The Decline Of Aloha

I arrived in Hawaii in 1961 as a young man to work on space projects, including John Glenn’s first orbital flight. I resided on the island of Kauai. I was struck by the beauty and friendliness of the local people. This was what I later learned was Aloha. If you passed someone in a food market and smiled you alway got a smile in return. They were accepting of strangers and tried to make you welcome. A genial and happy people.

To be clear on my perspective, I live in a family with native Hawaiian blood. My wife and, of course, our children and grandchildren have Hawaiian blood. I have enjoyed many hours with my Hawaiian relatives and friends and respect them greatly. Our family has participated in the sport of Hawaiian outrigger canoe racing and I have fond Aloha for all our paddling friends.

Fast forward to today. Unfortunately, there are a number of “local” people, some with Hawaiian blood and some not, who walk around with a perennial scowl, which intensifies in the presence a haole. This phenomenon is somewhat related to geographical location. Outer island and rural areas seem to have a higher occurrence of this social behavior.

These folks have swallowed the Kool Ade produced by so-called Hawaiian activists who have convinced them of their victim status. Anything repeated often enough eventually becomes true to the listener. For example, you have been told that you have been denied something by the actions of government, corporations or a group of individuals and you should be angry. Your land was stolen. The annexation was illegal. The Kingdom still exists. You deserve reparations.

Victimhood is powerful. If a group; racial, political, gender, etc.. buys into the victim message it has several ramifications. Primarily, it removes responsibility for their life situation. Once they can blame another entity for their problems , it removes their motivation to fix them.

Victimhood also instills a guilt complex in those assigned the blame. People who feel guilty because they, or their ancestors, may be the cause of the plight of the victim, often will treat the victim’s cause as a sacred cow, not to be challenged or discussed.

Victimhood is also a great tool for organizers and can result in creating intense enthusiasm for a particular cause. People like Al Sharpton make a living this way. It’s the “us against them” paradigm..

The selling of victimhood to Hawaiians began in the 1970s. The University of Hawaii hired a known radical to head the Department of Hawaiian Studies. Haunani Trask was able to propagandize a generation of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians by teaching revisionist history and vocalizing her hatred of the United Sates and haoles (white people). Her hateful sermons showed no respect for leaders or anyone else. She was able to convince large numbers of impressionable students that they had things stolen from them by the United States and the haole. As the disciples moved out into the community they began to spread the message of stolen land and culture by the whites. They spoke of the “plight” of Hawaiians.

Their “plight” is no different from any of the residents of Hawaii. Hawaiians have all the advantages and rights of non-Hawaiians. All have the opportunity to succeed or fail. Importantly, Hawaiians have many more benefits and rights not available to non-Hawaiians.

Trask sign

Today, supporters of the movements appear at community meetings ready to do battle. Often in garb they believe is representative of the days before western contact.They do not permit debate and seek to intimidate those who might disagree. They have had success in sinking projects like the Super Ferry and are now working to kill the new Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. The media and the legislators treat the movement(s) like a sacred cow and are afraid to admit that it is ultimately destructive to the social and economic fabric of Hawaii.

Many Hawaiians do not support the movement(s). They deplore the anti American rhetoric and the abject racist behavior toward non-Hawaiians, particularly the haole. There are around ten different groups associated with the sovereignty (separatist) movement. Thus, there are large gaps in opinion concerning the methodology to achieve their goals and the desired outcomes.

You can be sure the propaganda will continue. Slick TV ads. Protests with maximum coverage by the media. But I still believe Aloha exists and will one day rise up again. And I think the Hawaiians are the ones that will make it happen.

Hawaiian Sovereignty. Why you should Care.

If you are not of the Hawaiian race and live in Hawaii, you will surely be affected in some way if the Separatists get their way. There are several models being bandied about by the principles of the movement. Below you will find the responses of leaders to just one of the questions.

“What is the status of non-Hawaiians who are not citizens of the Hawaiian nation? Can they reside in Hawai’i, vote, own homes, land or businesses?”

Answers, underlining added.

