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West Virginia Won't Release Broadband Report Because It Is 'Embarrassing'

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the i-just-bet-it-is dept.

Your Rights Online 183

An anonymous reader writes "The Charleston Gazette is reporting that the state of West Virginia hired a consulting firm for over $100,000 to investigate the state's use of Federal stimulus money (which included the purchase of $22,000 routers for tiny buildings). Unfortunately, the state government is now refusing a FOIA request to release the firm's report. The reason? The findings 'might be embarrassing to some people,' according to Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette."

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Typo in summary (5, Insightful)

olsmeister (1488789) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220141)

Replace the word 'embarassing' with 'incriminating'.

Re:Typo in summary (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220179)

Well speculated! More insight, please!

Re:Typo in summary (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220401)

Here's more insight: Representatives of the people have only one job, which is written into their job title - represent the people. So if the representatives are too embarrassed to share what they've done with the funds granted by the people, especially in regards to a project that should benefit the community, it means the money have been either wasted with no regard for public interest, or stolen. Both of these scenarios are covered by criminal law. Hope that covers it. Monetary system is stupid anyway, but that's beside the point.

FOIA (3, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221275)

Please correct me if I am wrong ...

If anyone file an FOIA request for some document, the authority has to comply ... except when the information released can lead to national security, or do harm to someone's life (like name of spy, or something)

That is why the authority retains the right to redact the documents they release

If W.V. decides to NOT release anything on the ground of it's "embarrassing" (or even as the GP has stated, "incriminating"), then they (the W.V. government) is in direct violation of the FOIA act.

Re:FOIA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221403)

FOIA pertains to federal government. Each state generally has their own versions of it or other "sunshine" laws. This is a document that really should end up on Wikileaks.

Re:FOIA (5, Informative)

headwes (728006) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221425)

The FOIA that we all know and love is a federal law that applies to federal agencies. West Virginia, like most states, has their own public records law [state.wv.us] that applies to their state agencies which you'll need to read to know whether they're in violation. Maybe they're claiming exemption #13:

(13) Computing, telecommunications and network security records, passwords, security codes or programs used to respond to or plan against acts of terrorism which may be the subject of a terrorist act;

Re:FOIA (4, Insightful)

GNious (953874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43222143)

Releasing it might put Government Officials and Elected Representatives' lives at risk.....when the general population see how poorly they've handled things.

Re:Typo in summary (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220361)

Replace the word 'embarassing' with 'incriminating'.

Possibly, but not necessarily, or at least, not primarily. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is the one witholding the information. He's an elected official whose job is probably more to collect campaign contributions than to actually serve the public.

He very likely discussed the content of that report with the "parties" he is protecting, and was told exactly where he wasn't going to be receiving any more money from if that evaluation wasn't buried. He's probably very well aware that it's going to get pried out of his hands and plastered on page 1 eventually, but this will at least give him a "but I tried to stop it!" when those parties blow up his phone, and he's hoping this will at least do a little damage control.

But things like that can turn and bite you. This may be a very big thorn in his side, come election day. Depending on how close the competition is, his opposition may drag this issue back above ground for a month of mud slinging. But money can really help to bury things. Depends on how much he can throw at it, and how deep it needs to go.

"Never give a man a gun unless you know where he's going to point it." Same goes for inviting in a team of investigators to get to the bottom of any mess you are even remotely related to. You'd better either make sure you're squeaky clean, or make sure their opinion is already properly paid for.

Re: "blow up his phone" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221491)

What does this even mean?

Where did "blow up [a] phone" come from?

Re: "blow up his phone" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221805)

I figured it meant an avalanche of journalists calling with such an intensity that the phone explodes. I like the expression.

Re:Typo in summary (4, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220565)

There was a previous Slashdot article blaming this incident on Cisco, and even though I don't work for Cisco, I want to cut the bs and set the record straight. Let me do so by quoting the words of the main politician behind this project

West Virginia Homeland Security chief Jimmy Gianato, who's leading the state broadband project, defended the $24 million router purchase last week, saying the devices "could meet many different needs and be used for multiple applications."

"Our main concerns were to not have something that would become obsolete in a couple of years," Gianato said. "Looking at how technology evolves, we wanted something that was scalable, expandable and viable, five to 10 years out. We wanted to make sure every place had the same opportunity across the state."

So we have this asshole behind this mess, but the mass media blames Cisco and Verizon. There's more:

Verizon spokesman Keith Irland said the company simply responded to router specifications detailed in the state's bid posting.

"They specified the equipment they wanted," Irland said. "That's what they requested, that's what we bid on. We had the lowest price, and we won the bid for the equipment and related maintenance."

The Gazette-Mail contacted two Cisco sales agents last week, asking whether the 3945 series routers were appropriate for schools and libraries.

"The 3945 is our router solution for campus and large enterprises, so this is overkill for your network," a Cisco representative responded.

The sales agents recommended a smaller router -- with a list price of $487.

State Department of Education officials questioned the size of the routers before Gianato and the Office of Technology executed the $24 million purchase order.

http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201205050057 [wvgazette.com]

Other than manufacturing the equipment, Cisco had nothing to do with this project. They weren't even involved in the sales. So clearly corrupt corporations are to blame, not the poor innocent politicians. Oh and did I mention that he was commended for this later?

Re:Typo in summary (4, Interesting)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221927)

"West Virginia Homeland Security chief Jimmy Gianato, who's leading the state broadband project"

Forgive me my ignorance, but why is the chief of Homeland Security leading a broadband project? Isn't that kind of ... weird?

Makes one wonder what the exact relation between homeland security and broadband is ... and what ulterior motives this man Gianato is hiding.

Re:Typo in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43222019)

(At this point some enterprising individual can get a light bulb go off above his head, go to a local computer hardware store, buy some linksys router, that would actually be appropriate for these applications and quietly swap it with the expensive hardware, in the process he would actually save the small libraries a few dollars on the electrical bills and now he can sell the expensive equipment on eBay or some place and the library wouldn't even notice this.)

Government solutions for you - if something is not expensive enough, apply more government.

This is what newspapers are for (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220173)

This is a good example of what we'll lose if and when big city daily papers go under, and are replaced by national/international news outfits with makeshift and/or crowdsourced local staffs.

Re:This is what newspapers are for (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220463)

That's all well and good. However, you don't want the local city/state funding said local press/paper. Conflict of interest and all that. Would you trust them if there was a financial connection? Political connections are bad enough with the press, but understandably unavoidable. Don't make it worse.

Re:This is what newspapers are for (2, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220747)

It's all well and good to be against shredding live puppies, but do we really want to bring back the Nazi party in order to use it to protect the puppies? I mean, I think we can agree that would be worse, right? Right?!?

Re:This is what newspapers are for (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221137)

Public funding for media is only a problem when it is discretionary. Just make it a dedicated tax with a fixed rate and with all proceeds going directly to the paper. Sure, the legislature can still repeal such a tax, but at least they'd have to do so in a very public way that would be certain to generate huge negative publicity.

Re:This is what newspapers are for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221823)

What are you talking about? If a government funds a newspaper it is not a newspaper it is a government newsletter. Who even mentioned government funding of local newspapers. Put away your paranoia and strawmen.

Re:This is what newspapers are for (4, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221067)

We've already lost that. There are hardly any hard-nosed beat-reporters out there. Journalism in 2013 (and for most of the last fifteen years) has consisted of pulling down and repeating the AP feed and rehashing PR faxes.

General Services Administration (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220177)

So isn't this the purpose of the General Services Administration? To streamline the process of fulfilling the needs of agencies such as these so that this kind of stuff doesn't happen? Let me guess, someone approved a PO and bought the equipment from a friend who sold it to them at a high commission.

