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Commissioner Ajit Pai wants Congress to cut the FCC's enforcement budget so that the Commission will not "expend substantial resources implementing and enforcing regulations that are wasteful, unnecessary, and affirmatively detrimental to the American public." Congress is listening and taking action. The members charged with oversight of the FCC have already advocated slashing amost $200 a million a year from the FCC's requested funds for the next 4 years, not to mention freezing the FCC budget completely during that time period. Key members of Congress have all but called Chairman Wheeler a liar, and they're demanding a complete shake-up of the "antiquated, politically-driven, media-gangsters."
Preceding the much discussed closing of FCC Field Offices, the staff were seen selling off their extremely high-tech direction finding equipment in anticipation of closing their doors for bid-ness. Check out this gem, offered by Dave Dombrowski of the Langhorne (aka Philadelphia) Field Office, which is slated for closure, according to an internal memo leaked to the press.
Such a deal... did they really get 30 bucks for this piece of crap?!
The description reads: "One lot consisting of Radio Direction Finder Processor, Mfr. Watkins Johnson **The on/off button does not work properly and has to be taped down to stay on, other repairs may be required** Bidder is responsible for packaging, shipping, and pickup." <=== The FCC can't afford shipping - or much of anything else these days.
The FCC is working 'as fast as possible' to make sure calling 911 saves lives. Within two years, the FCC hopes to correctly locate 40% of 911 calls. For now, even when 911 does receive a location, it's often wrong. Test calls by Gannett journalists working with 911 centers in the Denver, Washington, Minneapolis and Charlotte areas resulted in calls without location data or with coordinates that were off by hundreds of feet. Green Bay Police Chief Thomas Molitor wrote FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch in December, 2014, lobbying for faster movement on the issue, saying dispatchers and callers face enough stress during a 911 call, but public safety teams can't provide a solution without a location, which they have with less frequency. Molitor wrote, "An estimated 10,000 people each year would be saved with accurate location standards from indoor cellphone calls," citing an FCC estimate for the number of lives that could be saved by as little as a one-minute reduction in emergency response times. Chief Molitor said, "Whatever hang-ups they have cannot be more important than 10,000 lives."
Instead of fixing 911, FCC engineers and employees have been downloading and watching pornography; wasting thousands of hours, and millions in taxpayer funds, studying how to cure problems with the Internet, which has no problems. Meanwhile, Amateur radio frequencies are worse than ever, despite the endless lobbying efforts of a company in Newington, Connecticut, which boasts a 'membership' of about twenty percent of the amateurs in the United States, while claiming to be the 'national association' for Ham radio. The company's best known for its glossy magazine - chock-full of advertisements for Japanese radio gear. The membership pays $39-$1,550 a year, but members who have left the fold complain their concerns are not heard, and that the leadership is a deaf, dumb, elitist, east coast oligarchy, caring only about their own pet projects. In their grandiose hubris, say detractors, they continually insist on dragging an unwilling and disinterested majority along with them. To make matters worse, untrained FCC staff often confuse the actual rules in Part 97 with the association's puritanical press releases about appropriate on-air behavior, good amateur practice (whatever that means), and their vague and unenforceable, so-called, gentlemen's agreements. Increasingly, the national association would have us believe the only 'appropriate' topics are gall-bladder surgery, the weather, and the Dewey-Truman election. Anti-League pundits say the association doesn't want the DHS to hear the way real Americans converse. Why? That might reduce the national association's funding! according to lobby-league detractors. Does anyone remember the First Amendment.... anyone?
The problem with having a charity associated with federal licensing and enforcement, according to detractors, is that there's a glaring and obvious conflict of interest and a pecuniary interest involved, which cannot be denied. The national association, representing the 20 percent, receives funding from the U.S. government. Because they receive funding, they have a vested interest in portraying amateur radio in a false light. The paid employees at the association are terrified of losing funding, which would lead to loss of income for the organization, leading to loss of employment for the principles, leading to the failure of the organization in general. The association frequently conjures the boogey-man to keep their hamsters in line. Be Good! Be good (and do what we say) or the government will take 'our' frequencies and auction them off them to the highest bidder! Hence the monthly 'prayer meetings' published in the magazine, where the self appointed 'national' guardians tell their trained Hamsters how they should behave, where they should operate, and how they should operate. That's fine for the 20% who may actually care what the association has to say, but the remaining 80% increasingly resent the tail in Newington attempting to wag the dog.
