Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Minn. Supreme Court Upholds City's Right To Build Own Network

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the looking-forward-to-state-run-gun-stores dept.

The Courts 252

BcNexus writes with news from Minnesota that may have significance for cities around the US where municipal networks are either in place or planned: "Here's the latest development in a fight pitting a telecommunication company against government competition. The telco, TDS, took its fight all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court because it thought the city had no right to serve people's internet, voice and television needs with its own network, but has failed." Also from Minnesota today, BcNexus writes "The State of Minnesota was the first to blink and chose to avoid a court showdown when it dropped its attempt to block online gambling sites."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Free markets (5, Interesting)

dburkland (1526971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428259)

I'm all for free Markets but the current Internet situation in Minnesota is pathetic. If the people want better service and are willing to fork out the dough let them however this project (if it gets off the ground) has a huge chance of failing like the many other attempts at Municipal Internet.

Re:Free markets (1)

SchizoStatic (1413201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428305)

What is sad you really only have two choices for highspeed in the metro. Comcast and qwest. You can get charter if you are in the south metro tho. I am trying to avoid Comcast but I don't need/want a home phone and qwest's unhooked dsl is over priced. Yes I live in Minnesota

Re:Free markets (1)

dburkland (1526971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428427)

Yea that is the exact situation in Coon Rapids where I live (aka the new ghetto thanks to the Metro Council). Comcast however has been good to me but I suspect that is because I am a Business Class customer and I get to skip most of the BS. Qwest has shitty speeds for their price and really can't compete with Comcast. Until Qwest rolls out FTTH their FTTN they won't see a dime from me.

Re:Free markets (1)

SchizoStatic (1413201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428533)

Comcast for me is fine. Till I got to grab a torrent on the latest ubuntu release. Net drops every few minutes.

Re:Free markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429203)

Till I got to grab a torrent on the latest Jerry Bruckheimer release.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Free markets (1)

SchizoStatic (1413201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429253)

Actually if you read some other threads you would see I work at a video store as well as other ventures. If I wanted to get a movie and "back" it up I could.

Re:Free markets (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428827)

when you are business class customer they will do everything short of giving ya BJ cause you pay 2x price for the service compared to home service. as for free market, you look at sweeden, their city fiber network if i remember correct is government owned and leased to the telco's and they offer something like 100mbit for 20euro's. i could be little off on my info.

Re:Free markets (0, Troll)

JJNess (1238668) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428307)

Trouble is, I'm sure there's some bit of our tax money being used to make this failnet, whether or not we as citizens use it. If my city decides to do something like this, I'll be sure to attend every city council meeting and read everything I can about it to try to gauge how well-built the network will be.

Re:Free markets (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428399)

Actually, according to all I've heard about this, this will not have any tax dollars put to it. It's financed off non-government bonds, which it will pay back through its own profits.

Re:Free markets (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429043)

And if there are no actualized profits?

Re:Free markets (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429321)

I feel like "no new taxes" and "not paid for with your taxes but with [insert another source of presumed governmental income]" is always stated as the funding for any government project. I don't know how they can say that with a straight face when most states' budgets seem to already be in a budget deficit, not to mention an actual funds deficit.

But then, I'm a fiscally conservative Californian and likely just bitter with the last "hey look, we fixed the budget!" statements from the legislature.

Re:Free markets (5, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429391)

Trouble is, I'm sure there's some bit of our tax money being used to make this failnet, whether or not we as citizens use it.

Oh good god. There are steaming piles of tax money in the telcos and cablecos, not to mention their monopolies. Tough titties if they can't deal with a little competition.

If you want to be an idiot at a city council meeting, maybe you should bitch about all the wasted billions we've paid for telecom infrastructure that is now falling apart?

Re:Free markets (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428373)

I was going to craft a well-thought out response regarding the difference between an ideal free market and Free Market Idealism, and point out that governments can be actors in a free market, and then I was going to dig up links to a couple of very successful municipal broadband projects.

But then I thought to myself, "Looks like high schools have let out for the summer".

I think it's time for a hiatus for me for a while...

