Hallquist Hire is Phil Scott At His Best

Ooh, this is embarrassing. From when Republicans saw Hallquist as the enemy.

There is nothing bad to say about Gov. Phil Scott hiring Christine Hallquist as executive director of the newly-minted Vermont Community Broadband Board. It’s the kind of move that makes Scott so likeable to so many people.

How many elected officeholders would hire a former political rival to a high-profile position? Not many. But Scott saw Hallquist as the best person for the job, so he hired her without hesitation. In this day and age, it’s so good to see a politician acting in a completely non-political way, putting policy above politics.

The hire is also noteworthy because it shows that Scott is fully on board with the communications union district model, in which community-based nonprofit CUDs would build fiber connections where no commercial operator had been willing to go.

And, especially if the state is adopting this model, Hallquist is clearly the most capable and experienced person for the post.

In recent years, she’s been personally involved in the development of community-based broadband operations. Before that, she was head of the Vermont Electric Coop. During her 2018 campaign for governor, she proposed making the state’s electric utilities responsible for creating a statewide fiber network. Since then, we’ve turned to the CUD model — but some (perhaps all) of the CUDs are partnering with local utilities on network construction and financing. My area’s CUD, CVFiber, will build its fiber network on existing utility poles.

Also, at a time when many Republican politicos are trying to whip up hatred against transgender people and enact exclusionary laws, Phil Scott stands out by bringing a trans person into a high-profile post in his administration.

If anyone can realize the promise of universal high-speed broadband, it’s Hallquist. The governor is to be congratulated for seeing that. and being willing to act on it.

2 thoughts on “Hallquist Hire is Phil Scott At His Best

  1. Roger R. Hill (@wxeringheights)

    This move by our governor shows he’s a Vermonter first and a politician second. We are soooo lucky to be Vermonters with this kind of thing. It is a beautiful thing, warm and fuzzy abounds. Thanks Phil. Now Christine, let’s raise our bandwidth, please. My wife also works remotely on dual modem copper wire system and I’m a real bandwidth hog but required for situational awareness on my end as you would know being a recipient in the older days. We need state-of-the-art bandwidth here in these hills.

    Reply
  2. Paco DeFrancis

    Interesting but hardly unexpected hire.
    Now regarding the topic at hand, rather than the people, I find the narrative Mx. Hallquist pushes–that rural broadband connectivity will unleash a wave of economical development and badly-needed population boost–to be a bit wishful thinking and lacking evidence that fiber investments will have such a positive ROI multiplier.
    Throughout rural parts of Orange County/White River Valley most homes have had access to high speed (800mbs) EC Fiber internet for the better part of a decade. And things are not booming down here. Nor is our population or school enrollment growing. Frankly most people who easily able to connect don’t even bother because at $134/mo EC Fiber might be fast but it’s not cheap.
    I don’t doubt fiber internet is a necessity–I’m able to work from my parent’s basement in rural Strafford due to EC Fiber–rather we need to reign in the narrative that we’ll start booming with out-of-state transplants like the 1970’s-80’s all over again.

    Reply

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