In an effort to provide local governments adequate time to prepare for in-person public meetings while remaining in compliance with the Brown Act, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Executive Order N-29-20 will remain in effect after the June 15 reopening plan.
The announcement came in response to a request by a local government coalition, which included the League of California Cities.
In a May 18, 2021 letter to the Governor, the coalition requested guidance on how local government agencies should proceed with Executive Order N-29-20 following the Blueprint’s conclusion. The Executive Order provides local government agencies with the necessary flexibility to conduct business meetings in a virtual format.
Today, in response to the local government coalition request, the Governor announced that the Executive Order will not terminate on June 15, and all local government agencies can continue to conduct virtual public meetings as needed. The additional time will allow local governments to modify or keep any pandemic-era changes and provide sufficient notice to the public, honoring city obligations to prioritize access and transparency, along with the safety of the public.
The Administration also noted that they would work with Cal Cities and the other local government stakeholders to provide appropriate notice about the Executive Order’s eventual discontinuation, which would allow cities to adequately prepare and meet the Brown Act requirements. This guidance is welcome news, as it will allow cities to continue their existing business meeting practices until there is additional guidance on the unwinding process of the Executive Order.
Under a proposal from Magellan Advisors, Palo Alto would expand its existing fiber network into a 43-mile fiber backbone, which would later be used to create a Fiber to the Home system. Courtesy Magellan Advisors.
After nearly two decades of debate, Palo Alto took a significant step Monday toward transforming the city’s fiber system from a small network that mostly serves critical city facilities and large commercial customers to one that could deliver high-speed internet system to every local home and business.
By a unanimous vote, the City Council advanced a work plan for gradually expanding the city’s existing fiber ring to all areas of the city — a project that over the years has been referred to as Fiber to the Home or Fiber to the Premises. The expansion would take place in at least two phases, with the first one focusing on expanding the fiber backbone to make it available for more city departments and the second one targeting neighborhoods throughout Palo Alto.
Adapted from a May 25, 2021 Public Comment in Santa Barbara, CA Public Comment by Katie Mickey
By a 5 to 2 margin on November 23, 1999, the City Council of Santa Barbara voted in favor of a resolution that, “… disagrees with and rejects the State’s recommendation to fluoridate the city’s public water system.”
The resolution was fashioned by the City Council in response to a request for a protective ordinance from the local chapter of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water that involved appearances by more than 150 citizens before the Board of Water Commissioners for Santa Barbara.
City Attorney Dan Wallace replied that no matter which approach the Council took, should the State elect to force compliance the city would most likely invoke the “municipal affairs doctrine.” This doctrine applies to cities that have their own constitutional charter, which among other tests requires that any law of statewide concern be “narrowly tailored” so it does not intrude on the rights of cities to manage their own affairs.
Mayor Harriet Miller, referencing her background in chemistry, stated that adding a chemical to the water supply to medicate everyone was not the right approach and requested that the City’s staff draft a letter to the appropriate health agencies to look into other programs that are intended for children from birth to 5 years of age to devise a method of getting the appropriate care directly to the individuals who truly need it and when they need it.
Council Member Tom Roberts called into question whether the City’s mission in managing the water was to deliver the purest potable water or to mass medicate, and asked why adding Prozac (fluoxetene, another fluorine-based product) to counter depression wasn’t of equal rationale.
Council Member Marty Blum favored, “… a treatment plan to address the specific problem, not to medicate the whole city on the chance that the kids may drink the water.”
Adapted from an article by Anne Thomas, May 23, 2021 | Original Santa Barbara Independent article here.
Three Horrible Telecom-Friendly State Bills Would Forever Change the Landscape of California Communities for the Worse
A trifecta of three Wireless Telecom California State Bills stand to negatively change the landscape of our communities forever if they pass in Sacramento. Sponsored by the Big Wireless, SB-556, AB-537 and SB-378 will shift the decision-making power over where so-called “small” Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (sWTFs) will be located in our communities from the local planning departments to the Telecom industry itself.
