Monday, December 28

MBI working with WiredWest to resolve issues

The Board of Directors of WiredWest, at its meeting on December 19th, voted unanimously to appoint a select group of representatives from its member towns to negotiate with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to resolve differences between the organizations’ plans for last-mile broadband deployment in WiredWest towns.

MBI issued a statement on December 1st saying it would deny funding to WiredWest for the project to bring high-speed internet to people in western Massachusetts currently lacking such service. WiredWest responded with a detailed rebuttal, drawing on the organization’s comprehensive plans to bring broadband to its members. Responding to the controversy caused by these actions, the Board of Directors of MBI directed its staff to work with WiredWest to seek to bridge those differences, and then for the two organizations to come back before the Board in a joint presentation.

Last week, several WiredWest Executive Committee members participated in a meeting hosted by MBI in Westborough, and it was agreed that the two organizations would address the specific issues of contention in breakout committees on finance and governance, with meetings in the very near future. WiredWest is also asking for a committee on technology, to work closely with MBI on network design, to ensure operational efficiencies are taken into account.

Monica Webb, Chair of WiredWest, said: “I am confident that with genuine, open-minded collaboration, the two groups can resolve our differences in last-mile plans, and get the process of bringing desperately-needed broadband to the unserved back on track. We are all vested in the expeditious achievement of that goal.”


Sunday, December 13


There has been a lot of discussion about MBI funding. How do we ensure that we qualify for these funds. Fortunately when public monies are involved the governing authorities must clearly spell out in writing the rules that govern the disbursement of these public funds. If these rules are not followed to the letter these funds cannot be released. What follows is the text of chapter 231of the acts of 2008 which is the law establishing the MBI and the rules regarding the distribution of MBI funds. The mission and the spirit of the law is outlined in section 1.


Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is forthwith to establish and fund the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

SECTION 1. To provide for a capital outlay program to achieve the deployment of affordable and ubiquitous broadband access for every citizen of the commonwealth, the sums set forth in section 2, for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified in this act, are hereby made available, subject to the laws regulating the disbursement of public funds. 

1599-7060 For a reserve to provide funds to the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund established by section 6C of chapter 40J of the General Laws...................................................... $40,000,000

SECTION 3. Section 3 of chapter 23A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 24, the words “wireless broadband development council” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- Massachusetts Broadband Institute.

SECTION 4. Said section 3 of said chapter 23A, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in lines 62 and 63, the words “wireless broadband development council, established pursuant to section 6A” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- Massachusetts Broadband Institute, established by section 6B.

Said section 3 of said chapter 23A, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in lines 87 and 88, the words “wireless broadband development council established pursuant to section 6A” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- Massachusetts Broadband Institute, established by section 6B.

SECTION 6. Chapter 40J of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out sections 6B and 6C, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following 2 sections:-

Section 6B. (a) As used in this section and in section 6C, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-

“Board”, the board of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute established by subsection (c).
“Broadband”, high-speed internet access, including wireless internet access, and as may be further defined by the board.
“Fund”, the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund established by section 6C.
“Institute”, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute established by subsection (b).

(b) The corporation shall establish an institute for investment in broadband infrastructure in the commonwealth, to be known as the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. The executive director of the corporation, subject to the approval of the board, shall appoint a qualified individual as director to manage the affairs of the institute. The purpose of the institute shall be to achieve the deployment of affordable and ubiquitous broadband access across the commonwealth. The objectives of the institute shall include: (i) assessing and improving broadband access conditions in communities that have no access or have limited or insufficient access to broadband; (ii) promoting robust broadband access for essential state and local governmental services including, without limitation, public safety, health and education; (iii) promoting increased availability of, and competition for, broadband access and related services; and (iv) creating conditions that will encourage economic competitiveness and growth. The first priority of the institute shall be to assess and improve conditions in the commonwealth’s communities that have no broadband access.

(c) The institute shall be governed and its corporate powers exercised by a board of directors, which shall consist of the following 9 members: the secretary of administration and finance or his designee; the secretary of housing and economic development or his designee; the commissioner of telecommunications and cable or his designee; the executive director of the corporation or his designee; and the chairman of the governing board of the John Adams Innovation Institute or his designee; and 4 members to be appointed by the governor, all of whom shall have knowledge and experience in 1 or more of the following areas: telecommunications, broadband infrastructure, public-private partnership development, information technology or other fields of experience consistent with the mission of the institute. The governor shall, from time to time, designate 1 member to chair the board. Each member appointed by the governor shall serve a term of 4 years and thereafter until his successor is appointed. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy on the board shall be appointed in a like manner and shall serve for only the unexpired term of such member. Any appointed member shall be eligible for reappointment. An appointed member may be removed by the governor for cause. Five members of the board shall constitute a quorum, and the affirmative vote of a majority of the members present and eligible to vote at a meeting shall be necessary for any action to be taken by the board. The members shall serve without compensation, but each member shall be entitled to reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of his official duties. The board shall meet at least 4 times annually.

(d) The board shall leverage private sector and federal investment by financing the construction and acquisition of broadband infrastructure to promote the development of broadband access. This broadband infrastructure shall include, but not be limited to, conduit, fiber and towers. Any equipment or other property financed by the institute shall be owned by the corporation, the commonwealth or 1 or more other public entities, but may be leased or licensed by the institute, for a fee or otherwise, for use by nonprofit or for-profit private-sector entities. Any such transaction shall constitute a transaction with the commonwealth for the purpose of chapter 30B. The lessee or licensee shall pay any lease or license fees to the corporation, which shall credit them to the fund. The institute may provide and pay for advisory services and technical assistance as may be necessary or desired to carry out its purposes.
The board may work in collaboration with the corporation and other quasi-public and nonprofit entities and state agencies, and may provide advisory assistance to local entities, local authorities, public bodies and private corporations for the purposes of maximizing opportunities for the expansion of broadband access in the commonwealth and fostering innovative approaches to broadband access in the commonwealth.

(e) The board shall collect information from reasonably available sources including, but not limited to: municipalities and other public entities and agencies of the commonwealth, local and regional nonprofit entities and telecommunications and broadband service providers to develop and maintain an inventory of: (i) locations where telecommunications and broadband services are not available in the commonwealth; (ii) locations where telecommunications and broadband infrastructure is available or is likely to be available to support the provision of services to unserved and underserved areas; (iii) locations where new infrastructure may be necessary to support the provision of services to unserved and underserved areas; (iv) the quality of such services, including, but not limited to, speed of data transmission and cost of such services; and (v) any other relevant information as the board may deem necessary.

(f) The board shall establish a detailed long-term plan for the operation of the institute and the administration of the fund and shall consult with the joint committee on telecommunications, utilities and energy and the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies on the plan. The plan, and any amendments thereto, shall be subject to the approval of the secretary of housing and economic development and the secretary of administration and finance and shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the same to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on telecommunications, utilities and energy and the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies.

(g) The board shall annually adopt an operating plan governing disbursements from the fund and, to the extent the plan provides for disbursement of appropriations or other moneys authorized by the general court, the plan shall be subject to the approval of the secretary of housing and economic development and the secretary of administration and finance. The board shall file the plan, and any amendments thereto, with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the same to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on telecommunications, utilities and energy and the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies.

(h) The board shall promulgate rules and regulations for the administration and enforcement of this section and section 6C.

(i) The board shall review and recommend changes in laws, rules, programs and policies of the commonwealth and its agencies and subdivisions to further financing, infrastructure and development for broadband access in the commonwealth.

(j) The board shall prepare, publish and distribute, with or without charge, as the institute may determine, any studies, reports and bulletins and other material as the institute deems appropriate.

(k) The institute shall file an annual report of its activities with the governor and the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the same to the joint committee on telecommunications, utilities and energy, the joint committee on economic development and emerging technologies, and the house and senate committees on ways and means.

(l) Actions of the board may take effect immediately and notice thereof shall be published and posted. Meetings of the board shall be subject to section 11A1/2 of chapter 30A. Records pertaining to the activities of the institute shall be subject to section 10 of chapter 66, unless exempted under subsection (h) of section 12. The operations of the institute shall be subject to chapters 268A and 268B; provided, however, that the members of the board shall be considered directors for the purposes of the fourth, fifth and seventh paragraphs of section 3.

