Sunday, September 1, 2019

Update on Kewaunee Broadband Boondoggle



Thought it was time to have an update on how the County Administrator is working hard to blow a million or more of your tax dollars on a broadband boondoggle.

You know if something smells like horse dung, looks like horse dung, it probably is horse dung!

First, here is the Mission Statement of the Broadband Committee taken right from their minutes.
Read this mission statement carefully word by word.  Notice, there is no mention of spending tax dollar one in this statement?  What it does state is the committee will research, gather info, and educate the board and encourage third party investment.  That's all good, but it seems this is horse dung as well because, on the 21st of June, our County Legal Counsel Jeff Wisnicky who sits on that committee told me directly they want to spend the first million we've received from Dominion and maybe more on this broadband project.  I called the Administrator Feldt on this issue, he didn't answer, I left a message and he didn't return the call.

Last meeting of this Broadband Committee was on May 22.  Those minutes are now posted on the county website.  In those minutes, Administrator Feldt reported Door County Broadband had established a tower in Lincoln Township.  Could it possibly be that Administrator Feldt has a "special relationship" with Door County Broadband as he never talks about, or has talked to other broadband providers that are providing service in the county to include Bertrand and Mercury.

The committee is now reportedly investigating "Mesh WiFi"  opportunities and how to perhaps co-op with some company like Public Service in using their power poles to mount internet boosters on their poles or use other services they might have.  A mesh technology system works very much like a network of cell phone towers only with different technology.  One tower serves multiple customers and the towers are close enough that if one fails another tower picks up the load.  This is what broadband vendors are doing already.

Let's tear into this a bit. 
The whole idea sounds wonderful to residents.  They think if the County provides access points they will have free internet.  NOTHING IS FREE, there will be monthly fees of $60 to $100 or more for service which is available today through various vendors.

This whole idea was hatched by the County Administrator along with Board Member Lee Luft.  This is a bit complicated, so I would suggest you go back to review my earlier articles on this subject.  Go to www.ronheuer.com and review the Oct 26, 2018 article and the Jan 18, 2019 posts I have made on this subject. You can review the budgeting debacle by reading these two posts.

A Slight of Hand/Obfuscation?
According to Mr. Weidner, the County Board Chairman, he had no prior knowledge of the fact that the County Administrator Mr. Scott Feldt had added $1,000,000 to the budget to be spent on broadband in the County.  Thank God, Weidner worked with the board, and had that removed from the budget. That is when the Broadband Committee was established.

Mr. Feldt insisted the money from Dominion was to be used for "Economic Development."  Turns out that was a boldface lie, and by the way, it didn't take long before Administrator Feldt had other board members like Luft espousing the same lie.  (This is consistent with the idea, "Tell a lie over and over, and pretty soon people will believe it). The payment from Dominion was clearly and simply provided to the County to fill a budgetary gap left in the County budget with the closure of the Nuclear Plant.  There were no strings attached to that money.  The County can use that money for roadwork, tax rebate, you name it.

This whole dung stinking public broadband idea has come from a couple of people on the board and the KCEDC who say "We need high speed internet to attract businesses to Kewaunee Co."  They believe that "If you build it and they will come."  They believe that, if Kewaunee County has "extraordinary" high speed internet, there will be traffic jams on Highways 29, 42 and 54 with people wanting to relocate here.

But let's face facts.  The 1900 census showed 17,212 people in Kewaunee Co., and the 2010 census showed 20,574 people in Kewaunee Co.; a growth over 110 years of 3,362 people or an average of 30 people a year.  Four generations of growth or so, not impressive at all.

Reality, Growth has never been on the radar for the County
This County was an agricultural community 110 years ago and it still is.  In fact many townships have had, or do have restrictions as to how many acres of land you must own before you can build a house on your own land.  These restrictions were in place to preserve agricultural land.  BTW, if you haven't noticed, we don't have an Interstate Hwy touching our County, and if I am not mistaken, there is one rail spur left in the County that goes to the feed mill in Luxemburg. For years local residents of Kewaunee Co. have shunned growth, they wanted Kewaunee Co. to be kept pristine and did not seek growth.  Further, look no further than the City of Kewaunee.

Under the leadership of the previous Mayor, John Blaha the city received over $4.2M in State grants to redo the sea wall and develop the port area which was intended to draw construction of a hotel, restaurants and shops .  What happened after Blaha was not reelected?  Well, the State finished the sea wall and port development two years ago and it's been sitting there just as they left it.   With the current leadership in Kewaunee, my guess is that two years from now the answer will be the same on that project, Nothing done!

Why Should Our Taxpayers fund a portion of the broadband development?
They shouldn't!  High speed internet service by definition of the FCC already exists in the County, you just have to pay for it.  According to the FCC 10 MBPS per second download and 4 MBPS upload is considered to be the current "high speed" standard.