Cruz sees a total paradigm shift in Hawaiian governance and in the global multi-state system in the near future. She sees the international state system of government falling. An independent Hawai’i will be less of a nation and more of a cultural lifestyle based upon community and cultural awareness. She believes those who do not wish to adapt to this change in lifestyle will not want to live in Hawai’i. Voting assumes democracy, which she does not support. The traditional Hawaiian consensus decision making process called Puwalu, where members of groups all have to agree upon decisions and make compromises for the good of the entire group, is culturally appropriate for indigenous Hawaiians and once more being practiced. Non-Hawaiians can also participate in the process, Cruz said. Non-Hawaiian non-citizens could own homes, land and businesses assuming the current state system of governance remains in place. She believes the concept of private ownership will change to a more communal based system centered on human values, such as sharing and personal responsibility.

Laenui said Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian non-citizens would have the right to live in Hawai’i provided certain qualifications are met: 1) they are not preparing to overthrow the government; and 2) the non-citizen foreign population does not exceed one-third of the total population. Non-citizens could not vote and participate in the political life of Hawai’i. They could own homes but not land, other than their home plots. According to Laenui, non-citizen residents could own businesses which would come under the jurisdiction of the nation. He adds:

Their ownership of homes and land . . . should be only for their actual residence and not for investment purposes. Their transaction of business would be permissible provided they fell within the allowable foreign activities and quotas. Disengaging non-citizens from their investment properties should be over a period of time in which they would be afforded ample notice and opportunity to relinquish such properties to citizens or Hawaii business entities.16
For Blaisdell, non-citizens residing in Hawai’i would be considered foreigners, as in any other country. They could not vote. Non-citizen ownership of homes, land and businesses would depend on the laws of the Kanaka Maoli nation. He added the primary responsibility of the new nation, as with all nations, is to its own citizens, first.
Gomes replied non-citizens residing in Hawai’i would be considered resident aliens. They would need a visa to reside in Hawai’i. Non-citizens could not vote or own homes and land. She cited the Vanuatu model where only citizens are allowed to own land. Non-citizens could establish businesses but would be screened by the government or district councils and have to obtain a special operating license. Taxes would assessed and paid to the government and district councils, Gomes indicated.

Crawford said the Nation of Hawai’i has not completely established standards for non-citizens in an independent nation. She indicated people could probably stay in Hawai’i on visas, but a Hawaiian convention would eventually determine regulations and standards for non-citizens. The bottom line for the Nation of Hawai’i is an inclusive policy for everyone. Crawford said, “We don’t want to say you can’t live here because you are not a citizen.” We need progressive policies in line with other progressive nations, she noted. Non-Hawaiian non-citizens would not own homes and land in fee simple title under the Nation’s present constitution, which calls for communal land tenure. In terms of non-Hawaiian non-citizen ownership of businesses, she replied this decision has not been determined yet. Crawford personally sees non-Hawaiian non-citizens being able to maintain small businesses, abiding by the laws of the nation. But they would probably pay higher taxes. Taxes could depend on whether a business is importing or exporting, with the former paying higher rates.

Dudley indicates:
Non-citizen residents who have lived within the territorial bounds of the new nation before the date of restoration can continue to live in the nation and to own property and businesses until the day they die. They may not vote. Children born to them after restoration may be citizens if they (or their parents for them) relinquish all citizenship elsewhere. A ratio of 20 % non-citizen residents to 80 % citizens will be the goal of the nation, however. Non-citizen residents will not be allowed to reside permanently in the nation until this ratio has been reached by attrition.17
Non-Hawaiian non-citizens would be able to own businesses as “we live in an international economic situation.” But Dudley said part of the reason for having a Hawaiian nation is “to preserve the environment and to try to get control back into local hands. . . . We need to have more control over our destiny, economically, and the only way to do that is to get land control back.”18
For Kauahi, non-Kanaka Maoli non-citizens would not be able to reside in Hawai’i, unless on work or student visas. They could not vote or own homes, land or businesses.

Agard indicated that as before 1893, non-Hawaiian non-citizens would be able to reside in Hawai’i and own homes, land and businesses. They could not vote.

