Rural Economics and Network Infrastructure Policies

Today, on facebook, the topic of policies that are so fundamental to our existing economy that we can’t even see them for what they are came up in a since-deleted thread. Rather than revisit the topic directly on facebook, I am going to write here, and then link this to my fb page and see how that goes.

The initial rant, which was truly off-topic for the group and so the deletion was justified, was a common one heard in the streets, literal and virtual here in Porterville, California: That “Obama phones” aka “free phones” are unfair, they are luxuries, and others shouldn’t be forced to pay for them.

There are so many ways to counter this argument. Before I go into my main position today, I want to note for readers that our City is one of the poorest per capita in the country, and people who are complaining are generally at or barely above the poverty line themselves. That’s all I’ll say on that today, but maybe in a future post, I’ll explore that dynamic further.

There was surprising amount of pushback on the thread for these parts, presumably from those who benefit directly or indirectly from the program. But most of it from both sides was of the finger pointing variety by the time I arrived.

I decided to take a different tack. I pointed out that it has been telecommunications policy for over a century that rural areas would have subsidized telephone lines. And that the reason for that was because the nature of network economics is that there would not be any incentive at all to invest in rural areas when profits accrue in areas with dense network connectivity and costs are incurred in supporting a non-dense network as would happen in the vast rural areas of our country.… Read the rest

Porterville LGBT Group Launched to Oppose Rescinding City’s First Ever Pro-Equality Proclamation

First pride month, Porterville CA First Pride Month Proclaimed June 4, 2013 By Porterville City Council, political efforts to rescind immediately follow[/caption]

Porterville, CA – Residents have launched Porterville Equality and Fairness For All (PEFA), a coalition of local LGBT organizations and allies, opposing the efforts of some city councilmembers to rescind a historic proclamation declaring June “LGBT Pride Month” in the city. The proclamation was issued on June 4th by Mayor Virginia Gurrola recognizing the significant contributions of the LGBT community in Porterville.

“Mayor Gurrola took a brave stand against discrimination by supporting a proclamation acknowledging the significant contributions of the LGBT community in Porterville, and for that we thank her,” said Barry Caplan, Coordinator of PEFA. “Now, some on the council find it necessary to rescind the proclamation, thereby rescinding acknowledgment of the city’s LGBT residents.”

June is celebrated as LGBT Month nation and statewide. On June 4th, Mayor Virginia Gurrola issued a Proclamation honoring the LGBT community for its longstanding volunteer work in mental health and other areas that has benefited the entire community.

Despite the routine of all councilmembers signing proclamations recognizing community members, every member of the council, except for Mayor Gurrola refused to follow standard protocol. They refused to shake the hands of the recipients and refused to sign the proclamation.

Council Members Brian Ward and Greg Shelton have agendized revisiting the Proclamation at the upcoming council meeting on June 18. Shelton aims to discuss the “process” of the Proclamation, despite Porterville’s process being the same or substantially the same as every other City in California. Ward proposes to rescind the Proclamation mid-month, and to replace it with a Resolution declaring “A Month Of Community Charity and Goodwill For All in Porterville”.

Porterville and its Council has a long history of anti-LGBT activism. In 2008 during the Prop 8 campaign, Ward offered a Resolution in favor of Prop 8, urging locals to vote to remove rights from themselves in order to harm a disfavored minority.… Read the rest

Business model options for small local daily papers

Claudia Elliot, ex-Editor of the Porterville Recorder, our local paper, and current Editor and General Manager at Tehachapi News joined a facebook discussion on the Recorder’s page today. The discussion is regarding the usefulness, appropriateness, and value of online news delivery of news vs. sticking with traditional print distribution and she asked the insightful question:

Have to wonder, what would a person be willing to pay for such a service — people who go out and gather news and take photos and develop and maintain an infrastructure for others to be able to access? What would most people be willing to pay?

I responded:

One that has not been asked here before!

My own sense is that there are a couple of suppositions in that question that should be considered:

1) Do people in Porterville read local news at all? Clearly many don’t. That’s kind of a shame. I (and probably you) wish it was 100%. But it isn’t, and there are a lot of socio-econoimic reasons for that mostly beyond the control of the paper.

2) Whether people read local news or not, they increasingly get their news online, and the demographic of folks still wedded to the print edition are probably older and so it won’t last forever.

3) The idea that people have paid for “news” in the past is an open question in the industry, as you might know. Some posit that people paid for the ads, the gossip, the entertainment, the comics, the puzzles, and that the news was incidental. At least after say ~120 years ago when comics and modern advertising were invented.

4) So it may well be that adverting as a sustaining source of revenue may not ever support a news-only site. And as for those other categories of information online, it is already clear people won’t be looking ot newspaper sites for them in any appreciable amount.… Read the rest

In other words, Tulare would be Porterville

Man speaks with reporters about Tulare, competing with Visalia:

“It’s bad enough they tried to steal our outlet mall 10 years ago. If they had succeeded we wouldn’t have that sales-tax money, or a movie theater. We’d be a city with a Target, a Walmart, dollar stores and screaming sirens, and that would be sad. I want us to be more than that,” he added.

In other words, it would be Porterville.… Read the rest

Kickstarting Porterville Nightlife….

Here is one solution to the lack of nightlife in Porterville, and it is an organic one – Sonny Sell, a local promoter is on a good track noticing the otherwise underused park across from City Hall.

One likely doesn’t need permits if one simply shows up and starts playing music -e.g. busking.

Let some of the many fine musicians in Porterville practice and gather inspiration under the music mural and statue of Buck Shaffer on the Clock.

When word gets out that there are musicians there, people will come to listen.

When there are enough musicians around the park, people will stroll and wander.

And when the musicians get the attention, they will stay late.

All of this under the First Amendment.

Let it happen every night, with more fun on weekends, Fri, Sat for example.

Let Porterville get a reputation as a place where creative musicians play and meet each other.

Other artists will come, locally, and from far away, and they will have things to share, and maybe services to sell for tips like the musicians.

Soon, people will want to make a night of it, and that means eating dinner or getting snacks to bring to the park. A restaurant or two will start to think about staying open to accommodate that, and maybe some pushcarts or food trucks will show up.

Maybe even the food trucks will start to offer the creative truck cuisine that other cities have leading nightlife efforts there…or other creative food places such as Crave Bakery on Main Street will step up!

Maybe some of the crowd will wander to the Brickhouse or Mecca, and vice versa, and those few blocks will start to show some human activity after 5PM.

Eventually, maybe the musicians and artists will want to start being here around each other because they are benefiting from the collaborations.… Read the rest