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  • AFTERNOON UPDATE * – *** BREAKING NEWS *** WEISSER SPEAKS AGAIN!

    Posted on January 24th, 2018 Becky 9 comments

    *** HOPKINS LIED ***

    NO PREVIOUS “ROLLOUTS!”

         While I am paraphrasing, the general justification provided by city officials in our meeting for the current path forward was first that MAW is still considered to be responsible/technically capable as they have operated a fiber ISP for several city buildings for several years and that legal action is justified as PPL’s attachment procedures are unfair.
    From William Weisser’s remarks to city council last night – see below.
         That’s it? That’s what city officials told Weisser? “A fiber ISP for several city buildings?”
         What about all their prior experience they supposedly have? Where is it?
         Remember LNP quoted Patrick Hopkins as stating this to city council in March of this year (click here):
         Based on conservative extrapolations of rollouts elsewhere, MAW is projecting an initial customer base of 4,000, followed by 2 percent annual growth, Hopkins said.

    Patrick Hopkins

         I asked back in March and Weisser asked at the December 19th city council meeting where exactly MAW has “rolledout” before! We never received an answer! Apparently the answer is absolutely no where!

         And Patrick Hopkins and now Mayor Danene Sorace stated it was not risky to give and loan MAW Communications millions of dollars? And Hopkins just flat-out lied to city council and the public?
         There needs to be a criminal investigation now! There will be more tomorrow.
     ****

    FULL REMARKS

    *     William Weisser’s full comment to city council last night is below. He also requested a copy of his remarks be given to all city council members along with two reference documents he attached. Those attachments will be coming.
     

         I am here to follow up comments I made to council on December 19 regarding Lancaster City’s approval to hire counsel to enter into litigation with PPL regarding PPL’s lawsuit against MAW Communications. I must preface these statements by indicating that I am supportive of a municipal broadband network and I believe internet access is indispensable to operating in today’s world. My issue is that the City of Lancaster’s consultant, MAW Communications, has seriously jeopardized this project and placed almost five million dollars of tax payer money at risk. Serious reconsideration of the strategy to continue this project forward needs to occur, and it is not acceptable to dive into a futile legal defense of an incapable third party consultant. To the new administration’s great credit, they spent a considerable amount of time with me on January 19 discussing this topic. My intention here is to highlight this issue with the new council members, provide additional background, and ensure my comments are in the public record. I very much hope I can, at minimum, spur you all to look into this issue further and ask some very pointed questions to ensure this project is still on the “right track.” I have provided a reference sheet for your review and reading.

    47 CFR Part 1, Subpart J – Pole Attachment Complaint Procedures, provides the general guidelines for the FCC’s current rules in governing and resolving disputes associated with pole attachments. As part of these requirements, any entity wishing to make new or modify existing attachments to the poles must make the request in writing, regardless of any pre-existing agreement between the utilities. There are then time frames outlined for the pole owners to respond. I have also provided a reference with an explanation of the attachment request evaluation stages and mandated timeframes for the pole owner to review. If the request / application is denied, the pole owner must provide in writing the technical rational for the denial. This section of the CFR then proceeds to outline the process for resolving complaints if the third party feels they are being treated unfairly. Based on previous reports, it appears MAW has, at least partially, made applications to PPL for attachments within the city of Lancaster as part of the Lanc-City Connect Project. These applications were denied, per a PPL statement to the Morning Call due to a request for a waiver to PPL attachment procedures they were unwilling to grant. 
     

         If the denial was truly completely unreasonable/unjust, the appropriate action would have been to enter into the FCC’s complaint resolution process prior to making any unauthorized attachments to PPL Poles. A necessary part of the FCC’s process is that good faith executive level discussions must have occurred prior to FCC appeal. It is unclear if these discussions have taken place. What did occur is that MAW Communications proceeded to make unauthorized attachments to PPL poles, instigating the current lawsuit that seriously jeopardizes all work completed to date, places at risk enormous sums of taxpayer money, and jeopardizes the entire municipal broadband effort within the city. MAW Communications actions are indefensible.

         What is even more troubling is that this current legal dispute is not even the most legally challenging part of a municipal broadband effort as evidenced by the Google Fiber Project. I urge council and city officials to review the background behind One-Touch-Make Ready ordinances and the results of recent legal challenges brought on by Comcast and AT&T against the City of Nashville. This precedent demonstrates that it is critical to maintain the pole owner is at minimum an agnostic entity towards the municipal broadband effort.
         