Keppeler said non-Hawaiian non-citizens living within the boundaries of the independent nation would be considered resident aliens. Non-citizens could own homes, land and businesses to the extent allowed by the Hawaiian citizenry. Keppeler stressed some important attributes of gaining independence would be the ability of the citizenry to control immigration into Hawai’i, limit foreign ownership of land, and to keep profits from businesses within the Hawaiian economy, rather than off to the homes offices of multi-national corporations.

Kame’eleihiwa responded non-Hawaiian non-citizens, as well as Hawaiians who do not swear allegiance to the new constitution and are happy with their American citizenship, would be treated as foreigners, taxed accordingly and could not vote. Non-citizens would be able to own homes, land and businesses outside of Ka Lahui Hawai’i’s National Land Trust. She believes indigenous Hawaiians living outside of Hawai’i should always have the right to return home and become citizens.

Hawaiian Separatists Have Traction

In my previous post I had talked about the underlying issue behind the protest against building the thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. Those behind the Hawaiian separatist movement are active politically and have learned how to use social media, much like ISIS, to propagate their message. They have shown hatred and disdain for America. There are at least ten different Hawaiian groups who desire to separate from the United Staes in some way.The Akaka Bill was one of the first serious attempts at achieving separation. Anti America sign1 These signs make their intentions clear. As they continue to gain followers and advocates we must ponder what effects they will have on future investment, tourism and military operations in Hawaii. Anti America sign3 I am taking the liberty to include a quote from William Burgess regarding the Akaka Bill. Although his comments are on that bill they apply to all efforts to establish a race based system. William is a student of Hawaiian history and an opponent of the separatist movement. I think he nails it here:

“Where does it end? Abandonment of the long-standing mandatory criteria for tribal recognition, would open the floodgates for the proliferation of tribes. Anthropologists estimate there are some 15 million people who have a discernible degree of Native American blood but have no tribal connection. Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Connecticut, Kansas, Virginia, indeed every state, would be at risk of being partitioned into multiple racial enclaves.

Rejection of democracy. The bill is a frontal assault on the American ideal of equality. It would elevate Native Hawaiians to the status of a hereditary elite to be supported by citizens who are not of the favored race. It is almost certainly unconstitutional.

The claimed justifications are invalid. The U.S. stole no lands from the Hawaiian people and it did not deprive them of their sovereignty. The ceded lands were government lands under the Kingdom held for the benefit of all citizens without regard to race. They still are. Upon annexation, ordinary Hawaiians became full citizens of the U.S. with more freedom, prosperity and sovereignty than they ever had under the Kingdom. Hawaiians today are no different, in any constitutionally significant way, from any other ethnic group in Hawaii’s multi-ethnic, intermarried, integrated society. Like all the rest of us, some do well, some don’t and most are somewhere in between.

Ms. Schlafly, your essay “Is it Assimilation or Invasion?” dovetails perfectly with our opposition to the Akaka bill. If it becomes law, Hawaii will be divided up into a patchwork of quasi-sovereign governing entities, led or influenced by people some of whom seem to see themselves as Americans only second and something else first.

Unfortunately, the Akaka bill does not seem to even be on the radar screen of most members of Congress. With Senator Inouye’s power and legendary skills there is a clear danger that it will be tacked on to a major bill and passed by unanimous consent. We in Hawaii encourage you to use your nationwide influence to alert the national public, Congress and the Administration that support for the Akaka bill is support for la reconquista.

Imua, keep up the good work and Aloha for all, Bill & Sandra Burgess”

Agricultural Land Disappearing

Agriculture Hawaii is nearly totally dependent upon food produced from out of state. On the one hand there are many studies and encouragement to make Hawaii self sufficient in food production. On the other we have immense political pressure to convert prime agricultural lands to house lots. DR Horton will build 11,750 homes on prime agricultural land. The Honolulu city Council voted 9-0 in favor of the Ewa development. What does that bode for the future of food sustainability in Hawaii?

Hawaii produces only 10 to 15 percent of its food. In spite of all the studies and recommendations we continue to remove ag land from the equation. Between 1960 and 2005, farm land in Hawaii shrank from 2.6 to 1.3 million acres. The trend is a warning sign. This is a clear indication that we are on a path to a dependency on the transportation system to feed Hawaii. Strikes and natural disasters can virtually shut off our supply. And, the “just in time” delivery system has sharply reduced the merchants’ need for warehouses, so now, if shipping to the state were to be suddenly cut off, the stock of food would last no more than a few days.