Re:Free markets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428535)

High school? creeeepy...

"mischief" as the captcha

Re:Free markets (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429499)

That's too bad, I was looking forward to reading about successful municipal broadband projects.

Fail? (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428493)

Will it fail just like municipal electric, water, sewer, and telephone?

At some point I thought all of these private corporations suing the government because they can't compete with the government for efficiency would cause some light bulbs to go off. As long as it's implemented and controlled at the county level, doesn't prohibit the existence of private offerings, and pays for itself, what exactly is the problem?

Do you really want to choose the tyranny of Comcast or AT&T over that of a local city or county meeting?

Re:Fail? (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428853)

Do you really want to choose the tyranny of Comcast or AT&T over that of a local city or county meeting?

I have no idea how private companies run their business meetings or make decisions but I do know how my local cities do and honestly, based on how they choose to spend MY money to support the various overreaching services they already do ($5 million on a new LEED certified municipal liquor store [lazylightning.org] or $20 million on an empty performing arts center which is in danger of losing over $1 million this year [lazylightning.org] ), I have to say that I'd prefer that these ventures remain at the private level where my tax dollar input is minimal and generally only if I choose to subscribe to the service myself.

We really don't need yet another venture owned and operated by the city (in one way or another, whether that be through a third party management company or not) that loses money because they are operating a service that they really don't know how to.

Re:Fail? (3, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428969)

Except if the city's residents vote overwhelmingly to build their own fiber network, well, at some point democracy needs to kick in.

(What was the number again? 75%? We can't get politicians elected by that wide a margin unless they're unopposed...)

Re:Fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429325)

It depends on the project. Otherwise you can just get a simple majority and spend everyone else's money will-he nill-he.

For a project like municipal wifi, where you could have significant swaths of people who neither use nor benefit from it in any way, I submit that the percentage probably ought to be 100%.

Contrast this with fire or police service, which people who don't avail themselves of still benefit from rather directly. In the case of fire service, by stopping the fire at your neighbor's house from spreading to your own. So, the vote doesn't necessarily need to be 100% there to justify making everyone pay for it. A simple majority may be ethically satisfying.

Now, if some subset of the town wants to build the thing out for their own use, and pay for the thing on their own, but needs town approval to place equipment, then less than 100% would be appropriate. Significantly less IMO. Of course, depending on how it's structured and paid for, this starts to look an awful lot like a private company again. Still, it's superior to simply demanding funding from people who will never benefit.

Re:Fail? (3, Insightful)

Ares (5306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429693)

For a project like municipal wifi, where you could have significant swaths of people who neither use nor benefit from it in any way, I submit that the percentage probably ought to be 100%.

i guess you'd have to take a look at what exactly constitutes a benefit. if the competition from the municipal system causes broadband rates to be lower across the board, then the beneficiaries of the system are more than just those who use it. everyone in the town with a broadband connection benefits, and the number of people with broadband connections will increase, that number probably being larger than those who will connect to the municipal broadband.

of course, I'm kind of hardened in this case, since qwest recently told me that i could only get the 7mbps service out of the remote dslam i'm connected to if i use qwest.net as an isp, instead of the third party dsl isp i'm using [the-four-horsemen.org] . nevermind the fact that if i were able to receive a connection direct from the co, i'd be able to choose my isp.

Re:Fail? (4, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429107)

Those are unfortunate, but good examples of what to privatize and what not to. I don't think utilities and liquor stores and performing arts centers are apple to apple comparisons.

How does your city do with utilities? If they were owned by a private corporation, do you think you would have more or less influence on them? Would they be more or less expensive? Are these good or a bad things for your community? Those are the important questions to ask.

Re:Fail? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429357)

Well, see it like this: At least with government, there is a chance that you won't completely get screwed over, and that they will do something *for* you. A company by definition tries to take as much from you as possible, while giving back as little as possible.
Also, at least in theory, you can fire your government, and vote another one in place. Try that with a company.

I see todays companies more as feudalistic empires than as anything else. Including the all-powerful king, his knights, the castle, the peers, and the bond-slave peasants.

