The Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Carrboro should not authorize their managers to continue with the Gig.U (aka North Carolina Next Generation Network [NCNGN]) initiative at this time. Both elected bodies should direct staff to send the request for proposals (RFP) back to the drawing board for repairs.
The primary reason to reject the current RFP is that local governments could not enforce important parts of agreements that could come from a resulting contract. Municipalities all over North Carolina have been stripped of any legal authority to franchise or regulate either cable or broadband systems. This is important because, as the current RFP is structured, this is how the towns would make sure we all have access to a new fast network.
Over the years you may have read my posts here on OP about equal access to the Internet. It was my volunteering with AmeriCorp and the Town of Chapel Hill that really motivated me. Here is my donation letter I'm sending to friends about my latest effort. Please consider giving this holiday season to buy laptops for kids in Abbey Court (a.k.a. Collins Crossing).
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and Orange Networking are raising $3,000 to provide laptops for fifteen kids at Abbey Court. Can you help us? We want to close the digital divide for fifteen families who currently have no computer at home. Please give whatever you can by clicking here. If you prefer to donate via check please make it out to ‘Orange Networking’. (Let me know in the comments and I'll send you the address to mail a check to.)
I support environmental protection and the mitigation of global climate change. I do not believe that every business should be allowed to do what they what. But there are times when government is in the wrong and shouldn’t kowtow to existing businesses and their supporting organizations at the cost of new business. So to kick this post off I’m going to reclaim a bit of conservative rhetoric. Because it applies in this situation.
It should not be the job of the Town of Chapel Hill to pick which business succeeds and which fails. But this is what they are doing by aggressively regulating food trucks away from the streets of Chapel Hill. It’s called protectionism. The result of the Town of Chapel Hill food truck ordinance is protecting existing brick and motar businesses from competition with food trucks. This is accomplished by charging a fee that is unaffordable to food trucks. The fact that almost no food truck owners will pay the Town fee to provide services in our Town is evidence of that.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro are related but they have significant differences. I love them both like family. I feel like their little brother constantly annoyed with one or the other but will remain steadfastly in love with them both 'til the day I die. Many of my fellow Chapel Hillians do not understand these differences. They see Franklin Street and Main Street in Carrboro as one long business thoroughfare. It's not. I don't mean to pick on Chapel Hill residents, both students and townies, but if you don't spend a lot of time in Carrboro you wouldn't know.
Recently, I’ve gotten to know a lot of local business owners. Many of them are running retail shops selling products and services, but there are also a lot of people working in offices both downtown and in their homes. A large number of them use the Internet to make a living. The primary difference between these two groups is market size and how it makes or breaks businesses these days.
The Orange County Economic Development Commission still exists, I know this because I am a member of it! Yet the County is functioning as if the board has been disbanded even though it has taken no such action. This is the culmination of a dysfunctional history in Orange County Economic Development. But the part that really bothers me now is a closed session being held tonight by the county commissioners on the topic of economic development without input from citizens, citizens who were appointed by our elected officials to advise them on the diverse set of opinions held by residents of Orange County.
To me this sunsetting of the Orange County Economic Development Commission is a tactic to silence dissent. It's true there are many people on the Orange County Economic Development Commission who did not agree with the former director on policy or plans. It's true that many of our meetings were frustrating. But to subvert democracy when you no longer find it agreeable is wrong. I hope as we consider a new organization to represent us in economic development matters that we remember how the county has acted.