With these facts in mind one can wonder why the developers can get unanimous approval for projects which increase our vulnerability to food crises.

What If The U.S. Had Not Annexed Hawaii?

Hawaiian protesters insist that the annexation of Hawaii by the United States in 1898 was illegal. The remedies they demand are many, including the recognition of Hawaiians as an indian tribe or a separate independent nation.

Assuming the US did not annex Hawaii, it helpful to understand that several international powers had their eyes on Hawaii. Due to its strategic location in the middle of the Pacific it would have been impossible to maintain an independent Hawaii. It is entirely possible that any takeover of Hawaii by a nation other than the United Stares would have been accomplished by far more violent means. You will note that even the threat of military action was enough to cause capitulation. Below are historical incidents which demonstrate the fragility of Hawaii’s independence.

Russia

In 1815 the Russian empire affected the islands when Georg Anton Schäffer, agent of the Russian-American Company, came to retrieve goods seized by Kaumualiʻi, chief of Kauaʻi island. Kaumualiʻi signed a treaty making Tsar Alexander I protectorate over Kauaʻi. From 1817 to 1853 Fort Elizabeth, near the Waimea River, was one of three Russian forts on the island.

France

In 1839 Captain Laplace of the French frigate Artémise sailed to Hawaii under orders to: Destroy the malevolent impression which you find established to the detriment of the French name; to rectify the erroneous opinion which has been created as to the power of France; and to make it well understood that it would be to the advantage of the chiefs of those islands of the Ocean to conduct themselves in such a manner as not to incur the wrath of France. You will exact, if necessary with all the force that is yours to use, complete reparation for the wrongs which have been committed, and you will not quit those places until you have left in all minds a solid and lasting impression. Under the threat of war, King Kamehameha III signed the Edict of Toleration on July 17, 1839 and paid the $20,000 in compensation for the deportation of the priests and the incarceration and torture of converts, agreeing to Laplace’s demands. The kingdom proclaimed: That the Catholic worship be declared free, throughout all the dominions subject to the King of the Sandwich Islands; the members of this religious faith shall enjoy in them the privileges granted to Protestants. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu returned unpersecuted and as reparation Kamehameha III donated land for them to build a church upon.

Britain

In January 1843 Lord George Paulet on the Royal Navy warship HMS Carysfort entered Honolulu Harbor and demanded that King Kamehameha III cede the Hawaiian Islands to the British Crown. Under the guns of the frigate, Kamehameha stepped down under protest. Surely this meant that the islands were British? but how, why and when did the Brits lose the islands to America. Later Paulet’s commanding officer, Admiral Thomas. apologized to Kamehameha III for Paulet’s actions, and restored Hawaiian sovereignty on July 31, 1843

France

In 1849 French admiral Louis Tromelin arrived in Honolulu Harbor with the La Poursuivante and Gassendi. De Tromelin made ten demands to King Kamehameha III on August 22, mainly demanding that full religious rights be given to Catholics, (a decade earlier, during the French Incident the ban on Catholicism had been lifted, but Catholics still enjoyed only partial religious rights). On August 25 the demands had not been met. After a second warning was made to the civilians, French troops overwhelmed the skeleton force and captured Honolulu Fort, spiked the coastal guns and destroyed all other weapons they found (mainly muskets and ammunition). They raided government buildings and general property in Honolulu, causing damage that amounted to $100,000. After the raids the invasion force withdrew to the fort. De Tromelin eventually recalled his men and left Hawaii on September 5.

Japan

In 1897 Empire of Japan sent warships to Hawaii to oppose annexation

Simple strategy to get rid of the ISILs of the world

As of this date there seems to be no clear cut strategy for dealing with the Islamic terrorists. Drone and manned aircraft air strikes cannot be effective without ground intel and forward air controllers to direct them. As used now they have the potential to kill and maim innocents which can only serve to recruit new jihadist members.

