PolarNet Fiasco

Disclaimer: You want to be the commander and chief of North St. Paul you get the heat for everything you do.

The following comments are various pseudonymous posters off local news internet forums. The accuracy of the following statements are unknown and no expressed or implied guarantee that any or all of it is true and hitherto not substantiated so therefore remains a big MAYBE or ALLEGATION. Capiche?

Uncle Foggy:

I am against this fiber optic network run by the city of NSP because it will become just another “enterprise activity designed to build another slush fund to pay for an out of control city government. That is if it ever takes in enough money to produce a slush fund and doesn’t't go paws up, taking the city and its citizens into bankruptcy.

Having said that, wireless is not the answer. I have spoken to the city of Roseville employee who is designated to try to bring better internet service to the northern Ramsey County, suburbs and he said that wireless is not the answer. Too many things like trees and topography that get in the way and the need for poles with antennas that cause a lot of heartburn with citizens. If you want to get an idea how wireless works, just ask someone who is trying to get television reception on an analog set by attaching the digital box.

An election on the subject of bonding to build the NSP fiber system will be held on February 24, 2008. This has to be done because it involves the setting up of a phone exchange. This one can be rammed through like the $5,000,000 for the new garage was.

You didn’t know there was to be an election? Join the other 99% of the citizens who also don’t know. The citizens of NSP have to be the least informed group of sheep known to mankind. But there is a group of approx. 350 citizens who will be voting and they are the ones chosen on a random basis and who provided by their overwhelming positive attitude, the reason for the city to go ahead with this project.

By the way, if you are against this project, you are also against God, mother, country and apple pie. Per the city fathers, this network is being built for the kids of NSP so that they will have the ultimate in educational opportunities and for elderly, ill shut-ins who want to check their medical records on line to name just a few.

If you want to check the financial plan for the network, the 342 page five pound document is available in the city offices during normql working hours.

Uncle Foggy:

The reference I made to the 350 chosen individuals voting in the election was to emphasize that, at this point, they are the only residents of NSP who know about the election and have a dog in the fight because it was their recommendation that the fiber network project go forward. The remainder of us who know about it and hopefully will vote NO, just happened to stumble on to info about the project.

I am trying to figure out just who is the villain in this project and just what are the city fathers are up to by the recent bearing of their souls on the extra money being made by the cityenterprise activities.

I found it amazing that an article was included in the city newsletter sent w/the electric bill about the extra $9.00 a month the city electric costs a NSP resident in comparison to Xcel. Doublely amazing, since I once had a conversation with the newsletter editor where he stated he would never include any controversial article, especially one on proposed taxes or fees in the newsletter.

Then there was Wally’s admission at the last council meeting that there was a $400,000 slush fund built up by accident due to the wonderful job the citizens were doing by recycling and not dumping things into the trash. What a wonderful way to explain an overcharge.

I also remember a council meeting, one of the last attended by Bill Sandberg, where Sandberg turned to Wally and said what a great thing it was that the city had an electric utility because the city could do many things that they couldn’t do without it. Wally, to my surprise, didn’t even acknowledge the mayor’s statement. He just dropped his head.

Are they turning over a new leaf now that Sandberg is gone and coming clean as to what this city actually costs the citizens?

To Mary, I would rather we become part of Maplewood because it is also in Ramsey Cty. and it surrounds NSP on three sides. The first thing that has to go is the police dept. Sixteen (16) officers for a 2.9 Sq. mile city cannot be sustained by 11,400 and dropping population. Fold it into Maplewood and contract for its services.

Uncle Foggy: About spying

Mary, don’t give the mayor and council any ideas. I doubt very much that Polarnet was set up to spy on NSP residents. But given the inclination of said council, mayor and city administrator to set up enterprise activities they might now be contacting the National Security Administration in an attempt to sell the information that you believe they might be collecting. And since NSP will be operating a telephone exchange..

The “information forums set up for January 27 and February 11 appear to be one way streets of information from the “dedicated citizen volunteers and the company chosen to run Polarnet (no conflict of interest here) of how Polarnet will be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Based on the January 20th NSP council meeting contest between the council members and the mayor (He won in my humble opinion) of who could shout the loudest that they WOULD NOT be attending the forums, there will be NO opportunity to question any NSP official about just what they think they are doing in any public forum prior to the election. They have spoken, and that is the end of it.

Remember, even by the NSP financial plan which assumes the rosiest of scenarios, Polarnet will lose $6.9 million dollars through 2015. Whose dollars are these? I will give you one guess.

