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NewsWatch: Muni Broadband Restricted, ID for the Undocumented, Police Chiefs Take Immigration to AG, Fingerprint Errors, Congestion Pricing, Small Wind Turbines, More...

The N.C., Senate Finance Committee will consider legislation that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a competing broadband network.

by / May 27, 2010
Broadband Barriers Photo by Paul Nicholson. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

North Carolina Bill Would Prohibit Municipal Broadband Business
The Miami Herald reported that the N.C., Senate Finance Committee will consider legislation that would force municipalities to get voter approval before borrowing money to build a competing broadband network. The bill is the latest in a series of efforts by telecom corporations to keep local governments out of the broadband business. "This is another iteration of the previous ones we have seen over the last three years that are designed to contain and cripple existing systems, and set the bar so high for new systems that it would be difficult for communities to move forward," said Doug Paris, an assistant to Salisbury's city manager. Salisbury has borrowed $30 million to build a fiber-optic network. It will begin testing the system in a few months. The telecom companies are opposed by the politically influential North Carolina League of Municipalities and corporate giants Google and Intel. They argue that crimping municipal broadband could stifle economic growth in a wired age.

ID for Undocumented Aliens Gets Angry Reaction
A new program that provides identification cards to undocumented immigrants in Princeton, N.J., has gained the national spotlight, and along with it, some hate mail, according to The Times. Last weekend the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Hispanic advocacy group, began distributing community ID cards to any Princeton resident who wants one, even if the residents are in the United States illegally. On the first day, 25 people received the cards at Nassau Presbyterian Church in the borough.

First Responders Still Struggle to Communicate, Despite Technology Standards
According to Nextgov, even when first responder agencies comply with the standards for making their radio systems interoperable, there's no guarantee they will be able to communicate in the field, an official at the Homeland Security Department told Congress on Thursday. Project 25 is an open suite of standards public safety professionals developed for manufacturing interoperable two-way wireless communications products. But various interpretations of the standards have led to P25-compliant equipment that is unable to communicate with P25 products from other manufacturers or, in some cases, earlier versions of the same brand.

Police Chiefs Concerned About Arizona, Immigration
Immigration legislation being considered in several states and similar to the crackdown in Arizona would have a chilling impact on local law enforcement, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland told the Houston Chronicle Wednesday. McClelland was one of nine police chiefs from major U.S. cities who met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to voice concern about local police enforcement of immigration laws. "The federal government should bring clarity to this issue," McClelland said outside the Justice Department following a one-hour meeting with Holder.

EMT's Faked Papers
At least 200 emergency medical technicians and paramedics in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have been practicing without legitimate certification, officials told the Boston Globe. They have been paying for fake credentials, rather than receiving medical training, state public health officials said. An ongoing investigation has so far determined that training companies illegally authorized state credentials for first responders in at least a dozen communities, including Boston. The probe is expected to continue to grow and include more communities.

Houston Police Made Lots of Fingerprint Errors
The

Houston Chronicle reported that consultants who re-tested fingerprint analyses in nearly 4,300 criminal cases found no erroneous identifications despite technical errors by Houston Police Department examiners in 62 percent of the cases, HPD officials said Tuesday. The consultants also completed an initial screening of a backlog of evidence in 6,000 property cases the HPD fingerprint unit had amassed.

Can Spreadsheets Solve Manhattan Traffic?
The Balanced Transportation Analyzer is Charles Komanoff's enormous Excel spreadsheet which he has been building for the past three years. Over the course of about 50 worksheets, reported Wired, the BTA breaks down every aspect of New York City transportation -- subway revenues, traffic jams, noise pollution -- in an attempt to discover which mix of tolls and surcharges would create the greatest benefit for the largest number of people.

London Seeks to Limit Congestion Charge Area
According to The Guardian, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, outlined plans to press ahead with the abolition of the western extension of the London congestion charge, coupled with a £2 increase in the daily charge for the remaining zone and a free pass for drivers of low-emission vehicles. The congestion fee is assessed using automated number plate recognition cameras and software. Transport for London predicts a revenue loss of £55m, and an increase in congestion and air pollutants in the west London area.

City-County Website Hacked Twice in One Week
The city and county of Denver website was pulled down Monday night after it was hacked, said the Denver Post, the second such attack in a week. Eric Brown, a spokesman for the mayor's office, said he didn't know what time the site was breached and when it might be restored. Starting about 8 a.m. Thursday, Denvergov.org was down for six hours after it was hacked.

Small Wind Turbines Begin to Turn Megawatts
The U.S. is fertile ground for small wind turbines, according to a report published this week. According to CNET, the annual small wind report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), released in conjunction with the organization's annual conference, shows that small-wind turbines installations have grown rapidly over the past three years and U.S. manufacturers are getting a foothold in the global market.

TV Crews Banned from Police Raids
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is telling reality-show film crews to take five, according to the Detroit Free Press. He has announced that production teams will no longer be allowed on police raids, Bing spokeswoman Karen Dumas said this morning. The prohibition comes a little more than a week after a police officer fatally shot 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones during an early-morning raid on the city's east side. A crew from the A&E real-life drama show about police departments across the United States was shooting footage as Detroit officers barged into her family's duplex.

Photo by Paul Nicholson. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic