Dover Bitch

Thursday, December 22, 2005

F: Shame on you, Senator Stevens

Note: This is Part V of a short series on the issue of the failure of our representatives in Washington to provide our first responders with the communications technology necessary to save lives. Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV.

"This conference report is another in a series of important steps to freeing up the necessary spectrum for our nation's first responders. By providing our emergency response entities and broadcasters with a date certain for the digital transition, our first responders can move forward in ensuring that critical communication infrastructure is in place in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack." -- Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, Dec. 21, 2005

That "date certain" is now set for Feb. 17, 2009, which means that you shouldn't expect a police officer in your neighborhood to be able to warn a firefighter of potential danger until roughly Feb. 17, 2012.

DB gives Stevens the title of Worst Senator in Washington for his shameful work in stalling this transition until the most money could be made off the frequencies and for the corporations with the most to gain from the transition.

Also adding to his title are the facts that he was one of the nine Senators to vote for torture and, of course, his pathetic and unethical attempts to turn the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge into a cash register:

"This is one of the most unpatriotic acts ever attempted by an elected official -- tantamount to treason," said Brian Moore, legislative director for the Alaska Wilderness League. "It's Ted Stevens denying the troops food, funding, ammunition -- everything they need."

As reported here earlier, Stevens claimed that the public safety agencies needed three years to be ready to use these frequencies, so 2009 is just fine. He also said that it had to be 2009 in order to get the money, from auctions, needed to help people pay for digital tuners. But those auction revenues are also going to be used to buy the emergency equipment. So that three years of preparation won't even begin until 2009. [Edit: States may begin to apply for loans against some of those revenues, but there is still no chance of beginning the implementation of these systems until the bandwidth is available.] And there's no chance that our first responders are going to be ignoring the life-and-death situations they face every day so they can start thinking about the radios they won't be getting for another three years.

A Senator who swindled taxpayer money for a bridge to nowhere, in a state ranked in the bottom three in population and likely to never in our lifetimes experience a disaster like Katrina or attack like 9/11, has spearheaded the delays that caused our government to receive a much-deserved 'F' from the 9/11 Commissioners.

Go ahead, Stevens, resign from the Senate. Do America a favor.

Since it seems like a lost cause at this point, DB will conclude this series without getting into the actions on the House side... Joe Barton's efforts and the influence of lobbyists like the National Association of Broadcasters.

But let it be known that in the next disaster -- which will inevitably occur -- any lives that are lost because of a lack of communications will be the true cost of this legislation. Every dollar earned in the auctions, every profit margin increased by these corporations... none of it is worth the life of a single first responder.

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