Ag Commish: Gilbert Calls Out Staples For “stupid, look-at-me political tricks”

Texas Agricultural Commissioner Republican Todd Staples decided to waste some time unfolding a map that shows where Texas does not have broadband.

Gilbert’s comments came hours after Staples made a significant production of unveiling a map of Texas illustrating areas that have and do not have broadband access.

“That map will do nothing for people without broadband access,” said Gilbert (D-Whitehouse). “I’m sure people on landline modems will be grateful to Todd-after the 45 minutes it takes them to actually view the map to determine, sure enough, that their area isn’t served by broadband,” Gilbert continued.

“This is yet another stupid, sleazy, ‘look-at-me’ political trick designed to cover up the fact that he’s one of the best at wasting tax money in the history of the state,” he noted.

Staples is using an election year to basically point out what he hasn’t done during his term in office.

“Aside from the fact that he considers the federal stimulus dollars for broadband an excuse to gain further name recognition, what has Todd Staples really done to increase broadband connectivity in Texas,” Gilbert asked. He also questioned why TDA officials have said publicly, in the weeks prior to the map’s unveiling, that they didn’t know what areas of Texas were not served by broadband or high-speed internet access.

“It is a sad day when the agency and commissioner in charge of making sure rural areas get broadband don’t know which areas are underserved. It’s even more sad that the TDA had to depend on a public-private partnership with a non-profit agency to figure it out. I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that telecom companies have far more granular information on existing service areas,” Gilbert said.

“Based on the information available on the website Staples is touting, anyone with a pulse, vocal chords, and the ability to dial the keys on a telephone could have collected this information from providers. I don’t see why it has taken Todd Staples nearly four years to do this,” Gilbert said.

Staples has dropped the ball as Ag Commissioner, particularly on the issue of expanding broadband to Rural Texans. Instead, he has used the position to become a cheerleader against anything that would build the Texas economy and expand our workforce.

“A study released two years ago showed that a one-percent increase in Texas broadband penetration would bring 21,000 new jobs to Texas and that a three-percent increase would mean 63,000 new jobs for Texas. Why didn’t he bother to do something in 2007 when these figures were revealed,” Gilbert continued.

Hank Gilbert’s the only candidate who will run the Texas Department of Agriculture with the people in mind. Vote and support Hank!

Here’s a FACT SHEET below the fold.


Rural Broadband: Another Excuse For Todd Staples To Look Busy

FACT: Todd Staples’ staff publicly admitted that they wouldn’t know what areas of Texas really needed broadband service until a non-profit operating in a public-private partnership with the state provided them a map showing those areas. [“Boosting Broadband,” TriBlog,The Texas Tribune. June 2, 2010. LINK]

FACT: The finding that a one-percent increase in Texas broadband penetration would bring the state 21,100 new jobs, while a three-percent increase would result in 63,300 new jobs was widely publicized as far back as the summer of 2007. [“The Effects of Broadband Deployment On Output and Employment: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of U.S. Data.” Robert Crandall, William Lehr, and Robert Litan. Issues In Economic Policy, No. 6. July 2007. LINK]

FACT: The magical broadband data maps touted by Todd Staples were not crafted in any special or complicated way. It was simply a compilation of data provided by service providers:

    This map, as of May 28, 2010, includes data provided by 123 Texas high-speed Internet providers. In Texas, 97% of households have access to terrestrial fixed broadband service of at least 768Kbps downstream and 200Kbps upstream (excluding mobile and satellite services) – leaving approximately 258,000 unserved households – or 3% – that do not have access to a fixed wireless or wired broadband service offering. With mobile broadband service included, 99% or 7.35 million Texas households have access to broadband service of at least 768Kbps downstream and 200Kbps upstream. [Connected Texas: Interactive Map. LINK.]

Although the maps provide interactive components, the data itself came from service providers, which could have easily been compiled by TDA staff.

FACT: Todd Staples’ office noted almost a year ago that his agency had completed a survey of local governments relating to broadband access which would allegedly lead the department to develop a list of “priority broadband corridors” to help guide recommendations for federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grants. To date, the agency has announced no such corridors. [Texas Department of Agriculture Press Release, August 12, 2009. LINK.]

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