This saturday a handful of neighbors attended Tim Walberg’s coffee hour in Whitmore Lake.  All in all it was time well spent and turned out to be a triple play with State Representative Mark Ouimet and County Commissioner Dan Smith attending as well.

I’ve never been to one of my representative’s coffee hours and didn’t know the agenda or what to expect.   I found the congressman level headed and rational on most every topic he talked about.  While I left with a positive impression of him, unfortunately the topics of discussion did not include broadband, he focused mostly on taxes, jobs and healthcare.

I was the second to speak and gave my pitch to the congressman right after a woman talked about bringing jobs back to the U.S.  I tried to focus on three points for him to remember:

  1. Broadband createss jobs.  My wife (a freelance illustrator) and myself (software developer) are examples of that.
  2. Don’t cut money for broadband build out from the budget.  It is well spent.
  3. Rural dead zones are not just in the U.P. or Montana.  They are right here in Washtenaw county.  Don’t forget about us.

The Congressman took a flyer and wanted to hear what I had to say.  Unfortunately, I got the impression broadband issues aren’t on Mr. Walberg’s top ten list.  His response was polite but focused on issues of cyber security , the need to protect our networks from terrorists and secure more spectrum for communication among law enforcement, fire and other agencies. No surprise since these are areas he works on in Congress, not on residential broadband access.

That wasn’t a real disappointment, however, as our issue is much more a state and local one.  That is where the trip paid off.  Our State Representative Mark Ouiment was there and he was very receptive to what we were doing.  We talked, he took a flyer, and indicated he would make time after this week’s budget wrangling to follow up.  He mentioned that Governor Synder, being former CEO of Gateway, is very cognizant and supportive of increasing broadband.

Also, my County Commissioner, Dan Smith, was there.   He wanted to hear what we were doing and also took a flyer.  Being a software developer himself, he was very in tune to our situation.

We also talked with the Northfield Township Supervisor, Deb Mozurkewich.  She indicated she gets calls from her residents about the same issue and asked that we leave flyers behind at the Northfield Township Hall.  And we met a couple new residents who don’t have broadband and wanted to get behind what we’re doing.

I want to thank the neighbors who turned out with us Saturday.  All in all it was more productive than I anticipated.  While I had previously talked with our Webster Township Supervisor, John Kingsley, meeting other state and local officials and starting a dialog with them on the issue was an important first step.  Thanks again for all your support!

2 Comments

    • Tiffany
    • Posted February 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm
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    Thanks Chris for the summary of the Coffee Hour with Congressman Walberg… and thanks for everyone who attended to represent us all. I will follow-up with asking the Webster Twp folks if they would provide a link to BroadBandNow.org on their website.

    • Mary Gibson
    • Posted February 16, 2011 at 8:44 am
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    I was one who attended this meeting. After talking with our representatives, I believe that they are sympathetic to our dilemma, but we need to keep the pressure on them. If we haven’t already, we need to post some flyers at Webster Township Hall.