In case it was not clear, the St. Louis Park wifi project was a total bust. Therefore, the residents of that city will have an easier time of it paying for the mess that was left for them, if their average income is that much greater than NSP.

Excerpts from the Ramsey County Review.

Along with the positive reactions, a few people expressed reservations about the proposed citywide fiber-optic network as well. Voters will be asked to approve an $18.5 million bond for the high-tech project in a Feb. 24 referendum.

Wysopal said, according to the business model, Polarnet would not be operating on a profit until its fifth year. He explained by that time, Polarnet would have a cash flow and the city would be able to pay off the bonds with that revenue.

If Polarnet fell well short of profit projections, property taxes could be raised.

If we don’t reach those take rates after the fifth year, the city property-tax payers would be at risk, he said. That would be a last resort (raising property taxes to pay for the service).

We (Comcast) were given no opportunity to have this discussion with the council (members) before they put this in front of the public, he told Wysopal. There’s a lot of questions out there that haven’t been answered, because they haven’t actually been discussed.

As far as the City Council making decisions about some of these things, I think it’s a little too much to ask of any group to have every detail figured out. I think there’s some things you have to work through as you move forward.

The city will be holding two open house forums at the community center on Jan. 27 and Feb. 11 at 6:30 p.m. for residents to learn more about fiber optic technology. Residents will be their ballots on the $18.5 million referendum Feb 24 at four polling locations around the city.

So let’s see. they haven’t really thought the whole thing through, it’s a gamble they are willing to take at taxpayers expense. For those of you who are not aware, they already laid fiber optics down to serve the High School when Hwy 36 was torn up under the assumption we would gobble up their fiber optics proposal. If you don’t get out and vote NO on February 24th, higher taxes are just down the road. And stay on top of it, because Wally will continue to sneak this thing in under the radar.

minpost.com snippet.

And while some critics say the plan is being rushed forward ”the City Council approved the vote in December” city officials say they’ve been considering the plan since 2003. And documents obtained by the opposition coalition, include a consulting firm’s proposal from December, 2007.  Included in the proposal, sent to City Manager Wally Wysopal, is the line:

“We know you want to stay under the radar for now.”

http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2009/02/23/6863/special_election_issue_in_north_st_paul_build_a_municipal_fiber-optic_system

The backbone for the system is already in place, and it provides municipal institutional service,” he said. “It connects all of our lift stations, our water wells, and our electric wells. All those systems are connected by fiber optics. The schools are (also) connected.”

Wysopal and Kuehn asserted the system could jump-start the North St. Paul business community. Whoops! but the ECONOMY REARED IT”S UGLY HEAD.  Thanks for screwing up, we would be toast now if it HAD passed.

There’s probably no better time to do it, because if you look at the timing of this effort and when the economy might come back to whatever level it’s going to be, this is gonna help the economy come back because it’s going to tell that business that..Hey, I can open up a business in North St. Paul because it has something that no other community is going to offer, Wysopal said.

Wysopal added that Polarnet would also allow North St. Paul to set up its own local intranet, and officials could quickly put out citywide messages, such as crime watches, tornado alerts and Amber Alerts.

Sometimes you read something and you still can’t believe what it says. This is one of those cases. We do not need the city to alert of us Tornadoes or Amber alerts. Good lord, we already have that free of charge. AND no one is going to be flocking to the downtown area because of fiber optics. Don’t buy into it folks, it’s only more money out of our pockets and more control over us by the city.

Is anybody as concerned as I am about the foolishness of a small town taking on $18.5 million in debt to build a fiber optic network to offer high speed internet, phone, and cable when those services are already offered by Comcast and Qwest?

That’s a lot of debt for a small town for something completely unnecessary and already available. That’s thousands of dollars of debt per household in the city. We all know projects like this have a tendency to go way over budget, too, don’t we?

According to the article, the system is projected to lose $6.9 million before generating a small profit.

Quote:

Schmahl, who went to the city offices and reviewed the proposed business model for the network, said the plan projects a cumulative loss of $6.9 million before it turns its first minuscule profit.

Bob Bruton appears to be the champion of this plan. He was just elected to the city council after losing a bid to become mayor to incumbent Sandberg in 2006. I didn’t vote for you then, Bob, and I don’t like your stupid idea to take on massive debt now. Why don’t you bankrupt yourself instead of the entire city?

How can anybody think that it is a good idea for a small, lower-middle to middle-class town to take on $18.5 million of debt for something unneeded? That’s as stupid as stupid can get.