Re:General Services Administration (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220233)

The GSA isn't a state agency.

Re:General Services Administration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220757)

Yes it is.

Re:General Services Administration (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220841)

Girl Scouts of AMERICA

Now, do you get it?

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220193)

Oddly enough the company that wrote the report, the ICF, was the same company hired by the Department of Agricultural (Federal) to evaluate the broadband stimulus applications and track the progress of the companies receiving loans and grant. If West Virginia is ignoring the foia request, perhaps a request to the feds will break things loose.

Re:Hmm (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220517)

Oddly enough the company that wrote the report, the ICF, was the same company hired by the Department of Agricultural (Federal) to evaluate the broadband stimulus applications and track the progress of the companies receiving loans and grant. If West Virginia is ignoring the foia request, perhaps a request to the feds will break things loose.

So what likely happened was the Federal Funding came with a hidden caveat that they had to use the same contractor that the Feds used, and the corruption and kickback scan runs all the way up to the federal level.

Good strategy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220199)

Just declare all governance an embarrassment and avoid the need for transparency.

Genius!

Re:Good strategy (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220259)

Just declare all governance an embarrassment

The results of that governance usually are.

When government does things... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220203)

it never works out. They don't even need to publish a report to tell me how awful and expensive it is.

Re:When government does things... (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220357)

it never works out. They don't even need to publish a report to tell me how awful and expensive it is.

Don't be too harsh on US government. It does an excellent job at protecting private property.

Did a great job taking it and wasting it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221051)

They did a great job of taking millions of dollars of people's private property, then wasting it, didn't they. I guess if by "protect" you mean "take away and throw away" ...

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220221)

how is that even a legal reason to refuse a Freedom of Information request? Last I checked, "we don't want to" isn't an acceptable reason to refuse.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (4, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220307)

I could see a nasty bed of serpents here.

On one side:

Releasing the documents without also releasing a lot of priviledged information would paint at least one person with a very broad brush, and with a very unflattering color. This could very likely jeapordize their careers and good names, and thus has defamation suit written all over it. So, denying access to the information to prevent defamation suits seems crooked, but at least potentially plausible, especially if the situation really is the result of onerous BS further up the totem pole, and the person who will get the bad rap for it really had no other recourse. (Again, that is priviledged information about internal policies, and may be proprietary information from a vendor, and thus not safe to release with FOIA documents unredacted. The redacted form is what paints the negative image.)

On the other hand:

Allowing a refusal to satisfy a FOIA request on grounds of "embarasment" is not just a slippery slope; it's a freaking crazyslide, made of tefon, leading into a bottomless pit. Embarking down it is "not a good idea(tm)".

This is one of those cases where you can't make an omlette without breaking some eggs.

Personally, I think the "best" solution to this intractable condition is to make govt agencies immune to defamation suits pertaining to information released via FOIA. That's also a slippery slope, but considerably less "teflon crazyslide" slippery than permitting arbitrary denials.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220629)

I doubt that any state can be liable for simply following a federal law. And nobody gave the state the authority to pass judgement over the consequences of releasing information either. Short of clear damage to national security I think the law requires release of information even if riots in the streets will surely break out. It is simply not the call of a state to break the law.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220765)

How can it be defamation if it is only facts that they release?

I always thought defamation is related to unsubstantiated allegations against people, usually backed up by only some circumstantial evidence that can be interpreted many ways. But releasing actual facts (and FOIA requests are to gather factual information), that can not be called defamation. It may hurt certain people, it may put them out of their careers, and they will hate it. But defamation? No.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220965)

Omission can be just as bad as lying.

Take for instance, if I write this:

"If you think I can seriously get these people to vote sensibly, then you must think I am jesus fucking christ."

And, through the power of omission, you write this as a synopsis:

"..I can seriously get these people to vote sensibly.. I am jesus fucking christ."

You are clearly misrepresenting what I actually said, without actually lying. Hence, defamation.

