -- this was a wonderful collection of songs. I'm honored and delighted.

Link to the song on Bandcamp and a cheap and cheerful music video on YouTube.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Music

LTE— Why Broadband Matters to You and Your Family

by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero

COVID-19 has been the most convincing argument for Rhode Island to invest in high-speed internet, or dedicated broadband. Whether for remote working from home, distance learning or telehealth, broadband access must be reliable, fast and affordable. You wouldn’t buy a house or relocate your business without access to water or electricity. High-speed internet in a 21st economy is a necessary utility (although Rhode Island state law preempts any regulation of internet or telecoms- a story for later).

Rhode Island citizens and small businesses need high-speed, low-cost and reliable broadband service and not coaxial cable that’s shared with several hundred other homes or businesses, causing buffering and spotty coverage. Fiber-optic broadband is amazingly fast because it’s laser and doesn’t use electrical signals; so you don’t lose internet connectivity during an electrical outage.

Ten years ago, Rhode Island received $20 million in federal dollars and the state added $10 million to build out an amazing 48 strands of fiber-optic, high-speed broadband - 8,000 miles of broadband fiber running throughout this little state. Yet, only 10 strands of fiber-optic are being used for our hospitals, colleges, universities, libraries, and schools. We have a technology highway without any on/off ramps for residents, businesses, and municipalities to access.

Internet providers say, “RI has access to more broadband than any other state in the country; 98% of homes have fiber-optic broadband running outside their front door.” Yes, we do; it’s the middle mile of 48 strand of fiber. If only we could access it without paying exorbitant rates.

Lots and lots of federal funds will be flowing into every state across America for broadband infrastructure. But the federal dollars will only go to states that have a dedicated broadband coordinator or state entity that that can access, administer, and oversee the federal broadband funds.

As of this writing, Rhode Island still does not have a broadband coordinator, which means it is losing out on federal broadband dollars and has been for the past seven years. That’s why I’ve sponsored H5138, a broadband bill that needs to pass this legislative session to get our state off the bench into the technology broadband game. Rhode Island is one of only two states in the country without a broadband coordinator (Mississippi is the other).

A dedicated broadband coordinator in Commerce RI tells municipalities and the private sector that Rhode Island is serious about broadband. This broadband coordinator in my bill H5148 could access and administer federal dollars to help community-led projects like the one we’re working on for Aquidneck Island. It’s a pilot program that could be a municipal model for other local governments, business and nonprofits.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts are making a push to get people to live in those states and work remotely because they have invested in dedicated fiber-optic broadband. Here in RI, we’re losing businesses in Newport County because of the low internet speeds and high-costs of coaxial cable internet.

Community-led broadband projects (MA, NH, Utah, Hawaii, etc) are backed by revenue bonds, which are paid off by subscribers’ fees and dues- taxpayers pay nothing. A group of municipalities in Utah formed a nonprofit government entity (UTOPIA) that leases the broadband to ISPs (Cox, Verizon, Comcast, Opencape, etc) that can offer services to end users. Benefits include a GIG of service (not megabits!), creates competition from several different ISPs on the UTOPIA network making pricing affordable, and Utopia is developing in rural areas where many big profit-driven telecoms can forget about.

It’s time Rhode Island creates the on/off ramps to access the 8,000 miles of fiber-optic that’s running throughout this state. Market competition will do more for the economy than any government regulation could ever do!

###

Rep. Deb Ruggiero (D-73, Jamestown/Middletown) is chair of the House Committee on Innovation, Internet, Technology and she serves on House Finance Committee.

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Localblogging, 02871, GA, broadband

Testimony for RI House Judiciary on H5555

H5555 — Support

I urge the Committee to support H5555 as a parent and a member of the RI Coalition Against Gun Violence, an organization representing more than 100 groups and 120,000 Rhode Islanders.

RI General Law 11-47-60 already bans concealed weapons on school grounds. All this bill does is clarify that law’s scope. Concealed weapons present a constant unavoidable risk. According to the CDC, in 2015 (the last year for which data is available) there were 17,311 reported unintentional gunshot injuries. That’s 47 firearm accidents every day.