(m) Sections 38A1/2 to 38O, inclusive, of chapter 7, section 39M of chapter 30, subject to the provisions of subsection (c) of section 4A and sections 44A to 44J, inclusive, of chapter 149 shall apply to the operations of the institute.

Section 6C. The corporation shall establish a fund to be known as the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund. The corporation shall hold the fund separate and apart from its other funds, to finance the activities of the institute. The corporation shall credit to the fund any appropriations, bond proceeds or other moneys authorized by the general court and specifically designated to be credited to the fund, and any other moneys legally available to the corporation which the board of the corporation may determine to deposit in the fund.

SECTION 7. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, to meet the expenditures necessary to carry out section 2, the state treasurer shall, upon request of the governor, issue and sell bonds of the commonwealth in an amount to be specified by the governor from time to time, but not exceeding, in the aggregate, $40,000,000. All bonds issued by the commonwealth as aforesaid shall be designated on their face, Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund Loan Act of 2008, and shall be issued for a maximum term of years, not exceeding 30 years, as the governor may recommend to the general court pursuant to section 3 of Article LXII of the Amendments to the Constitution. All such bonds shall be payable not later than June 30, 2043. No authorization shall be expended unless expressly authorized by the secretary of administration and finance. All interest and payments on account of principal of such obligations shall be payable from the General Fund. Bonds issued under the authority of this section shall be general obligations of the commonwealth.

SECTION 8. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, in making the initial appointments pursuant to subsection (c) of section 6B of chapter 40J of the General Laws, the governor shall appoint 1 member to serve for a term of 1 year, 1 member to serve for a term of 2 years, 1 member to serve for a term of 3 years and 1 member to serve for a term of 4 years.

SECTION 9. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, not less than 10 days after the effective date of this act, the Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation, established by section 3 of chapter 40J of the General Laws, shall transfer the balance of the Wireless and Broadband Development Fund established by section 6C of chapter 40J of the General Laws to the Massachusetts Broadband Incentive Fund, established by said section 6C.
Approved August 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 9

Wired West Rebuttal to MBI

WiredWest Rebuttal to the Statement by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute of December 1, 2015
MBI said: “The MBI is committed to working with you to develop a sustainable plan for governance and operation of a regional network, and therefore will be prepared to partner with towns on new pathways to successfully expand broadband service as needed.”
WW replies: The only way that MBI can work and partner with the towns is on the basis of respect for the towns and WiredWest. “New pathways” is merely a code word for detouring around WiredWest. That is not the route the towns have chosen to take. By releasing its statement of December 1, MBI has sewn confusion in the towns, thrown the project into chaos, and subjected it to further delays. This will only prolong the frustration of people in western Mass. at their lack of broadband. MBI must become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
MBI: “The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at Mass Tech Collaborative (MBI) is committed to partnering with towns to extend broadband service to residents and businesses. WiredWest was an early supporter of a regional solution and has sought to complement MBI’s efforts to promote aggregation of towns and to educate them about the benefits of a common, regional approach. Those efforts have been successful in instilling early and sustained energy and providing information about many of the issues involved with building and operating a fiber network for the citizens of western Massachusetts.”
WW: For more than four years, the WiredWest cooperative has been working with its 44 member towns to bring “last mile” high-speed internet service to the people in western Mass., long before MBI became involved in such an effort. MBI is now “partnering” with the towns only to the extent that towns do so on MBI’s terms.
MBI: “More recently, WiredWest has extended beyond these educational and outreach efforts to develop and propose a plan and agreement under which WiredWest would own and operate the network on behalf of the towns.”
WW: Since its formation in 2011, the Bylaws of WiredWest have stated that the purpose of the cooperative was “planning, building and operating a regional fiber-optic network.” That is why towns joined WiredWest. It is misleading to imply that WiredWest has changed its mission, or that is an entity separate from the towns which would operate the network on their behalf. It is a cooperative of the towns, by the towns and for the towns. WiredWest is nothing but the towns. It is governed by a Board of Directors, representing each of the member towns, which has supported and continues to support this purpose.
MBI: “It [WiredWest] has informed towns that it will be seeking the towns’ execution of the proposed agreement in early January. We are writing to provide you an update on our ongoing review of the WiredWest regional fiber network proposal, in order to support your upcoming decision-making around signing the proposed Operating Agreement.”
WW: Numerous drafts of the Agreement have been subject to extensive review and input from the Board, town officials and counsels, town broadband committees and others. The board unanimously approved the proposed Operating Agreement. MBI is not acting to “support” the towns’ decision-making, but to thwart it.
MBI: “The MBI has been reviewing the WiredWest operating agreement and business plan, which propose a new, independent, regional, municipal cooperative in the telecommunications business. While WiredWest continues to revise both the operating agreement and business plan, it is important for the MBI to provide local officials with preliminary feedback now based upon our review.”
WW: WiredWest continues to adjust our governance and business plan, by design, in response to multi-year discussions and feedback from towns and industry experts. The changes embodied in the Operating Agreement change the form of the existing WiredWest cooperative from a corporation, formed according to state law governing such coops, to a Limited Liability Company. Operating as an LLC would not only give the towns continued control of the coop, but actual ownership of it in shares proportional to their investment in the network.
MBI: “The MBI believes that the current draft WiredWest operating agreement is not compatible with the best interests of the Commonwealth, the towns, or their residents. The operating agreement coupled with the business plan would require substantial, in some ways fundamental, revision in order to succeed as a reliable framework for the startup and operation of broadband service in the region.”
WW: It is not up to MBI, a bureaucracy in eastern Massachusetts, to decide what is in the best interests of the towns and their residents in western Massachusetts. It is the responsibility of the towns to determine the course that is in our best interests. The MBI’s letter follows a long series of actions that are not in the town’s best interest. The revisions MBI seeks are for the purpose of furthering its attempt to control the last mile project, despite the fact that the towns are providing nearly two-thirds of the funding, while threatening to withhold funding from the organization which the towns themselves created.
MBI: “Operating Agreement Review: The WiredWest Operating Agreement includes basic elements that contradict MBI’s Last Mile Broadband Policy as passed by its boards on July 30, 2015. The program policy was established to mitigate financial and operational risk to towns and taxpayers, and ensure that any project receiving state and local funds had a pathway to sustainability.”
WW: The Director of MBI told representatives of WiredWest that they would have input into the Policy. They did not. WiredWest believes that elements of the Policy increase, rather than mitigate, the risk to towns and their taxpayers. The assessment of such risk must ultimately be that of the towns who are undertaking an unprecedented financial commitment to the project, and not a dictate of the state. The MBI claims that the WiredWest business model is not sustainable, but provides absolutely no evidence to support its claim. On the contrary, the WiredWest model has been fully vetted by many experts including a nationally recognized network consultant.
MBI: “For example, the WiredWest Operating Model requires towns/MLPs to transfer ownership of the network to WiredWest in perpetuity, while retaining ultimate responsibility for the local debt obligation for construction of the network. Towns/MLPs are required to maintain membership in WiredWest for a minimum of 10 years, and if the towns leave WiredWest they will lose all rights to the broadband network in their towns with no assurance of full repayment of their municipal debt.”
WW: The towns and their MLPs (Municipal Light Plants) are not transfering ownership of the network to WiredWest. The towns are choosing to jointly own the network and WiredWest serves as the mechanism to manage it. WiredWest is committed to repaying the debts of its Members, which no other provider of internet service is proposing to do. When a town withdraws from WiredWest, after a sufficient period of time to enable it to achieve financial stability, the Operating Agreement stipulates that it it will be reimbursed in full for its outstanding debt for the project.
The 10-year membership requirement in the Operating Agreement includes four years of construction and six years of operation, which is necessary to build reserves to repay any town that choose to leave the co-op.
MBI: “In addition, the Operating Agreement contains no clear means of resolving unbudgeted financial shortfalls or obligations such as may be expected in the start-up of a challenging business. Such shortfalls could lead to sale or mortgaging of the network without any return of funds or control to the towns.”
WW: This is false. Under the Agreement, the members of WiredWest are fully empowered to address any financial difficulties. The net proceeds from sale of the network, the necessity of which will be decided by the members, will be returned to the towns. And of course, it goes without saying that if the network were sold, the towns would no longer control it.
MBI: “Some practical concerns from the operating agreement review include:
  • Towns lose direct managerial and policy control over their network when substantial unknowns exist that may cause towns to want or need to modify plans;
  • Towns lose flexibility to respond to the interests of their respective residents in the future, despite any business conditions or market factors that may arise; and
  • The proposed structure of WiredWest creates unnecessary financial and operating risks for the towns.”
WW: The towns’ ownership and control of the regional network mitigates, not creates, risks. Again, the towns own and control the network, and are empowered to respond to any such concerns through their representatives on the Board of Directors.
MBI: “Business Plan Review: The MBI has also engaged many industry experts, led by a consultant team from Wipro, to evaluate elements of WiredWest’s business plan, and to explore and further test various operating models. We will be providing more information in the weeks ahead, and believe WiredWest continues to adjust certain elements of the plan, but preliminary analysis demonstrates that the current draft plan understates challenges and expenses and overstates the amount and timing of anticipated revenues.”
WW: It is disappointing that in its rush to stop towns from signing the Operating Agreement, MBI would hint at the conclusions of a report, by a company having little experience with municipal broadband projects, that has not been finalized nor made available for examination. On the other hand, WiredWest just released a report by CTC, a leading communications consultancy which has also consulted to MBI. It concludes: “The WiredWest financial model has been well designed and is a reasonable portrayal of its business.” The full report is available at
MBI: “Some practical concerns from the business plan review include:
  • WiredWest has developed a model which starts up and runs the business independently, rather than relying on professional or technical partners who can bring organizational experience in the business, which is risky given the challenges associated with operation of rural fiber-to-the-home networks;
  • WiredWest plans a fully-insourced model of administration, staffing and services, which is expensive and very challenging to sustain. MBI’s review indicates a sustainable approach must include contracting out many administrative, service and maintenance operations”
WW: These statements are simply not true. The aim of the WiredWest business model is to minimize the costs to towns not maximize profits to private industry. The WiredWest Board will determine who WiredWest will or will not partner with, and which functions should be performed inhouse versus outsourced, on the basis of their financial and operating costs and benefits. The main business of MBI’s consultant Wipro is outsourcing, so it is not surprising, if not a conflict of interest, that they would advocate that WiredWest do so.
MBI: “WiredWest’s plan to repay debt service to the towns will be difficult or impossible to achieve at reliable subscription rates (including WiredWest’s proposed ranges from 40 percent to 55 percent subscribers). Towns should assume that they will have to repay most if not all of the debt they borrow.”
WW: The CTC report states that the take rate of 55% required for WiredWest to repay town debt service is feasible, citing municipal broadband projects that exceed 60% take rates. In fact, as a result of WiredWest’s presubscription campaign, nearly 40% of all households in its service area have already signed up for service and made a $49 deposit two or more years before they will be connected. That is already two-thirds toward 60%, which WiredWest is likely to surpass by time service is available to customers.
 MBI: “Our obligation to the towns, policymakers, and taxpayers investing state and local funds is to support sustainable and successful approaches which will expand broadband service for the region. Because of overall concerns with project operations and sustainability, the MBI will not authorize expenditure of state funds for a project with core elements as proposed in this draft operating agreement and business plan. Therefore, the MBI recommends towns not sign the WiredWest operating agreement as currently planned for January 9, 2016.”
WW: MBI has an obligation to towns and their taxpayers to respect their opinions and decisions, which regretably MBI’s actions have shown that it does not. Nor are its concerns justifiable, as demonstrated above. In fact, MBI’s desire to control the project and minimize the ability of towns to oversee its expenditure of their funds, despite the towns providing most of the money, is the reason MBI is stepping in at this late date to block the implementation of the Operating Agreement. Refusing to fund the solution chosen by the towns is bureaucratic blackmail.
 MBI: “Moving Forward: This modeling and analysis also convinces MBI that there are viable approaches to building and operating broadband service in the region. As Leverett’s success shows, a single-town approach to broadband service can work. However, MBI believes that a regional approach to policy making, procurement and shared services is the preferred pathway, and that there are ways to make a regional model work.”
WW: Leverett is a unique case, because of the demographics and location of the town. Individual, single-town networks are higher cost and higher risk. WiredWest agrees with MBI that a regional approach is preferable. Our business plan for a regional network has been more painstakingly developed—substantially based on work done by consultants to MBI—and more exhaustively reviewed than any other so-called “viable approaches” which thus far MBI has not revealed.
MBI: “If WiredWest can demonstrate flexibility to align with the towns’ interests and the state’s policies, we can all continue to work together on a substantial, municipally-owned regional project.”
WW: WiredWest is prepared to continue to work together with MBI, provided that MBI demonstrate flexibility in recognizing the legitimacy of WiredWest as the grassroots voice of its member towns, and the decision of the people in those member towns as to how best to use their funds for a regional solution.

