Anti-UTOPIA House Bill 60

To the members of the House Government Operations Committee,

We the undersigned believe that HB60 is a bad bill for business for the following reasons.

1) It restricts UTOPIA as an entity from expanding, regardless of whether its member cities are served or not, or whether other cities would like to join. This is a punitive effort executed by the Utah Legislature that takes control away from city members and management.

2) It hobbles one of UTOPIA’s necessary needs to interconnect member cities through backbone service. These fiber optic links currently under UTOPIA ownership allow service providers who may not have facilities in a UTOPIA member city to provide services throughout UTOPIA, increasing member city choice and competition. How are these interconnections supposed to happen under HB60?

3) It limits UTOPIA from collecting funds from potentially high take-rate areas outside member cities. Funds that could otherwise be used for payback of UTOPIA member city debt.

4) It limits UTOPIA from venturing into unincorporated municipalities, with no governing entity that would otherwise join.

5) It is discriminatory against advanced services. Municipal electrical line services are exempt from these restrictions as long as they have been in operation for over 50 years. Fiber optics have only been in broad deployment since the early 1980’s.

6) UTOPIA is under consideration for a dramatic ubiquitous expansion financed by a private entity. This is the wrong time for the Utah Legislature to throw down potential restrictions that could negatively influence their consideration. If the Utah Legislature wishes cities to be enabled to pay off their UTOPIA bonds, they will welcome all potential offers and take a “hands-off” approach.

Pete Ashdown – XMission
David Burr – Sumo Fiber
Randy Cosby – Infowest
Lane Livingston – Fibernet
Dan McComas – Reddit

Marriage Equality

In 2012, I was defeated in convention by a man who refused to stand up for an individual’s right to marry whom they wish. The Democratic candidate for governor in the same year also had the same stand. In this week, we have also seen Utah’s only Democrat in congress announce he would not seek another term. Jim Matheson has also shied away from marriage equality, and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, of which a key provision was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
For many years, I’ve been dismayed to see prominent Democrats cower and waffle when faced with the marriage question. Before the tide began to change in this country, when I ran in 2006, I was unapologetic in my support for individual marriage liberty. I asserted that demanding marriage licenses on a very private decision was not only wrong, but a benefit only to insurance companies as to whom you could claim as a partner.
What the court upheld this week was not an infringement on religious practice, but an affirmation of individual freedom. I hope that now and in the future, anyone seeking office, of any party, will stand for the rights of the individual and not fear saying so.

I Get Letters

Sent to support@xmission.com:

[********@msn.com - Tue Nov 19 11:57:28 2013]:
Well there wasn’t a direct email link to Pete Ashdown so I guess I
have to go through support to reach him. I am letting you know that
I am going to start another petition in favor of dropping Xmission
internet services because their founder and owner supports
pornography. It’s people like you Pete that have the power in our
country to make a difference, but you choose to be a victim.
Pornography destroys lives no different than drug abuse. But I’m
sure you’re a big advocate for free crack Mondays at school lunch
(as long as the parent didn’t block their child In participating).
How ridiculous does that sound? Well that’s what you’re doing by
your principles in your internet service you provide. Wake up Pete
you provide service in Utah, I’m not so sure your participation in
a KSL news article was the brightest idea if you are going to take
the stand that you are.

(Name deleted)

Sent from my iPhone

My response:

Googling “Pete Ashdown” has my website as the second link: http://peteashdown.org/ –> email is on the right side –> pashdown@xmission.com

Freedom isn’t only about doing whatever you want, it is about your neighbor doing something you hate. I support individual freedom and privacy. Two ideals that that are not mutually exclusive.

My policy is to not monitor or police my customers as to what they do on the Internet. XMission cooperates with law-enforcement agencies when they serve us a proper warrant signed by a court, but otherwise we do not monitor, sell, or give access to the government or the NSA so they can monitor your activities on the Internet. That applies to all activities.

If it was technically possible to stop pornography from crossing the Internet, I would use that ability to stop trojans, viruses, fraud, and malware first. Unfortunately, it is technically impossible. No amount of petitions or angry accusations will change that. If you don’t want the potential for porn coming into your house, I suggest you throw your computer in the dumpster. If not, you may also want to dump your email provider, msn.com as well, since their policy is not to monitor or control what their subscribers email. In fact, I don’t know of any email provider who has such a policy because it is technically impossible to enforce.