A FOIA document can only contain information the government is at liberty to disclose. Proprietary processes and proprietary information that the goverment has knowedge of, and has policies in place to fascilitate, pose just this obstacle. The person who gets smeared may not actually be the crazy, wasteful, assfuck that the redacted FOIA portrays them as being. Hence, defamation.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221031)

Classified information and open governments don't go well together. People in the government should know that.

Yet in this case there is quite some embarrassing information out there already, so it should be time for that government to come clean anyway.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221123)

It may not necessarily be classified.

Take for instance, information about how Time Warner cable handles cable deployments and service franchising.

The state needs to know that, in order to follow the terms of the franchise, but the actual terms of the franchise agreement may forbid disclosure of any such information. A FOIA would thus have lots and lots of blacked out text dealing with the specifics of how these are handled, and how those things have contributed to overhead and wasted taxpayer funds.

The lackey that gets smeared may not have had any alternatives, and actually acted as sensibly as is possible. But you would never know that, because the truly damning information is in the franchise agreement and policies concerning same. There could be provisions requiring hookers and blow at all meetings with executives in there. Its a private and confidential agreement with a private enterprise that said enterprise considers proprietary. It can't be disclosed by foia. As such, you would never know.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221897)

This is really simple to solve. If you want to do business with the goverment you do it on their rules. If those rules state information must be free then you may choose to not do business with the government.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220847)

Releasing the documents without also releasing a lot of priviledged information would paint at least one person with a very broad brush, and with a very unflattering color. This could very likely jeapordize their careers and good names, and thus has defamation suit written all over it.

Did we read the same article?

""It was a specific document, citing specific companies, and making very specific suggestions to me [Commerce Secretary Burdette]."

However, [Commerce Secretary Burdette] declined to release the report to the newspaper, saying it was an "internal memorandum" that could be withheld under state law.
...
Burdette acknowledged that the exemption doesn't require him to withhold the ICF memo. In other words, he could release the document, even though he believes state law allows him to keep it confidential.

Translation: one or more contractors pissed away money and the Commerce Secretary & Governor don't want anyone called out for their mismanagement of broadband funds.
/In the USA, truth is always a defense against defamation

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220921)

I was referring to a more general condition for how something batshit absurd, like "we won't honor FOIA because it will embarrass somebody." Could have a somewhat reasonable basis, even if only applicable if you wiggle your ass just right, and happen to live in bizzaro world.

Not specifically in relation to this specific intance, though it still might.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221889)

This could very likely jeapordize their careers and good names, and thus has defamation suit written all over it.

If it's a public money spent and a should_be_public document that defames someone it's the persons own damn fault they did stupid things. If politicians do things that jeopardizes "their good names" and carees they bloody well should be jeopardized.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (5, Insightful)

poity (465672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220359)

and embarrassing the government is the whole point of FOIA, so they stop doing things to embarrass themselves.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220449)

In some States, it's illegal but there are no penalties for refusing. The "sunshine laws" have "no teeth" a the parlance goes. In other States there are fines or convictions associated, and, surprise, the government complies more often.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220623)

West Virginia.... where your freedom stops at the threshold of embarrassing the officialdom.
As the Manning/Wikileaks issue shows, it may not be West Virginia specific.

Re:Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220733)

Isn't the very reason this FOIA thing was put together, was to force governments to release information they are reluctant to release for that very reason?

He's doing us a service (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220237)

He's making the FOIA lawsuit a complete slam dunk for the EFF, ACLU, or whoever files it.

Hmm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220243)

The company that wrote the report for WV, ICF, is the same company that did the evaluations of the broadband stimulus grant and loan applications, and is heading up the auditing of the deployments. If WV is ignoring the foia requests, I would imagine the request could be sent to the Feds since it's their money.

