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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trouble in Iceland?

I was looking at the 3 FCC decisions posted last week, and noticed something disconcerting: the server hosting the decisions is As I have said before, I have an attachment to hraunfoss (and to a lesser extent fjallfoss), so I'm worried that some new URL is going to pop up. As long as they keep the old URLs working, I won't blow a gasket, but if I have to go back and change every link on this blog to an FCC decision, expect harsh words.

Two of the decisions are worth noting, because they're denials. Gone are the heady days after Bishop Perry, when you could get an appeal granted with no justification. And both involved districts complying with state law, but not FCC rules.

Gila Bend is kind of a records-keeping thing: the district could not provide any documentation concerning bids received in response to the Form 470. Moral of the story: if you don't get any bids, make up a memo to the file that says so, and drop it in the file. No matter what, you need to generate some piece of paper that says how you picked your service provider. And then save it for 7 years or so.

Cascade seems like an applicant that didn't know how to put its decisions in the right light. The district admitted several errors:
  1. Cascade started getting service before the 470 was posted.
  2. Cascade put down its own 470, not the 470 under which the state contract was awarded. (And later gave the wrong 470 for the state contract.)
  3. Cascade said it was a month-to-month service, instead of putting the state master contract on the 471.
Let's deal with #3 first, since it is actually the linchpin of the line of argument I think Cascade should have taken. I don't know the situation in Idaho, but in most states, districts can jump on and off the state master contract at any time. So while an underlying contract exists, I would argue that from the district perspective, it is a month-to-month service. If it is a contract, well, I'd say that's a harmless ministerial error.

On to #2: Since we are talking about a month-to-month service, the district was right to post a new 470 and refer to it on the 471. Even if you take the state contract as a contract, the Kalamazoo Reconsideration Order (still my all-time favorite name for an order), which allows consideration of existing contracts as bids, instructs applicants to post a new 470, refer to that 470 on the 471, and for the Contract Award Date, put in the date that the applicant decided that the existing contract was most cost-effective. Which sounds like what Cascade did.

And #1 also vanishes as an issue: there is no problem with treating an existing service as a bid. And until the Sixth Report and Order unfortunately reversed the rule, there was nothing wrong with Cascade having switched service providers in the middle of a funding year.

Since the days are gone when the FCC mercifully granted appeals where applicants made honest mistakes, appellants had better harden their appeals and not admit any mistakes.

And I just have to wonder, if the decision had been posted on hraunfoss (named for an Icelandic waterfall), would it have been friendlier to Cascade?

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