Sincerely,

Pete Ashdown

Administrative Subpoenas Hearing

Utah State’s own version of NSA warrantless monitoring, Administrative Subpoenas, will be under committee discussion June 19th at the Capitol. Here is an agenda:

REVISED AGENDA
JUDICIARY INTERIM COMMITTEE
UTAH LEGISLATURE
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 • 2:30 p.m. • Room 450 State Capitol
1. Committee Business

Call to order
Approval of the minutes of the May 15, 2013, meeting

2. Administrative Subpoenas

A. Utah Office of the Attorney General

  • Mr. Craig Barlow, Chief, Children’s Justice Division
  • Ms. Kris Knowlton, Section Chief, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • Ms. Jessica Farnsworth, Commander, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force

B. Weber County Attorney’s Office

  • Mr. Dee Smith, Weber County Attorney
  • Ms. Letitia Toombs, Deputy County Attorney, Criminal Division

C. Law Enforcement

  • Chief Rick Gregory, Provo City Police Department

D. Peace Officer Standards and Training

  • Ms. Lana Taylor, Assistant Attorney General, Agency Counsel for the Utah Department of Public Safety, Division of Peace Officers Standards and Training

E. Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

  • Mr. Kent Hart, Executive Director
  • Mr. Steve Burton, Legislative Committee Chair

F. American Civil Liberties Union of Utah

  • Ms. Marina Lowe, Legislative and Policy Counsel
  • Mr. John Mejia, Legal Director

G. Public Comment

H. Committee Discussion

3. Other Items/Adjourn

NSA/PRISM Protest Speech

This is the speech I delivered at the NSA/Prism Protest at the Capitol on June 12th:

Last November, I was invited to tour the NSA Bluffdale Data Center. When you have a billion dollars to build anything, it will end up being impressive. What struck me during the tour is what our guide explained as the reasons for Utah being selected as the build site. He said first, our power is inexpensive, amongst the lowest priced in the nation. Second, he said that Utah’s residents were patriotic.

Now patriotism is open to interpretation. To me, patriotism means I love my country and I wish for it to continue. I seek to protect it from harm, coming from the outside or the inside. When the NSA executes broad surveillance on American citizens, they are harming my idea of this country. The idea that the NSA, the CIA, law-enforcement, or any government entity should have unfettered access to our private communications may have not occurred to the framers of the constitution over 200 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we as Americans need to accept it today. In a democracy, we define what our country is and we decide when the government has overreached. Today I stand with you and answer the question of warrantless government surveillance with a “No” and a “Hell no.”

Today we stand in front of our state capitol and express our objection to the NSA. NSA whistle blowers have been coming forward for the past decade warning us about their surveillance powers, and it is refreshing to see national attention on this. Yet the NSA is not the only government entity seeking to invade your privacy. This very body behind us approved a law that enables law enforcement to subpoena customer information from Internet Service Providers without a warrant. I fought that law, and after it was enacted, I received these unconstitutional subpoenas. In every case, I turned them back and asked them for a warrant. In every case, I never received a follow-up warrant. In every case, they did not challenge my refusal. In the past 20 years of running an Internet Service Provider, I have received many requests for subscriber information, but the number of proper warrants I have received can be counted on one hand.

Whether or not Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Microsoft allowed the NSA open access to their networks has yet to be determined. However, I’m here to tell you that the NSA data-center will be a pile of useless if companies simply start saying, “No.” The NSA simply cannot intercept Internet communications without access to do so. When companies grant network access to the government without a warrant, they are making a financial decision. They have decided it is cheaper to comply than it is to fight. You need to turn around that financial decision. You need to ask these companies what their policies are, and if they don’t answer or they give you an answer you don’t like, leave them for a company that cares.

How is it that our congressional representation signed off on a billion dollar facility in Utah with very little idea as to what it does? With crumbling infrastructure, underfunded schools, and a scientific establishment that is falling behind the rest of the world, why are we spending billions on a surveillance state without questions? Questions like, “Why do we have a kangaroo court approving secret requests for broad surveillance?” Questions like, “Why is law-enforcement violating the 1st amendment with gag orders on innocent citizens?” Questions like, “Why is there outrage from some elected officials over NSA spying, yet no oversight by elected officials of NSA spying?”

