Bigger is Not Better

Approved by New York State on January 8, 2016, and the surprise juggernaut dictating Round 1 terms of the broadband expansion grant program along with Verizon landline footprints, the Time Warner / Charter Communications merger is the newest and biggest monopoly to underserve upstate communities in their struggle for 21st century connectivity. Now, the FCC has given its blessing to the merger.

We deserve better. We deserve a choice. We want a chance. We won’t give up!

http://www.engadget.com/2016/04/25/time-warner-cable-charter-acquisition-approved/

Hunter Tannersville School Superintendent Adds His Voice to Broadband Initiative

Recently, Hunter-Tannersville School Superintendent, Patrick Darfier-Sweeney, addressed a letter to Governor Cuomo on behalf of all children in our region who lack adequate Internet speed and capacity. He has granted permission for us to reprint the letter on our website.

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2016

The promise of Article XI in the New York State Constitution states,

“The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated.”  The law provides the opportunity, fully supported and guaranteed to all children in New York State.  In this digital age, this promise cannot happen in my school district.  When students go home from the Hunter-Tannersville CSD their geography, not socio-economic standing, will determine the extent of their educational opportunities.

Of the one hundred and sixty-four square miles that make up our school district one-third of our area does not have access to digital connectivity except through the very expensive, slow and unreliable satellite system.  This situation is unacceptable and denies the opportunity of “support of a fully guaranteed education” (Article XI, NYS Constitution).  The problem is the lack of typical DSL service via the phone system, cable options, and lack of wireless cellular coverage.

The Governor, along with countless other politicians and education leaders, have made public statements about the need to correct this situation and even have pledged funding to support its correction, yet nothing has happened in our rural community.  Despite the acknowledged need to prepare our students for career and college readiness this basic structural shortcoming continues.

At the Hunter-Tannersville CSD, we extend our school hours in all grades K-12 for student accessibility to the digital world to support the integrated work we do every day. However, we are limited in what we can expect our school community to reinforce at home.  In real terms, this limits our ability to prepare our children for career and college readiness.  The opportunity to leverage the world’s knowledge for collective projects and enhanced learning is not available to our students.

Facts

1- The Hunter-Tannersville CSD includes: the Towns of Hunter, Lexington, and Jewett (East Jewett)

2-The school district is one hundred sixty four (164) square miles

3-The Towns of Lexington and Jewett have very limited to virtually no digital connectivity or wireless access

4-The Towns of Lexington and Jewett comprise one-third of the school district

5-Ability to communicate, research, and create digital products are determined solely by geography

6-Due to digital constraints school work assigned and expected from students is limited

7-Students at Hunter-Tannersville are not able to compete with other peers in the state due solely to their geography and the arbitrary selection of digital connectivity providers.

8-Despite multiple pledges by many in positions of power our area remains at a structural disadvantage

9-The Hunter-Tannersville CSD is charged by the New York State Education Department and New York State Government to prepare our students to be career and college ready

10-The Hunter-Tannersville CSD cannot realize this goal for its students since too many cannot hone their skills at home where they spend the majority of their time.  It is simple math, 6 hours in school, 18 hours at home, and 48 hours at home on the weekend.

Unfortunately, the longer it takes to rectify, the exponentially further behind our students become compared to their in-state peers.  The situation is unacceptable and needs your assistance.  We, at the Hunter-Tannersville CSD, respectfully ask for your help.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick Darfler-Sweeney

Superintendent of Schools

Hunter-Tannersville CSD

Lexington’s Latest Broadband Editorial (Here’s lookin’ at you, State!)

Hope Lexingtoners can come this Sunday, April 24. Your voices will be a bonus for sure.