Tuesday, December 8

Other Information Sources

There has been a lot of conversation concerning WiredWest and the other broadband choices that are open to Egremont. Because many of the readers of this blog may not be followers of these other sites I'm going to post discussions and comments from these sites. What follows is a thread from Egremont Neighbors, a site graciously hosted by Marj Wexler. To read the entire thread follow the link:!topic/egremontneighbors/ZarKYqfBk14

Eric Swanson wrote:

The letter from MBI refers to a consulting firm for some of its concerns about Wired West. The first, and to me most important, concerns are based only on Wired West's proposals regarding ownership and control of a assets paid for by the town of Egremont's taxpayers. Nothing that any Wired West official or representative has ever written or said has addressed those concerns satisfactorily.

There are a number of Wired West True Believers who accept the logic of Wired West's proposal without any real criticism. They are demonizing MBI for doing part of its job. 

The question of how best to provide fiber broadband service to Egremont requires serious scrutiny and evaluation. Some of this forum's posts are more reflective of a religious war than a business decision.

To which Jonathan Taylor responded:

The issue of ownership is a smoke screen, hiding the real issue of the comparative costs to the towns and individual subscribers.

It seems strange that you find the biggest concern to be the ownership issue, because both of the other corporations vying to build our network also plan to own the network,  NOT the town.

On the surface these seem like great alternatives to WiredWest except when you look at their pricing structures. Fiber Connect wants to collect a $250 connection or start up fee and will be charging nearly $100 per month for the entry level of internet access, and will offer no TV as part of their broadband service. Matrix wants to collect a $500 start up fee and will likewise charge about $100 per month and will offer Sling TV which requires a set top box like the Apple TV box which allows anyone with an internet connection to stream TV shows they offer like Apple TV does. WiredWest wants a $100 start up fee plus the $49 subscription fee, will charge $49 per month for their entry level internet and will have an online TV package much like we get from Direct TV or Dish TV. Just not the 900 useless channels. The pricing for that is TBD based on a planned survey of what people want to watch. All three of the companies will offer online telephone service for about $20 per month. By my calculations each subscriber will be spending almost $600 more per year for their internet if we do not work with WiredWest.

Anyone who understands municipal networks knows the participant towns own a percentage of the network not their own portion of it.

Perhaps, the last, but not the least important aspect of WiredWest's proposal is that after a number of years, when the network is up and running and the towns' debts are being paid by WiredWest, the excess profits can be returned to the towns. This has been belittled consistently by you, Eric, but the new report by CTC Technology and Energy, 2 links to which have been posted here, indicates that WiredWest's business plan is well reasoned and in their opinion is workable. CTC is a prominent technology consulting firm in Maryland. From their website-

CTC Technology & Energy is an INDEPENDENT communications and IT engineering consulting firm with more than 30 years of experience. We work at the highest levels on cutting-edge communications networking projects for public sector and non-profit clients throughout the U.S. 
their client list includes- the city of Boston, the Internal Revenue Service, the State of Kansas, New York City and  hundreds more (see their website for complete listings). They are known for their neutrality and conservative fiscal approach - as the client list would support. Therefore, the your personal issue of this company being paid for its services by WiredWest is yet another smoke screen,

Why Eric you have chosen to publicly belittle WiredWest and the people who have worked so hard to make an affordable network a reality, is truly a mystery to me?  Why this campaign of misinformation and misdirection? And, why in a time of such religious turmoil, would you characterize the democratic process of discussion regarding WiredWest  as a "religious war?

My observation:

One thing not really mentioned is the state and federal monies being given to anyone who builds the network. The only way we can use these funds and still retain ownership of the assets by hiring a company to build the network for us or having an ownership stake in WiredWest.