You’ve heard that right. Should these bills pass, the wireless telecom industry will then have full control over where those small cell towers are located: which street light pole, which traffic light pole. They will all be fair game for them, no matter how close to your residence they are located. How would you like to have a sWTF installed within feet of your bedroom window? This will happen to many if these three bills pass.
All three bills are Telecom-friendly bills that aim to rush the deployment of wireless infrastructure, bypassing the local government authority to decide what is best for each community. Many of the provisions included in the bills have cost-reduction and profit motives for the wireless industry, and strip away local control from the decision-making process over new projects. These bills are touted as remedies to closing the so-called “Digital Divide” yet they do nothing to require that be done. These three bills do not solve these problems, but will create new problems that communities will have to endure for decades to come.
Adapted from an article by Tim Redmond, May 10, 2021 | Original 48 Hills Article here.
DRAFT ADAPTATION . . .
Proposed 2021 Bills would block most local control over placement of cell towers and antennas — and the Opposition has not been strong enough.
A pair of bills that would profoundly deregulate the placement of cell-phone towers and antennas— in essence giving the telecom companies complete control over where these facilities can go and overriding most local laws— are moving quickly through the state Legislature with almost no news media attention.
[Small Cell Image]
The measures would give companies vast power to place antennas on any public light or utility poles anywhere in the state and the bills contain no effective considerations for preserving the quiet enjoyment of streets, protecting against noise and negative health consequences and delivering actual public safety.
We found some right here . . . no consumer-driven group would parrot the very propaganda points of the Wireless industry. This is so laughably “fake”, it is unfathomable that anyone who is not in on this Wireless Industry Heist would think this is legitimate:
The petition we found this morning (see links that follow) is obviously paid astroturf , i.e. fake grassroots, as explained in the John Oliver video, below.
Four years after California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 649, an industry-sponsored “sWTF” bill, the wireless industry is back with another bill: SB.556. — actually a triple threat 6-7-8 of CA Bills in 2021: SB.556, AB.537 & SB.678.
In the words of Yogi Berra, “Is this Déjà Vu all over again?” Back in 2017, the people of CA secured a veto of an earlier version of the combined triple threat of CA Bills in 2021: SB.556, AB.537 & SB.678 . . . that was CA SB.649 California’s misguided Streamline so-called “small” Wireless Telecommunications Facilities (sWTFs) Bill.
This is what we learned back in 2017 from the League of California Cities: while over 300 cities opposed SB.649 (Hueso), the Governor vetoed the bill stating:
“I believe that the interest which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill.”
So, why are our CA Legislators wasting everyone’s time and the taxpayer’s money to attempt this same corrupt industry heist all over again? . . . Follow the $$$ Money $$$!
Many firefighters turned out to an L.A. Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to oppose an emergency communications effort that will improve public safety. They say their safety and the safety of the public must be addressed.
David Gillotte, union president of Firefighters Local 1014 said:
“The proximity of the towers and people living next to the towers is of grave danger. It’s a very complex issue how such pulsed, data-modulated, Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Microwave Radiation affects people, all the way up to three miles away. There are public safety issues that need to be discussed openly with the public.”
Crews at the Commerce fire station have dinner right under a tower recently placed in the area. L.A. County Fire Capt. Lewis Currier tells CBS2/KCAL9 they worry about the exposure:
“We have ten times the cancer rate of a lot of cancers, and leukemia, than the general population. We don’t need more RF-EMR exposure.”
The central question at the heart of the Vienna Affair is this:
Can RF-EMR, in general, and signals from cellular phone and infrastructure antennas in particular, damage DNA?
The answer depends on whom you ask. A typical Wireless Industry-funded response is ‘No, because the radiation lacks the quantum energy to break chemical bonds.’