Any real strategy must have four components

1. Weapons supply. They are getting guns, rockets and ammunition from somewhere. Determine the sources and cut them off. It is doubtful that that these people have any capability to repair them. When they break (and they will beak) they will be abandoned.

2. Finance. It should not be too difficult to trace the sources of the funds used to wage war and cut them off.

3. Communications. If the US can monitor the internet and emails of its own citizens it should be relatively easy to find the servers used for ISIS propaganda and tactical communications with members. Their servers are surely hackable

4. Propaganda. The use of social and traditional media can be used to disseminate information to counter their message. It could show the real “benefits” of life with the jihadists, including the restrictions on women.

If you cut the head off a snake it will ultimately die.

Rural areas are left in the dark by high speed internet.

From the Eugene Weekly

The Last Mile

Dark fiber is fiber optic cable that hasn’t been connected (lit).
In the 1950s and ’60s the new faster freeways of the Interstate Highway System could make or break the businesses of the towns they went through or bypassed. Oregon towns with freeway exits off I-5 often expanded, thanks to the advantages of being close to shipping and travel, while businesses in towns far from the new roads withered. Once upon a time, the same was true for towns along railroad tracks.

Former Lane County commissioner Cindy Wood-Weeldreyer says she knew that history of connectivity when she first became aware of what many in the ’90s liked to call the “information superhighway,” and she kept it in mind when she began working to bring fiber-optic cable to the area. “You follow the blueprint of history when you see opportunities coming down the road,” Weeldreyer says.

In the 21st century high-speed internet access is becoming as essential to business, government, health, education and everyday life as telephones and highways were in the previous century. Lane County started off a little ahead of the game when it came to broadband, thanks to early work bringing broadband fiber to the area, and has continued to install fiber throughout the region. But if businesses such as those in Eugene’s growing tech community, known as the Silicon Shire, want to expand, and if new businesses in rural areas want to grow, then more of our unused “dark fiber” needs to be lit up. We need to find ways to get more people faster access to the internet.

As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) debates “net neutrality” — the belief that governments and internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet data equally and not create fast lanes only for those who can afford it — Lane County is still working to get broadband internet access to all its residents who need it.

Fiber Frontier

If you heard Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart touting his work with the Regional Fiber Consortium during the May Primary election, you might have thought he was helping sheep farmers network their wool. In a sense, the consortium might actually do just that, but fiber in this case refers to the fiber-optic cable network that Stewart and others have worked to install and extend in order to improve broadband internet access in Lane, Coos, Douglas and Klamath counties.

Fiber-optic technology converts electrical signals carrying data to light and sends the light through transparent glass fibers about the diameter of a human hair, according to broadband.gov. Milo Mecham of the Lane County Council of Governments, who has been working on the broadband issue since the late ’90s, says the fiber is flexible and easily expandable to allow more users to connect to it.

While Stewart points to how far the area has come in terms of getting internet access to people and institutions, Kevin Matthews still sees the glass as half empty. Matthews was one of Stewart’s challengers in the election for the rural East Lane seat, which Stewart won in the end. Matthews, who says he has a pretty strong background in social media, found himself using what he calls more “classical” means for campaigning in rural areas such as Oakridge because of a lack of connectivity. Some users in that area are still dialing up the internet via phone lines, he says, and are a little bitter about it since a high-speed fiber-optic line happens to run right through the small rural town.

Matthews says, “My impression is that some progress has been made in getting basic fiber-optic trunk lines out some of the corridors, but very little progress has been made getting connections from those trunks to regular people in their houses.” That connection is what is called “the last mile” — the way your house connects to your internet service provider, through a phone line, coaxial cable, fiber-optic line or other option.

The last mile is where that little spinning icon telling you your webpage is still loading comes in, because even if a blazing fast fiber-optic line runs past your house, the speed of your internet access is also affected by how you connect, or don’t connect, to that line.

In the 2013 White House report “Four Years of Broadband Growth,” the Obama administration says that since 2002, internet access has contributed an average of $34 billion a year to the economy. Akamai, which produces a quarterly “state of the internet” report, says in a 2013 study that the average U.S. internet connection is about 40 percent slower than the world’s fastest, South Korea, and leaves us behind Latvia and the Czech Republic. We also pay more money for slower speeds.

