Gordon Smith: Key vote on Net Neutrality

By Robin Ozretich of Corvallis, Oregon. He is a writer and musician, and previously contributed "Sorenson & Hill: Maybe They Should Flip a Coin".

For those of you who are following the bipartisan effort to preserve net neutrality in the Senate Commerce Committee, today is the day to call your Senator.

If you live in Oregon, calling Senator Smith is a must. An update by blogger "Mcjoan" at Daily Kos identified Senator Smith as one of the more-likely Republican supporters of the Snowe/Dorgan amendment (S. 2917) which would provide stronger protections for net neutrality.

The Snowe/Dorgan amendment will be taken up Tuesday afternoon or early Wednesday, so call Senator Smith right now and ask if he's supporting the Snowe/Dorgan amendment (let Smith's staffers know that you support Snowe/Dorgan). If anyone finds out whether he is a committed supporter or not, please leave a comment to that effect!

Sen. Gordon Smith
(202) 224-3753 (DC office)
(503) 326-3386 (Local office)
(541) 465-6750 (Local office)

Comments

  • Robin Ozretich (unverified)
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    Update: I called the DC office, and was told that Sen. Smith does not support the Snowe/Dorgan amendment. Does anyone know how much telecom money Gordon's recieved in the past few years? I'm guessing he's recieved at least something...

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    I just called DC, and was told he hasn't taken a position yet. Which is what they ALWAYS say about him. (Then we devolved into an argument about whether Smith supported minimum wage hikes, and whether the US can make Iraq a free Democratic society).

  • Srinu (unverified)
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    Robin, the magic number is $402,325 from communications PAC's since 1996. He's received $110,500 for the 2006 cycle thus far, with $15,000 coming from Qwest, $10,000 from Microsoft, $5,000 from Disney.

  • mconley (unverified)
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    I got a "he's not sure" when I called DC and Portland. His staffer in Eugene read from (what I hope is an old position paper) that he doesn't support Snowe/Dorgan because it would slow the spread of high-speed internet and stop us from being able to offer low prices to Americans, per the goals of our telecommunications bill.

    I said, "Yeah, that telecom bill did so much to lower my cable bill..." and then asked, politely, that he support Snowe/Dorgan.

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    Even if he doesn't support the amendment, it's worth calling. Senators have been known to change their minds.

  • Glen Geller (unverified)
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    11:45AM Pacific time, just had a long chat with DC staffer who said that Smitty does NOT support the bill, his explanation made no sense and he compared Google's bandwidth use to that of Little Joe Average, but said Google pays the same as Joe Average, so in a market economy ipso de facto bla bla bla... I hate that smarmy little turd, he really gets on my nerves. Must be a Rove cousin.

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    Jeff,

    You said that senators are known to change their minds. While I agree with trying to be positive, I honestly don't think Slick Gordo is going to go against his real constituents, which are the communication companies that fund him.

    My message to Slick Gordo is, "keep hanging yourself because 08' is just around the corner."

  • bluepike (unverified)
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    When I called Smith's office, I was amazed that the aide I talked to was unaware of the huge global data center that Google is building in The Dalles. A recent front page New York Times article about it is reprinted here, in The Dalles Chronicle. The article states that Google is building "a computing center as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky. The complex, sprawling like an information-age factory, heralds a substantial expansion of a worldwide computing network handling billions of search queries a day and a growing repertory of other Internet services. And odd as it may seem, the barren desert land surrounding the Columbia along the Oregon-Washington border — at the intersection of cheap electricity and readily accessible data networking — is the backdrop for a multibillion-dollar face-off among Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that will determine dominance in the online world in the years ahead."

    In other words, a new Silicon Valley may be emerging along the banks of the Columbia river, centered in the Dalles, yet Smith may be on the verge of voting against net neutrality -- which would hurt Google's business aspirations in the region. The Dalles needs the investment and employment opportunities that Google could provide, yet Smith seems to be entertaining the notion of voting against Google's interests. Once again, Smith is out of touch with the wishes of his constituents, who have been welcoming Google to Oregon with open arms. If Smith votes to kill net neutrality, it will be a vote to that damages economic development in The Dalles and in all of eastern Oregon.

  • mac mccown (unverified)
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    By all means, contact gordo and encourage him to join in on protecting net neutrality ... but dont be shocked ... when he votes against neutrality. 08 is rapidly approaching ... isnt it about time we start recruiting a strong candidate to replace him?

    smith has got to be replaced!

  • Karl (unverified)
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    Bluepike,

    That's pretty amazing about Google's center. Did the Oregonian even know about it?

  • bluepike (unverified)
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    Karl:

    The Oregonian reported about 18 months ago that Google was quietly buying land in The Dalles, and that they were going to open a 100 person tech center, but then they seem to have dropped the story. They may have run a follow up article, which I may have missed, but I don't think so. I think they just dropped the story, and it has turned into a much bigger story than what they initially reported on. It took an out-of-town-East-coast-liberal-establishment type reporter from the New York Times to get the real scoop.

    Of course, I don't think Gordon Smith has a clue as to what this could mean for the people of The Dalles, to rural Oregon, or to the State of Oregon as a whole. At this point, I believe that Intel employs about 15,000 people, mostly in the Portland area. With Google moving into the state in such a big way, Portland may eventually grow to rival Seattle or San Francisco as a west coast technology hub. But then again, Smith could screw it all up by killing net neutrality, which would adversely affect Google's growth.

  • bluepike (unverified)
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    "Imagine paying to use Google search...."

    That is the first line in an article up at eWeek.com entitled When Google Becomes Pay-to-Play, by Steve Bryant. Bryant's premise in this short but engaging read is that barring a net neutrality provision in the current proposed telecommunications bill, Verizon and Comcast and Quest and the like will be free to charge Google a per search fee. Says Bryant:

    "For argument's sake, say Google has to pay Comcast a penny a search. That translates to a fee, just to Comcast, of about $5 million a month. There are a dozen or so major Internet providers in the United States alone, and scores, if not hundreds, worldwide.

    So the price of a speedy Internet delivery in the United States for Google and Yahoo, the two major search engines, would amount to an annual fee in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That's a burden, even for these two revenue machines."

    And that, in a nutshell, is one reason why Smith should vote for a net neutrality provision. The cable and telephone companies comprise a duopoly in most areas of the country, and the current incarnation of the telecommunications bill would offer no impediment to predatory pricing practices. Net neutrality is one way that the government can insure that the telecommunications giants don't kill off Google.

    Incredibly, Reuters is now reporting that U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens does not yet have enough votes to get the telecommunications bill through the full Senate in its present state. Apparently net neutrality proponents have secured -- at least temporarily -- enough possible votes to kill this bill on the floor of the Senate. I've even heard rumors that Ron Wyden has threatened to lead a filibuster if the bill reaches the floor without a net neutrality provision. Senator Smith should join Senator Wyden in opposing the current telecommunications bill.

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