Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 18, 2017

Lament of &T

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

So do you all remember when Alameda Municipal Power used to be Alameda Power & Telecom?  When the “Telecom” used to be a municipal cable and internet provider?  Its demise was much lauded by the usual suspects in town whose libertarian streaks seem to mistrust anything that comes from government, but now the United States on the cusp of losing net neutrality and all the oversight that comes with regulation by the federal government, I sure do wish that AP&T was still up and running.

Not that we don’t appreciate our conversion to Common Networks, it’s pretty great to be fully liberated from the awfulness that is Comcast, but AP&T was really good.  Low cost and reliable it is what folks are suggesting that individual cities can do (or have) that can insulate from the recent FCC decision.

From City Lab:

Aside from legal challenges, there are a few ways that cities and states can preserve some elements of net neutrality rules if they want to, but it’ll take some investment in infrastructure. One example is the more than 500 communities that have built publicly owned broadband networks, like Chattanooga, Tennessee’s much-hailed municipal fiber network. These networks are often competitors to corporate providers, expanding broadband service to homes and communities that aren’t served by private operators. They can put pressure on private companies to lower prices or provide better service in an area, too. They also allow the government operators to set their own rules around equal access.

Obviously the bones are still there for much of AP&T’s old networks.  Instead of discussing free citywide wi-fi (which would be reliant on some provider like AT&T, Comcast, Sonic, or even Common Networks) perhaps it might be time to revisit the old &T infrastructure and — as one commenter suggested — recognize internet as a basic lifeline utility that should be treated as such.


  1. I don’t recall anyone “lauding” its demise. I do recall many people sharply criticizing the poor management and ridiculous waste of resources that led to that debacle.

    From a customer perspective, it was a very good service. I used it till the end.

    Comment by dave — December 18, 2017 @ 6:18 am

    • You forgot about Kirwin, Howard, and friends dancing on the ashes of &T with refrains of “I told you it sucked!”

      Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2017 @ 6:03 am

      • Tens of millions of dollars were wasted in a shady backroom transfer of funds. While there are certainly more specific & artful words one could use, “sucked” is not inaccurate.

        Comment by dave — December 19, 2017 @ 6:07 am

  2. I don’t have any problem with Comcast. Unless Ala-tele can offer as good and cheaper I’ll stick with what I have.

    Comment by jack — December 18, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

    • Clearly you’ve never had to phone in to the call center, deal with general incompetence resulting from Comcast’s super inefficient internal system, or puzzled over fluctuating bills where they attempt to charge you more unexpectedly out of the blue.

      You must be one of the lucky few Comcast customers.

      And &T did offer cheaper and better services than Comcast.

      Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2017 @ 6:05 am

      • From a customer perspective, it was MUCH better than Comcast or AT&T. I used it & liked it.

        From a citizen & taxpayer perspective, it was a disaster.

        I wonder if the city has the power to alter the franchise agreements with the big 2 to require net neutrality. Several states are looking into that. Anyone know?

        Comment by dave — December 19, 2017 @ 6:09 am

        • search terms “net neutrality” and “preemption”

          Comment by MP — December 19, 2017 @ 6:49 am

      • Actually, just last week my modem (after using it for around ten years) went on the blink so I called Comcast’s 800 number and the lady answered immediately and set me up immediately with an appointment at the Fruitvale Comcast store. Took me about 15 minutes to get there, they greeted me and (they were already informed that I needed a new modem) they said it would be a few minutes and your name will be on the screen for service. About two minutes later my name came up I gave the clerk my old modem ( she said Wow, this is almost obsolete) she then brought me a new modem, I drove home, hooked the modem up and everything was back to normal. Total time without internet about 1.5 hours.

        Comment by Jack — December 19, 2017 @ 7:54 am

      • By the way, the Comcast lady at the 800 number could ping all the users in the neighborhood to see if there was a line problem (there wasn’t) and she called me back after I had installed the new modem to ensure everything was operating correctly. But my monthly Comcast bill is $260 which I think is rather high.

        Comment by jack — December 19, 2017 @ 8:28 am

  3. “the usual suspects in town whose libertarian streaks seem to mistrust anything that comes from government”

    I’d like to point out that these Alameda “libertarians” are a very strange breed of libertarian as I understand it. Consider that a lot of their mistrust of government comes from their opinion that the government ISN’T RESTRICTIVE ENOUGH, particularly when it comes to market based development.

    Think about all the times you hear opinions that the city government (a) shouldn’t let anymore people move here, (b) should prioritize housing and business choices to favor long-time residents and businesses, (c) should pick and choose what kind of businesses move into various locations, (d) shouldn’t allow new development until a raft of infrastructure improvements happen, (e) the planning board and city council should have a heavy hand in deciding what private businesses do with their properties, etc.

    These all sound like command-economy ideas (far left economic spectrum) rather than libertarian market-based-economy ideas (far right economic spectrum).

    Their distrust of the fire department and Alameda Hospital which they see as bloated is probably a typical libertarian idea though.