To make matters worse, the tail also tries to dictate to the FCC and Congress, where and how Hams should behave, and because the tail supposedly represents +/- 100,000 voters, sometimes the FCC and Congress actually listen, much to the detriment of Amateur radio and more to the detriment of the First Amendment. It's doubtful anyone has actually listed the number of FCC employees who belong to the association, however, FCC employees in the Enforcement Bureau have a long history of loyalty to the association first, with loyalty to Part 97 (the actual rules) running a distant second. The association has a stable of over 700 volunteers who keep a lookout for dissidents and oddly enough those dissidents often wind up on the FCC's radar and many of them wind up with wildly inflated administrative traffic tickets. Sometimes the recipients are guilty, but those tickets are rarely (if ever) paid in full. However, the defamation resulting from public scorn as a consequence of receiving the traffic tickets is trumpeted loudly and often by the small but vocal bully pulpit in Newington, the Internet and print publication arm of the association that reported the infraction in the first place. Some call this phenomenon "Agency Capture" -- while others simply call it a circle jerk. Fair, Open, Transparent? Hardly.
The national organization is famous (or infamous) for lobbying Congress for regulations the majority of amateurs don't want, which they don't even care about, not to mention the latest silly Hamster trick, which is lobbying Congress to usurp private property rights, all in the name of emergency communications, colloquially known as 'emcomm.' Increasingly, the national organization representing the 20% has been all about emcomm. Following the destruction of the twin towers in NYC by Islamic Radicals, emcomm became the #1 cash cow for every agency looking for tax-payer handouts and a raison d'etre.
Actual First Responders describe these obese 60 year old hamsters in dayglow orange as "whackers." These wanna-be helpers and hall monitors are great at using their handi-talkies to order more water at Marathons and 5k races, as long as they stay in the shade and they're not asked to do anything strenuous. Privately, however, a number of actual First Responders end up responding to the whackers, who are out of shape, past their prime, dehydrated, bee-stung, sunburned, faint, short of breath, and anything but helpful.
Instead of crying about FCC enforcement cutbacks and trying to portray Hamsters as something they're clearly not, and instead of lobbying the FCC to pay attention to an increasingly irrelevant hobby for elderly white men, the 'national association' should turn its attention to 911, a bonafide public service. Assisting the FCC with making 911 into a real life-saver for the majority of Americans would be a win/win proposal for everyone. Once again, for those who missed it, according to the FCC -- "Up to 10,000 lives a year could be saved by as little as a one-minute reduction in emergency response times."
Mr. Johnson of Ohio questions FCC's Tom Wheeler... "Yes or No, Mr. Wheeler?
Mr. Cruz of Texas forces FCC's Tom Wheeler to admit Internet order was hidden from the public.
Mr. Hice of Georgia grills FCC's Tom Wheeler about WH/FCC backroom politics.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai says the "FCC Internet takeover is a solution that won't work to a problem that doesn't exist". Pai is for an open Internet, but against archaic rules, taxes, and bureaucratic meddling.
The Chinese understand the FCC's Net Neutering Nuttiness better than the average American taxpayer.
"If you're looking for a lucrative business, you should be a telecom lawyer." Sadly, that's the real legacy of Chairman Wheeler's new rules.
Wired Magazine has the scoop
WASHINGTON, DC - House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today released a draft bill to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission. The legislation would reauthorize the agency for the first time in nearly 25 years with significantly tighter controls imposed by Congress.
