BY: Hood Richardson
A proposal will be made at the Monday April 5 Beaufort County Commissioners meeting to install internet wiring to serve 690 presumed customers at a cost to the County of 7.2 million dollars. That is a cost to Beaufort County taxpayers of $10,400 per home.
This brilliant idea comes from the stimulus appropriation made by the Federal Government to Beaufort County of 9.2 million dollars which should arrive later this year.
Citizens of the County should be very concerned that the insiders on the Board of County Commissioners have already decided how to spend this money. They did this with no input from the people we commissioners are supposed to serve.
Aside from the fact that this is equally as dumb an idea as the building of the new jail was, there are many other more important needs in Beaufort County. Remember, the County paid 1.5 million dollars for a jail that was never built.
Here is some background. The code word is “broad band”. This is the internet. The idea of improving broad band services to the poor, disadvantaged, elderly and children came out of the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration put a lot of effort into laying the ground work for broadband (aka the internet) improvements. They had a cadre of liberals who got laws passed in North Carolina and other states specifically allowing tax collecting governments to make grants to companies to extend broadband lines.
I have always been suspicious of why the socialist Democrats believe that if broadband is extended it will change the lives of those in poverty and provide and excellent education to all children. The dismal failure of efforts made just this year to educate children at home and on the internet is enough for me to not support this dumb idea.
There is a more sinister reason the Federal Government, now ruled by the communists and socialists, wants every household to be connected to a computer. Surveillance… big brother is watching. After Edward Snowden, the whistle blower, went to Russia all computers, reportedly, were removed from the top floors of major government buildings. The reason being, any computer plugged in can be used to spy on you and your home.
Beaufort County will not get one dime from those who connect to the new lines which will be given to Riverwalk, the successor to TriCounty telephone. Using government money to build new telephone lines is a fools game.
Those who live in the so called “under-served areas” can now get telephone, television, and dial up internet service from either telephone lines or satellites. Internet satellite service is supposedly the coming thing. So, why are we building a system that is obsolete before it is built?
Back to the public good. Every Beaufort County citizen should be enraged that the boys in the back room made this decision for them. There are many needs this money could be spent for that would truly serve all of us.
Some of these are: (1) Belhaven has a flooding problem, put in a system similar to Jacks Creek in Washington, (2) The town of Aurora has an inferior sewage treatment system, bring it up to date, (3) Improved avionics may allow us to bring larger planes to the Washington airport and maybe people would store planes here (read: put them on the tax rolls), (4) Remodel the basement at the court house, maybe add some jail cells, (5) Best of all modernize the trash roll offs and pay for the new mega sites, pave the roads at the roll offs, etc etc.
Honest politicians who truly have the welfare of the County in mind would set aside a three-month period to hear from all of the county as to how this windfall money should be spent. Liberal socialist/communists would follow the Obama, now Biden administration, and provide service to 690 households who already either have telephone, internet, or satellite internet service and if they do not, simply are not interested in having it.
This idea is from the total insanity of people who are liberal political fanatics and simply do not care about the welfare of the whole county. They do care about laying the groundwork for big brother to spy on you.
Beyond the merits or demerits of spending ten thousand dollars per home for internet service, the major problem here, as I see it, is in the decision-making process. The people should be involved in decisions like this. The Board should hold a series of public hearings to garner opinions of various people and organizations. It’s a shame that the County does not have a planning process that identifies the needs of the county and then ranks them in order. Rather, what Beaufort County has always done in recent years is just make such decisions by the seat of its pants, on the fly. It has no systematic planning process that projects how the priority needs will be addressed over the short, medium and long term.
The examples of this false planning are numerous. Remember the $20 million school bond issue that resulted in more classrooms be constructed in some schools that never will have students to fill them up (Southside, Aurora etc.) while leaving other schools overcrowded. Research by the Beaufort Observer showed that when Southside was built it was the most expensive school in the state on a per pupil basis. It was simply overbuilt.
Then there was the infamous by-pass…another multi-million dollar “windfall” for Beaufort County but rather than insist that it be built such that it helped join the north and south sides of the river by putting the bridge east of Washington, the Board agreed to put it where the DOT bureaucrats wanted it to serve not Beaufort County but the transit traffic going north and south on U. S. 17. Then they agreed with DOT building a rest area when there was no real need for one.
Not to forget, this Board has wasted millions of dollars in real estate speculation on industrial parks, one of which is camouflaged as a soybean field, and “quick start” spec buildings resulted in substantial loss of taxpayer money. They have built boat ramps where they were not need and failed to build them where they were needed. But they did spend $5000 on palm trees at one of them to “attract tourists.”
The absence of a workable preventative maintenance plan resulted in “emergency” after emergency. Just look at the debacle of the jail doors and the roof of the courthouse.
In short, there simply is no long range planning in Beaufort County government. This board does not know the difference between spending money and investing money.
But worse than anything else, is that almost all of these decisions were made by a small handful of commissioners in backroom deals. That resulted in single bid contracts, with one (Sheriff’s radio system) costing hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what was needed.
I predict if they ram this internet proposal through Monday night we will witness yet another wasteful, inefficient, ineffective boondoggle.
When is this going to stop? Not until the People elect a conservative majority on the Board of Commissioners.
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