Arguments that permit holders would protect students and staff are deeply suspect. Applicants in Rhode Island only need to put 30 rounds in a 14-inch target at 25 yards every four years. There is no requirement for training in real-world tactical scenarios — or even drawing from concealment — nothing that would prepare them for the complex, high-stress situation of an active shooter.

Even in the hands of trained professionals, friendly fire and collateral damage are significant risks. According to a RAND corporation study, trained police officers only hit their targets roughly 30% of the time; in an active firefight, that number dropped to 18%. Adding more guns in the hands of the untrained in crowded school rooms and hallways is not a move in a safer direction. 

The argument you will hear from gun advocates that this is a solution to a problem that does not exist. No incidents have happened in schools, they say, therefore, this bill is unnecessary. Imagine that you are one of the airlines flying the Boeing 737 Max. Before the two fatal crashes, there was no felt need to train pilots on the particulars of its flight control system. It flew without incident for two years, during which time, supporters could point to the safety record and argue that no action was necessary. But there was, always, a lurking flaw that required the right combination of events to prove fatal. I urge the committee: please, do not make the same mistake. Please do not wait for a tragic accident to expose this inherent flaw; close this loophole now.

Because, ultimately, it is the General Assembly which has the power to address this. Even the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which is extremely favorable to Second Amendment rights, specifically says, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on…laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools.” Article XII of the Rhode Island Constitution gives the General Assembly authority over education, saying “it shall be the duty of the general assembly…to adopt all means…necessary and proper.” 

As the “school committee” for the state, the General Assembly as a whole has a Constitutionally mandated duty to consider this bill. I may not know much about how things work at the State House, but back home in Portsmouth, if a group of concerned citizens representing 10 percent of the town asked to put an item on the agenda for the whole Council to consider, it would get a vote. I simply ask this committee to do the same. 

John McDaid
Portsmouth

References
CDC data https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfirates.html
Rand study via Time Magazine: http://nation.time.com/2013/09/16/ready-fire-aim-the-science-behind-police-shooting-bystanders/
DC v. Heller: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf see p. 54

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02871, Localblogging, GA, RICAGV

COX OUTAGE TAKES PORTSMOUTH OFFLINE (updates)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: John McDaid 401 662-3198
Feb 16, 2021

COX OUTAGE TAKES PORTSMOUTH OFFLINE

PORTSMOUTH, RI — For more than two weeks, scores of Portsmouth residents have suffered internet service interruptions due to an outage at Cox Communications. In conversations with customers, Cox has acknowledged the outage, but has offered no explanation and "no estimated time when service will be restored."

"People can't work from home, shop safely, or keep in touch with loved ones," said John McDaid, who uses Zoom to teach his college classes. "This is the middle of a pandemic, with new, more-contagious viral strains circulating, and Cox is making it more difficult for me and my neighbors to stay safe."

"This is a major utility outage," said McDaid, "And should be treated with the same sense of urgency as the 2019 gas outage in Newport."

The problems began, residents say, around two weeks ago, when they began to see extremely slow internet speeds and intermittent time-outs and failures. Several have been performing speed tests on their connections, and although they have contracted for 50-200 megabits of download, some are seeing 1-2 megabits, with some upload speeds under 200 kilobits. According to Zoom's support page, the minimum speed required for a multi-person conference is 1 megabit up.

Portsmouth residents like Holly Delanoy of Common Fence Point and Keith Brown of Island Park have been complaining on the Facebook group "All Things Portsmouth" and on the Nextdoor site devoted to Common Fence Point in the northern part of town. Multiple residents have reported the inability to work or teach from home. Erin w. from Newport said, "I can’t get anything beyond “our technicians are working on it, sorry for the inconvenience” - no idea when I’ll be able to do my job properly again. About to head into a 1.5hour meeting using my mobile data."

Updated to add following paragraph
Jess Worby, from Island Park, said, "I am a teacher working from home in Island Park, paying for the 150 Mb basic plan. With this plan, you can generally expect–and this is straight from a Cox rep–50 to 100 Mb/s in download speed. For the last couple weeks, it has been hanging between 0 and 20, usually on the lower end. My students say I drop out every third word on Zoom, so it is impacting their education. Calls my wife and I make in the house drop unless we turn off Wifi on our phones. I have talked to a cox rep 4+ times about connection issues, upgraded our modem, moved the router, had the ground wires checked, etc., and still we are having these issues."