If we cede our portion of the state and federal funds to the private companies to build out their company's assets we forfeit our ownership stake in the network. Then the only way to regain ownership is to buy it back. This would be tantamount to the state and federal government using tax dollars as venture capital to fund a private for profit company.

Friday, December 4

Tech Com meeting 12/03/2015


Friday, November 13

Technology Committee Q & A 11/12/15

For the many people can't make a 4 pm meeting I have posted my feeble attempt to record the technology committee meeting. You'll have to forgive the unprofessional camera work as I am not a film maker. I don't expect that it will win any awards. But hey, it's better than nothing. That being said I hope you enjoy the show. Feel free to ask any questions you may have and hopefully someone in the know will answer.

Tuesday, November 10


     In the interest of full disclosure I'll state upfront that I support the town contracting Wired West to build and run our network as a cooperative. WW carried the ball from inception to now and a lot of people invested time, travel and treasure to develop this co-op. Like me, many people are wondering why the BoS is even entertaining other companies. We thought when we sent our $49.00 deposit to Wired West it was because WW was the provider of choice. So many were shocked to find that we were exploring private for profit companies to build our network.

     Despite the fact that we were all led to believe that we were voting on a bond issue to set up the WW co-op the BoS set up an ad hoc committee to interview all candidates who express interest.

    The broadband committee is vetting two private for profit companies and WW to present to the BoS for their approval. Once presented the BoS will sign a three million dollar plus contract with whosoever they choose. Over the next few days, weeks or however long it takes we will be discussing the various options for our broadband network.

     One of the private for profit companies being vetted is Matrix Design Group. Matrix is a well known company and has a lot of experience in this and other fields. They are certainly qualified to do the project. However, we would never receive any of the revenues and we would be paying exorbitant subscriber fees.

     The cost for a standard Internet connection of up to 50 Mbps would be $95 per month. The cost for a standard Internet connection plus a VoIP line would be $115 per month. A second VoIP line could be purchased for an additional $20 per month.

     Subscribers at the time of installation may opt for a Calix WiFi for an additional equipment charge of $5 per month. Additional charges such as taxes and MLP fees may also apply. This is a far cry from what we would pay for Wired West.

     Aside from the inflated cost Matrix wants the town to guarantee there will be 470 customers. To ensure this Matrix will have a three month pre-subscription period in which more than half of the town will have to sign up for a two year contract and deposit $500.00. If someone doesn't want a two year contract then the installation will be $1,500.00. If they can't get 470 Egremont residents to sign up and put down a deposit Matrix will shut the project down. If you think it was hard to get people to put a $49.00 deposit for Wired West what do you think the chances are of 470 signing up for this?  If the BoS chooses this option it will probably delay the build out at least six months.

     Another private for profit company being considered is Fiber Connect. Fiber connect is being considered because they are offering a unique service, buried cable. Fiber connect is asking the town to loan them the money to do the build out and they will allow us to hold a lien on their company until the loan is paid off. One drawback to this option is that by using a private company to build the network we loose our portion of 19 million of state funding.

     I took the liberty of checking out Fiber connect. There wasn't much information using the usual internet searches so I went to the state records. According to the State of Massachusetts Fiber Connect was incorporated 12/12/2013 and has only 1 employee, Adam Chait who is the named manager. The listed address is 12 Buckingham Lane Monterey Ma 01245 which is a residence owned by Peter Chait, Adam's father I assume. There is a PO Box listed 764 also in Monterey. Are we seriously considering a one man company to build and run our $3,000,000.00 network?

     Now lets look at the cost if we choose Fiber Connect. First we have a $500.00 installation charge, then a $99.99 or $149.99 monthly subscriber charge depending on which package you choose. Bear in mind that this is for internet only and before taxes and other fees. VoIP was not even an option according to Adam.

    Wired west, unlike the private for profit companies, is a cooperative of many towns who have decided to join together and fill a common need that private for profit companies have refused to address. Now that these state funds are available you have private companies tripping over each other trying to snatch up the money to bolster their company's profits.

    Wired West will keep our subscriber rates as low as possible, starting at $49.00 per month for unlimited internet service. If you have signed up and paid your $49.00 deposit the installation is included. Rather than going into a companies profit margin your subscriber fees will go back into a co-op that you are a shareholder in. To me it's a no brainer, Wired West will provide better service at a lower price and in the end may actually create a revenue stream for the participating towns.

    We need to tell our elected officials what we want since we will pay for any choice they make. I've talked to a lot of people and the majority of them not only want Wired West but thought that they voted for Wired West. Tell your selectmen to choose Wired West.

Tuesday, August 11

WiredWest Ironclad Promise

In keeping with their duty of due diligence our selectmen interviewed yet another potential candidate to build out and run "OUR" future wireless network, "Fiber Connect". Like me you have probably never heard of Fiber Connect but in the interest of fairness the BoS has to give every company a fair hearing. Fiber Connect sent their best representative to pitch the town on their plan for "OUR" fiber network.

To sum it up Fiber Connect, a private sector company, wants the town to lend them as much money as is build out their network. In return they will build the network and run it as their private company.

The only difference between Fiber Connect and AXIA, another private company interviewed, is that Fiber Connect wants us to lend them "OUR" money to build their network rather than just give it to them. You may recall in the previous post that AXIA suggested that we fund their company with no chance of any payback to the town.

What both of these plans lack is the town having any ownership interest in "OUR" network. Compare this to Wired West which is a cooperative owned by all participating towns. Take a look at Fiber Connects plan for yourself and you decide if this is the best plan for "OUR" fiber network.

There was a meeting awhile back of the dedicated volunteers who have sheparded WiredWest from its inception to what it has now evolved into.  The most important benefit of choosing Wired West is their ironclad promise so I'll let you listen for yourselves and you decide who would be best to oversee the building out and running of our network.

Tuesday, May 19


Now that the town has approved funding for a "high-speed broadband network" the wolves are coming in for the kill and we have to be on the alert. Because wolves can now dress up as people they're harder to recognize so we have to be extra vigilant. Last night the selectmen opened the floor, and the door to AXIA. a company that wants to build out and operate our "high-speed broadband network". Watch the video and you decide if this is what we were led to believe when we voted to authorize a $2.9 million dollar bond for a "high-speed broadband network".

We were given the impression that we were voting to authorize funds for Wired West to build out, operate and maintain our "high-speed broadband network"; this doesn't have to be the case. We were also led to believe that all of the monies bonded were loans to WiredWest and would be repaid with the revenues; this doesn't have to be the case. WiredWest told us that after the bonds were repaid any excess revenues above cost of operations would be given back to the towns and create a revenue stream for the towns. This doesn't have to be the case either, if we don't stay the course with WiredWest. In fact, the way the article was written on the warrant this could turn into one big bait and switch and we'll be on the losing end.

The very fact that the selectmen are entertaining the idea of someone other than WiredWest makes me suspicious, I'm not saying that we were lied to and I hope the selectmen do the right thing. However, the way the article was worded the selectmen can do whatever they want with the $2.9 million dollars that we voted on. There was never any mention in the article about who the selectmen must hire to build out and run the network, nor was there any mention of the bond having to be repaid with the revenues. This was a pledge made by WiredWest and if we stay the course with WiredWest and allow them to build out and run OUR network we will get everything that was promised.

AXIA is a company that makes its money by building and operating high-speed broadband networks. That's fine, it's the American way, provide a service and profit. Every company has the right to grow and that is what AXIA is trying to do. However, AXIA's plan does not include using their revenues to pay back our bonds. AXIA's plan does not include providing a revenue stream to the towns after our bonds are paid off. In fact, AXIA's plan is to take ALL of our bonded funds to build their network; and because this money doesn't have to be paid back they make a huge profit on the build out. Then AXIA will charge us, the users, monthly fees to make even bigger profits from what was supposed to be OUR network.

Essentially AXIA's plan is to take all of our money to build their company and then charge us for the service. I don't know about you but I think we should ax AXIA.
Kevin Zurrin

Tuesday, March 17


Just because I humorously refer to it as Wild West and ask questions that any investor should ask does not mean that I am against the town adopting this WiredWest bond issue. Knowing correct information makes it easy to make correct decisions. And although I have questions about how the bonds are going to be used and repaid I haven't let this stop me from putting a good faith deposit down to assure WW that I am willing to subscribe when it goes online.