"After a quarter century, it's time for another reauthorization. If we have learned anything during our #CommActUpdate process, it's that communications and technology issues demand a 21st century regulator as much as they need 21st century policies. With this reauthorization, we are charting the course to make the necessary reforms to an agency that is ill equipped for the innovation era," said Walden. He continued, "This bill addresses the commission's disproportionate FY 2016 budget request, the runaway growth in the Universal Service Fund, and ensures that the FCC's Inspector General can conduct oversight of the commission without fear of reprisal from a chairman. The public interest is always better served when government watchdogs can operate independently." The draft legislation would authorize FCC appropriations at the current level for the next four fiscal years; authorize spectrum auction expenses at the current level; limit the amount the FCC extracts from consumers, and; create an independent Inspector General at the FCC, removing the ability of the Chairman to hire or fire the Inspector General. The FCC had asked for $533 million this year but Congress has decided to freeze the FCC allocation at $339.8 million for each year over the next four years -- over $193 million LESS than the FCC asked for -- To learn more about Congress' long overdue Neutering of the FCC, click here and to read the draft legislation, click here.
This Just In ---- The FCC Office of the Inspector General just opened a full blown investigation into the FCC's internet takeover. Republicans think Tom Wheeler is lying and that Wheeler allowed Obama to pimp out the FCC for more money for Obamacare and Obamigration. The House is grilling Tom Wheeler on C-Span about his nine visits to the White House, and if Mr. Zients, the White House top economic adviser visited Tom Wheeler to tell him to button down the internet under Title II. This is a brand new major scandal, and part of it is the FCC effort to keep the meetings secret. The FCC only filed one ex-parte meeting out of nine meetings with White House staff. Wheeler's wiggling like a fish on a hook. Watch the video from 23 minutes onward and check out how much heat they're putting on Wheeler!
According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, the new agency responsible for regulation of the Internet was originally authorized to regulate a railroad monopoly in 1887, and they haven't changed much since. Take one look at those old regulations and you know he's absolutely right. They look familiar don't they? The same 1800's style of rule making is even now being grafted onto your favorite pastime. Congrats!
Referring to the FCC's recent implementation of Obamanet, Pai writes, "the Order explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband."
Pai notes that this is explicit in the order, which "authorizes the Commission to impose universal service contributions requirements on telecommunications carriers --- and, indeed, goes even further to require '[e]very telecommunications carrier that provides interstate telecommunications services' to contribute." As a result, he writes, "the FCC now has a statutory obligation to make sure that all Internet service providers (and in the end, their customers) contribute to the Universal Service Fund. That's why the Order repeatedly states that it is only deferring a decision on new broadband taxes -- not prohibiting them."
All of which might explain why the FCC is cutting their enforcement bureau in half. Consider the FCC's current budget request of 388 million dollars. The FCC's income stream contributes to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, then the FCC asks Congress to return a portion of those funds for operating costs. Now consider that since 1994, the enforcement bureau has delivered, on average, a paltry 6.7 million dollars a year in fines and forfeitures. When put in perspective, that's two boxes of Corn Flakes ($6.70) in a family of four's bi-weekly ($388) grocery bill.
BUT WAIT ---- The FCC has a brand new revenue stream that doesn't require sitting around all day in a ten year old SUV, pretending to gather evidence, choking down bad fast food and worse coffee, and maintaining reams of unsubstantiated evidence for trials that will never take place. Ridiculously inflated HAM fines are routinely reduced from $22,000 to $500 and then, after a decade or so, the enforcement bureau faces the ignominy of seeing miniscule payment plans deliver a few dollars here and there... or none at all.... So, who needs an enforcement bureau when you have the Internet?!?
A reader sent the infographic above, based on actual FCC data with the addition of FCC Commissioner Pai's warning that the FCC will soon begin taxing the Internet to help replenish government coffers, recently emptied by ObamaCare and ObaMigration. "Socialism always uses someone else's money to pay for misguided social engineering programs designed to help the 'lower class' but which actually keep people in bondage and dependent on government hand-outs. Entire segments of our population are living in squalor, without jobs, without higher education, without intact families, fighting and killing each other for scraps of the prostitution and drug trade, because they've become dependent on a government system of payments that actually discourage the American values that (could potentially) make this country great again."