Internet users that demand high speed like Pagel Ponderosa and Kinnard Farms invested directly with providers to pull in fiber which gives them super access, probably up to 100 MBPS dedicated download.  Businesses can get fiber here if they want it or need it.  Heck, the County Administration building on Lincoln Street has fiber pulled to it.

There are a number of internet service providers like Mercury.net that will, at their expense, install high speed distribution systems if there is a demand (install meaning a mini-tower or nodes on a silo, or other high points).  By demand, I mean, a group of customers in a specific area that are willing to sign a one year contract for their high speed services.

I ran a consulting company from my home and had need to video conference and transfer large packets of data.  I made that work at my expense by paying about $210 per month with Verizon to have 4G access at my home with download speeds averaging about 20 MBPS and uploads of 7 MBPS.  It was adequate, but the data limits sometimes shot my monthly costs up quite high over the $210 figure.  I could stream Netflix HD movies, but the cost of doing so was prohibitive.  I didn't expect the County to fix my issue.  I fixed it myself as have hundreds of other people in the County have done themselves.

Even though I had a visual view of a Bertrand tower to my South and a Mercury.net tower to my North.  I couldn't access either tower because the trees were in the way.  So, I worked with Mercury.net.  I put in 600 feet of underground wire to get electric to a location where I had clear line of sight to the tower North of me.  It cost me, all in, about $600 to do this, but now I have consistent speeds of 20 MBPS download for 200 Gigs per month (that exceed the FCC standard) I pay $100 a month for this service.  And, my speeds are not slowed down after 60 or 80 Gigs.

So What Should the County's Role be?
Nothing.  It is a business that is driven by demand and best left to the private sector to own and manage.

Unfortunately, the whole high speed internet picture is really complicated and ever changing.  Most people cannot get their minds engaged to understand it fully.  The only role the County should/could play in this initiative would be to conduct comprehensive surveys to the inhabitants of the County.  Unfortunately developing a comprehensive survey that the rank and file person would understand is a challenge.

Go back and review my Oct blog where I have listed a number of companies that already provide service in the County.




Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Your County Board Per Diem and Expenses 2018/2019

Here are the final numbers for the 2018/2019 Kewaunee County Board per diems and expenses. 

Once again I will preface this is nothing more than a report of the monthly numbers as compiled by the County Finance Director Paul Kunesh. 

2018 / 2019 County Board Per diems and expense totals by board member

Name of board member      Per Diem         Expenses        Total
Augustian/Aaron                   $1,680.00          $405.56           $2,086.56
Cochart/Cory                         $2,360.00          $476.86           $2,836.86
Cretney/Thomas                    $2,380.00          $404.03           $2,704.83
Dobbins/Mary Ellen            $4,610.00          $793.73           $5,403.73
Doell/ Doug                           $1,850.00          $341.92           $2,191.92
Haske/Virginia                     $7,170.00          $1,620.68        $8,790.68
Jahnke/Scott                          $2,150.00          $429.01           $2,579.01
Kroll/Kim                              $1,950.00          $293.03           $2,243.03
Luft/Lee                                 $2,180.00          $0.00               $2,180.00
Lukes/Joe                               $1,580.00          $155.54           $1,735.54
Mastilar/John                         $3,320.00          $0.00               $3,320.00
Olson/Dan                              $1700.00           $390.40           $2,090.40
Paape/Gerald                        $6,590.00          $2,545.06        $9,135.03
Romdenne/Thomas              $6,560.00          $1,887.28        $8,447.28
Schmitt/Charles                     $1,580.00           $226.04            $1,806.04
Schillin/Kaye                         $3,990.00           $27.11              $4017.11
Teske/Linda                            $2,940.00          $572.00            $3,512.00
Treml/Kent                             $3,540.00          $319.38            $3,859.38
Wagner/Chuck                     $4,600.00           $2,907.98         $7,507.98
Weidner/Robert                      $3,220.00          $822.47            $4,042.47

Totals                                     $65,710.00          $14,404.16       $80,569.08

Couple of notes on these per diems. 
*  Board members are assigned to various committees and those board members who serve on more committees will, as a result of those committee meetings have higher per diems. 
*  Robert Weidner is Chairman and as the Chair he also receives an annual stipend of just over $8,000

Here is something interesting.  Notice above, the 5 names that are highlighted?  Four of the five (Dobbins/Haske/Paape/Romdenne) have held public paid positions before they got on the board.  Wagner has been on the board the longest of those who are currently on the board.

Remember, there are 20 members of the board in total.  If you add up their per diems, the five of them represent $45% of the total per diems.  Do the same with their expenses and those five represent 68% of the total expense of the board.  Coincidence?  Do you find that to be a bit odd?