My main questions were concerning what WW is going to do with the money that the towns are going to bond and how are they going to pay it back? How WW can spend money is spelled out pretty clearly in article 8 of the WW bylaws (which are posted below). Specifically how WW will be using these bonded monies has been laid out in previous informational meetings. The way I understand it is that these bonded funds will be used like a line of credit to be drawn off of only as needed; which means that much of the bonded money may not have to be used. Two of the main factors determining how much of the bond money will be needed are grants and revenues. 40% of the funds will be given in grants and the rest will be borrowed and eventually be paid back with the revenues raised from subscribers.

Lets look at how revenues will be raised from the subscribers as each town is wired up; we'll use Egremont as an example. Each subscriber will pay a minimum of $49. for unlimited 25mbps internet service per month. If Egremont has the minimum 40% subscriber rate there would be 378 paying customers, This would produce a Monthly revenue stream of $18,522.00 at $49/customer. If the 67% of Egremonters who signed the initial statement of interest became paying customers it would generate a monthly revenue stream of over $30,000.00 from Egremont alone. When you run the numbers for all of the participating towns there is no doubt that WW will be able to support the operating costs and debt.

I may still have a few questions but now that I have read and understand the bylaws. I'm pretty comfortable that WW has a good business plan and will be able to pay the bonds that the member towns approve. So if you are someone who would subscribe to this service if it were available already then you should feel confident putting a good faith deposit down to help make this happen.



As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 1 of 10

WiredWest Bylaws

As revised and adopted by the Board of Directors, October 5, 2013

Article 1. Organization

1.1 Name The name of the organization is WiredWest Communications Cooperative Corporation (hereinafter "WiredWest" or the "Cooperative").

1.2 Authority WiredWest is organized as a municipal lighting plant cooperative under Massachusetts General

Laws Chapter 164, §47C.

1.3. Purpose The purposes for which WiredWest is organized are for the transaction of any lawful business associated with municipal lighting plants under Massachusetts law including, without limitation, planning, building and operating a fiber-optic network that enables the provision of comprehensive, affordable, reliable and high-quality Internet, telephone, and television services as well as any new and enhanced services to all the residents, businesses and institutions of WiredWest towns who are interested in participating.

WiredWest’s charter area includes 47 towns in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties. To ensure financial viability, WiredWest may, at its discretion and subject to the provisions of these Bylaws, expand membership in WiredWest beyond the original charter area and may provide service to non-member towns.

1.4 Principles WiredWest will adhere to the following principles:

Universal Access: Every home and business that requests and can afford it should have access to 21st century telecommunications.

Community-Operated: Participating towns must have a role in governance and oversight of the organization to ensure that its policies and practices represent the best interests of its member communities and region.

Financially Sustainable: Its business model will be realistic in its assumptions, and be built on the premise that revenues will cover operational costs, debt service and repayment of capital investment within a reasonable timeframe.

Affordable: WiredWest will strive to enable the provision of comprehensive, high-quality services, with secure, reliable connections at affordable rates.

Future-proof: Building a high capacity network for the WiredWest region is essential, but the upfront costs are high. Thus, the network must last a long time and be capable of highly scalable, economic upgrades as needs increase.

1.5 Fiscal Year The fiscal year of WiredWest will be July 1 through June 30.

Article 2. Membership

2.1 The founding Members of the WiredWest Cooperative shall be Municipal Lighting Plants established in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 164, §34 and §47E by towns in Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, and Berkshire Counties. Any of the forty-seven charter towns listed in Appendix A may become founding members (also referred to as the "charter area"). As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 2 of 10

2.2 Any Municipal Lighting Plant, as qualified by Article 2.1, may become a founding Member by executing a WiredWest Cooperative Agreement by August 30, 2011.

2.3 The Members shall have such powers and rights as are vested in them by law, the WiredWest Cooperative Agreement, and the Articles of Organization. The authority of a Member to vote, and all of the Member's rights, title, and interest in or to the Cooperative shall cease on the termination of its membership as provided for in these Bylaws.

2.4 After the formation of the Cooperative, each Municipal Lighting Plant Member shall be represented on the WiredWest Board of Directors by one Delegate in all matters including, without limitation, all votes at meetings and resolutions in written consent actions. The Delegateis to be appointed by the governing body of the Municipal Lighting Plant Member, which shall also appoint an Alternate to represent the Member when its primary Delegate is unable to do so. The process for appointing and terminating an Alternate will be the same as the one used for a Delegate as specified in these Bylaws in Article 4.2.

2.5 The Members shall vote on the basis of one Member, one vote.

2.6 A Municipal Lighting Plant wishing to join the cooperative after its initial formation may do so providing it has satisfied all of the following conditions: (i) the entity is a Municipal Lighting Plant described in Chapter 164 as an eligible participant in a municipal lighting plant cooperative formed pursuant to M.G.L. Ch.164, §47C and has submitted evidence of such status reasonably acceptable to the Board of Directors or a ruling from state authorities; (ii) the entity is a party with the Cooperative to the Cooperative Agreement; (iii) For a prospective Member which is not one of the towns listed in Appendix A, existing Members shall consent in writing by a simple majority to the admission of the Municipal Lighting Plant as a Member. Municipal Lighting Plants formed by towns listed in Appendix A may join WiredWest within a year of the initial formation of the WiredWest Communications Cooperative Corporation without needing approval by existing members. Upon completion of all of the conditions to participation as set forth above, the Board immediately shall admit the entity as a Member of the Cooperative. An entity that has been admitted to the Cooperative pursuant to this Article 2.6 shall be deemed to be a Member effective as of the date when the last of the documents referred to in (i) through (iii) of this subsection 2.6 is received or deemed received by the Board, and shall be entitled to full benefits, rights and privileges of membership.

2.6.1 A municipality without a Municipal Lighting Plant may apply to become an Affiliate of the Cooperative. A simple majority vote at a meeting of the Board of Directors is required to approve the application. Affiliate status is subject to the following requirements and restrictions: a. The Affiliate shall have approved and executed an Agreement with the Cooperative recognizing the right of the Cooperative to construct, acquire, equip and operate the network within the Affiliate’s jurisdiction. b. The Affiliate must pay a one-time affiliate fee and annual fees to the Cooperative of amounts to be determined, which amounts are to be set by and subject to amendment by resolution approved by a simple majority of the Board. If within two years of becoming an Affiliate, a As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 3 of 10 municipality becomes a Member of the Cooperative as per Paragraph 2.6, it will not be subject to an additional membership fee under Paragraph 2.7.1. c. The Affiliate shall not be entitled to any net revenues or other profits of the Cooperative. d. The Affiliate shall be entitled to appoint a representative to attend regular and special meetings of the Board, but shall not be represented on the Board of Directors nor have any authority to vote on any matters before the Board. e. The Affiliate’s representative shall not be entitled to be elected to the Executive Committee but may serve on advisory Working Groups of the Executive Committee under Article 4.1.5, and on such other committees as the Board deems appropriate.

2.7 Membership and Annual Fees

2.7.1 The Board shall determine and impose upon the Members a one-time membership fee. The membership fee shall be used to pay for initial operating expenses, including, but not limited to, business planning, research, legal, and administrative costs. Such one-time membership fee shall be not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) per Member and must be paid within sixty (60) days of receipt of written notice from the Cooperative as to the amount of such fee.

2.7.2 The Cooperative may for a specific fiscal year also impose upon all Members and Affiliates an annual fee not to exceed $1,000, which fee will apply to that year only. The Board of Directors will approve such an annual fee, if any, by a two-thirds vote at a meeting of the Board, and provide notice to Members about the amount of such a fee by February 28 prior to the fiscal year to which such fee applies. Payment of the fee shall be due in full by the following July 31.

2.7.3 Failure of a Member or Affiliate to remit the fees set forth in this Section 2.7 and Section 2.6.1(b) shall be interpreted as a default of its obligations and make it subject to the remedies described in Article 3.1.

Article 3. Termination of Membership

3.1 Default in Obligations. A Member in default of any of its obligations to the Cooperative shall be terminated as Member of the Cooperative if such default is not cured within sixty (60) days of the giving of notice of the default by the Cooperative, provided that liabilities under contracts in effect at the time of such termination shall not be affected except to the extent provided in such contracts.