April 24, Lexington Historical Society (housed in the Francis de Sales Catholic Church)
18  Church Street off Main Street Lexington

Time Change: Rehearsal will begin at 1:00 PM. Not Mandatory.
             Taping and filming at 2:00 PM

Hello Lexington. I want to tell you that the site chosen for our latest editorial in song is the Lexington Historical Society Building. Because of conflicts in the sound guy’s schedule, we will work to film and tape at 2:00 PM. We’ll have a rehearsal beginning at 1:00 PM for those who can make it, but your bodies being there are more significant than your vocal readiness. We can drill you at 2:00 and learn ya quick. I anticipate enough tried and true voices to compensate for the rest of us. We welcome Lexingtoners who simply want to move their mouths and look earnest.

The reformed lyrics are below. If you have already confirmed your willingness to join in and you can accommodate the time change, you don’t need to respond again. If the time change means you cannot come and you had said yes before, please let me know. And if you are on the fence, please jump down on my side and help. Email me or call 518-989-6211.

We’re excited because the Lexington Historical Society houses a player piano and some old piano rolls. Among them is a roll for “Second Hand Rose,” the song I had chosen to use as a vehicle to express our discontent with the abrupt change in anticipated Round 1 criteria for applications. Rarely can you use the word ‘serendipitous’ so I will use it here. The piano roll appears to be in good condition and we will make the player piano a pretty remarkable element of our video.

Here are the lyrics we’ll be singing. PLEASE add your voice to ours and make Lexington’s statement as remarkable as Lexington’s refusal to be denied as too small, too rural, too unremarkable to deserve their place in the 21st century. I look forward to hearing from more of you in the coming week.

Bonnie

Song Lyrics:

Second Round Woes
–with a nod to the BPO (Broadband Planning Office)

First they say we’ll get it. Work for your Broadband!
You will get your bandwidth– that became our plan.
Now the things they’re saying make it all unsure.
Hurting upstate families. This we can’t endure.

It’s no wonder that we feel abused.
When’s our chance for grants, we sadly muse.

We feel like Second Hand Rose
With Second Round woes.
We take back seat.
Only NYC glows.

How they promised end mile dreams were theirs too.
Bang! we’re banned from Round 1. Yo, we feel blue!

Second Round crumbs
That’s if a second round comes–
We rarely get a fair shake, it’s so true.

How’d we think the BPO had us on its brain?
Why’d they let the big boys in to hijack the train?

Everyone knows that we have
Second Round woes

Bring Round 2 round in June!

Hard to be from upstate. You can’t eat cleaner air.
Even fifteen dollars turns to twelve up here.
That’s why we need Broadband. We have so many plans.
Little business engines! Work for many hands!

It’s no wonder that we are confused.
Was it a case of upstate being … schmoozed?

We feel like Second Hand Rose
with Second Round woes.
We take back seat.
Only NYC glows.

How they promised end mile dreams were theirs too.
Bang! we’re banned from Round 1. Yo, we feel blue!

Second Round crumbs
That’s if a second round comes–
We rarely get a fair shake, it’s so true.

How’d we think the BPO had us on its brain?
Why’d they let the big boys in to hijack the train?

Everyone knows that we have
Second Round woes

Bring Round 2 round in June!

On the Landline Front In the Town of Lexington

The Lexington Broadband Initiative took up not only our fight for Broadband, but also our issues with Verizon landline service.  
 
We solicited your landline problems and sent your landline stories to the Public Utility Law Project, a non-profit organization that represents residential low income and rural consumers in utility, telecommunications and energy-related matters seeking to advance universal service, affordability and consumer protection. We then went back to residents to see if Verizon had contacted them, if service had improved and if we could call our problems solved.
 
I met attorneys from PULP in September when I submitted an opinion to the Public Service Commission opposing the Time Warner Charter merger without concessions. I had the opportunity to explain our landline problems to PULP attorneys at that time and attorney Lisabeth Jorgensen has helped me bring our issues to the attention of Verizon on two occasions, first in November, 2015 and again last week.
 
I secured permission from PULP to reprint the letter Verizon received most recently below. I look forward to reporting to the Town of Lexington again after a conference with Verizon Vice President for our region, Leecia Eve.

2nd PULP Letter to Verizon on behalf of Town of Lexington