Re:Fail? (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429047)

If it is a choice of Comcast and AT&T vs a local city or county meeting, then I'll have Comcast and AT&T.

If it is a choice of Comcast or AT&T vs a local city or county meeting, then I'll have the local city or county meeting.

Private monopolies are generally worse than government monopolies, but private competition is better than both of those.

Re:Fail? (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429483)

I really don't agree. When a locally controlled government operates a utility, it's not really a monopoly, is it? The job of connecting people to the internet goes to a more open and transparent organization of people that will probably to the same quality of work, but have no incentive to screw a person over for money.

On a more practical level, what's the incentive for a county level internet provider to charge $100 for installation if they only need $50 to cover the cost? What's the incentive for a for-profit organization to do the same thing? Is that money likely to be used to improve your installation or give the boardroom another bump in bonuses?

If you feel the county charge is too high, you can complain to someone who can actually change things instead of getting bounced around a call center in India. You can get your friends to attend the committee meeting, sue the government, and even demand to see their books to see if they are charging a fair rate. If it's AT&T you're just shit out of luck.

Re:Fail? (3, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429491)

There is no either or. You can have Comcast, AT&T, the local city, AND some others. This is more or less what we have here in cologne. And the EU is suing Germany, because the Telekom (ex-government) did not open up its net for others.

The result is, that I can have a 10 Mb flat (and I mean a real flat, without an invisible cap, where your contract is terminated.), with digital TV and phone flat, for 25€.
Or a 100 Mb flat with a phone flat for 35€
I call that a pretty fair price. :)

Re:Fail? (0, Troll)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429185)

Will it fail just like municipal electric, water, sewer, and telephone?

Probably. All of the above, except maybe sewer but I don't pay much attention to that, have failed.

Electricity ... better done privately (ohh, but ever deregulation always stirred up some kind of trouble...no, there was transition problems, but better service afterward.)
Water ... If your only level of success is "Mostly safe to drink" or "Doesn't kill most people" then yes. Otherwise I buy most of my water from private industries.
Sewer ... Like I said I may give you this one as I rarely hear of the shit backing up to bad.
Telephone ... Being replaced by commercial cell towers.

Re:Fail? (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429623)

Evolution of technology from a tethered limited device to a wireless version does not a failure make.

As to your water -- I hope you did some research and purchase water that doesn't just get bottled right from a municipal tap, as is the case with much of it...

Electricity -- I've never lived in an area where the city controlled it. It's either been a regional commercial provider or a local co-op...

Telephone ... Being replaced by commercial cell towers.

That's sum funny there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429647)

Do you really want to choose the tyranny of Comcast or AT&T over that of a local city or county meeting?

Hahaha! You said "choose" and "Comcast or AT&T" in the same sentence!

Re:Free markets (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428529)

Most of the failed Muni internet setups have been attempts at wide-area wifi. I'd be more inclined toward optimism when it comes to fiber deployments. Wide-area wifi is, unfortunately, a huge pain in the ass. The idea is attractive; but making the tech actually work is a serious headache, at best. Fiber, on the other hand, works pretty well.

I'm not especially interested in having the government be my ISP(once you get to the peering point, let the market sort it out); but I'd love to seem them handle the "last mile" part of the connection with the same efficiency that they've handled my current municipal utilities.

Re:Free markets (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428633)

Our electric company (CWLP) is city-owned, and we have the cheapest electricity in the state, and far better service and uptime than any corporate utility in the state (possibly in the region or country). If the city can run a power company, why can't it be an ISP?

Oh yeah, I guess beciase we're not Minnesota. Different state, different laws, different constitution. The city planned on a high speed internet here, but somehow it never hapopened. I suspect it's because it IS in Illinois and ComCast bribed the right political figure.

