KBTL January 31, 2018 Member Meeting – Notes
The KBTL January Member Meeting was held on January 31 at 6 PM in the Community Room of the Fletcher Free Library, 235 College Street, Burlington, VT 05401. The Board wishes to thank the staff of the Library for their efforts to ensure that the meeting went smoothly.
Board Members Present: Alan Matson, Al Wagener, Dave Mount, David Lansky, Megan Epler Wood
1. Call to order – Alan Matson called the meeting to order
2. Discussion of the current status of BT & Timeline
a. Alan Matson: BTAB has met once since vote. Announced that they plan to continue to meet every 4-6 weeks until final sale is completed. They don’t expect transaction to close until 3rd Quarter 2018. Search BTAB Burlington to find the BTAB minutes. It should be possible to monitor PUC progress via internet, but probably will require creating a user account. A KBTL Member noted that City Council has been engaged in deciding how much (if any) carried interest to acquire. Other members mentioned an NPA meeting where this was discussed.
A discussion ensued about whether the co-op should take a position on carried interest. Points raised included:
* We have a limited recipe of bad choices. If we do take a position, we need a full discussion first.
* If we create a buyer’s club, its strategy would be greatly influenced by the presence or absence of carried interest.
* We saw BT as critical infrastructure, but the City Council is looking at BT as merely an investment.
* If the City has enough carried interest, it may get a seat on the Board of the Schurz-owned BT, which, while it would not any real confer power, would give the City access to information that might be of benefit to the community.
b. Discussion of who could intervene in PUC process:
* It could be argued that KBTL represents the community of Burlington
* There is a financial argument, in that the deal rewards BW and Dorman & Fawcett to the detriment of the people of Burlington.
* Might be good to ask people with experience with PUC about who can intervene.
3. Discussion of the role of the Board during this process:
* Alan Matson: If deal falls through, we want to be in a position to step in.
* A member asked how we can keep in touch with our supporters. Alan replied that we can do that with our existing member email list.
* A member asked if paper signers of petition are on any of the lists.
4. Other possible activities for KBTL–or just updating
a. Cooperative ISP – Not discussed
b. Buyer’s Co-op – Some discussion. See above under “Carried Interest”.
c. Mesh Network
d. Desire to create/become a PAC:
Megan Epler Wood pointed out that we have a large group of people who support the principle of local ownership. A part of why we lost is that our current political leadership doesn’t support the principle of local ownership. So, having a cooperative with this many people dedicated to the principle of local ownership, is still a very valuable asset. She feels that we shouldn’t lose it as a membership organization, as a cooperative just because we can no longer acquire Burlington Telecom. She mentioned that, as we have already discussed, we have to remain intact until the sale is complete. But she wanted to ask people and ultimately the membership to consider a change of mission once the sale is complete. We don’t have a PAC to turn to for these kinds of issues and we’re being “out-gunned” by other PACs.
Of course, anyone can create a PAC, but her argument is that it’s very important to retain the organizational framework in addition to the momentum that this organization created rather than to try and start it up again with a different group of people with different membership an structure.
A member proposed that we think about bringing to town someone from one of the 250+ telecom co-ops that exist in the U.S. And that we lobby the PUC to require that BT be made an open-access network.
Another member cautioned that, in the case of private ownership of BT, this would be problematic, since Schurz would have both the incentive and the means to thwart truly open access, as other privately-owned networks have done. A discussion ensued.
5. Discussion of possible need for additional funds:
It appears that, for the moment, we have no need for additional funds.