published Friday, September 21st, 2012

Drew's views

HEADLINE: Crutchfield comeback? Tennessee Waltz may not have been ex-lawmaker's last turn on the floor

THE RECAP: Convicted felon and disgraced former state Sen. Ward Crutchfield will neither confirm nor deny rumors of an attempted comeback to public office five years after he was swept up in the Tennessee Waltz public corruption sting. If Crutchfield runs, it would likely be to represent the 7th City Council District, where he owns a home.

DREW'S VIEW: Crutchfield and the other disgraced state lawmakers associated with the Tennessee Waltz scandal did more to damage Tennesseans' faith in government than anyone since corrupt Gov. Ray Blanton left office in 1979.

For Crutchfield to believe that voters will overlook the fact that he abused his office to fill his pockets indicates a level of arrogance that is difficult to comprehend. In his mind, Crutchfield must believe that he's a beloved statesman who can be forgiven for a small indiscretion. But Crutchfield isn't a beloved statesman, he's a lousy bum -- a state senator who accepted bribes for sponsoring a bill.

State law "forever" disqualifies any elected official who commits a felony in his official capacity from holding any public office. Crutchfield supporters, however, seem to believe that they can make a legal case that, since a judge restored his voting rights, his right to run for office should likewise be restored.

Ward, save us the time and trouble of the court cases and the campaign and just slink back into the hole you crawled out of. No ballot should be sullied with the name of a criminal who committed such an egregious breach of the public trust.

•••

HEADLINE: EPB throws down the speed gauntlet in Chattanooga

THE RECAP: EPB has upgraded almost all of its customers to faster Internet speeds — for free.

The city-owned utility increased the minimum speed offered from 30-megabits-per-second to 50 mbps, and added a new 250-megabits-per-second tier for its high-end users as a celebration of its third year in the market.

DREW'S VIEW: To call the upgrade — or anything else related to EPB's fiber service or Smart Grid — "free" is laughable. So far, the Smart Grid has taxpayers and EPB electric customers on the hook for $552 million. Much of the reason for this exorbitant cost is that EPB built the Smart Grid specifically so the electric company could get in the Internet business.

In fact, EPB could've provided almost the exact same services and benefits to electric customers by constructing a wireless Smart Grid instead of a fiber optic version, and a wireless Smart Grid would have been 30-40 percent cheaper, according to several studies and estimates. So why spend so much more money on the fiber Smart Grid? EPB wanted to expand into a socialist-style government-owned cable and Internet company, and a fiber Smart Grid was needed to make that happen.

As a result, taxpayers and ratepayers paid roughly $200 million more for the Smart Grid than was needed just so EPB could compete against private businesses in a field in which they had no experience. That's why it's so absurd to call something associated with EPB's fiber service fiasco "free."

Beyond the cost of the EPB Internet boondoggle, it's hard to ignore the gimmickry of this upgrade in Internet speed.

According to GigaOM, a tech news and research website, the average Internet connection speed in an American home is 5.8 mbps. That makes EPB's speed impressive, but indicates the overkill of the upgrade. Quite simply, many EPB Internet customers don't need — or use — the data capability they already have. By making this upgrade for customers, they will incur little additional customer usage — thus it's a false benefit. Many EPB Internet customers didn't come close to utilizing their speed before, and they certainly won't now.

EPB's internet upgrade would be like IHOP throwing in a free pancake if you order a stack of ten. It may make you feel good since you're getting something at no additional cost, but you weren't going to be able to finish eating all 10 to begin with. In the end, the free 11th pancake was good marketing, but it does you no good.

•••

HEADLINE: Surge of solar farms heats up Scenic City

THE RECAP: The biggest solar park in Tennessee, nicknamed "Project Titan," will be located in Chattanooga when the $30 million project comes on line next to the Volkswagen plant later this year. It is one of 14 solar installations in Hamilton County.

DREW'S VIEW: Guess what most of these Tennessee solar farms have in common? They burn through a heck of a lot of your tax dollars.

The Tennessee Solar Institute, which is behind many of the state's solar schemes, was given $9 million in stimulus funds to toss at economically unjustifiable solar installations throughout the state.

In 2009, former Gov. Phil Bredesen used $62 million more of the state's stimulus funding to support a variety of solar projects. In a move that reeks of corruption, Bredesen and two of his ex-cabinet members, former state economic development commissioner Matt Kisber and former revenue commissioner Reagan Farr, started up a solar firm as soon as they left office. You don't suppose folks in the solar industry somehow rewarded Bredesen and his lieutenants for funneling tens of millions of dollars their way? Nah. Surely not.