Re:Free markets (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428881)

Just be thankful every day of your miserable (but not so bad as mine) life that you don't have to deal with Ameren on a regular basis. (Also IL here)

Re:Free markets (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429295)

Ameren is horrible. I remember a few years ago when they had the huge outage in the St. Louis area due to the freezing ice wrecking havoc on their undermaintained power lines (right after a summer of having the exact same thing happen during storms). During the winter, I was without power for about a week, and some were without longer than I was. I'm pretty sure people died during that. And what happened to Ameren you might ask? Some sort of sanctions or negligence charge or even an investigation? Oh, well, you know... they raised their rates. They said they couldn't afford to keep up the repairs. If they couldn't keep up repairs, why am I still now paying the inflated rates? Getting back to the topic at hand, I don't like the government getting their hands in any more than the bare minimum for people to not start killing each other, but in situations where corporations have established monopoly, municipalities == good thing.

Re:Free markets (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429221)

Is it really cheaper though? How much of it is subsidized? Not just from city, but from federal funds that you may not ever see reported.

Re:Free markets (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428917)

Yeah, free market is good. And, when there is no market, the city should be allowed to enter the market. That sounds pretty free to me!

Re:Free markets (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429127)

Hey, our Muni wifi is a success. A few friends use it(and love it) as they have internet all over the city. Some people don't like it(too slow, customer service). Those complaints make it a success since you can say the same for Comcast/Qwest very easily. Of course the muni wifi (it costs, by the way) came out and fixed my friend's internet for her when the modem was broken, rather than sending a package and hoping for the best.

Re:Free markets (4, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429571)

They have this pretty damn well planned. I would not assume this will die especially with the competitive pricing they were originally talking about. It was like $100/mo for a triple-play at 100MB/s or something if I recall correctly. Also they have plenty of the smart enterprising type (ones with actually ethics to boot) behind this whole thing.

You can tell that this has great potential from 2 things:

1: the doublespeak from the non-muni: "The lack of judicial action on the part of the (Minnesota) Supreme Court will likely discourage other private enterprises from doing or expanding their business in Minnesota".

Anyone who screams about lost business when the only lost business is their own, is full of shit.

2:supreme court basically just nullified any potential to enforce a franchise agreement here, and didn't buy the telco BS.. That is huge for good business and this case will expand far outside the state (and has a lot of coverage at the top of google results today too). I guarantee you this has an enormous country-wide impact.

pmdrive1061has a small cock (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428271)

Imagine your willy being smacked until it bleeds.

Re:pmdrive1061has a small cock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428657)

If you will it, Dude, it is no dream.

A fight (5, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428303)

If the telecom companies are unwilling or unable to fork out the cash to build a high-speed, fibre optic network, than they have lost their chance! The whole point of a municiple one is because the telco companies put up such a fight against doing it. Now that the city is undertaking the project, suddenly there is an uproar. Too late .... a day late and a few dollars short.

Re:A fight (1)

JJNess (1238668) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428397)

Do you think this will foster any improvements from telcos? Somehow I doubt it. It seems like they'd rather keep bitching and moaning than try to provide competitive service. I mean, isn't that what the RIAA does with peer 2 peer and bit torrent?

Re:A fight (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428723)

Do you think this will foster any improvements from telcos? Somehow I doubt it.

It seems to me (and I'm neither an economist nor an evolutionary biologist), that competition works on companies much the same that natural selection and competition works in evolution on species: it often doesn't improve either, it kills off the weaker one. TDS isn't going to compete here at all, and that's a good thing.

Of course, I don't see this replacing telecos everywhere.

Now let's hope they succeed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428311)

This will be for nothing unless they actually build out an infrastructure and actually maintain it - even if the contract out the service provision. Owning and maintaining the infrastructure itself is the most important part.

public broadcasting (4, Interesting)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428327)

Public access to the WWW should be a part of the public broadcasting system for the same reasons information should be freely available to a free people. This, of course, assumes that citizens of the U.S. are still a free people.

Re:public broadcasting (5, Insightful)

FireHawk77028 (770487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428401)

It already is, goto a public library and access the WWW.

Re:public broadcasting (1)

boilednut (1245008) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428607)

It already is, goto a public library and access the WWW.

May not be for much longer: many public libraries are hurting for funds [worthingtonlibraries.org] .

Re:public broadcasting (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428625)

It already is [free], go to a public library and access the WWW.