Regional Fiber

Weeldreyer says when she was first elected commissioner representing East Lane County in 1995 she focused on health and human services issues and on improving communication between the County Commission and its rural residents. One issue Weeldreyer was dealing with was that while people in the metro area could attend commission meetings or watch them on community television, the broadcasts were not available to rural residents. With this in mind, she went to a telecommunications conference in 1997 thinking she would learn more about expanding community TV. What she got was a crash course in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the need to expand internet services.

“All I knew was my rural community, which had a natural resources-based economy that never recovered from the ’80s, to compete in global marketplace would need that infrastructure,” she says.

Weeldreyer became a “rural telecommunications evangelist.” Two regional consortiums were formed: Regional Fiber Consortium and Fiber South Consortium, which later merged into one consortium under the name of the Regional Fiber Consortium in 2007.

Weeldreyer spearheaded an effort to bring fiber optic to Eugene and surrounding towns in the late ’90s when she discovered that a private telecommunications company was laying fiber-optic cable from Seattle to San Diego. “It’s the I-5 of the future and they are just going to punch it through,” she thought.

At that time Eugene was developing what some called a “Silicon Forest,” with high-tech companies like Hyundai (Hynix) and Sony moving in, but Weeldreyer feared the high-tech movement would only benefit towns along the I-5 corridor, not the small timber communities she represented.

The fiber itself is the least expensive component in the effort, she says, so the question was what kind of proposal could local communities make that would induce the private company to lay dark fiber for them. Dark fiber is simply fiber-optic cable that has not been lit up — connected to the internet.

Communities from Coburg to Oakridge quickly adopted ordinances to join the fiber consortiums and prepared to trade right-of-way access for fiber. But Weeldreyer says when the time came to negotiate — they were thinking of asking for maybe six strands of fiber — the telecommunications company responded “in true corporate fashion, ‘We don’t need your right-of-way.’” The fiber route would follow the railroad’s right-of-way, which is why there is a major fiber-optic route running through Oakridge and down to Klamath Falls.

Luckily, Weeldreyer says, Pam Berrian, telecommunications program manager for the city of Eugene, found that the city still controlled the right-of-way where the railroad crosses High Street, since the street existed before the railroad.

Cities can charge fees for telecommunications companies to use their rights-of-way, and while Weeldreyer says most towns are reluctant to give up those moneymaking fees, this time they offered to expedite the permit and let the company have the right-of-way in exchange for 12 strands of fiber and access points to members of the consortiums along the way.

The company, then called Pacific Fiber Link, faced with a roadblock to its fiber optic network, agreed and, Weeldreyer says, “For that magic moment in time I witnessed government moving at the speed of the private sector to benefit citizens along the route.”

Fast-Forward

Also back in 1999, EWEB (Eugene Water and Electric Board) was working to install a fiber-optic network as well. The utility laid 70 miles of “backbone” cable, interconnecting 25 EWEB metro-area substations and three BPA bulk power stations. It was designed to have future connections with schools like the University of Oregon, local governments and long-haul telecommunications providers.

The EWEB board had a “telecommunications vision” that it would develop a locally owned and managed high-speed broadband network throughout Eugene that would eventually connect all businesses and households through fiber optics or coaxial cable.

According to a 2013 memo on EWEB dark-fiber leases, “with the decline/collapse of the telecommunications boom in late 2001/early 2002” the board abandoned its plan for this network and a MetroNet and instead starting leasing its fiber capacity to public and commercial entities.

A recent thread on the Eugene page of popular networking site Reddit bemoans the loss of this system, and one user points out that Chattanooga, Tennessee spent $97 million building a fiber-optic network providing residents of the city and surrounding rural areas with high-speed low-cost internet — gigabit connections for $69.99 — and it has already paid for itself.

EWEB, however, has not stopped working on fiber optics, according to spokesman Joe Harwood. In 2010, EWEB’s $1.6 million share of a grant LCOG received from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) allowed the utility to extend fiber-optic cable to some schools and medical facilities.