Currently, the Chattanooga airport is lobbying the Federal Aviation Administration for $3.06 million to expand the solar farm at Lovell Field. That's in addition to the $4.1 million taxpayers have already shelled out for the airport's solar project.

If solar farms are a good idea, private business will build them -- as they have in other areas of the country where solar energy is more reliable and more feasible. There's no use pouring millions of tax dollars into solar farms that don't make economic sense.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.

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aae1049 said...

Both state and local media in the State of Tennessee continued to deem Bredesen and Matt Kisber as the darlings of public service. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Matt Kisber is behind the windfall of PILOT agreements for VW, Amazon...with these bait and switch movements of public money and resources. Boatloads of public cashola were also spent by the Kisber Cartel to convey to the public that windfalls of taxpayer dollars to undeserving and rich corporations are good for people, praise the Chamber of Commence, amen.

The Kisber Cartel and the Pilots 4 Friends program were the mechanism used to literally take money off the tables of families, a steal from the poor to give to the rich. The theft of public money is so very systemic, that these the corporations hired the children of people making bond recommendations locally. But shhh!, the media says, Chamber of Commerce said it is all for the public good.

Local private accounting good citizens that attempted to make the taxpayer aware that the capital investment would not amortize out as a return to the taxpayers, the truth message was over shadowed by the publicly funded Matt media campaign of millions.

Matt Kisber and friends tagged millions in publicly funded PR money to convey to the public through extensive media programs that giving rich corporations millions was all good, and the investment would return in local sales tax revenue through trickle down notions.

Bredeson and Matt Kisber are shamefully self serving, conflict of interest greed, leveraging their position in State Gov to throw taxpayers stimulus, and PILOT agreements to their own solar business futures. There, I feel better, praise the Chamber of Commerce, amen.

September 21, 2012 at 6:43 a.m.
Leaf said...

Drew, while I agree with you on many issues, I think you're on the wrong side of the EPB one. You say ultrafast internet is a "gimmick". When I first saw the internet over a 1200 baud dialup modem it wasn't too thrilling. I thought the internet was a gimmick. What a difference broadband makes! Speed and innovation go hand-in-hand.

Fiber is now part of the infrastructure of a modern city. It's better to build the highway before you have gridlock. And the existence of that highway actually draws more people to your location. It's the smart call to invest in the infrastructure of Chattanooga.

September 21, 2012 at 2:12 p.m.

Drew continues to show his bias and ignorance on the issue of internet connectivity. I don't think you could come across as more of a curmudgeon if you were trying to be sarcastic. A wireless network? No thank you, that has far more issues than a robust wired network, and yes, the upgrade is free since that investment you belabor? Already done.

And in contrast to your metaphor, building this robust network is like making ten pancakes because it'll take almost the same amount of time and effort, so why not make breakfast for your whole family rather than foolishly force them all into doing it?

But you don't care, you're just a shill for Comcast and AT&T. Never mind how they've been screwing citizens for years. Contrary to your assessment, epb's numbers indicate not that they're overkilling us, but that the only experience those ISPs you laud have had is shortchanging customers.

September 21, 2012 at 2:34 p.m.
richarddawkins said...

I agree that crutchfield is a bum.

But If he runs, he'll win.

You still haven't figured out where you are drew.

September 21, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
rolando said...

"To call the upgrade — or anything else related to EPB's fiber service or Smart Grid — "free" is laughable. So far, the Smart Grid has taxpayers and EPB electric customers on the hook for $552 million. Much of the reason for this exorbitant cost is that EPB built the Smart Grid specifically so the electric company could get in the Internet business."

You are out in left field on this one, Drew, at least insofar as my rates go. I went all out -- phone, Internet, Digital meter, etc. I cancelled my ATT long distance, Bell or whatever home telephone, DishNetwork TV, and ComCast Internet, increased by Internet speed fourfold, drastically improved reliability, and REDUCED MY TOTAL COST BY $25 A MONTH.

The services provided FAR surpass those provided by the individual companies.

So now I have 50Gb service...haven't really noticed. Thank you, epb. Many kudos for your leading edge, nationally recognized services. Can't wait for SmartHome software...even with the ulterior motives [and perhaps federal "persuasion" to develop it].

So far as epb's SmartGrid power, this is a plus for us. With the WH-imposed elimination of coal-fired generators and soon-to-arrive centrally controlled power usage [via SmartHome-type software supervision coming soon nationally].

This stuff is federally driven...you just haven't seen it yet, Drew.

September 22, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.
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