West Virginia is the butt... (5, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220253)

of a lot of jokes. Yeah, they screwed up... Again. However, most people don't know that West Virgina was part of Virginia up until the Civil War. They believed so strongly in free labor (as opposed to slave labor) that they succeeded from their state. I can forgive them for a lot of crap after that. It's sad seeing them struggle over basic internet access, but I think it's always been a challenge in WV.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220309)

Seceded.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220353)

They succeeded at seceding?

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220983)

Briefly

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

gargleblast (683147) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221009)

It's better than the alternative.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220335)

Of course in typical rural state fashion, West Virginia is now far more racist than its coastal neighbors.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220381)

I live in West Virginia (not a native, and actual natives are quick to remind me of this fact), and parent's statement is sadly true. There are people here who openly admit that they voted against Obama in the last two elections "because he's black." No shame, and no other reason.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220617)

My sister voted for him because he's black. What's worse: Putting a corrupt politician in office because you feel we all owe it to his race only to have him bomb civilians, or vote him out because you're a racist.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (2)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220783)

Putting a corrupt politician in office because you feel we all owe it to his race

Oh puh-leeze. Both electable choices are corrupt, every time, without exception. What determines your vote depends on what type of corruption and to what degree you're more tolerant of. That isn't to say everyone is just as bad as everyone else, just that everyone is corrupt.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221877)

Obama invented bombing civilians. It had never been done before. Not in Spain. Not in England. Not in Germany. Not in Japan. Not in Vietnam. Not in Iraq. Never.

Americans are completed screwed in the head. If someone says they are opposed to military spending and growth, they are called weak. If politicians want to ban landmines which kill more civilians than drones (currently), they are called perjoratively called a pacifist who kowtows to the UN. If, however, they follow through on a campaign promise to use drones in undeclared wars over the airspace of friend and foe alike (listen to the Obama/McCain debate) people are surprised, shocked, and downright offended when it actually happens when in the back of their head they know that if not for the drones we would be sending more troops and launching more destructive cruise missiles and the like.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220625)

Is that any more racist than all the folks who voted for Obama simply because he's black? IMO both things are equally despicable.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220633)

to be fair there were a lot of people who openly admitted they voted for him simply because he is black as well.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (2)

bit trollent (824666) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220701)

...because of the racism in West Virgina.

Seriously, the white supremacist dumbfucks have proliferated in West Virginia before and after Obama was elected president.

Who do you think the black folks in West Virginia who see their neighbors supporting white supremacist bullshit are going to vote for?

And after all the racist bullshit in the last election, I don't see how an ethnic minority can ever vote for a republican in the next 30 years.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220727)

i vote for the individual, not the party, just for the record. But i guess WV is just WAY more bumblefuck than I can imagine, because in upstate NY, there really wasnt much racism from the right in the last election at all, I saw way more racists who swung to the left than the right up here.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

bit trollent (824666) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220749)

I live in Texas, one of the many states that the Republican party has targeted with a well funded voter suppression campaign designed to keep minorities from voting.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220949)

I really do not understand how asking for an ID to vote when you need an ID to buy cough syrup is considered voter suppression.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

bit trollent (824666) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220987)

It's basically a poll tax for poor (often minority) people. Make take the bus to wait in line to pay money (to get an id) to vote. It can take over a week of hassling with bureaucratic to finally be allowed to vote, even though they had been legally eligible for years.

Implemented in a way that every valid voter would automatically recieve the correct ID, there is no problem. The problem is that it was implemented poll-tax style, which violates civil right laws dating back to Jim Crowe.

There are many documented instances of this occurring due to the voter supression laws.

Other times, like in Florida, the republican governor cut early voting and caused 8 hour voting lines, also blocking poor and minority voters.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (3, Informative)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220395)

of a lot of jokes. Yeah, they screwed up... Again. However, most people don't know that West Virgina was part of Virginia up until the Civil War. They believed so strongly in free labor (as opposed to slave labor) that they succeeded from their state. I can forgive them for a lot of crap after that. It's sad seeing them struggle over basic internet access, but I think it's always been a challenge in WV.