3.2 Transfer or Termination of Membership. No Member of the Cooperative may transfer its membership in the Cooperative to another municipal lighting plant. Membership may be terminated by any Member giving written notice of such termination two months prior to its effective date, provided that WiredWest has not entered into financial obligations (bonds, loans or other financial vehicles) based on or requiring the participation of said member. Liabilities under contracts in force at the time of any such termination shall not be affected, except to the extent provided in such contracts. If a member withdraws from the Cooperative, any membership or annual fees which have been paid are not refundable.

Article 4. Board of Directors and Voting

4.1 Board of Directors The legislative power and authority of the WiredWest Cooperative and the administration and the general supervision of all fiscal, prudential, and governmental affairs thereof shall be vested in a governing body known as the Board of Directors except as specifically provided otherwise by the Agreement.

4.1.1 Composition of Board of Directors The WiredWest Board of Directors shall be composed of one Delegate from each Member Municipal Lighting Plant as set forth in the WiredWest Cooperative As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 4 of 10 Agreement. Each Member Municipal Lighting Plant may also appoint an Alternate. The Alternate will assume all the rights and responsibilities of that member’s Delegate in the absence of said Delegate.

4.1.2 Powers of the Board of Directors The Board of Directors shall be directly responsible for setting policy for the Cooperative, for approving the annual budget to be presented to the Members, for electing officers, for establishing an Executive Committee, and, in the absence of an Executive Committee for the general oversight of the day-to-day affairs of the Cooperative.

4.1.3 Meetings Regular meetings of the Board of Directors shall be held at least quarterly at such times and places within Massachusetts that shall from time to time be fixed by the Board of Directors. All meetings of the Board of Directors, whether regular or special, shall comply with the requirements of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law and Public Records Law, as applicable, and notices shall be sent to all participants.

4.1.4 Special Meetings Special meetings of the Board of Directors may be called by and at the discretion of the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Special meetings of the Board of Directors may also be called by any Member, provided that at least twenty percent (20%) of the Members consent to such special meeting. Notice of any special meeting of the Board of Directors shall be given to each Director in person, on the telephone, by first class postage pre-paid, by electronic mail, or by overnight messenger, or in any other manner provided for by law.

4.1.5 Executive Committee The Executive Committee shall be composed of at least six but no more than nine Delegates selected from among the membership of the Board of Directors by majority vote of the Board of Directors. Officers of the Executive Committee will include: Chairman of the Board, Vice-Chairman of the Board, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-Treasurer. The Executive Committee will be responsible for managing the day-to-day affairs of the Cooperative, for hiring a manager or administrator, and for calling and recording meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. These meetings shall be duly noticed in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 39, §23B and shall comply with all the applicable Massachusetts Open Meeting and Public Records Laws. To assist it in the performance of its duties, the Executive Committee may establish Working Groups which are advisory in nature only and participation in which is not limited to Delegates or Alternates.

4.1.6 Executive Committee Terms Of the original Executive Committee elected by the Board of Directors, two of the six committee members shall serve for a term of one year, two shall serve for a term of two years and two shall serve for a term of three years. Thereafter, as their respective terms expire, they may be re-elected to serve for a term of three years each. The Board may elect up to three additional members of the Executive Committee as provided in Section 4.1.5, and the length of their terms shall be established by the Board such that no more than three members’ terms shall expire at the same time. Thereafter, as the terms of such additional members expire, they may be re-elected to serve for a term of three years each. Nothing shall prohibit a member of the Executive Committee from serving consecutive terms.

4.1.7 Executive Committee Member Resignation Any Executive Committee member, at any time, may resign from the Executive Committee in writing to the Cooperative at its principal office. Such resignation shall be effective upon receipt, and acceptance thereof shall not be necessary to make it effective. Resignation from the Executive Committee will be handled separately from resignation from the Board of Directors as described in section 4.2.2.

4.1.8 Removal of Executive Committee Members Members of the Executive Committee serve at the pleasure of the Board of Directors, and may be removed for any reason whatsoever by a majority of the Board present and voting at a meeting of the Board. Intention to conduct such a vote and notice thereof As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 5 of 10 must be provided at the meeting of the Board prior to such vote, or four weeks prior to such vote, whichever is sooner.

4.1.9 Filling of Executive Committee Vacancies A vacancy on the Executive Committee due to resignation, removal or any other reason shall be filled expeditiously for the balance of the vacant term by a majority vote at a meeting of the Board of Directors.

4.1.10 Director and Executive Committee Compensation The Directors, including members of the Executive Committee, shall not be entitled to compensation for their services as such, but may be reimbursed for actual expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties.

4.2 Delegates and Alternates

4.2.1 Appointment: Members of the Board of Directors shall be appointed as specified in paragraph 2.4 above. Delegates and Alternates shall serve a two-year term. All appointments shall be in writing signed by the respective Municipal Lighting Plant governing body, or its chair, and presented to the Clerk of WiredWest.

4.2.2 Resignation: Any Delegate or Alternate of the Board of Directors may resign by delivering his or her written resignation to the governing body of the Municipal Lighting Plant Member which appointed him or her at its principal office and to the Chairperson of the Board of Directors.

4.2.3 Removal: Except as expressly provided for herein, a Delegate or Alternate to the Board of Directors may be removed only by the governing body of the Municipal Lighting Plant which appointed him or her. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Board of Directors may remove a Delegate or Alternate to the Board for the following:

a. Gross negligence or willful misconduct in the performance of his or her duties as a member of the Board of Directors;

b. Malfeasance as a member of the Board of Directors;

c. Conviction of a felony offense;

d. Failure to attend at least three (3) consecutive regular and/or special meetings of the Board without in the case of a Delegate the Alternate being present, or in the case of an Alternate the Delegate being present. Before deciding whether to remove a Delegate or Alternate, the Board shall provide that person and the governing body of the Municipal Light Plant he or she represents at least four weeks notice in writing of its intention to vote on the matter. In the event the Board determines by a two-thirds vote to remove a Delegate or Alternate as provided for herein, the Board shall provide written notice of such determination and the reasons for the same to the governing body of the Municipal Light Plant. If that person cures the matter prior to the next Board meeting but no longer than thirty (30) days following such notice, the Board shall forbear any actions with respect to its removal determination. The cure shall be effected by a demonstration to the Board that the matter has been resolved, or by the Member’s appointment of aDelegate or Alternate who is unaffected by the matter giving rise to the determination to remove.

4.2.4 Vacancies If a Member’s Delegate or Alternate position is vacant for any reason, that Member’s governing body shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy at any time, following the procedure specified in Section

4.2.1, for the balance of the vacant term.

4.2.5 Attendance Delegates are expected to attend all of the meetings of the Board of Directors of the Cooperative in each calendar year. If a Delegate fails to attend three consecutive meetings without prior notice As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 6 of 10 and without an Alternate in attendance, the WiredWest Secretary may inform the governing body of the Member which appointed the Delegate of his or her absences.

4.3 Voting

4.3.1 Admissible votes Only duly appointed Delegates who are present and in the room in which the WiredWest Board of Directors meeting is taking place can vote on a motion. A Delegate has only one vote. A duly appointed Alternate may replace a Delegate in voting at a Board of Directors meeting in the absence of that Delegate.

4.3.2 Parliamentary Procedure The rules contained in Robert's Rules of Order, Revised shall govern this organization in all cases in which they are applicable, and not inconsistent with these Bylaws, the WiredWest Cooperative Agreement, or Massachusetts General Laws.

4.3.3 Quorum A quorum at any meeting shall be a majority of the Members.

4.3.4 Election of Officers Officers of the WiredWest Board of Directors must receive an affirmative vote from a majority of the Members present.

4.3.5 Officer's Votes No voting Delegate can be denied voting power by reason of office.

4.3.6 Voting Procedure If a voice vote is not unanimous, then a roll call vote will be taken if the Chairman determines that it is necessary, or if two Delegates, or in their absence their Alternates, so request it. When a roll call vote is not taken, the Secretary will, if requested by a Delegate or in his or her absence an Alternate, record the names of those who were in the minority on the vote taken or who abstained. All duly appointed Delegates, or in their absence their Alternates, who are present and in the room in which the meeting is taking place can make a motion, second a motion, or amend a motion.

4.3.7 Committees The Board of Directors may, at its discretion, establish ad-hoc and standing committees to further the objectives of the Cooperative. Voting at Committee Meetings Delegates and Alternates who have been appointed to a committee may make a motion, second a motion, amend a motion or vote on any matter at meetings of that committee. The Chair of the Executive Committee is an ex-officio member of all committees.