But Bob Bruton thinks it’s going to create jobs because after the trains came to NSP 120 years ago, businesses sprouted up.

That was then, Bob, this is now. There is very little available land in this city. High speed internet is good for business, but not good enough for them to relocate to your tiny burg with no large tracts of land available for development. High speed internet is already available in the downtown core, and has been for a decade.

_________________________________________

Finally, or for now:

The whole insider, corrupted scam failed, and we are G-dam lucky it did. With home sales, values, jobs, business creation, future economic growth and being taxed and regulated to death Wysopal and his cronies dodged the bullet.

But the failure should teach us all one thing. These people have no shame, no integrity and lack any ability to rationally think and comprehend anything beyond that 5 inches between their ears.

The City Manager has squandered so much money we ALL could have gone on a world cruise. How about $800,000.000 for a Cinder block building the size of a warming house called Hillcrest- I applaud the the brothers for holding out and not being bullied into moving, But that’s a lot of money when 7th (the main drag) avenue from McKnight going east into downtown is as ROUGH and SHODDY as any street in Baghdad after a series of IED explosions. Good for alignments.but a bad visual and impression if your touring downtown looking for business location or just visiting.  Picking weeds out of the cracks and sucking the cigarette buts might be nice, but I digress.

Whoops! now we have problem. Well, not for all, All the city employees have all  new public buildings and all the new toys, bell and whistles for the city employees. Well maybe we should take a look at rebuilding NSP in the middle of the worst recession in since the Depression raise taxes, impose levies and pretend that we are doing our level best–you know those dumb sheeple will forget in a year anyway.

Clerical staff with bad attitudes, secretaries who never return calls and other personnel who would not listen to anyone period and thought they were beyond reproach which all emanates from the Ivory tower principles and administrators.  City workers aimlessly drifting around town, zig-zaging as if dodging invisible U-boats. They knew what was best for you cutting back room deals and satiating the greed of a few rich people in the city.

The failures started a long time ago with Mayor Sandberg and the sale of Luger (Don Luger) Lumber. The football of destruction was picked up and carried by an arrogant young City Manager who insulates himself by his subordinates.

A City Mayor (out of his mind in the last few years) a City council and the poor execution of ideas from them all to produce what you see now an empty shell called the downtown business district that was wrought with stubborn land owners and business people who could not adapt to a changing world at the same time all the city workers grabbed for more power, wages, pensions and cozy little places to work pulled the puppet strings from a failing worn out Mayor all the whilst neglecting the basic necessities and infrastructure now looking more like Frogtown. Apparently, now,  someone has had a Eureka moment and is trying to play catch up, at a great expense.

I put the last 15 year decline solely in the hand of one man–throw in Wiger and Lilly to boot “the City manager who laughs in peoples faces and says he runs the show and know one is going to tell him what to do.

Wiger an arrogant ass who will filibuster you or cut you off mid sentence because, ya, he’s that smart. Lilly a shoe in with that doesn’t fit because his toe nail is to long because he can’t figure out how to cut it back.  (mixed metaphor).

Well a pesky problem popped up, which is called reality  a long recession with no end in site. But you see, it’s everyone else’s  fault.

In the the next year I will lay out a journey through time how we got here and how it might shake out.

Count the business just in the last 3 years that have left.  The economy? yes and no.

Keep an eye on the new eye sore BUS beehive GARAGE and the 19.2 acres called Anchor Crossing.

Some how I think the old Bus Garage down town will wind up in the wrong hands.

One Response to PolarNet Fiasco

  1. cj says:

    Remember Polar Net, the thing the city voted against?

    Suprise our votes don’t count!

    The city entered into a lease agreement for financing the aquisition of fiber optic equipment and infrastructure. This debt matures on June 1, 2016 and carries and interest rate of 4.50 percent. Fiber optic fund revenues will be used to liquidate this loan. Yes, you read right, this is also taken from the city financial audit page 54.

    On page 60 of the audit it reads:

    The deficit of this fund is$102,761. The deficit in the fiber optic fund will be reduced and eliminated as operations progress beyond the initial start up phase.

    Like I said, our votes don’t count!

    Would you like to review the entire comprehensive financial report for year ending 2009? Download it directly from the City of North St Paul’s website.

    It a PDF document, which should be searchable, however most of the report is in image format – so the search function doesn’t really work.

    Maybe it was on purpose maybe not, regardless, it makes it more inconvenient to find what you are looking for.

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