Half of my family came from there and I can say that they are facing huge technical problems. Even cell phone service is spotty. There's very little line of sight in the state due to the mountains so they have to depend on lines. It's hard enough keeping roads passable since they wash out regularly. The coal companies used to help with tax dollars but that's been seen as a drain on corporate profits so the tax base is miserable so there's little money to address critical infrastructure so the internet comes in a very distant second to everything else. It's one of the poorest states as well so few people have computers to begin with. Just to spike the ball corruption is rampant. FYI he's one of the ones that isn't corrupt but my mother's second cousin is Governor so I have connections with the state. Another FYI I got a lot of nasty looks for daring to point out West Virginia was a northern state when I was growing up. Most of my mother's family still considers it part of the south. My guess is when the check showed up some one said "yeah internet routers, please" and put the money into his brother's company that fills pot holes.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221593)

Also, West Virginia has a lot of small wirless phone companies that managed to grab the frequencies that were used by the larger carriers resulting in spotty service. They simply didn't invest money in infrastructure, so the citizens of WV were stuck with substandard cell service.

LTE should improve that since the feds sold those frequencies to big players like Verizion Wireless & AT&T who will likely invest a lot more in cell towers and improve service.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (5, Insightful)

el borak (263323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220409)

I too honor the brave and ethical stance made by the WV leadership 150 years ago. However zero of that honor is conveyed to people simply because they happen to currently inhabit the same geographic area.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220417)

Actually, they didn't really care that much about the freedom bit. They just got tired of the folks in Richmond telling them what to do, and took the opportunity that came along to strike out on their own.

Abolitionism was not a driving force in any of that act.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220461)

Yes, that's the story that's in the textbooks, at least.

The reality of the Civil War was a *lot* more complicated. Slavery was only the third or fourth most important issue until Lincoln turned it into the moral justification for the war. Which was a brilliant PR move on his part, since even a century later we're believing in it.

The #1 reason was the same sort of divisive party politics that continues to this day, with the same party names even. You know what the Republican fringe was saying about Obama during the last elections? That was pretty much what the Democrats were saying about Lincoln, except replace "socialism" with "abolitionism".

Then there was the whole movement from rural, agriculture-based societies to urban, industrial society. Always a cause for major upheaval. And guess what? East Virginia was mostly agricultural, and West Virginia was mostly coal mines (and thus economically aligned with the Northern cities they fueled).

Of course there was also the statehood issue. The states, at that time, still had quite a bit more independence than they do now. There had been a delicate balance for years over the slavery issue, trying to make sure that neither side had enough votes to force their own way. Lincoln's election proved that balance was gone - he wasn't even on the ballot in many Southern states.

Finally was the whole issue of the war. There was a lull between the initial round of secession and the war proper beginning, during which Virginia was still Union. Only when Lincoln began calling up the armies did the rest secede (and West Virginia re-secede, or de-secede or whatever the term is). Even then, some states tried to declare neutrality.

As for West Virginia, there was one more reason peculiar to them - geography. The two are separated by the Appalachian Mountains, which are a rather significant barrier. I think it's even easier for them to ship coal to New Orleans (via the Mississippi) than to Richmond. When you have such separation, it's somewhat natural for political divisions to occur.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (4, Insightful)

oiron (697563) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220661)

The #1 reason was the same sort of divisive party politics that continues to this day, with the same party names even. You know what the Republican fringe was saying about Obama during the last elections? That was pretty much what the Democrats were saying about Lincoln, except replace "socialism" with "abolitionism".

Looks to me like it was the south that made slavery the issue on which they opposed Lincoln; divisive politics based on slavery...

Then there was the whole movement from rural, agriculture-based societies to urban, industrial society. Always a cause for major upheaval. And guess what? East Virginia was mostly agricultural, and West Virginia was mostly coal mines (and thus economically aligned with the Northern cities they fueled).