A public library where the internet is provided by a telecommunications company. I think GP wants a Public Non-profit Telecom.

Re:public broadcasting (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428875)

More correct to say "a public library where the internet (access) is bought from a telecommunications company using public funds".

This is the same as how libraries get their books - there is no government publication house stocking libraries with information. And before we start arguing details of how the analogy might be better formed, how about focusing on the important point: the governmetn's role is the same in both cases - it provides the funding, end of story.

Re:public broadcasting (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429375)

it provides the funding, end of story.

Provides... how about, appropriates. I'm not sure the government "provides" money. I'm fairly certain I "provide" the government with the money that it uses.

Re:public broadcasting (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428731)

This, of course, assumes that citizens of the U.S. are still a free people.

"Assumptions are the mother of all fuckups" :)

Re:public broadcasting (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429073)

Assumptions are all there really is. If there is nothing to assume about a situation then it has already happened. Even then you assume your details of the situation are correct.

Re:public broadcasting (3, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428747)

I agree completely. Basic connectivity should be considered a necessity in today's world. I would be perfectly okay with my tax dollars going to subsidize a program such as that. If an individual wants more speed, a static IP, no caps (that'll be the day), or some other more advanced features then they are still perfectly able to pony up the money and go with a commercial ISP.

Re:public broadcasting (1)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429437)

Public access to the WWW should be a part of the public broadcasting system for the same reasons information should be freely available to a free people. This, of course, assumes that citizens of the U.S. are still a free people.

  1. Public Broadcasting? Like PBS? The government doesn't run pbs. It grants some funds to it. Otherwise, PBS is independent, and funded by viewers. Same for NPR. From what I understand, this story is about a government run network.
  2. Don't you worry that government run networks would be censored for political purposes?

Also (5, Interesting)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428385)

Even if the Minnesota Supreme Court had ruled against a city-owned and run network there are other ways around it. Be clever, start a non-profit ISP and have them build out the network. Fund it through the ubiquitous government grants that the Obama Administration is giving out towards increasing broadband penetration. Also, fund it through city "Technology" grants. The neat thing about legal loopholes is that they sometimes backfire against those that exploit them.

TDS (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428455)

TDS often fails. A lousy service provider with lousy techs. One of their number came into my building a few years ago. They managed to take down two Ts and left before I noticed a third was down. Brilliant.

Re:TDS (1)

dburkland (1526971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428577)

I bet they are not as bad as Integra

Minnesota doesn't affect me (0, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428457)

That's fine if you live in Minnesota, but most of us don't. Minnesota's SC rules on Minnesota's constitution and laws, not California's or Illinois'. Post something when the US Supremes say something about it and it will be relevant for a whole lot more prople.

Re:Minnesota doesn't affect me (2, Funny)

sheepweevil (1036936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428589)

I live in Minnesota, you insensitive clod! But not in Monticello...

Re:Minnesota doesn't affect me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428593)

Do you also whine when Slashdot posts stories about the UK, Australia, etc.?

Re:Minnesota doesn't affect me (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428703)

I'll tell you what my grandfather told me as a child and what his grandfather told HIM as a child: Nothing good EVER comes out of Australia.

Re:Minnesota doesn't affect me (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429089)

What about Iocaine Powder?

Re:Minnesota doesn't affect me (3, Funny)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428627)

Doesn't affect me either. I live in Kazakhstan, I don't even HAVE internet.

* Sent from my Blackberry wireless device

Massachusetts doesn't affect me (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428793)

That's fine if you live in Massachusetts, but most of us don't. Massachusetts' SC rules on Massachusetts' constitution and laws, not California's or Iowa's. Post something when the US Supremes say something about gay marriage and it will be relevant for a whole lot more people.

Re:Massachusetts doesn't affect me (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429153)

Massachusetts' SC is relevant to the rest of the US. Look at all the other states that have started allowing gay marriage after we got the ball rolling.

Is there an opinion to read on a denied appeal? (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428573)

Is there an opinion or some other sort of official documentation to read? Or when they deny an appeal, do you just get a "No" without explanation for why is was denied?