Barbara Gee, from the Bristol Ferry Road area, said, "We lose the internet at least once a day - we unplug, re-plug, unplug... you know the routine. We even got a new router from them because I was so unhappy. We pay for the "fastest" internet but it is consistently "unstable."

Susan Tunak, who lives in the Common Fence Point said, "I work at home and everything has been extra slow every day. I also use a headset through my computer and I’m often told that I keep cutting in and out, so not only is work production affected, so is communication. It is very difficult to work under these conditions."

Multiple residents have reported the issue both to Cox and the RI Public Utilities Commission. Cox representatives have also resisted calls to adjust all customers bills, saying that people must call one-on-one.

"If this were any other utility," said McDaid, "There would be news coverage and political pressure to resolve the issue and deliver the services for which Cox has a local monopoly."

As of Tuesday, 2/16, Cox customers are still being told, "Our technicians continue to work to resolve the problem in your neighborhood. Currently, there is no estimated time for when service will be restored"

- 30 -

Attachments:
1 Speed test performed 8:06 am on 2/16, using an iMac directly connected via ethernet. Reported speed: 1.18Mbit down, .05Mbit up.

2 Speed te4st performed 10:45am on 2/16 using iPad over wifi. Reported speed 5.6Mbit down, 0.3Mbit up.

UPDATE 2/18 #1
Complaint filed on 2/18 with RI Attorney General consumer protection division and the FCC

First level reps simply rebooted devices to no effect. Second level, Northeast Executive Resolution CSR "Mary" said on 2/16 that she could see no issue, and refused a request to issue a blanket reimbursement. Her explanation was that because everyone has a different plan, they were unable to issue any kind of general reimbursement. Her manager, Carol Lisi, said on 2/16 that the issue was most likely equipment in houses, and wanted to send a technician to check. I explained that this started suddenly, two weeks ago, and therefore this didn't make sense. She also reiterated Mary's position on a general refund.

A review of posts from around the country on the online discussion board Reddit reveals that this is a common pattern, where Cox makes changes in their networks (which sometimes break the existing devices they have provisioned customers with), puts consumers through slowdowns and outages, blames their home setup, sends technicians out to do cosmetic changes that fail to do anything, and only acts when pushed by local PUCs or the FCC. This is a problem in need of a systemic solution on behalf of Rhode Island consumers.

More info at:
Reddit
and
Ars Technica

UPDATE 2/18 #2
Here in Island Park, Cox internet went out totally for five minutes at around 11pm last night, and when it came back up, we are now seeing 80-90Mbits down/10Mbits up in speed tests. On Nextdoor, one user reports being contacted by a rep from the Northeast Executive Resolution group who said that an issue had been fixed early this morning. This would clearly point to a change in their network -- despite several Cox reps telling people it was the equipment in their houses.

UPDATE 2/18 #3
Update #3 4:52pm
Yesterday, Carol Lisi from Northeast Executive Resolution gave me her mobile phone number to call her any time. I left a message this morning to ask about the discrepancy between the messaging yesterday. Her direct report Mary said that she didn't see anything wrong, and implied that it was my "old" modem, which hadn't been replaced for years. Ms. Lisis insistence that a "home health check" was necessary to look into what might be wrong with the wiring or set up inside the house. The fact that a change to the network after 10pm last night suddenly fixed the issue proves that it was not related to anything in our house. I was also going to ask her about issuing blanket refunds. Mary explained that it was impossible because -- and she took a *lot* longer to say this -- everyone has a different level of service at different prices. I was going to ask how difficult it is to divide everyone's bill's by two, since we've had these issues for half of February. But she never called me back. I did raise these issues in an email exchange with the RI AGs office. Not sure if they rise to an offense under RI General Law §6-13.1-2, but we'll see.

UPDATE 2/19


With Cox internet solidly up for over 24 hours (and even their automated text notification system reporting "Your outage has been resolved,") we can all hopefully relax a little and focus on the bigger picture. That's what I've tried to do in this letter to the editors of our local papers, sent this morning.