But that is not the last word, because there are other ways to get the job done. Kundi told me in an e-mail last year:
“I believe that RF[-EMR] does not need to have sufficient energy to break chemical bonds in order to induce DNA damage and thereby cause cancer. The key to these effects is an interaction at the cell membrane that leads under certain circumstances to interruption of intracellular signal pathways. This causes interference with DNA repair which in turn leads to DNA damage. Furthermore, it can induce oxidative stress.”
Michael Kundi is the former head of the Medical University of Vienna’s Institute of Environmental Health and has published extensively on cell phone infrastructure and cancer. As the papers showing RF–induced DNA breaks mount up, Kundi’s assessment is becoming the dominant view.
It got a significant boost when the U.S. National Toxicology Program, NTP, reported seeing DNA breaks in some of the same animal tissues where tumors developed following RF exposure in its $30 million RF–cancer project.
Just a few days ago, on February 4th, Henry Lai —who was the first, with N.P. Singh, to show that non-ionizing radiation can break DNA 26 years ago— published an updated review on RF–genotoxicity in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine. According to his latest count, as of January 2021, there have been 361 papers on the topic. Of these 237 (66%) reported effects and 124 (34%) did not.
AT&T is angry that it must stop charging HBO Max rivals for data-cap exemptions.
By John Brodkin, Mar 18, 2021 | Original Ars Technika article here
Longtime AT&T executive John Stankey, who became CEO in July 2020, speaks onstage at the HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day on October 29, 2019, in Burbank, California.
AT&T lied about California’s net neutrality law yesterday when it claimed the law requires AT&T to stop providing “free data” to mobile customers.
In reality, the California law allows AT&T to continue zero-rating HBO Max, its own video service, as long as it exempts all competing video services from data caps without charging the other video providers. But instead of zero-rating all video without collecting payments from its competitors in the online-video business, AT&T decided it would rather not exempt anything at all.
“Unfortunately, under the California law we are now prohibited from providing certain data features to consumers free of charge,” AT&T claimed in its announcement that it is ending the “zero-rating” program that exempts some content from data caps. “Given that the Internet does not recognize state borders, the new law not only ends our ability to offer California customers such free data services but also similarly impacts our customers in states beyond California,” the AT&T announcement also said.
Law allows zero-rating if it’s neutral
Going forward, AT&T will no longer exempt the AT&T-owned HBO Max from its mobile data caps and will stop the “sponsored data” program in which it charges other companies for similar exemptions from AT&T’s data caps. But this is a business decision, not purely a legal one: as we already stated, AT&T could exempt all video streaming services including HBO Max from its mobile data caps without violating the California law as long as AT&T stops charging rival video companies for the same data-cap exemptions.
That’s because California’s net neutrality law allows zero-rating when it’s implemented in a neutral manner. Specifically, the law bans “zero-rating in exchange for consideration, monetary or otherwise, from a third party,” and bans “zero-rating some Internet content, applications, services, or devices in a category of Internet content, applications, services, or devices, but not the entire category.”
The law further states that “[z]ero-rating Internet traffic in application-agnostic ways shall not be a violation… provided that no consideration, monetary or otherwise, is provided by any third party in exchange for the Internet service provider’s decision whether to zero-rate traffic.”
AT&T could choose a category of content, such as streaming video, and exempt everything in that category from its data caps. AT&T wouldn’t be able to charge other video providers for the zero-rating, but providing such a perk to customers could help AT&T earn more revenue by signing up new customers and retaining existing ones who care about the perk. T-Mobile used to do something similar when it zero-rated video and music applications without seeking payments from the video and music providers, albeit with some technical requirements that online services had to meet to qualify for the zero-rating. (Update: T-Mobile still offers the music and video zero-rating, and said that it does not violate the California law because it zero-rates the entire category and doesn’t charge online service providers for the data cap exemptions.)
AT&T reported $20.1 billion in mobile-division revenue in the last quarter of 2020, and $7.1 billion in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization).
