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Fletcher: Oh, these local goings on

March 6, 2012
Stephen Fletcher , The Alpena News

Dr Bill Nesbitt would look around at bizarre actions of locals and state: "I love these goings on."

Nesbitt was an amateur student of strange human activities. He would have loved this period of time.

Consider first proposed air service for Alpena. What I want in a flight is safety, connections, and comfort in that order. The safety in air travel is paramount for most of us as we wish to "arrive alive."

The reason we got on the airplane is usually to go farther than Detroit, so the connections are the next most important element to us. Since the flights are only about 50 minutes, comfort isn't too big a deal as we aren't going to be on this leg of our journey for too long. We, of course, also want to be able to check our bags and some of us bring extras - animals, skis, or guns along on flights.

Our problem is there are about 10,000 of us annually who have bought tickets to travel by air out of Alpena. This means on an average day 27.4 folks want to fly out of Alpena with all of the stuff we deem necessary to bring along.

Now we are getting to the point where Nesbitt would really enjoy himself. The only flights being proposed as an alternative to Delta would be flown on Cessna Caravans or Piper Navajos. I believe the Cessna still is in production but the manufacturer of Navajos stopped more than a decade ago. Neither one can carry 13.7 passengers and their associated baggage. The Caravan is a single engine aircraft and the aging Navajo is a light twin.

Since the offering has no interline ticketing nor baggage agreements, you will have to carry your luggage to a terminal at O'Hare and do the TSA shakedown and the check in procedure all over again. Oops, but not your guns nor animals because there is no room for animals and it is illegal to bring unregistered guns into the City of Chicago.

The part Nesbitt would like best is how the Department of Transportation now wants Mayor Matt to be the lead negotiator over airport service as opposed to Chairman Cam, who represents the people who own the airport. This is like asking me to sell your house and set the price and terms. The city has as much standing in this activity as the chamber of commerce. Both should be involved in the process, but they are not the lead party.

This is as organized as a cat fight. The fur is flying and the yowling is at a crescendo, but where is the progress?

On another issue, Nesbitt would also love the great water meter debate that has just started to come to a slow boil. The automatic meter reading controversy is nationwide. For years, utilities and other folks who own meters and other remote data collection units have wanted to automate the system so a person would not have to go to a remote site to write down a reading, which would be sent to another location and used for engineering, accounting or billing purposes. It's relatively cheap to read meters in cities with a person, but as "windshield time" increases between meters in rural areas, the price per meter increases also.

Thus, lots of folks today use wireless data transmission.

There always is a backlash against any new system, especially by customers over remote wireless collection of meter data. Arguments include everything from invasion of privacy to inteference with pacemakers or alarm clocks. It also has been said that since the new meters don't have dials, a person without a computer can't access real-time data. As a consequence, some argue the AMR discriminates against low income people who can't afford computers.

Many Public Service Commissions are making "opt out" rules on the installation of such meters, with discounts to those who opt out because the capital cost of such items should not be included in their bills.

I read in the newspaper we have a councilman chastising a voter for objecting to the proposed new meters in an exchange of letters to the editor. Dr. Bill is chuckling somewhere about the "servant of the people" railing at his boss, the voter.

I know what he is saying: "I love these goings on."

Stephen Fletcher was graduated decades ago from Cornell University with an A.B. in Economics and from Michigan State University with an M.B.A. He has lived and worked in the decades from graduation until now in the Alpena area. He thinks economics is fun and interesting.

 
 

 

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