Broadband...A really bad political judgment | Beaufort County Now | Another case of robbing Peter to pay Paul

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

By:  Hood Richardson

I have written about broadband bad judgment before.  I am writing again and much of what I said before will be seen here again.  I do not believe I am beating a dead horse.  This horse is not dead until the check is written.  We have time to save ourselves from a very bad mistake.  Namely, the wasting of four million dollars of American Recovery Act funds.  If this is ultimately done it will likely be an election issue in 2022.

The majority of the Beaufort County Commissioners voted to give four of our nine million dollars to build more internet in Beaufort County.  No economic justification has been presented.  This is just a good thing to do because people need it and want it, so the advocates say.  The plan is for Beaufort County to donate four million dollars to Wilkes Communications to be used by them to improve their internet system. 

The Federal and state governments will match these funds with as much as another 12 million dollars. 

The building out of broadband, also commonly known as the internet, originated in the Obama administration.  That alone should be enough to tell us something is fishy. These “woke people” decided that having the internet in every home is more important than having clean water and sewage at a lower cost to everyone in Beaufort County, not just a select few.  This sounds innocent until you realize the purpose is to provide a way for governments to monitor and control every citizen.  At this moment the lockdown in Australia is being accomplished by requiring citizens to report to the government daily by sending live pictures of themselves to the government.  The government uses facial recognition software to verify that you are who you say you are.  This can easily happen in the United States.

This is socialism at its finest.  Maybe, even fascism at its finest.  Government is becoming a partner with business, but not all businesses, just the chosen few. The money has to come from government because there are not enough potential customers to pay for additions to the Wilkes Communications system.  Wilkes Communications is the Tri County Telephone System which became a part of Wilkes several years ago because of financial difficulties at Tri County. So, you, the taxpayer are spending your money to improve a privately owned system.  Meanwhile other internet users don’t get this benefit.  If money could be made, you can believe Wilkes Communications would make the investment on their own without this four-million-dollar handout.

A presentation was made at the September Commissioners meeting showing the supposed benefits we would get for our four million dollars.  I am as familiar as anyone with where people are living in Beaufort County.  The areas shown to the Commissioners as needing internet do not have a population much less a dense population.  The areas are in forested lands, pocosins, and large farming areas.   How much internet do you think will be used in the Weyerhaeuser forests or the farming communities south of Aurora and around Tera Ceia.

There are much better places to spend this money and benefit all our citizens.  Beaufort county can easily spend the entire nine million American Recovery Act dollars to the benefit of all citizens without one dime being spent on the internet.  There are numerous additions to the water system that are needed.  There is the build out of the basement of the courthouse for a jail.  We need a better library system, and trash handling facilities.  In short, this money could be used to lower fees to all parts of Beaufort County.

Some will even remember their civics course, when such was being taught, that explained what the “general welfare” was intended to be.  Our Founding Fathers believed that taxes should be spent only on the general welfare…that is, it should benefit all people, not just special interests.  Reflect on how far we have moved from that founding principle.

Spending any money on expanding the internet is a very risky business proposition.  The systems we buy with the four million dollars could be obsolete by the time they are installed.  There are companies who are providing internet services by satellite.  This system is in its infancy.  It could replace all other systems and certainly, at a minimum, will be a strong competitor for all existing systems.  One satellite can cover several counties.

Then there are the politics.   Commissioner Frankie Waters has serious conflicts of interest with voting to give the four million dollars to Tri County Telephone, or Riverstreet,  or Wilkes Communications or whatever it is.  Frankie Waters is a former Chairman of the Board of Tri County Telephone.  He was Chairman when finances got so thin they had to merge with Wilkes.  Frankie Waters lives in the Tri County service area and is a member of the Wilkes Cooperative.  He voted to benefit himself by giving this money.  Frankie Wasters has said in open session during a public meeting that he does not see that he has a conflict of interest but you decide whether you think he does or not.

There are a lot more reasons not to give this money to build the internet than there are benefits to the citizens of Beaufort County.  This gift will go down as a major exercise in bad judgment.  

Once again, special interests have won out.

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( September 21st, 2021 @ 6:30 am )
Broadband is a really foolish way to spend this money. There are lots of better options that serve our entire community. This reeks of insider dealing between Frankie Waters and his friends at RiverStreet or whatever it is called now. It shows we have real corruption in our county government. Waters has had a huge conflict of interest in this boondoggle.
( September 20th, 2021 @ 9:23 am )
Hood, thank you for this. I agree the money should be helped to help all the citizens not just a select few and one company.

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