Not everyone supports Holland City Fiber, but two names keep popping up in opposition. Protect Holland Taxpayers is the first, hitting us with mailers, and ads. Ted Boelma is the other, writing articles all over.
I get lots of questions asking who these people are and why they care. Here’s what I know.
This group appeared in June with a simplistic website, direct mailers, and social media ads.
Their official address is a tight-lipped law firm in Grand Rapids. Through their official filings, we know their Treasurer is Leon Drolet from Macomb. Leon is a County Commissioner and Chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. Leon’s anti-tax stance is clear. His connection to Holland unclear.
Their Treasurer is Susanne Waltman from St. Clair Shores. She’s the Founder of Michigan for Vaccine Choice and also has unclear connections to Holland.
So why are two people from the east side of the state running ads against a Holland Millage? Because someone else is paying them to. This is clearly an astroturfing campaign designed to look like local, concerned residents, but really a front for incumbent ISPs. Can I prove it? No. I only have rumors that Xfinity (Comcast) is behind it. I also haven’t seen any sign that this is locally-coordinated.
Ted Boelma is described by WZZM 13 as a “seasonal Holland resident” but his condo is in Park Township, not the City. He can’t vote on this millage. This doesn’t apply to him.
Ted wants you to think he’s a local person with concerns, but he’s been writing against municipal broadband project for years. To quote his own bio, his research “focuses on regulatory policy, especially as it relates to Internet commerce, and on state fiscal policy.” He’s also described as “Mackinac Center board of scholar member who studies technology policy issues.” This isn’t a new space for him, it just happens to be in his backyard…er, the next town over.
Ted brings up a lot of common scare tactics against community broadband. I won’t go into them all today, except to say: Holland is Different
Holland isn’t Chattanooga, or Traverse City, or Grand Rapids. We chose to form a city-owned power company in 1893. We decided to build a fiber optic network 30 years ago. We opened a new power plant in 2017 and managed the investment so well that we paid off the debt 15 years early and continually lowered electric rates (10% in 2021 alone).
On August 2nd, City of Holland residents vote on another investment in our community’s future. As we do that, let’s listen to the voices here in the City. Not outsiders.
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