The BTOP grant was a $8.3 million broadband infrastructure grant to enhance the existing fiber-optic backbone and add 124 miles of fiber-optic network to deliver broadband capabilities in Lane, Douglas and Klamath counties. The money came from the stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and the goal was to bring 100 megabits per second connections to more than 100 “anchor institutions” such as medical centers, public safety entities, schools, community colleges and libraries.

The project, which wrapped up in the fall of 2013, “installed fiber in every city in Lane County with the exception of Westfir and Dunes City,” Mecham of LCOG says. Those last two were left out because “at the initial time of the grant there were no anchor institutions that would qualify.” He says, “It still burns me we didn’t get Westfir and Dunes City.”

Mecham says the agency is also working with city of Eugene and EWEB on “what we are calling a pilot project to run fiber optics to a couple buildings downtown, running fiber through the existing electrical system from the Willamette Internet Exchange to the Broadway Commerce Building and Woolworth Building.” Those buildings were chosen, Mecham says, because of a high concentration of software developers and other companies that need fiber.

The downtown Willamette Internet Exchange, aka WIX, is an internet “peering point,” Mecham says. Rather than a data center that stores information, LCOG’s WIX is where local private and public networks interact. The internet isn’t really a “series of tubes,” Mecham says (though the metaphor of a small pipe versus a large pipe is useful in explaining how broadband speeds work), but rather a series of fibers that can send an email message in a microsecond. Instead of sending that information through the networks to Seattle or Chicago before it gets to a business across the street, a peering point lets local networks interact close by. This infinitesimal increase in speed may not affect an email, but it does affect someone downloading a large file like a two-hour movie, he says.

Fiber in the Shire

The big companies like Sony that made up the Silicon Forest are no longer in Lane County, but the Silicon Shire, made up of smaller, up-and-coming tech businesses, has taken its place, and it needs faster broadband.

Kiki Prottsman, founder of Thinkersmith, which teaches entry-level computer science, and an ambassador for Eugene’s Silicon Shire, says lack of access could stifle growth. Tech companies are up against an airport that lacks enough direct flights to places like Seattle and San Francisco and a network that can’t sustain the transferring of large files or multi-line video calls that can take the place of in-person meetings. “In some businesses, a split second makes the difference,” she says.

Prottsman says the need to expand broadband access to tech companies and rural dwellers alike is up against some tough barriers. Not only do finances constrict local governments, but she says “cable- and phone-internet people are worthy adversaries and want to make sure they have all the cards to play.”

Weeldreyer would agree. She suspects she was a victim of corporate espionage at a National Association of Counties conference in 1999 when she went to give a presentation on how other rural counties could use the fiber-brokering right-of-way strategy to get fiber broadband in their areas, and her handouts disappeared from her hotel room and her computer presentation vanished from her computer.

Prottsman says access to the internet is determined by where you live and how much you can pay. “It’s just crazy and limiting, and those citizens don’t have the same opportunities,” she says of rural dwellers.

Bringing broadband access to the rural areas is “the equivalent in our times of what rural electrification was in the last century,” Kevin Matthews says.

It’s a question of money, Mecham points out. The system the BTOP grant put into place means that once the finances are available, somewhere like Oakridge can add users. He gives the example of Veneta, where in order to bring a call center to town, the city got the funding to run a connection from the fiber cable the LCOG grant installed to the building for the call center. He’s hoping the Eugene pilot project will give an idea of how much it will cost to install and light up more fiber in Eugene and look into whether building owners are willing to “chip in for the next round of fiber” or if public funding, such as urban renewal money, could be used.

The internet is not the whole answer to balancing rural and county budgets, Matthews says, but “it is absolutely one of the keys to making that possible.”

How much do people care about making open access to the internet possible? The FCC’s first public comment period on net neutrality ended July 15 with 677,000 comments on its proposed rules for an “open internet” that critics says will allow content companies to cut deals with broadband providers for preferential treatment. A second, 60-day round of public comments on the issue started July 16.

For more information on the FCC and net neutrality go to fcc.gov/openinternet and for more on the Regional Fiber Consortium’s work go to connectingoregon.org. Check out the Oregon Broadband Mapping Project here.

Update:

The comment period for the FCC’s net neutrality rules has been extended until July 18.