Re:Is there an opinion to read on a denied appeal? (1)

danzona (779560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429627)

Typically, the SCOTUS does not comment when it denies a petition.

But there is an opinion to read, that of the lower court which last heard the case. By denying, the SCOTUS is saying that the lower court got it right.

Although I think that in this case you may have to recurse through several court levels to find one that actually rendered an opinion. I think that all of the appeals by TDS were just rejected as being a waste of everybody's time.

Not to worry! (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428611)

Now the telco's will just buy up some legislators to pass a law against it.

Wrong (-1, Troll)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428689)

The network will be paid with municipal bonds ($25M), these bonds will be paid by the tax money of future residents. This lowers the value of the real estate in the municipality. A quarter of the voters rejected the plan, they are being looted. A municipality has no right to exist, much less to pile on debt that it will repay by stealing future residents. This is wrong by practically any standard of morality, expect the one where you grant magical super moral powers to governments.

Re:Wrong (-1, Offtopic)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428887)

And this is where civilization, one of the great achievements of early humans, begins to crumble.

Also, boo-freaking-hoo about your precious real estate value. Turning everything into nothing but profit seeking short term investments is one of the reasons real estate became too overvalued.

Re:Wrong (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429343)

No it became overvalued because people would pay for it. If people weren't willing to pay it would not have gone up. It has now dropped because people are no longer willing to pay that much for it.

Would you rather have government rationed housing. Sure it's all the same price, but you have to get on the waiting list when demand is high, even if you have extra money and are willing to spend it to get into a house sooner.

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428907)

The network will be paid with municipal bonds ($25M), these bonds will be paid by the tax money of future residents. This lowers the value of the real estate in the municipality.

How, exactly? In my state, general obligations bonds are funded by the property tax, and it seems like property taxes go up regardless...

A quarter of the voters rejected the plan, they are being looted.

Is the idea that anyone who votes against participating in something shouldn't have to participate it when they are outvoted? Because that's not how government generally works...

A municipality has no right to exist, much less to pile on debt that it will repay by stealing future residents.

Why does it have no right to exist? Also, I assume you meant stealing future residents' taxes...

This is wrong by practically any standard of morality, expect the one where you grant magical super moral powers to governments.

It might be unwise, and you might disagree with the course of action, but why is it morally wrong, by practically any standard of morality? Considering the projects that many grants that are funded by bonds go to, I'd rather see GO bonds go to something that has broad appeal and use.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429327)

He objects under the Rational Objectivist philosophy, which is that no entity should have the right to tell a person what to do with his or her effort, whether that be represented by money or by sweat. There might be a corollary in there about the huddled masses actually needing to do something in order to get their broadband. In a more broad sense, he would object in principle to the use of government funds for anything other than the protection of property rights, since a man is entitled to the fruits of his labor.

Hang on. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429565)

"he would object in principle to the use of government funds for anything other than the protection of property rights"

DOES NOT gel with:

"no entity should have the right to tell a person what to do with his or her effort"

If I whup your ass and win your property, why should the government tell me what I can do with my effort???

Re:Wrong (5, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428935)

This lowers the value of the real estate in the municipality.

Sure it does. Just like all the other taxes for all the other services. Police, fire protection, roads, parks, libraries. It's well know that funding any of these lowers property values. It's a fact. Go look it up.

A municipality has no right to exist...

Right. People have no right to form a local government in order to provide the amenities of civilization. Wait, you do know how municipalities come into existence, don't you???

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428953)

A quarter of the voters rejected the plan, they are being looted.

Wow, 75% of people supported the idea, and you're claiming it's somehow anti-democratic and immoral? Geez. I mean, if it had been 51/49 or something, I could see the issue, but a full three quarters of the population supported this measure. That's a mandate by any standard.

Besides, if that 25% don't like it, they should move to a more conservative municipality. They voiced their opinions. They lost. I know, it's tough, but they should suck it up, leave, or fight to change the system through democratic means. That's the way the system works (well, save for things that are fundamentally human rights issues, in which case you have to balance tyranny of the majority against the rights of individuals... but this is definitely not one of those cases).