An FCC spokesperson has confirmed that the Enforcement Bureau is about to be eviscerated due to budget cuts and consolidation of positions imposed by an unhappy Congress. Those Congress members tasked with overseeing the FCC (Greg Walden, Fred Upton, and Tim Murphy) have already expressed grave concerns about the fairness, openness, and transparency of the agency. The current reorganization plan involves axing the number of field agents from 63 down to 33, and chopping the number of director positions from 21 down to 5, while slicing the number of field offices from 24 down to only 8. Reportedly, the first to close will be the Philadelphia and Detroit field offices. An FCC spokesperson tried to put a smiley face on the news, saying the plan is data-driven and designed to replace outdated enforcement priorities which were "thought to be a good idea" more than 20 years ago. A former staffer said, "Off the record, Congress knows the FCC has become a bully and a robber baron and they know they've been shaking down licensees for years. They don't follow their own rules and they've set themselves up as cop, judge, jury, and tax collector. Stations pay up and shut up because they know the Enforcement Bureau will find some excuse to take away a license, delay a renewal, and hassle the station until they give in. Station owners hate the idea of paying for petty bullshit but the cost of an appeal is three times the amount of the fines imposed by the FCC. It's a crazy system. If private industry did this they'd be indicted by the Justice Department under the RICO Act, but because they funnel money into the treasury, Congress has turned a blind eye to the FCC abuses, until now. The tipping point happened when the FCC refused to show Congress the new Internet rules. This Congress feels the FCC has tried to pull a fast one and they're out to show the FCC who's boss. It's about time honestly, and I applaud the Congressional oversight. The problems were so bad, something had to change."
The outdated and decrepit equipment used in the enforcement bureau's MDDF vehicles is increasingly expensive to maintain and impossible to replace. This is because it's obsolete and no longer manufactured. Currently the "newest" MDDF vehicles contain a touch screen, compass rose, FCC database, and a spectrum analyzer. They also contain a substandard commercially available onscreen map display as opposed to the high quality paper maps prepared by the USGS. In addition to these items, there is a GPS unit, and a well-worn receiver, all mounted in a modified fleet vehicle, which is typically a 10 year old, Navy Blue, Ford Explorer, or Chevy equivalent. The FCC is not entitled to use the latest tools available to the FBI and other premier investigative agencies. There are no night vision goggles, no satellite support, no infrared, no long boom mic's for on-glass detection of voice vibrations. They may have Harris StingRay, Amberjack, Harpoon, or RayFish cell site simulators for extraction of IMSI and ESN data, but federal users of these cell site simulators typically develop parallel evidence trails to conceal evidence obtained from their use, due to concerns about the court's increasingly negative view of the devices when used without a warrant. The provisioning and purchasing process for newer equipment is time consuming and burdensome, and the specialized equipment needed is very expensive. Even when new equipment is approved, by the time the equipment can be purchased, installed, and fielded, it's already obsolete. Because enforcement is not a money maker, relatively speaking, the EB will undergo a huge reduction in force in the near future.
The new priorities at the FCC will be finding cheaper office space, shedding employees through attrition and retirement, replacing obsolete IT equipment, outsourcing for competent IT personnel who will reposition FCC data engines in the cloud, development of the Do-Not-Call registry, and continued "activities in support of the National Broadband Map" - whatever that means. Amusingly, there is very little money in the budget for fixing the Internet. Possibly because three of the sitting Commissioners have belatedly discovered that the Internet isn't really broken. The only office poised to grow is the independent Office of the Inspector General, which will move from employing 40 investigators in FY2014 to employing 56 investigators in FY2016. Keep reading and see if you can spot a trend.