         While I am paraphrasing, the general justification provided by city officials in our meeting for the current path forward was first that MAW is still considered to be responsible/technically capable as they have operated a fiber ISP for several city buildings for several years and that legal action is justified as PPL’s attachment procedures are unfair. Additionally, that PPL has previously not strictly enforced their attachment policies and Lanc-City connect is being unfairly targeted. I find none of these arguments sufficiently persuasive or rooted in sufficient specific technical documentation and I again urge the council and city leaders to re-examine the municipal broadband deployment strategy and planned legal action. Future municipal broadband deployment strategy needs to be based on existing case law/regulations and precedent. My position is that it is irresponsible to incur significant legal fees on a futile avoidance attempt of FCC mandated make-ready procedures and that an alternative and openly qualified competitive local exchange carrier should be identified to complete the municipal broadband deployment. MAW Communications has placed the entire LANC-CITY connect project in jeopardy via their installation of unauthorized attachments and should not be continued to be subsidized via taxpayer funds. 
     
         Finally, during the December 19 meeting, the City indicated MAW had completed an independent safety audit of the facilities installed to date indicating that installation was in a professional and safe manner. I urge this report be released to the public.
     
         Thank you
     
     ***

    *** BREAKING NEWS ***

    “INDEFENSIBLE ACTIONS”

         
          “… What did occur is that MAW Communications proceeded to make unauthorized attachments to PPL poles, instigating the current lawsuit that seriously jeopardizes all work completed to date, places at risk enormous sums of taxpayer money, and jeopardizes the entire municipal broadband effort within the city. MAW Communications actions are indefensible.”
         Lancaster City resident William Weisser addressed city council again last night regarding MAW Communications with a follow-up to his previous comments at a city council meeting on December 19th (click here for his original comments published on this site but never even mentioned by LNP). The full text of his excellent comment last night will be published here later today (a brief excerpt is above and you can watch last night’s very short meeting in it’s entirety here).
          Also: 
    —  Due to “unforeseen circumstances” the Lancaster Human Relations Commission did not give their annual report to city council last night and it is not clear when they will.
    —  Where is LNP reporter Tim Stuhldreher who previously covered city hall?
    Please check back later today.
     
     

    9 responses to “AFTERNOON UPDATE * – *** BREAKING NEWS *** WEISSER SPEAKS AGAIN!”

    1. William Weisser actually thinks that the city council etc. will even bother to read this?

    2. Was LNP even there last night????

    3. I believe LNP reporter Sam Janesch was there! Very few actions were taken and the entire meeting lasted less than 30 minutes. Weisser’s comment was very early in the meeting.

    4. Relax. DA Stedman is on top of this MAW matter. He’s working on it in between his time on his knees begging Martin and Aument to recommend him to the governor.

    5. To add some additional context, as my comments were limited to 3 minutes.

      During my meeting with City Officials they indicated that MAW has not performed a previous large scale ISP project similar to LANC-CITY connect. They did indicate MAW provides fiber ISP services to other industrial type campuses, but none were specifically named. Per the article you linked it is indicated that the city could potentially recover assets through these revenue streams (so it would be very interesting to know who MAW’s other clients are). Their emphasis was that MAW has been providing City owned buildings fiber ISP for several years and they are very happy with the performance/service.

      In Mr. Hopkins defense of the quote above, he is not specifically stating that that anticipated uptake is taken from other MAW projects, but just other similar projects in general.

      I do have hope that there will be some followup by council members. A single council member did engage me briefly after the meeting and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about looking further into this issue. The fact that the city met with me for 45 minutes following my intitial comments was also a very positive sign (although we failed to come to any consensus).

      I do intend to continue to follow-up and follow this issue. I contacted the Lehigh County Common Court and they indicated that I can obtain a copy of the PPL lawsuit for $66.

    6. Thank you very much for your input and concern, Bill!

    7. Relax. DA Stedman is on top of this MAW matter. He’s working on it in between his time on his knees begging Martin and Aument to recommend him to the governor. He desperately wants/needs a government job. No employer in their right mind would hire him in this MeToo# environment given what he allowed to go on at the DA’s office while he was in charge

    8. Very nice to see Mr. Weisser’s note here.

    9. Did you miss the news??? Lancaster City Police made an arrest in the homicide of Peters in December.