Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Statement before City Council, odds and ends and downtown wireless tip-off

My name is Mark Rauterkus.

My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street on the South Side.
I have a home on the internet at Rauterkus.com.

I am vice chairman of the Allegheny County Libertarian Party.

Recently I was a candidate for City Council and I'm presently circulating petitions for the November election.

My voter registration is now as "independent.'
Democracy is important and at the time of elections, we need to put forth new ideas and new candidates. I feel that the one party system in the city -- and the national 2-party system -- both need drastic overhauls.

One simple, level-headed change I endorse concerns ballot access. The PA ballot access coalition has put forth pending legislation that is common-sense and should be adopted.

The new voting machines we are getting in Allegheny County raises another serious problem. Thankfully the Sequoia option has been scratched from consideration. That's out. It was junk. Frankly, the new option is NOT MUCH better.

Years ago, I called for OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE as the best method for getting our "voting machines' -- and that "feature" is still lacking from the solution -- so I'm not satisfied.

Technology is important to me and our society.

I have a rich tech background. I am a 'geek" that understands many of the implications and impacts of tech policy.

Today, my main message is about the Downtown Wireless plans and proposals.

If I was in your position, I'd NOT take the plan that is before you now.

Downtown Wireless is "downtown." You are a 'city council.'

I would INSIST upon City-Wide Wireless.

This is another example where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

One of your roles, as city council, is to lead with integrity and understand and apply a big concept -- EQUITY.

Would you ever build a POLICE FORCE and have it ONLY serve Downtown?

Would you ever deploy a FIRE Department and say -- you can't leave downtown?

The wireless downtown plan is just for downtown.

It makes no sense to embrace a downtown plan because we should have wireless city-wide -- and great firms like Earthlink can help to throw the switch on the deployment without ANYTHING from the city -- except a key ingredient.... That is "LEADERSHIP."

Furthermore, Downtown wireless for 2-hours is silly.

+ The cost after 2 hours of use per day is UNKNOWN. You should NEVER buy into an agreement until the big facts are on the table. HOW MUCH and WHEN are key questions that MUST BE ANSWERED.

Both 'consumer costs' and 'government costs' are matters that city council should represent as part of its duty.

+ Downtown businesses -- for example, Alcoa or a financial institution, or a law firm, -- are NOT going to use the public wireless infrastructure. Don't fool yourself. The firms mentioned and others with a downtown address are the kind that need security and control as well as accountability with their mission critical networks. This solution will NOT provide, especially at the outset, the necessary components for the downtown business sector. And, these firms already have networks that are beyond what this plan aspires to deliver.

+ Even pending residents of downtown, as featured in in today's newspaper, who are moving from suburban homes to return to city living, (such as Rich Trombetta, 42, a computer project manager for PNC Bank) are NOT going to reply upon 2-hours of free wireless so as to live downtown. He can afford his own line. Like I've got my own line.

City council should not be suckers for rich get richer propositions -- based on downtown neighborhood hype.

+ On the other hand, small business -- say, the South Side's Pickle Barrel and Dee's Cafe, -- could use the wireless in two hour chunks for themselves and their customers. The sector who can really use and thrive with a new wireless capacity is the small, neighborhood business throughout the city that operate beyond downtown.

+ Downtown is easy to make wireless -- without telephone polls. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse -- in PPG's business complex -- does not need a telephone poll to make the jump to wireless.

+ Downtown buildings, for decades, have been serviced with high speed, cable, fiber optics.

+ Our neighborhoods, are a different matter, unlike the landscape of downtown and the needs of those who work and conduct business downtown.

+ The school kids would be PRIME users of free wireless for daily, two-hour periods for doing their homework. That is PERFECT as I don't want my kid on the internet for longer stretches anyway. Our kids needs to be literate with technology. Doing homework at grandmas, or in a rec center before a ballgame, or elsewhere would be a great boom to our quality of life.

+ When city council sanctions sweet-heart, downtown deals, like the downtown wireless plans, it then NULLIFIES all hopes for a city-wide install. City council's act lets them "pick the cherries." Serious city-wide work needs to be done.

+ City-wide wireless isn't a breeze. But, it isn't hard to accomplish.
The entire Philly area, full of its corruption, is going wireless. Philly is going wireless, as a COUNTY. We don't need to take Allegheny County wireless, like they are doing in Philly, but we should enable the entire city to have wireless access.

Perhaps City Council is being hoodwinked.

Perhaps, city council members are ignorant -- or just dis-ingenious to the neighborhoods.

+ The PDP, Pgh Downtown Partnership, should be sent back to the drawing boards.

+ There is no rush to get wireless installed before for the 2006 All-Star Game. Give me a break.

+ Tell the PDP to co-host, a REGION WIDE, youth technology summit. After two or three days at a summit, with everyone under the same roof, we'll be able to tell city council what is our best course of action.

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