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428961)

"A quarter of the voters rejected the plan..."

75% supported it? Welcome to democracy.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428999)

A municipality has no right to exist

Where's the (-1, Nutjob) moderation option when you need it?

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429003)

A quarter of the voters rejected the plan

So... I guess that if a quarter of the voters voted McCain he should be president too?

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429005)

So are schools in my Metro (I don't have kids) and some road construction/repair projects (I don't have a car) I'm not out on the streets complaining about the considerable tax burden I face for service's that don't benefit me. I live in a community I accept that we all have to pay for things that may not benefit all of us all the time and I don't mind sharing the burden. I get to vote.

Re:Wrong (1)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429109)

The city is charging a fee for access to the network so the bonds could be paid back in part or in whole with revenue from the project and that same network adds value to the real estate. In practice TDS will probably undercut the city on cost at a loss or something close to it to punish them and dissuade others from trying to build their own municipal network as thuggish telecoms tend to do. It would be nice if the city could sue them for noncopetitive practices and use the money to pay off their bonds but that won't happen.

If you don't like municipal projects you should consider protesting them by staying off the streets, sidewalks, stay out of parks and libraries, hauling off your own garbage, digging your own well, making sure your body's waste is processed in septic tanks, etc.

Re:Wrong (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429539)

A municipality has no right to exist, much less to pile on debt that it will repay by stealing future residents.

?

So you want all those streetlights, roads, sidewalks, traffic lights and stop signs for free, right?

Municipalities regularly raise cash by bond issues. This lets you have the sidewalk TODAY. You could wait 25 years until the town has saved enough cash - but EITHER WAY you have to pay taxes. All bonds do is let you have your cake now, and transfer the RISK to the bond holder. After all, the owner of a house in a bankrupt town doesn't lose his house. The bondholder (who probably doesn't even live in the town since he's probably a bank, mutual fund or wealthy individual) can lose his capital if the town goes belly-up and if he's not insured.

Now there's a whole argument about rating municipal bonds and municipalities being screwed over by insurance companies; and there's another argument about corrupt politicians robbing the municipal treasuries, but if you think the concept of municipal bonds is a bad thing then I suggest you move to some forest somewhere, and enjoy your lack of utilities/access. You don't get something for nothing - EVER.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429675)

A quarter of the voters rejected the plan, they are being looted.

A spread of 11% in the U.S. 1952 presidential election (55 v. 44) is hailed as a landslide. A spread of 50%, being much higher, is not so much a landslide as an unambiguous mandate.

TDS tactics work! (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428707)

TDS knew they were never going to succeed in blocking this, but they DID succeed in delaying the cities roll-out by a couple years! So, the company lawyers have achieved their objective.

Re:TDS tactics work! (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428781)

And they set precidence in the rest of Minnesota for other cities unhappy with their TDS service to proceed with their own networks.

Win, win!

Re:TDS tactics work! (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429151)

That would be precedents. Very different thing than precedence.

Re:TDS tactics work! (2, Informative)

ElForesto (763160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429533)

Qwest did the same thing to UTOPIA in Utah and delayed construction for 18 months. They thought they could assert ownership over the power company's poles and refuse to allow UTOPIA to use them. (Yeah, I can't explain the "logic" either.) In the end, they lost the case and won some of the war by forcing UTOPIA to refinance their bonds and put them in a situation where they'll have to call city tax pledges anyway. UTOPIA will still be able to make bond service in a few years, but now they have the PR black eye of having to collect tax money to make it happen.

Good (5, Informative)

DnemoniX (31461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428787)

I live in Minnesota and worked in Government IT for a decade. I have to say that the state of broadband is sad. The consumers lack the freedom of choice in most areas of the state. Comcast and Quest in the Twin Cities and Charter almost everywhere else. There are a few smaller providers here and there with a minimal market share. The large companies have a monopoly in their respective territories. Although they deny this fact at every turn. A perfect example of this is Charter, in towns where they are the only player you will be charged at a rate that is much higher than in a city where they have direct competition. When this is pointed out they deny the fact and claim the difference in cost is due to the "cost of doing business in that town". Please. A few years ago in Rochester, MN the Public Utility (RPU) decided they wanted to test ethernet over power lines. As soon as word got out Charter had a melt down and had reps at all of the city council meetings crying unfair competition. The phones at city hall rang off the hook and the behind the scenes threats were made. The project was killed. You figure it out...