The proponents of NSA monitoring say that this is necessary to keep us safe. In spite of them not being able to catch the imbecile Boston bombers before their heinous act, we are lead to believe that without the NSA activities, the U.S. would be entirely at the mercy of terrorists. To Peter King, John Boehner, Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, and any other elected official who believes this, I have a simple solution. Allow us to install monitoring of you and your family’s communications and make them public. Then we can insure that we don’t have any terrorist moles infiltrating our government. If you believe that NSA monitoring is good for 300 million Americans, then demonstrate it by allowing 300 million Americans to monitor you. If they won’t allow it, then maybe we’re on to something.

City Council Meeting on Utah Performing Arts Center

The City Council invites public comment on the financing plan for the Utah Performing Arts Center on Main Street, Tuesday, May 7 at 7pm in the City County Building (Room 315).

The bonds on the Salt Palace are being retired and the Mayor believes we can simply buy another $100+ million facility without voter consent. This while The Leonardo, The Aviary, and The Zoo all had to go to the ballot for a fraction of this amount. So, although the city claims UPAC will not require raising taxes, it won’t allow taxes to be lowered with the Salt Palace bonds being retired.

Several historic and beautiful buildings on Main Street will be demolished to accommodate the UPAC, while a parking lot across the street remains. This site was selected behind closed doors without public input.

Local arts organizations, who are already struggling for audiences, will see a negative impact.

Please come and respectfully share your opinion with the city council and the mayor.

Tuesday, May 7 at 7pm
City Building – 451 State Street, Room 315

Apple Using Motion Sensors for Presence?

In an attempt to blog more nerd posts (thus fitting with my greenscreen theme), I speculate on whether Apple is finally using motion sensors to determine presence. Their iMessage in spite of being a flower in the walled garden, is the only between device messaging system I have. Although having it open or XMPP based would be cool so I could tie it to my Linux desktop, I noticed tonight when I set down my phone and picked up my laptop in a conversation, iMessage switched for the next received message on its own. Something I’ve wished for for a while.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Tracy Aviary seeks $19.6M bond for improvement. Goes to ballot.

The Leonardo seeks $10.2M bond for opening. Goes to ballot.

Salt Lake needs a new $125M Public Safety Building. Goes to ballot. Controversy erupts over Mayor Becker’s proposed location on Library Square, and it gets moved to a more appropriate location across the street.

A controversial Utah Performing Arts Center, that will demolish several historic contributing buildings on Main Street, costing over $100M, responds to no public concerns regarding location or impact to local groups, plows forward without vote. In conversations with an unnamed Salt Lake County councilperson, they admitted that the parking lot north of the Salt Palace would make a better location than Main Street. Tracy Aviary got pummeled for losing accreditation and had to work hard to convince the public $19.6M was worth it. The Leonardo got repeatedly raked over the coals for $10.2M by the City Council and the public. The Public Safety Building failed on the first ballot and had to regroup and try again before it was approved. Why is the UPAC not being treated with similar scrutiny? When I attended early meetings about the UPAC setup by the Mayor’s office, I asked why this project hadn’t been subjected to public approval, and I was given the response that it was moving forward so I better get on board.

Many arts groups who I have spoken to in private about this project are afraid to speak out against it in fear of city retribution. This kind of steamrolling and lack of public consent is disappointing for Mayor Becker who I endorsed and supported in his first election. I don’t know if UPAC is necessary or not, but the public should have a say when this kind of financial commitment is made, along with the amount of destruction required for its installation in the heart of downtown.

Post Politics

This is my third attempt at writing this. The prior two attempts were snarky, sarcastic and called plenty of people out for their incompetence, but after sitting on the second one for a while, I decided that nobody likes being told they’re stupid, even if they are.

My experience with the Utah Democratic party this year was humiliating, saddening, and sickening. I attempted to steer away from special-interest money and lost because of that. The Chair, Jim Debakis has not done a very good job, but now he’s done recruiting against willing Democrats and running against others, I look forward to seeing who steps up as the next chair. I held my tongue since the convention because I didn’t want to be accused of trying to hurt Democrats in their races. I sincerely hope the party goes looking for new ideas, rather than trying to appease Republican voters. Find me one Democrat who won because they wouldn’t say who they were voting for in the Presidential race, or waffled on government defining marriage.