To the editors:
At around 10 p.m. on Wednesday 2/17, Rhode Island Cox engineers reset internet access for customers across Newport county. They fixed something. Scores of residents who, for almost three weeks, had been suffering with unacceptably slow service -- 10 megabits downstream and less than 600 kilobits up -- suddenly had full 90/10 mbit speed restored.

Normally, this would be a cause for celebration.

But the question is why Cox customer service -- all the way up to Northeast Executive Resolution -- continued gaslighting customers when they knew a there was a network issue. Multiple customers were told that the problem was with aging modems and internal wiring. Cox refused to acknowledge an issue on their side and urged that technicians be dispatched for "home health checks" in the middle of a pandemic.

It was only after multiple residents had filed complaints with the RI Public Utilities Commission, the RI Attorney General, and the FCC, that Cox suddenly discovered a way to fix their system. Then they refused to issue blanket refunds to everyone affected, requiring instead that people call in one-by-one. This is no way to run a railroad.

Being threatened by both fiber and satellite, the impulse for existing cable internet providers is to retrench and wring every last marginal dollar from the customer, seeking lock-in through bundling phone, tv, and home automation at the expense of focused service delivery.

A bill just introduced in the RI House, H5148, would create a broadband council tasked with developing a strategic plan for providing reliable, 21st-century internet access. This incident with Cox provides ample evidence for the measure's necessity, and I urge folks to contact our legislators and urge their support.

John McDaid
Portsmouth

Text of H5148 available here.

UPDATE 3/1
For completists, here's the final pdf testimony package delivered to the committee:

McDaid written testimony on H5148 delivered to the Innovation, Internet, & Technology Committee, 2/23/21

UPDATE 4/21
After the speed issues reappeared two weeks ago, I filed a second complaint with the FCC and sent this letter to the RI Attorney General and the Cox CEO. This is not just a technical matter; the consistent behavior of Cox first and second-line service reps in blaming problems on customer wiring suggests a pattern of behavior. On the evening of April 10, when we were getting speeds which made us essentially unable to use the internet, the rep from Northeast Executive Resolution literally said, "Asking us to fix the problem is like asking a mechanic to fix your car when it's in your garage." He insisted that nothing could be done without a service call. A day later, our internet was back to normal, and this morning, Mary from NER acknowledged the issue was "ongoing planned maintenance" and was unable to explain why their previous rep did not know that. See speedtests, showing problem resolution with no entry to customer premises.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Cox

Evil, Pure and Simple, from the Eighth Dimension (a poem)

[Listen on Bandcamp]

As writers, we were warned:
Never make villains too evil
Or no one will believe them.
After all, Hitler loved dogs
Nero was a patron of the arts
Ayn Rand once gave an orphan
An ice cream cone.
Okay, I lied about that one
But you get the point.

This is America
Everyone gets a redemption arc:
Henry Kissinger is an elder statesman
Ollie North has a talk show
Aaron Burr was...complicated.

So we had left our culture helpless,
Unvaccinated,
When there appeared a man
Right out of melodrama:
Made for television evil
Snidely Whiplash evil
Stephen King monsterclown evil.
And because our noble novels
Told us one-note evil
Did not exist
We elected him.

He will grow into the office
We said
He doesn't mean what he says
We said
Oh, no, he would never do that
We said
Right up until the moment
He stood on the Ellipse
And sent his flying monkeys
To occupy the Capitol

And everyone
Playing asides on the oboe
Was surprised.

But you know who wasn't?
Folks with pure villains:
Good and Evil
Democracy and Socialism
White and Black
They knew all along
Obama was Kenyan.
Hillary hated America.
And the deep state was run by pedophiles
With a taste
For pizza.

Sounds crazy when you say it out loud
But the power of simple stories Is that they fit inside heads
Shrunken
To the size of dank memes

So, whenever you're admonished
Not to make your villain that evil—
To walk a mile in their shoes
To remember that the jackal is a lion in their own neighborhood—
Spare a thought for
The procrustean crania
And the Faustian fustian of 4chan
And paint it black.
Go big.
Chew a little scenery.
Kick a starving kitten.
Light up your evil with targeting lasers
And nuke it from orbit.
Put a stake through the heart
Of your one-note Nosferatu
Because evil does exist
And next time
We need to see it coming.

[Written at the Jan '21 Newport MFA residency.]

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, poetry

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