Slavery was part of that; industrial societies don't work so well with outright slave labour. Agricultural societies often do - or at least, more primitive ones based on large plantations.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (5, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221003)

The reality of the Civil War was a *lot* more complicated. Slavery was only the third or fourth most important issue until Lincoln turned it into the moral justification for the war. Which was a brilliant PR move on his part, since even a century later we're believing in it.

The difficulty with your version of history is that it is directly contradicted by documents and statements made before and during the Civil War.
Here are Declarations of Secession [utk.edu] from the four States that decided to explain their reasons

I could give you an almost endless list of primary sources to dig through,
but if those declarations aren't convincing, I don't know what else would do it.
Anyone who says that slavery was not central to the issues of the Civil War is engaging in historical revisionism.

And, Lincoln didn't really want to end slavery in the South [nytimes.com] , his plan was to prevent any new States from having slaves, thus allowing slavery in the South to die out in its own time.

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save Slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy Slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

Ignore whatever you learned growing up and go straight to the sources.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221125)

Damnit, 20 mod points last week, and none this week. Was hoping someone would make this reply. Good job.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221573)

Part of the dispute comes down to articles - it is true that slavery was *a* central issue, but it is also true that it was not *the* central issue of the war. In Lincoln's own words,

"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."

he makes clear that the goal of the war was to restore/preserve the Union. In that respect the Civil War was a conflict on the relative powers of the Federal and state governments.

Re:West Virginia is the butt... (3, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221419)

Slavery was only the third or fourth most important issue,,,

...but it was the only one that people weren't willing to compromise on. As an example, the North wanted high tariffs, and the South wanted them low; over the years, they went up and down as different factions got enough power to change them. States Rights and Federal Authority clashed over and over, with varying results, but on Slavery, neither side would budge and eventually, the southern hot-heads got their way and we ended up with the Civil War.

There were few slaves there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221047)

Any part of the Appalachians had few slaves. The slave economy only made sense down on the flats. Mountain people tended to have smaller farms and a more subsistence agriculture as opposed to large commercial operations.

The mountain regions of other Southern states came along for the ride in name only. Some of these areas are so remote that it just wasn't worth bothering. These are the kinds of places where they grow pot, and before that it was moonshine. If a boy wanted to fight, he came down out of the hills. I doubt they came up to get them.

Too Bad (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220271)

That's not a legitimate reason to refuse request under FOIA.

In fact, it's explicitly not a legitimate reason.

They are waiting for a response from lawyers (5, Funny)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220319)

They asked if "whiskey stills" can be considered internet routers. As soon as their lawyers sober up we should have an answer.

Tough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220347)

No. Really.

Even more embarrassing: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220421)

They fuck their cousins.

Re:Even more embarrassing: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220865)

They're related to possums?

Yeah, pretty much. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220475)

West Virginian here. It is very embarrassing. Unless you live a couple miles away from the interstate, good luck on finding an ISP delivering more than 5 megabits down, if that. If you're one of the lucky ones, 25Mb is the high-falutin', rip-roarin', dad-gum best it gets. My cell phone often gets faster speeds than my cable connection, and your choices there are Comcast, Suddenlink, or Frontier. Huntington was in the running for Google Fiber, and had we won, it could have sparked a sort of a renaissance in this area. But instead we were too afraid of change, too paranoid of the future, too lazy to make a difference.

Thanks for running this story. Maybe lighting a fire under their ass will encourage them to lay down some fiber. At least I wouldn't have to worry about the internet going out because some methhead is stealing copper down the street.

Re:Yeah, pretty much. (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220523)

I lived 1 mile from a CO in a major city in NY and could only get 2.4Mbps (down from 4 Mbps) when I had to be switched to a different line after the first one went bad. Join the club WV.