While Congress continues to consider whether or not the FCC operates in a fair, open, and transparent manner, let's take a stroll down memory lane. How many Americans remember the saga of the porn addicts at the FCC who were watching porn on the tax payer's dime? Reported in July, 2014, WTTG TV in Washington, DC, reported that one FCC employee watched more than 13,000 porn images in 6 weeks, or 2,166 images a week, or 54 porn images an hour, leaving him only 6 minutes every hour in which to grab a box of tissues and take care of business.
Interestingly enough, The OIG found that the computer used at the HFDF ADMIN 2 Hewlett Packard workstation from ip address 18.104.22.168 on March 7th, 2014 and March 14th, 2014, was used to access pornography during work hours --- in exactly the same period when two recent FCC investigations were taking place --- one in Pennsylvania, and one in Michigan. As you can see below, and on page 21 at the link, the FCC employee at the HFDF Center (HFDFADMIN2-HP) was engaged in viewing pornography during the period in question, as determined by the OIG. As usual, we obtained these documents by having friends in low places.
According to WTTG, another FCC staff member admitted watching 8 hours of porn a week while at work and said he did so because he was bored and had nothing better to do. This behavior costs tax-payers millions of dollars every year. Unfortunately, these self-satisfied FCC employees come at the tax-payer's expense, if you'll pardon the pun. Many times, there are no consequences after blame is assigned, according to consultants familiar with the case. Unsurprisingly, the FCC had no comment. We all know the enforcement bureau only comments when they're defaming licensees in their infamously unadjuticated 'trial by publication' schemes. After all, it would be unfair for the FCC enfarcement burro to discuss their own child porn watching, ham radio jamming, time-card altering, Craigslist sex-trade consuming, staff members, who collect a salary for arriving at 10:30 AM and leaving at 2:30 PM on a regular basis. Right?
Two additional major investigations in the area of Commission employees accessing sexually explicit material via the Internet were closed during the reporting period. One of the two cases involves FCC employees' utilization of the FCC's Internet access capability to access sites containing pornographic material. The Chairman and responsible Bureau Chiefs were provided with the respective employee names for appropriate disciplinary action. Did you see their names, addresses, details of the investigation, and the results of those disciplinary action(s) in the Federal Register? Neither did we. Fair, Open, Transparent?
In a September 2013 report to Congress, the OIG found that FCC employees were downloading pornography. The report stated, "Two computers are the subject of separate investigations based on significant amounts of pornographic material as well as solicitations for sex using Craigslist and time and attendance issues." The solicitation issue refers to the FCC staffer who was surfing the Craigslist personals section for paid sex trysts. During work hours no less. On your dime, assuming you pay taxes. Oh, the shame.
It seems ironic that the FCC wanted Jared Bruegman to give the U.S. Treasury $10,000 for playing the banjo on 14.313 MHz, while an FCC employee at the HFDF Center was playing with himself, while listening to 14.313 MHz and drawing a salary from the same Treasury. Fair, Open, Transparent?
FCC employees surfing for porn, and even surfing for child porn, goes back decades, according to the Inspector General. Consider the child pornography incident which occured at the FCC HFDF Center in Columbia, Maryland. The investigation was initiated when the OIG ran an analysis of FCC computer searches containing key words for child pornography. According to the OIG: "The case dealt with an FCC employee at the Columbia, Maryland Field Office who used an FCC computer to download child pornography." Unfortunately, at the FCC, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
"Within the FCC, the OIG issued a related administrative investigative report which defined violations of applicable sections of the Code of Federal Regulations by four employees who served on the FCC Spectrum Auction Task Force. Additionally, these employees exercised questionable judgment and conduct which facilitated the commission of illicit activity against the FCC."
In a different case, also uncovered by the Inspector General, an FCC WTB employee had an improper relationship with a convicted felon, and FCC employees who knew about the relationship failed to protect the interests of the government. Luckily, the OIG was able to recover almost $250,000 of tax payer funds.
In a very recent breach of the public trust, the Office of the Inspector General discovered another FCC staffer stealing time, falsifying the employee time sheet, and selling personal products while on duty. No wonder Mary Kay is doing so well.