Public control utilities can work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428903)

When I lived in Santa Clara, CA., the city owned the electric utility service. I have since moved to neighboring San Jose and I am being serviced by PG&E. Since the change over, I pay a difference of about $180 a month more for about the same electricity usage. That and the fact the Santa Clara's utilities actually is making a profit which they want to raid for a sports stadium can easily tell you, if its done right, it can make money.

I applaud the court in their decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28428913)

And wish their efforts in this the best of luck. Not only that, but I hope more cities try something similar!

Coleman v Franken (1)

Pretzalzz (577309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28428995)

The Minnesota Supreme Court shouldn't be doing anything else but finishing their ruling on Coleman v Franken. It's been three weeks since they've heard oral arguments and over 8 months since the election took place.

Re:Coleman v Franken (1)

Ares (5306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429081)

they're not. the reason this is news is not because they made a ruling on the matter, but because they refused to hear the matter altogether.

Broadband wireless starts to look good (2, Interesting)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429117)

Internet connectivity in Minnesota is so bad that broadband wireless service, with its slow speed, download caps, and unpredictable coverage, is still an improvement.

The Gov't does not have 'Rights' (1)

gregulator (756993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429129)

In the American system, Government does not have any 'rights.' Rights are affirmed by the gov't, granted by God. The gov't has responsibilities that it must do, and it has restrictions on what it can do. Anything not expressly regulated to the gov't is for the People to do. I don't think muni internet falls into any of the Constitutional requirements or powers granted to the gov't by the people.

Re:The Gov't does not have 'Rights' (1)

Ares (5306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429197)

except that in this case, 74% of the electorate in the city voted to authorize the construction of this network. in effect, creating a municipal internet service is not only the right of the city of monticello in this case, but its responsibility.

Re:The Gov't does not have 'Rights' (0, Troll)

gregulator (756993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429513)

So, you do not understand the Constitutional limits of the Government? If 74% of the population voted that we should be able to own slaves, you think the Gov't should enforce that? We do NOT live in a democracy (mob rule) we live in a Republic (law rules.) And as such, the powers of what the Gov't can do are limited by law, and not what the people vote.

Re:The Gov't does not have 'Rights' (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429319)

There's nothing in the Constitution that allows government to build roads and bridges, either - but I bet you're happy enough to use them.

Re:The Gov't does not have 'Rights' (3, Informative)

gregulator (756993) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429417)

Please, review your copy of the Constitution. Article 1, Section 8: "To establish post offices and post roads"

Re:The Gov't does not have 'Rights' (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429467)

Article 1, section 8:

Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Municipal ISP = Government Surveillance Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429301)

One of the things that makes me leery of governments becoming ISPs is the likelihood of an erosion of rights and freedom, namely, the ease of creating a surveillance society. If a city owns a citywide network it's a short step to implementing redlight cameras, surveillance cameras, facial recognition software, automobile tracking, etc. This will all be done under the guise of "safety" and "protecting the children" while becoming a profit center for generating revenue, all the while innocent citizens are monitored. While I acknowledge the benefits of municipal owned and operated water, power and waste, I have a hard time believing that connectivity falls under the same headings.

Used to run an ISP in Monticello, MN (5, Informative)

phsonnek (1582785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429377)

I was taking business away from TDS, until they got the FCC to allow them to change their tariffs. T-1 circuits for an ISP more than quadrupled overnight. But only for ISPs. If you were the hospital and you wanted a T-1 you got the old rate. I did not have the finances to put up a legal fight; needless to say I was forced out of business. TDS is getting whats coming to them.

mistagged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429407)

No suddenoutbreakofcommonsense tag? For shame, editors. For shame.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?