At the Annual Town Meeting on May 13, Article 4 passed with a decisive 91.4% majority! (Article 5 also passed by clear verbal majority.) Thanks to everyone who got involved and voted! Your presence was definitely felt in that overcrowded meeting room.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and continue on to the next stage of our shared goal of bringing broadband internet to Princeton.
Annual Town Meeting
Where and When Is It?
Tuesday, May 13, 7pm at Thomas Prince School.
Why is it important to broadband?
There are two broadband motions that will be voted on at the meeting, the passage of which is essential for bringing high-speed internet to our town. In fact, if 66% of the town doesn’t vote to approve Article 4, then all broadband progress is legally bound to be suspended — at least until 2016! Read about the details of the motions here.
Also we recommend that you read “Three Must-Dos in May“.
My schedule is busy on Tuesday. What if I don’t have time to stay for the entire town meeting?
One bit of good news for people with a busy schedule — the broadband motions are articles 4 & 5, meaning that they will be voted upon near the start of the 7pm meeting (unlike last year when they were over 2 hours into it). Therefore, if you can’t stay for the whole town meeting, come at the start, vote YES on motions 4 & 5 and then you can leave early.
What happens next if the vote is approved?
The Board of Selectmen will be free to consider the Maxtrix/Millennium proposal.
- Article 4 is a second vote taken by paper ballot to establish a telecommunications MLP, a public entity that is required to operate a local broadband network. The first vote successfully passed at last year’s town meeting by the required margin of 2/3. Failure to pass this article will eliminate the opportunity to again vote for the purpose of establishing an MLP for two years.
- Article 5 seeks to appropriate $17,000 to obtain technical and legal expertise to represent the town’s interest in any negotiations to build a network. These funds are specifically requested to explore and better understand any proposal from the private sector to build a network in town.
Note: The Advisory Board approves passing both these articles.
Fact 1: The town is not heading toward building a network completely funded by taxpayers.
Fact 2: The town currently has a proposal from a private firm to build a network under a public/private partnership, which will be paid for by subscribers to the service (Internet and telephone options) over a period of years. The town would own the network after that period. An MLP must exist for the town to consider this proposal.
Fact 3: The Princeton Broadband Committee is currently in the process of requesting funding assistance from the Commonwealth and/or the federal government to build a municipal network.
For a more extended discussion on the implications of the annual town meeting votes, check out Three Must-Dos in May »
The vast majority of Princeton residents want…no, need…broadband for their daily lives. But if 66% of the town doesn’t vote to approve a seemingly minor, moneyless motion at the Annual Town Meeting on May 13, then all broadband progress is legally bound to be suspended — at least until 2016! Complacency is our only true enemy.
It’s all so bittersweet for us Princeton residents. On the one hand, we are all invited to an open house at the Princeton Library this week so people can experience the wonders of a high-speed fiber connection to the internet. On the other hand, we all have to return to our homes after that event, all of which are on the wrong side of the tracks, digitally speaking.
If you are sick and tired of living on the wrong side of the tracks and want actual change, here are three must-do activities that you need to undertake this May.
1. Read about the “game changing” Matrix/Millennium proposal.
The big “game changing” news of 2014 is that Princeton has received a proposal from Matrix/Millennium that would construct a Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network under a public/private partnership. However, instead of the network construction being funded fully out of taxes, under this proposal, the network would be paid for by subscribers over a period of years. This proposal can truly be a win/win situation for Princeton residents — the opportunity for high-speed internet without paying for the whole thing ourselves. Read more details here or check out The Landmark article Another option for high speed internet.
However, as game changing as this proposal may be, it is fully contingent on the upcoming broadband votes at the Annual Town Meeting.
2. Attend the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 13 and vote YES on the two broadband motions.
If you are serious about wanting broadband in town, you absolutely must attend this event (May 13, 7pm at Thomas Prince School) . Even if you don’t think about politics much. Even if you don’t normally get involved in town affairs. Even if you have a busy week already. The regulars, those who never miss annual town meetings, may or may not approve these motions. That’s why we need the full town represented in the vote and not let our future be dictated by a small minority of residents.
The two motions that we will be voting on seem like minor issues. But if the first is not approved by 66% of the town, the results would be catastrophic.
Motion #1: A vote to establish a Telecommunications MLP (Municipal Light Plant). According to Mass state law, we can’t go forward with any broadband solution unless we have a legal telecommunications entity established for the town. A Telecommunications MLP is minimal or no cost to us, but it is one of those legal “checkmarks” that must be checked off our list to continue. (Check out The Landmark article on the motion.)
Here’s the tricky thing about this vote. Mass law requires the town residents vote twice to establish an MLP. The first vote successfully passed at the 2013 town meeting. So, we have to vote one more time this year. Sounds like all standard stuff, right? Here’s the catch:
- The vote must be approved by 66% of the town residents, not a simple majority. That’s why your attendance at the town meeting is so essential. It doesn’t take many NO voters to take down a 2/3rds vote.
- If the second vote fails, we can’t vote on the motion again for another 2 years.
See the dire implications? The vast majority of Princeton residents want…no, need…broadband for their daily lives. But if 66% of the town doesn’t vote to approve a seemingly, minor moneyless motion at the Annual Town Meeting on May 13, then all broadband progress is legally bound to be suspended — at least until 2016! Complacency is our only true enemy. Come hell or high water, be there on May 13!
Motion #2: Request for $17,000 for technical and legal expertise to represent the town’s interest in any negotiations to build a network. To be clear, this is not a request to fund building a network. Instead, this is a smaller fund to ensure that any sort of private/public plan that emerges is in the best interest of the town.
3. Tell your friends and neighbors.
Make sure you spread the news about the Matrix/Millennium proposal and upcoming town votes with your friends, neighbors, and fellow parents at little league practices/games. What’s more, we encourage you to Like us on Facebook and share our posts with your Facebook friends. Let’s work together to ensure that the full town of Princeton is represented at the Annual Town Meeting this year.
4. Check out the fiber broadband connection at Princeton Library.
If the first three are required actions for every Princeton resident, the fourth to-do is more of an option. We invite you to check out the newly connection fiber internet at Princeton Library. If the Matrix/Millennium proposal is approved, this is exactly the same type of FTTH connection that you will be able to enjoy.
If you have any questions, get in touch.
- For general questions, ask on Facebook, post a comment on this blog, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For questions on Matrix/Millennium proposal, head to the Princeton Library on May 3 and ask a Matrix representative. Or, email us at email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch.
If you are a town resident of Princeton who needs high-speed internet, great news! Princeton took an important first step towards that objective tonight, approving Articles 9 and 10 at the Annual Town Meeting. Article 9, authorizing funding for a network design and installation cost estimate, passed strongly by voice vote. Article 10, the first of two votes required to establish a legal managing entity for a town broadband network, passed by over 81% (two-thirds vote needed to approve) on the required paper ballot vote. While we have a long way to go, this vote was a critical step in the overall process. Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the town meeting! You showed up in big numbers when it counted!
We will continue to keep you up to date on next steps towards townwide broadband internet here on princetonbroadband.com.