Even before the ARRL's well documented critique and the well documented OIG reports about the FCC staffers selling personal products while on the clock, and even before the well documented reports about FCC employees watching porn up to 8 hours a day, and the well documented report about the FCC employee downloading child pornography, a well documented report by the U.S. Court of Appeals caught our eye. An FCC Watch Officer at Georgia's Powder Springs HFDF Center was caught while supposedly jamming amateur radio stations on 14.313 MHz and suspended for cause. Imagine that? We say "supposedly" jamming, because, with the latest allegations from Congress, and last year's discovery of FCC-Porn-Gate, and with so much evidence of FCC wrong-doing, and with FCC staffers openly admitting the FCC is corrupt and hell-bent on intimidation and harassment who knows what's really going on at the FCC these days?
By the way, the OIG report about the FCC employee stealing time and selling personal products while collecting a check from tax payers, has mysteriously disappeared from the Internet. We hope the FCC isn't scrubbing links from the Internet in an intentional attempt to conceal information from Congress and the media.
The Following is a VE7KFM.com Editorial
There is a long history of rule compliance among staff members at the FCC. The staff are, with very few exceptions, scrupulous about rule compliance. Few federal resources are needed under normal circumstances in order to ensure rule compliance among FCC staff members. However, a very few rule violators are very visible at the FCC Enforcement Bureau.
In the case(s), for example, of FCC HFDF staff members jamming 14.313 MHz, or watching porn during work time, or other FCC employees falsifying their time sheets, or selling personal products at work, or arriving late and leaving early, or inflating credit card expenses during "work related" outings, or downloading child pornography at work.... all items in the OIG record... we believe that the longer an FCC staff member is allowed to perpetrate his offense without visible sanctions being levied on that person, the more the violator is encouraged to continue the violative behavior and the more likely others may be to emulate the violator.
Conversely, the faster and more visibly the Commission (or other federal law enforcement agencies) act to stop that behavior, the greater the deterrence for violators at the FCC Enforcement Bureau and the greater the disincentive to potential violators at the FCC Enforcement Bureau to do the same thing. What little enforcement is necessary to stop these flagrant abuses by staff at the FCC Enforcement Bureau must be (1) timely, and (2) visible. A major underpinning of keeping the FCC Enforcement Bureau honest and accountable to the public, is the perception of an active presence that creates deterrence and promotes compliance. There should be a steady stream of Congressional inquiries and complaints to the Commission about unresolved, very disruptive rule violators at the FCC, the identities of whom are well-known to the OIG and upper level management at the FCC. Focusing on visibility of the Commission's wrongful actions, and the deterrence created by that visibility, should be every licensee's goal as well as every FCC employee's goal. Compliance can only be achieved achieved by (1) the continuous visibility of wrongdoing by Enforcement Bureau staff; and (2) making available to the media every wrongful act done by that bureau. Failure to publish illegal actions at the Enforcement Bureau and the consequences of those illegal actions, has had a devastating effect on the entire philosophy of enforcement, leading inexorably to the Enforcement Bureau's well documented lack of fairness, openness, and overall lack of transparency, not to mention the Enforcement Bureau's well documented lack of success in enforcing the communication act during much of the past decade, or more.
Much worse, the enforcement actions that are taken against violators at the Enforcement Bureau are not released to the media and therefore are not adequately publicized. This deprives the public of the knowledge that the Commission is indeed investigating and responding to given problems with staff at the Enforcement Bureau. The result is the perception that nothing is being done in a given case, and frustration builds rapidly among tax payers who have to endure the actions of the rule violator(s) on an ongoing basis. It is well-understood that there is a limit to the transparency of ongoing OIG enforcement investigations. However, the limitations imposed on the visibility of enforcement actions within the Commission has been and continues to be a complete disservice to licensees, tax payers, Congress, and all FCC stakeholders. The public deserves to know the extent of the crimes and corruption perpetrated against tax payers from within the FCC Enforcement Bureau, which is the FCC's largest bureau, especially at this crucial juncture, where the American public is being asked to "trust the FCC" with regulation of the Internet.
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