This editorial was first published in the Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York), a fellow GateHouse Media publication. Guest editorials don't necessarily reflect the Daily Messenger's opinions.
Residents in rural parts of New York state soon may be able to go online and take advantage of high speed broadband internet communication, the kind that is essential for students doing their homework, libraries providing a key service to patrons, businesses who need to serve their customers and everybody else who wants to stay in touch, get the news or be entertained.
Wait a minute. Haven’t we heard this before?
Yes, many times. And while there is reason to believe that this time they really mean it, who really knows?
As any competent manager learns either on the job or in training, that which is measured gets done. Assign a task, set a deadline, make the expectations clear, measure the outcome and impose penalties for a failure to do the job.
For all of the sad, sympathetic words that lament the unfilled need for broadband, it has not come on any schedule. If you want to see similar bad management in action, look no farther than the earlier mini-blackout in the heart of Manhattan. It had its comic moments, with the mayor out in Iowa campaigning for a presidential nomination that nobody believes he will come close to getting. Had Bill De Blasio been on hand, as he should have been instead of wasting his time and the city’s money on a mandatory security squad, it’s not clear how much he would have helped.
As is often the case, the governor stepped into the void, showing concern, expressing outrage and finally doing something he is very good at — making a threat.
“There is no God-given right that says Con Ed must be the utility company,” Cuomo told a reporter. “They can be replaced.”
That sounds suspiciously like the fate the state had in mind for Time-Warner and its owner, Charter Communications, for failing to provide broadband service in underserved areas.
Do it or out you go, the state said.
Now Charter is not going anywhere but where it is and where it is promising again to expand the service as promised long ago. Charter did not even have the courtesy to apologize to those it has left in the slow lane or to acknowledge that it was bargaining in the face of a real threat.
No, like any suspect accepting a plea deal, it said this was better than wasting money in court so now it will keep the promises it made earlier and provide broadband to 145,000 upstate customers and pay the state $12 million for other broadband projects.
All of this comes in the same month that federal tax dollars from the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund will reach some underserved customers. As Sen. Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats, announced last week, about $39 million will go to counties north of New York City, including 24 locations in Sullivan County and 126 in Ulster County.
As managers, our politicians and leaders in New York state would not stay in the job long if those who have been promised this broadband access before were able to control their raises or even their ability to keep the job.