Friday, April 12, 2019

Year to date Kewaunee County Board Per Diems and Expenses




Here is a report on your County Supervisors per diems and expenses
for the period May 2018 - Feb 28, 2019

With 10 months of the year behind us, your biggest recipients of per diems and expenses seem to be all from the Algoma area -----District 14, Tom Romdenne -$7,845.92, District 16, Virginia Haske - $7,665.46,  District 1, Gerald Paape - $7,483.92 and District 3, Chuck Wagner - $6,544.31. 

You have to consider the number of committees these people are on.  Then you have to dig deeper into the spend to see what, if any, boondoggle trips they have taken across the State to "better themselves". 
It appears, spending at this rate the per diems and expenses will come in at about $85K for the year.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Latest on the Kewaunee Co. Broadband Boondoggle

Follow-up on bad idea to spend up to $1m of your tax dollars on building Internet Towers in Kewaunee Co.
After the $1M budget line was removed from the 2019 Budget by a board vote of 16 opposed, 4, in favor. Our illustrious Board Chairman appointed a Broadband Study Committee.... here is that committee that is clearly stacked in favor of the spend..... Great work Bob, when a ludicrous proposal is defeated by the board....LET IT DIE!
Kewaunee County Broadband Study Committee The committee reports to the PAL committee and the Board. Term December 18, 2018 to April, 2020. This committee is comprised of County Board Members & County Staff Citizen Members


Broadband Committee will be jointly co-chaired by Bob Weidner and Gary Paape
Citizen Members include:
Frank Madzarevic, N3733 Cedar Ln, Luxemburg
Ryan Hoffmann, 1804 Idlewild Rd, Sturgeon Bay
August Neverman, E1595 Old Settlers Rd, Denmark
Jason Melotte, E7257 Washington Rd, Algoma
Kim Larson, KCEDC
County Staff Members
Jeffrey Wisnicky, Steve Hanson and Scott Feldt
County Board Members
Thomas Romdenne, Virginia Haske, Lee Luft, , Mary Ellen Dobbins, Kent Treml, Aaron Augustian and Thomas Cretney,
If you wish to weigh in on this "bad idea" boondoggle or whatever else you want to call it, contact these members and inform them as to your position on this project.
There are companies that provide high speed internet service already doing so in the County, and they will put more towers up to provide service at their expense. You already know, if you want something to NOT OPERATE EFFICIENTLY, get the government involved.

So, what will be accomplished by this group of 18 folks?  Given this is running for about 15 Months, I would imagine a good number of dollars spent on per diems and expenses for zero return.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

SHOULD THERE BE A BARRIER BETWEEN THE U.S. AND MEXICO?

SHOULD THERE BE A BARRIER BETWEEN THE U.S. AND MEXICO? The unequivocal answer is yes!
Just before Christmas I attended my the funeral of one of my grandniece. She died of an overdose, not so coincidentally, the same day her boyfriend died of an overdose in Memphis TN. As always, I researched the drug scene in Memphis and learned very quickly there had been 18 opium related deaths from Nov 18 through Nov 30. That pace continued on into December. Opium more than likely laced with fentanyl is what is apparently killing off these young people. My grandniece's death is being treated as a murder by local Memphis authorities, as whomever provided/sold that lethal dose is responsible for her death.
Read this book "Dream Land" by Sam Quinones. In this book the Quinones describes in detail how the opioid epidemic was foisted on the U.S. by the Mexicans from the State of Nayarit. President Trump gets it! Have a look at these stats.
CDC states that between the years of 1999 to 2015 there have been more than 183,000 deaths in direct relation to opioid overdose. Between the years 2010 to 2014, according to the DEA There was a spike in opioid overdose with an increase of 258% that occurred.
America has officially reached an all-time high, in 2016, in regards to opioid overdose. The current statistics reported from the CDC have revealed that in 2016, 91 Americans died daily from opioid overdose. What is worse is that in 2017, that number increased to 142 people in the U.S. dying per day with drug use.
Remember when Trump was running for President and he specifically noted the overwhelming drug problems in Ohio and West Virginia? Well, Trump got it, he understands the problem and this is why he is hell bent on the border security between the U.S. and Mexico. THERE IS NO DOUBT A BARRIER, WALL, FENCE, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT WOULD PARTIALLY STEM THE FLOW OF DRUGS FROM MEXICO.
I am a Vietnam Veteran and we buried 58,000 great young men as a result of that meaningless war. Put that into perspective. That war was 10 years long, and now we are killing off bright young people at nearly 55,000 per year as a result of the illicit drug trade. How can we accept that?
One other thing in closing. While in Vietnam, I was a Company Commander and I saw, first hand, what the accelerated use of Marijuana does to people. It changes good productive people who lose interest in their jobs and become lackadaisical in their approach to life in general.