Being fully concentrated on my business again, XMission, is challenging and exhilarating. I feel like I’ve done more this year than I’ve done since 1999. I will continue to fight against warrantless monitoring and corporate control of the Internet, as I always have. I’m working on archiving 2006/2012 as you can see from the links on the side. There are probably a lot of broken links inside, so forgive me for that. I’ll fix them as I find them.

Change is Quick but Progress is Slow

My husband Pete did not receive the nomination yesterday to run as the Democratic candidate for US Senate. Pete and I are sincerely grateful to everyone who supported his cause, and I am sorry to have disappointed those who believed in the change that Pete was trying to make. We were hopeful that the delegates would understand how essential it is to lead by example. If you want to solve the problem, you can’t be part of the problem. Pete had widespread support in Utah as well as support from around the country to get dirty money out of elections. We believed that in giving people a just cause around which to rally, we could beat the special interest candidate in November.

I won’t lie. Yesterday was a big blow. Not so much for the ego part of it; I am perfectly happy to send Pete back to work at XMission on Monday. Pete did not set out to become a politician, but ran because he could not find another candidate who supported his core values. Yesterday’s loss was not a personal loss, rather it seems like a setback for those who are committed to getting corporate money out of politics. There are good, honest people in the Democratic Party, courageous individuals who are willing to put their necks out, to be called “nutcakes.” We have to keep working, regardless of the powers that be and those that say you can’t win unless you stoop to what the other guy is doing. To me, the ends do not justify the means — ever.

The question is, what now? I don’t know if Pete will run again, but I do know that we need to continue to fight to support others who are making a difference. Today my confidence is low, and I feel that I am just spinning my wheels. I want to stop feeling that the only choice we have is “the lesser of two evils.”

I think I’ll try to raise my spirits by listing some inspirational individuals and groups who are still fighting the good fight. I invite you to fill in the comments with your inspirations:

  • I am inspired by a group called Move to Amend Salt Lake, who collected 11,251 signatures for a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to clearly state that corporations are not people and money is not speech. Its success means that this citizen led initiative will be on the ballot in SLC this November. This is a credit to the everyday people who went door -to-door, store-to-store and park-to-park, to get the word out. Ashely Sanders, one of the co-coordinators inspires me in her response to the naysayers of the work, “I know the system is broken. I have no illusions about how hard it will be to fix, how many people it will require or how long it will take. I am here for only one reason: Because I believe in a beautiful, giant, unstoppable grassroots movement of everyday people. Because I used to accept that corporations control every meaningful part of my life, then [I] sat in my basement sad and paralyzed…  It is tempting to believe that our system is so broken that a people’s movement is impossible, that we have been conquered. But we cannot accept that because our history is calling to us to make it real.” 
  • I am inspired by Paul Krueger, who  recently showed what a single person can do. Mr. Krueger started a petition that, in addition to gathering nearly 35,000 signatures, it opened the discussion and called widespread attention to a problem. We don’t think that Governor Herbert would have vetoed HB363 without Mr. Kreuger’s petition and all those who joined the cause. Without their work, Utah schools would have faced sex ed not being taught in school. Mr. Krueger is a retired firefighter who now drives school buses.  He said, “I’ve never done anything like this, and it’s kind of amazing how fast this took off.”
  • CleanSlateNow.org is a non partisan group that supports candidates who forgo special interest money, creating an environment where people, not money, determine the outcome of elections.
  • Pete still inspires me. While he will continue to champion campaign finance reform and transparency in government, he has never given up his support of the local community and his integrity in business: He will keep supporting non-profits with free Internet service regardless of whether or not he agrees with their mission, he will continue to provide political candidates with free Internet services regardless of their party. Pete will continue to serve on non-profit boards and help them solve their technology problems. Through his own non-profit organization, Electroregeneration Society, Pete will continue to take old computers and teach people how to recondition them,  give those computers to people and non-profits who need them, and thus help keep e-waste out of the landfill. He will keep on contributing to his community through donating to community events, festivals, museums and other organizations that benefit us all. Pete will continue to pay 100% of his employees and their families’ health and dental benefits. He will continue to employ people in Utah instead of outsourcing to another country. Pete will continue to fight for a free Internet and individual privacy

Here is a link to Pete’s speech from yesterday’s convention. Unfortunately he was cut off before he had a chance to finish delivering it.

I remain committed to getting the corrupting power of money out of our elections and hope to continue working with those who want to take back their voice in government and get corporations out of our democratic process.