4.3.8 Minutes Minutes shall be taken of all meetings of the Board and its committees in full compliance with Massachusetts Open Meeting and Public Records Laws. The minutes shall be kept in the official records of the Cooperative by the Secretary of the Cooperative.

Article 5. Procedure for Amending Bylaws:

The Board of Directors has the authority to amend the Bylaws with the approval of two-thirds (2/3) of the Members present and voting at a meeting of the Board. Bylaws and any amendments to Bylaws must be delivered to each Member of record and read at one meeting before being voted on at the following meeting.

Article 6. Indemnification Of Directors:

Any person or entity made a party to any action, suit or proceeding by reason of being a director, officer, employee, agent or member of the Cooperative, shall be indemnified by the Cooperative against the reasonable expenses, including attorneys' fees, actually and necessarily incurred by him or her in connection with said action, suit or proceeding, including any appeal therein, except in relation to matters as to which it shall be adjudged in As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 7 of 10 any such action, suit or proceeding that such director, officer employee, agent, or member was not acting in good faith.

Article 7. Statutory Provisions:

The provisions of M.G.L. Ch. 164, §47C and §47E, as amended from time to time, and as in force, are incorporated and made a part of these Bylaws by this reference as if the same were set forth herein. In the event of any conflict between these Bylaws and such provisions, such provisions shall prevail.

Article 8. Powers of Cooperative:

8.1 The business of the Cooperative shall be managed by the Board of Directors;

8.2 The powers of the Cooperative shall include the power:

8.2.1 To sue and be sued, complain, and defend its corporate name;

8.2.2 To have and use a corporate seal;

8.2.3 To purchase, take, receive, lease, or otherwise acquire, own, hold, improve, use, and deal in and with real or personal property or any interest therein, wherever situated;

8.2.4 To sell, convey, mortgage, pledge, lease, exchange, transfer, or otherwise dispose of all or any part of its property and assets;

8.2.5 To purchase, take, receive, subscribe for, or otherwise acquire, own, hold, vote, use, employ, sell, mortgage, lend, pledge, or otherwise dispose of, use, and deal in and with shares or other interest in, or obligations of, other domestic or foreign corporations, associations, partnerships, or individuals, or direct or indirect obligations of the United States or any other government, state, territory, governmental district, or municipality, or any instrumentality thereof;

8.2.6 To make contracts and incur liabilities, borrow money at rates of interest the cooperative may determine, issue notes, bonds, certificates of indebtedness, and other obligations, receive funds from members and pay interest thereon, issue capital stock and certificates representing equity interests in assets, allocate earnings and losses at the times and in the manner the articles of incorporation or bylaws or other contract specify, create book credits, capital funds, and reserves, and secure obligations by mortgage or pledge of any of its property, franchises, and income;

8.2.7 To lend money for corporate purposes, invest and reinvest funds, and take and hold real and personal property as security for the payment of funds loaned or invested;

8.2.8 To conduct business, carry on operations, have offices, and exercise the powers granted by this subsection, within or without this commonwealth;

8.2.9 To elect or appoint officers and agents of the corporation, define their duties, and fix their compensation;

8.2.10 To make and alter bylaws, not inconsistent with its articles of incorporation or with the laws of this commonwealth, for the administration and regulation of the affairs of the cooperative;

8.2.11 To make donations for the public welfare or for charitable, scientific, or educational purposes; As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 8 of 10

8.2.12 To pay pensions and establish pension plans, pension trusts, profit-sharing plans, stock bonus plans, stock option plans, and other incentive plans for any or all of its directors, officers, and employees;

8.2.13 To be a partner, member, associate, or manager of any partnership, joint venture, trust, or other enterprise;

8.2.14 To cease corporate activities and surrender its corporate franchise;

8.2.15 To construct, acquire, equip, own, lease and/or operate a telecommunications system (M.G.L. Ch. 164, §47E).

8.2.16 To furnish energy related services (M.G.L. Ch. 164, §47C), but not to include the construction or operation of commercial wind turbines;

8.2.17 To charge and collect fees from users of the systems and services offered by the Cooperative;

8.2.18 To contract with natural persons, firms, corporations, business trusts, partnerships, public and private agencies, non-profit organizations and corporations, other cooperatives, and local municipalities to accomplish any purposes of the cooperative;

8.2.19 To have and exercise all powers necessary or convenient to effect its purposes;

8.2.20 To exercise and perform all or part of its power and functions through one or more wholly-owned or partly-owned corporations or other business entities; and

8.2.21 To exercise all other powers not inconsistent with the state constitution or the United States Constitution, which may be reasonably necessary or appropriate for or incidental to the effectuation of its authorized purposes or to the exercise of any of the foregoing powers, and generally to exercise in connection with its property and affairs, and in connection with property within its control, any and all powers which might be exercised by a natural person or a private corporation in connection with similar property and affairs.

8.2.22 To exercise its power of eminent domain under M.G.L. Ch. 164, but only with the concurrence of two-thirds of all Members of its Board of Directors, as determined in a vote at a meeting of the Board for which notice shall be provided to the Members at the previous meeting of the Board.

8.2.23 Notwithstanding the above, nothing in these Bylaws shall be construed so as to empower the Cooperative to impose any financial obligations whatsoever on a Member Municipal Lighting Plant or its town without the express consent of the Member or its town, with the exception of requiring Cooperative Membership Fees under Article 2.7 of these Bylaws.

8.3 The Executive Committee shall prepare a general administrative budget for each year and submit the budget to the Members for their approval at the last Board of Directors meeting prior to the start of a new fiscal year;

8.4 At the end of any fiscal year in which the Cooperative has gross receipts of more than $200,000, the Board of Directors shall cause the books, accounts and records of the Cooperative to be reviewed by an independent, certified public accountant in a manner consistent with the provisions of the second paragraph of M.G.L. Chapter 12, Section 8F; As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 9 of 10

8.5 Upon termination or dissolution of the Cooperative, the title to all funds and other properties owned by it which remain after payment or the making of provision for payment of all obligations of the Cooperative shall vest in the Members in a manner determined by the Board so as to approximate as closely as possible the pro rata membership in the Cooperative. As revised and adopted 10-05-2013 10 of 10
Appendix A – List of WiredWest charter towns

Alford Monterey

Ashfield Montgomery

Becket Mount Washington

Blandford New Marlborough

Buckland New Ashford

Charlemont New Salem

Chester Northfield

Chesterfield Otis

Colrain Peru

Conway Plainfield

Cummington Rowe

Egremont Sandisfield

Florida Savoy

Goshen Sheffield

Great Barrington Shelburne

Hancock Shutesbury

Hawley Tyringham

Heath Warwick

Hinsdale Washington

Huntington Wendell

Lanesborough West Stockbridge

Leverett Windsor

Leyden Worthington


Tuesday, March 3


This was an anonymous post that I thought should be used as a post so that all could see the ramifications of last nights special town meeting.

On Neighbors they are now talking about the Wired West Bond, on top of the eight million dollar bond for the school repairs. There is no end to what they want us to pay. I am on a fixed income, if we had turned down the School Bond I might have said Yes to Wired West but not now. I need a little wiggle room for the next thing Town Hall can't live without. I was horrified to read Nancy Duvall's thoughts of an 8 Million Dollar Bond debt placed on five aging towns as getting one up on Great Barrington. Whoopee...... how very sad. Thank God the CPA didn't pass.


Well the people have spoken, at least the few that decided to brave the weather and come to the special town meeting. There was a very low turnout, less than 100, for such a large bond issue but such is democracy in action. If New Marlborough and Alford go the way of the other three towns the school is going to get a new 8 million dollar roof and heating system. For those of you who stayed at home, don't gripe when this bill is added to your taxes for the next twenty years.

Article 1 passed with one amendment. We have now taken the power to elect our water commissioners out of the hands of the people and ceded it to the selectmen. This article was amended to add the provision that at least one of the commissioners will have to be a water user but the selectmen now get to choose who runs the water company. There was also an attempt to amend the article to make the selectmen act as commissioners rather than appoint them but this amendment failed. So from now on the BoS will be appointing the water commissioners.