“AT&T’s Anti-Competitive Scheme”
AT&T confirmed to Ars that it has stopped zero-rating HBO Max and that it is ending its sponsored program throughout the US. This decision suggests that AT&T doesn’t like the California law because it prevents preferential treatment of its own video services. AT&T had been zero-rating HBO Max at no extra cost to itself, as any money charged for that arrangement would simply be transferred from AT&T’s WarnerMedia subsidiary to AT&T’s wireless business. Meanwhile, AT&T charges WarnerMedia’s online-video competitors for the same treatment, making them pay to be on a level playing field with HBO Max on AT&T’s wireless network.
“California’s net neutrality law doesn’t ban all zero-rating; it bans anti-competitive forms of zero-rating,” Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, who supported California in its court defense of the net neutrality law, told Ars today. “The law does ban AT&T’s anti-competitive scheme where it counts almost everything people do on the Internet, including watching Twitch, Netflix, and their home security cameras, against users’ data caps, but doesn’t count the data from AT&T’s own video services.”
The law “does not ban AT&T from launching a program where it zero-rates all online video or all video chat/conferencing calls — which might be hugely popular in this pandemic. In that case, the California attorney general would retain the right to ensure such programs are actually open to all applications,” van Schewick told us.
AT&T could also use zero-rating in different ways to help customers, van Schewick said. For example, AT&T would be allowed to let customers use unlimited data between 12 am and 6 am “when networks aren’t busy and not count that data against users’ caps,” to help users back up their data and download videos and podcasts, she said.
Instead, AT&T’s approach has been to only zero-rate data for its own services and for online service providers that pay AT&T to zero-rate a specific application.
The California law was enacted in 2018 but only took effect last month after a federal judge denied the broadband industry’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced the legislation that became California’s net neutrality law. A spokesperson for Wiener told Ars today that Wiener’s office agrees with van Schewick’s interpretation of the law’s provisions on zero-rating.
AT&T didn’t answer key questions
When contacted by Ars today, AT&T declined to explain why it doesn’t zero-rate all video as allowed under California’s net neutrality law.
In an article yesterday, we pointed out another problem with AT&T’s claims about the California law. AT&T said it has to shut off sponsored data in states other than California to comply with the California law, ignoring the fact that AT&T has the ability to shut off sponsored data for individual customers. The proof is that AT&T already lets customers opt out of sponsored data. To comply with a ban on sponsored data in California only, AT&T could shut the feature off for all California-based customers and perhaps use the device-location data AT&T already collects to make sure out-of-state customers don’t get “free data” when they enter California.
“AT&T’s zero-rating plan currently permits users to turn their zero-rating on and off,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a court brief defending the state law in September 2020. “Thus, contrary to AT&T’s assertions, it already has the capability to switch off zero-rating for users who opt out and can simply use that functionality to disable zero-rating for California users.”
We asked AT&T why it doesn’t disable sponsored data for California-based users only and did not get an answer.
Zero-rating requires a “low data cap”
In a blog post yesterday, van Schewick wrote that “[z]ero-rating only works when you have a low data cap. That creates an incentive for ISPs to keep low data caps and keep unlimited plans expensive.”
Becerra made a similar point in the court brief while arguing that “communities of color and low-income communities” are disproportionately harmed by zero-rating.
“[I]t is indisputable that communities of color and low-income communities need fair access to the open Internet,” Becerra wrote. “But the zero-rated plans to which these communities disproportionately subscribe cannot supply this, because zero-rating allows ISPs to set artificially low data caps for these plans, and leaves these customers with insufficient access for everyday needs.”
The Democratic-led FCC in late 2016 found that AT&T violated net neutrality rules, saying that “the Sponsored Data program strongly favors AT&T’s own video offerings while unreasonably discriminating against unaffiliated edge providers and limiting their ability to offer competing video services to AT&T’s broadband subscribers on a level playing field.”
Republican Ajit Pai quickly rescinded that finding after becoming FCC chairman in early 2017 and later repealed the federal net neutrality rules, paving the way for California to impose its own law