Re:Yeah, pretty much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220613)

And I live 100m from 100Mb Utopia (that's a city government run isp in Utah) but can't access it because my apartment complex signed a deal with Comcast. So comcast doesn't have to do shit and the best I can get is their oversold crap that still buffers You Tube in 2013. So Private Enterprise Government.

Re:Yeah, pretty much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220627)

Gee I guess Slashdot eats text. That should have read "private enterprise (the symbol for less than) government."

Re:Yeah, pretty much. (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220673)

Im an hour north of nyc and i am billed at 50/15, top tier is 75/30 but i get regularly between 40/15 with peaks of 60/20 I dont understand why i have better upload speed around here when most i know with the same DL have way lower UL but the speeds are just fine where we are

Re:Yeah, pretty much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221453)

I lived 1 mile from a CO in a major city in NY and could only get 2.4Mbps (down from 4 Mbps) when I had to be switched to a different line after the first one went bad. Join the club WV.

Wow. We got better lines in the Alps.

Re:Yeah, pretty much. (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about a year and a half ago | (#43222077)

It's not the distance you are from the CO it's the length of the wire from your place to the CO. There's nothing to say that it takes a straight line.

embarrassing? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220593)

I won't be embarrassing for long because they'll feel different emotions after getting fired.

Re:embarrassing? (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220953)

The problem is if you elect the other guy, your two nephews will be getting married to each other.

(I was trying to figure out how to get a family joke and a conservative joke in the same post.)

This was obvious from the start (2, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220659)

If the federal government was going to bring broadband to West Virginia, they should have gone in and installed it. Handing money to a Red State government for technology is like handing the remote control to your dog.

Come to think of it, I'd expect more from the dog.

Re:This was obvious from the start (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221979)

Ummm...WV is pretty much a blue state. Dem governor, heavy labor influence, elected Robert Byrd to US House forever (Speaker)

Re:This was obvious from the start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43222103)

Handing anything to a red state government is like throwing it away. They'll just make right wing tea party garbage out of whatever it is, especially if it's something that might actually work and help real people.

WeVi is North America's NoKo (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220669)

I was looking for a new state to settle down and West Virginia's wireless coverage maps looked like that nighttime photo of North Korea. I took that to be representative of their communications infrastructure and eliminated WV from my list.

W. VIRGINIA !! SO SHITTY VIRGINA DISOWNED IT !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43220793)

It is backward, hillybilly country !! Makes Alabama look like, un, still Alabama.

Better to be called (0)

doginthewoods (668559) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220851)

West Virginia, then South Ohio...

I don't like subjects (1)

T-ice (1069420) | about a year and a half ago | (#43220945)

Love it! 126 million, and last time I was still topped out at 25kbps....

Not that hard (-1, Offtopic)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221115)

I can't imagine that they can put a police officer on every corner to see who has a flash drive and who doesn't.

Bah. If the regime truly can't crack down on this in an effective way, it only indicates that they have grown spineless and unable to contemplate drastic measures. Here's how you deal with "flash drive samizdat":

1. Ban possession of flash drives, with very stiff penalties (e.g. capital punishment).
2. Do random spot pat-downs and dwelling searches. Also follow up on any tips.

The idea is to make getting caught a possibility - not likely, but not outlandish, either - and making it hurt really bad, so that most people would think twice before participating. It won't completely shut the network down, but it'll make it very small, and will exclude the majority of the population from having day-to-day access to it, which is good enough.

Alternatively, if you want people using computers, and need them to be able to own flash drives, require them to be registered, and make the possession of a drive not registered to you a crime with a very stiff penalty.

Re:Not that hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43221699)

The thread you're looking for is a couple of stories over...

That's what FOIA is for (2)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year and a half ago | (#43221755)

Jesus Christ... That's exactly the purpose of the freedom of information movement - to ensure that public institutions that do stupid or embarrassing things have to account for them publicly.

It's like refusing to investigate a crime because you might uncover someone's criminal activity...

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