Article 2 passed as well. This was the Medical Marijuana Overlay district. This article gives the town the ability to regulate the medical marijuana trade if a state licensed grower or provider wants to locate in Egremont. There was a lot of confusion over this issue because some of the people wanted to ban the industry altogether. The town counsel, Mr. Pollard explained that because the state legalized the use of medical Marijuana that there could not be an all out ban and for that reason it's best to allow the town to regulate it at the local level. We can now rest easy that in the unlikely event that someone wants to set up a shop to grow or distribute marijuana in our town they have to jump through several hoops to do so.

Sunday, March 1


It's time again to get out of our easy chair and do our civic duty, time to put our legislator hat on and make a very important decision. Do we want five towns to take on a 20 year debt of almost 8 million dollars to pay for a project that should only cost about 1/10 of what they're asking? So please, have an early dinner and make time to come out to the special town meeting and let your voice be heard. The special town meeting  will be held tomorrow, March 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the undermountain elementary school cafeteria in Sheffield.

I know we spent a lot of money to get "professional" people to tell us what needs to be done. However, what do all of these "professional" people have in common? These "professional" people all stand to make a lot of money if we go along with this plan. All we have to do is take out a 20 year loan to pay for it. If you ask a used car salesman what's the best car to buy they will point you to the car that gives them the best commission. There seems to be a glaring conflict of interest here.

Am I saying that these "professional" people are acting in their own best interest? You bet I am and I'm not afraid to say so. After all I'm acting in my own best interest; and I hope a lot of the citizens of Egremont come to the special town meeting and act in their own best interest. It is in the best interest of the five towns of the SBRSD to reject this 8 million dollar boondoggle.

The "professionals" have told us that our roof has passed it's useful life expectancy; this is just not true. The ten year warrantee that they cite to give us the impression that the roof needs to be replaced is the warrantee that was given by the company that installed the roof not the company that designed the roof. The Sarnafil roof that was installed in 1992 was designed to last for at least for 30 years if properly maintained. Sarnafil has roofs that were installed the 1960s that are still working today. So the useful life expectancy of this roof is about 40 years not ten.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, WE DO NOT NEED TO SPEND EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS TO FIX THE SCHOOL! I'm so sure that the roof could be fixed for less than the "professionals" suggest that I would guarantee that I could seal all of the leaks for 2 1/2% of what they recommend and guarantee the work for ten years. This may seem a bold statement but I've looked into the roof and the company that designed it. It's a no brainer.

Lets look at the furnace replacement. I heard an interesting fact about the MSBA. One of the requirements of getting a grant from the MSBA to replace the furnaces is that the roof needs to be replaced. Not repaired, REPLACED! Perhaps this is why the SBRSD never seriously explored the option of repairing the roof instead of replacing it. It would disqualify them from being considered for the grant.

Common sense tells us that 2 million dollars to replace 3 boilers is outrageous. If we do only what is required to replace the existing boilers with comparable units we could probably do the job for under 250 thousand dollars which is a far cry from the two million that we're being asked to spend. I wonder where the extra 1.75 million is going? Replacing the boilers with comparable units would give us a heating system that would last another 25 years if we maintain them properly. We have to ask ourselves if these so called professionals have any common sense.

We have the power to stop this 8 million dollar boondoggle but we have to do our duty and get out the vote. So call your friends and neighbors and get them out to the special town meeting. It should be a short meeting but it will be one of the most important meetings of the year. Democracy only works if the people get involved so please get involved.

Sunday, February 8


People of Egremont
It's time to do our legislative duty again. We have a Special town meeting called for on Monday March 2, 2015 at 7:00pm in the Undermountain Elementary School cafeteria. There are three articles on the warrant but because article three is by far the most important and involves spending $8,000,000.00 I think we should focus on that. This issue highlights the importance of every citizen showing up at the town meetings. I'm asking everyone who can come out to be there otherwise we will be stuck with an eight million dollar debacle. We the people have the power and responsibility to tell the town officials what money to spend and how to spend it. I am adamantly opposed to the repair plan that this school committee, SC, has proposed. I think this proposal is too much buck for very little bang. We're talking about repairing a roof and replacing a furnace for eight million dollars. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  This is the kind of misguided plan that is hatched by a small group of people isolated in a bubble.
While I am opposed to the 8 million dollar roof and boiler "repair"; I am not opposed to fixing the problems that exist at the School. The fact is that the roof leaks and the furnaces have been neglected for years. These issues do need to be addressed and they will be, but there are more economical solutions outside of the bubble speak that the SC is trying to shove down our throat. I have to ask why the SC never budgeted for funds to replace the boiler when it first broke. Did they ask for funds when the second boiler started to leak? These simple maintenance issues could have been resolved as they came up if the SC acted properly; and they can still be addressed in a more prudent manner than is being proposed by the SC. The question is how and how much?
I recall a story about a firehouse door in a local town that was hard to open and made a wretched noise when it did. Now we can't have the firemen unable to get into or out of the firehouse can we? The finance committee was debating the issue because the estimates were in the thousands of dollars to replace the door. Then one elderly member asked if he could take a look before they decide. This gentleman looked at the door, squirted some oil on the hinges and went back to the committee and reported that the door was fixed. After ten years and a few coats of paint that door is still in service. We don't need to spend 8 million dollars to fix the roof and furnace!
Let’s talk furnaces. If the SC budgeted to repair and maintain the boilers as needed this heating system would still be in good working order. Now this SC wants us to believe that if we don't spend two million dollars on the heating system the children will freeze to death with water dripping on their heads. This heating system is simple; it’s a water heater (boiler), pipes and radiators to disperse the heat and pumps to circulate the hot water through the pipes. I looked online to see what it would cost to replace the existing boilers with compatible units. Each of the boilers would cost about $18k. Multiply this by 3 and were at 54 thousand dollars. Does this SC expect us to believe that it costs over $1.9 million to install 54 thousand dollars worth of equipment? Even if we had to replace all of the circulating pumps the material cost would barely reach $100,000.00. This is a simple maintenance issue and the SC is trying to kill a fly with an elephant gun.
Now let’s talk about the roof. The roof is a PVC membrane roof system manufactured by Sika-Sarnafil of Switzerland and was installed by Titan Roofing Inc. of Springfield Ma. According to the manufacturer this roof membrane was designed to last over 40 years and Sarnafil roofs installed in the 60s are still effective after more than 40 years in a brutal Swiss climate. {Watch this Sarnafil roof video} Choosing this roof in 1992 made a lot of sense because it promised to be cheaper and easier to maintain over the years. This has proven to be the case as there has been little maintenance cost since its installation. The SC cites the report that claims to have found two out of seven test holes to be moist. I'm sure the seven sites tested were presumed to be leak sources. I think it's a bit of an overreaction to replace an entire 187,000 square foot roof at a cost of over 5 million dollars because of two leaks. I've made a business out of saving roofs rather than replacing them; and I have many satisfied customers to prove it. This roof can be repaired it doesn't need to be replaced. To repair all of the small leaks may cost 10 to 25 thousand dollars, which is a far cry from over 5 million. The SC claims that this project will earn 40 to 50 thousand dollars per year selling energy credits. At this rate it will take over 100 years to see a return on the investment. Do the math; this roof proposal just doesn't make economic sense.
I don't blame the SC for these bloated costs, I blame the state. I think that the SC is playing into the hands of the state grant system. For the sake of receiving "state grants" the district is proposing that we spend nearly 5 million dollars to receive 3 million in grants when we could fix the problems for under a million. Just because money is available doesn't mean we have to waste it; especially if we have to spend more than it would cost without the grants. Personally I believe that the combined projects should cost the district under a million dollars and that's without any grants at all. If a project costs 800% more than it should in order to receive grant money then we are not saving money. I know roofs and am certain that I could deal with the roof problems for less than what the district is proposing. I think the towns should reject this plan and go forward without seeking grant monies.
Take a look at the state grant system. The state grant system is ripe for corruption and cronyism. The SC has already spent over $100k just for two feasibility studies. We could have fixed the furnaces with that money. Since there are only a few engineering firms on the state list those firms divvy up all the grant application business amongst themselves. When a finance committee member asked if the town could hire an independent engineer firm to give us an objective look he was told by another member that we needn't use an independent firm as they may not be on the "state list". He said we already have a study done by one of the firms on the list and was confident that the firm was trustworthy. Forgive me for being suspicious but these firms depend on the grant system. We've already wasted over $100,000.00 for feasibility studies, we don't have to throw good money after bad by spending 8 million dollars on simple repairs and maintenance.