    Comment by brock — December 18, 2017 @ 7:08 pm

  4. I don’t think it is libertarian, either. I think it is more contrarian. Here is how, from their own words and actions, I feel “the usual suspects” think, “I don’t care what it is, I’m agin’ it. It is a plot by someone to take something from me (my small town, my tax money, my right to say who gets to do what, where), Also, everyone but me and my friends is corrupt, stupid, and wrong-headed. You can’t have an opinion that differs from ours and be considered a good person.”

    I admire their tenacity and civic engagement. It would be great if it could be more civil and less adversarial and common ground could be found, at least occasionally. Betcha the answer will be “She started it!”

    Comment by Kate Quick — December 18, 2017 @ 9:52 pm

  5. Hmm…Strange that all the comments purporting to “define” libertarians are from writers who are not themselves libertarian. What do you know?

    Comment by vigi — December 19, 2017 @ 10:36 am

    • Feel free to refute anything in my comment above.

      The blog post you linked discusses Rand and Ron Paul’s views on the Civil Rights Act, abortion, immigration, and foreign policy. None of those issues are being discussed here, or even remotely related to what’s being discussed.

      Comment by brock — December 19, 2017 @ 12:12 pm

      • The only local issue where “libertarian” views have been significant has been rent control.

        The ongoing IAFF battle is about corruption; some see it, others are willfully blind. The issues of housing & development etc come down to traffic & quality of life. Some want to control the former and maintain the latter. Others want the opposite.

        Comment by dave — December 19, 2017 @ 12:49 pm

        • So when the government tells a homeowner whether or not they can build an accessory dwelling unit on their property, that wouldn’t be viewed negatively from a libertarian viewpoint?

          What if someone wanted to build a commercial/residential building on their property using a new, highly sustainable construction approach utilizing shipping containers? If the local government prevents that from happening, that seems to run afoul of libertarian principles.

          Comment by brock — December 19, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

      • OK. Since I actually have been a registered libertarian voter since 1986, I take umbrage at your description of libertarian thought as all far-right economics. You are typecasting all libertarians into a far-right box, which makes no sense, since the ultimate far right is true fascism. I posted that blog because of the title, rather than the writer’s dive into Randian thought.

        Libertarian thought has both progressive and right-wing.elements. It seems to me what upsets you is reactionary conservatism, so call it by the correct name.

        Comment by vigi — December 20, 2017 @ 9:40 am

  6. Yes, those things would annoy a libertarian (that lot is easily annoyed…).

    In any case, you are correct that the preservationist viewpoint is somewhat anti libertarian, but so what? That really hasn’t been the driver of the debate re development. It’s much more about traffic and aesthetics.

    Comment by dave — December 19, 2017 @ 3:57 pm

    • I only bring it up because I find it somewhat amusing (you could say I’m easily annoyed but also easily amused so things balance out).

      Just out of curiosity, what if someone made the argument that opposition to rent control had a negative effect on traffic and aesthetics? At some point, don’t rapid increases in rent cause more people to double up in rentals (3 or 4 people in a two bedroom at high rents vs. 1 or 2 people with low rents for example)? Don’t higher densities of occupants in rentals have the same bad effect on traffic, parking, etc. as allowing people to build ADUs?

      Maybe this is a dumb line of thinking, but like I said I’m easily amused.

      Comment by brock — December 19, 2017 @ 4:23 pm

  7. Here is a more useful link defining libertarianism, from the experts:

    Comment by vigi — December 20, 2017 @ 9:45 am

  8. “Libertarians understand the necessity of cooperation to attain personal goals.”. That is why preservationists are not anti-libertarian. One property does not make a neighborhood, but one out of character development can ruin a neighborhood. When a group of like minded property owners want their neighborhood to look like a Victorian village, they are cooperating toward their personal goals. Same goes for an Eichler village or a Frank Lloyd Wright development.

    What bothers libertarians most is hearing edicts from the state about RHNA numbers and how we have to do what the state tells us to, with land that we already live on, just because the state says so. “One size fits all” type laws are the most annoying of all. They are crafted to apply to the majority of California, but most of California does not consist of islands which are each home to 80,000 residents. Alameda is a geographic exception.

    Comment by vigi — December 20, 2017 @ 10:06 am

    • “When a group of like minded property owners want their neighborhood to look like a Victorian village, they are cooperating toward their personal goals.”

      Someone just bought property in the neighborhood, and does not care if it looks like a Victorian village. There was nothing in the sales contract documents or local laws saying he has to maintain his property to look like a Victorian village. But when he goes to the planning board with renovation plans, they block his project because other “like-minded property owners” don’t like it. You’re telling me that’s not anti-libertarian?

      “edicts from the state about RHNA numbers and how we have to do what the state tells us to, with land that we already live on”

      The state is not telling you that must build high density apartments on property that you personally own. The people most concerned with controlling what gets built on others’ personal property are the preservationists that you are laughingly trying to characterize as libertarians.

      If you want to freely associate with people to control how all the properties in your neighborhood looks, move to a condo association.

      Comment by brock — December 20, 2017 @ 11:11 am

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