• Thomas Lee Aspitarte

Below is proposed letter to 2 WA LD-14 representatives who voted against Engrossed Substitute Bill 1336 allowing PUDs to broadband internet services. This letter explains why they should support public broadband services to Skamania County. Please provide comments here and/or to Mary. Thanks



Mary Repar

P.O. Box 103

Stevenson, WA 98648

Cell: (360) 726-7052

e-mail: repar@saw.net


13 October 2021

Rep. Chris Corry

410 John L. O'Brien Building P.O. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600

chris.corry@leg.wa.gov

Direct Line: (509) 907-6087

Toll Free: (800) 562-6000 Direct Line: (360) 786-7810


Rep. Gina Mosbrucker

431 John L. O'Brien Building P.O. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600

gina.mosbrucker@leg.wa.gov

Direct Line: (360) 761-1194

Toll Free: (800) 562-6000 Direct Line: (360) 786-7856


Re: Broadband Critical to Rural Economic, Educational, and Social Infrastructure

Dear Representatives Corry and Mosbrucker,

I want to urge you both to propone for affordable, reliable, and high speed broadband in Skamania County and other rural areas in District 14 and Washington State. As the Covid pandemic has shown, we all need broadband to function in the 21st century society that we live in. Affordable, consistent, and reliable broadband is essential to educating our children when they cannot attend brick and mortar schools. It is essential for tele-health and basic business transactions. It is essential to full participation in our modern life.

I noted that you both voted against Engrossed Substitute Bill 1336 which would have created and expanded unrestricted authority for public entities to provide telecommunications services to end users. Skamania county needs broadband throughout our county and our Public Utility District #1(PUD #1) should be a provider. Apparently, we have broadband in our community but connecting it to peoples’ homes is something that is not happening. Although we have other internet providers in the county, see http://gorgebroadband.org/connect/skamania-county.php, they are not willing to invest in extending broadband to residences. Apparently, a node that would serve 4 to 6 houses costs $20,000 and private providers are not stepping up to ensure that all our residents are served.

If private providers do not want to invest in our rural broadband infrastructure, then it is time that our government steps in to ensure that equity and equality of access to broadband becomes the law of the land. We should all have the same access to a consistent, affordable, and equitable broadband.

There are many benefits to broadband in our rural areas:

(https://www.ncbroadband.gov/broadband-101/benefits-broadband)

Economic Development. Broadband enables local communities, regions and nations to develop, attract, retain and expand job-creating businesses and institutions. It also improves the productivity and profitability of large, small and home-based businesses and allows them to compete in local, national and global markets.

Government Services. Broadband helps government agencies improve quality, lower costs and increase transparency by improving internal operations and making it easier for residents to interact with them online.

Education. Broadband networks enhance educational experiences by providing students and teachers with access to an array of resources, including text-based materials, photos, videos, music, animations, interactive lessons and oral history collections. Broadband also opens classroom walls, allowing students to participate in distance learning opportunities at any time from any location they can access the internet, such as libraries, school and home.

Health Care. Broadband makes remote access to clinical services possible for patients and provides significantly improved, cost-effective access to quality health care. It also allows physicians to monitor their patients through innovative home health devices, avoiding expensive house calls and giving patients real-time feedback.

Public Safety. Broadband, particularly wireless broadband, is becoming increasingly indispensable to the interoperability of police, fire, health and other government entities that protect the public in both day-to-day and crisis situations. This involves rapid disaster response systems, effective early warning and public alert systems, disaster preparation programs, remote security monitoring and backup systems for public safety communications networks.

Environmental Sustainability. Broadband enables buildings to communicate with utilities and utilities to communicate with each other and the energy market, providing real-time information to both buildings and homes. These include smart buildings and smart grids, which hold great promise for dramatic reductions and greater efficiencies in energy consumption.

Telework. Broadband allows teleworkers opportunities to more readily live and work in locations of their own choosing, without having to be within commuting distance of a corporate center or another base location. Studies show that commuters drive 53% to 77% less on days they telecommute than on days when they drive into work. As well, a three-day-a-week telecommuter can save an average of $5,878 per year in commuting costs and avoid putting 9,060 pounds of pollutants into the environment.

Also, “Research suggests that the social returns to investment in broadband are significant. Increasing access and usage of broadband infrastructure in rural areas (and the amenities, digital skills, online education, and job search opportunities that come with it) lead to higher property values, increased job and population growth, higher rates of new business formation, and lower unemployment rates, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Broadband expansion can also improve health and life outcomes, offering access to remote healthcare providers, online social networks, and educational opportunities. A cost-benefit analysis of rural broadband installation in Indiana observed three to four-fold returns on investment, not including state and local governments’ cost savings on medical expenditures and additional tax revenues from increased incomes.”

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/08/18/the-benefits-and-costs-of-broadband-expansion/

In conclusion, broadband is the wave of our future and it is time to invest fully in rural broadband infrastructure. President Biden’s infrastructure bill has allocated $65 billion, and more will be needed, toward universal broadband infrastructure and I urge you to support getting some of those dollars for District 14 residents’ broadband. The Internet is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity for 21st century infrastructure.

I look forward to hearing from you as to how you are going to ensure that District 14 residents have the same equitable access to broadband as the urban areas. It is critical to our social, economic, and educational well-being.


Sincerely,



Mary Repar


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  • Thomas Lee Aspitarte

this is latest draft. Let me know if there are any additions or corrections. thanks

OP-ED

Democratic Response to the Sheriff’s Corner

Tom Aspitarte for the Skamania County Democrats


It has become clear after several Sheriff’s Corner Op-Eds that these are not just about the state of Skamania County from the Sheriff’s point of view, but Op-Eds are also an opportunity for him to communicate Republican talking points to Skamania County. Just as when the State of Union Address is given by the President of the United States, it is deemed fair to give either opposition party the opportunity to respond to the political nature of that speech. And so the Skamania County Democrats would also like to respond to the political nature of the Sheriff’s Corner Op-Ed.

Many of the complaints found in the Sheriff’s corner in past weeks have been against laws passed by either Washington State or US Legislatures. We as Skamania County Democrats support the Rule of Laws enacted by our legislative bodies as empowered by their respective Washington State and US Constitution. And if any legislative body oversteps their constitutional authority, we support our Judicial System to correct unconstitutional legislation.

There was a complaint in the Sheriff’s Corner about Federal agencies attempting to expand their authority beyond areas of their jurisdiction. Skamania County Democrats believe Judicial Oversight. They are empowered by the US Constitution to remedy any government overreach.

There was complaint our governor using his authority to declare an emergency provide authority over the free movement of the people. This authority was constitutional granted to the Governor by our legislature. And doesn’t the sheriff and his deputies do the exact same thing on a much smaller scale? If you don’t think so, try not pulling over, but continuing your free movement next time you see emergency lights flashing behind you. The people of Washington are watching the governor and re-elected him by a large margin last year in the middle of his emergency declaration.

There was a complaint about a federal judge overturning the CDC moratorium on convictions. This is a good example proving judicial oversight works and indeed, somebody was watching.

There have been complaints about laws that he personally believes are unconstitutional and therefore won’t enforce. But that is not in the oath he swore to do when he became sheriff. He swore “that he will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution and laws of the state wherein he is elected…”. There is no exception for a sheriff’s personal judgement on constitutionality, that is clearly reserved for our judiciary. Any person that thinks they cannot faithfully discharge all of the duties of their Office should seriously consider that is not job is not for them.

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  • Thomas Lee Aspitarte

Planning for the Oct 9 Roosevelt Dinner has started. This is a great annual fundraising event and a lot of fun. If you are interested in helping, Please contact Honna Sheffield @ honnasheffield@gmail.com (360) 6061861

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