EVENT April 22: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Monthly Meeting

The MN Broadband Task Force is happening on Friday April April 22…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Friday, April 22, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Microsoft Teams meeting

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device

mn@m.webex.com

Video Conference ID: 111 205 119 8

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Or call in (audio only)

+1 651-395-7448,,702207788#   United States, St. Paul

Phone Conference ID: 702 207 788#

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10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.   Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from March 24, 2022 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Legislative and OBD update

Diane Wells, Deputy Director, DEED Office of Broadband Development

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Update and discussion on subgroup topics from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.                Break

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Grant Process – role of MMB with IIJA, Capital Projects Fund, and SLFRF Liz Connor, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB)

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, May Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force March Meeting: Fond du Lac story and adoption in MN

Today the MN Broadband Task Force got presentations from two of its members: Jason Hollinday from Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Bernadine Joselyn.

Jason talked about the history of Fond du Lac’s broadband network. They started working on broadband in 2005. They approached all angles – they built demand, wrote grants, realized fiber was the answer and became the fiber broadband provider and ETC (eligible telecom company). They overcame challenges of ruralness and internal capacity.

Bernadine talked about the three legged stool of digital equity – access to broadband, devices and the knowledge to use them. Broadband access is lower in rural areas – in part because of the demographics of rural areas – older people, low income and less education. She included a video of speakers from rural areas on why they appreciated and/or needed better broadband depending on their situation.

The group also looked at what topics they would address in 2022:

  • Funding and investments
  • Updated Mapping and Usage
  • Affordability and adoption

EVENT Mar 24: Governor’s Task Force on Broadband March Agenda

Here’s the agenda for the MN Task Force Meeting on Thursday of this week…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
Thursday, March 24, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Click here to join the meeting
Video Conference ID: 115 630 774 0
Alternate VTC instructions
Or call in (audio only)
+1 651-395-7448,,807036507#   United States, St. Paul
Phone Conference ID: 807 036 507#

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from February 23, 2022 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Update on 2022 Session Deven Bowdry, DEED Government Relations Coordinator
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Broadband FTTH Development for Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Jason Hollinday, Director of Planning
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:05 a.m.  Adoption and Challenges in Rural Communities Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation
  • 11:05 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Break
  • 11:20 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Update from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
  • 11:50am. – 12:50 p.m. Discussion on Subgroup Topics
  • 12:50 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, April Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force Meeting Feb 2022 – updates, plans and a bill for a reserve auction

The MN Broadband Task Force met this morning. Much of the meeting was spent reflecting on last year and planning for this year. There were also legislative and funding updates from the Office of Broadband Development. [Added Feb 24: Here’s the MN broadband 101 worksheet that OBD presented to the group.] One interesting fact – they estimate that the cost to deploy broadband to everyone household in Minnesota is $1.3 billion. There was also a discussion on a new bill to help broadband providers reach single remote households through a reserve auction – up to $25,000 per home.

Read on for more complete notes… Continue reading

EVENT Feb 23: MN Broadband Task Force Monthly Meeting – focus on cable industry

Everyone can attend the meeting they have set up, but also I will plan to attend virtually and will livestream on Facebook…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 1:10 p.m.

 Click here to join the meeting

 

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from December 3, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Update from DEED Commissioner Steve Grove

10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Update on 2022 Session with Deven Bowdry, DEED Government Relations Coordinator

10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Minnesota Cable Communications Association Presentation regarding legislative bill for line extension program with  Anna Boroff, Executive Director

11:05 a.m. – 11:10 a.m. Break

11:10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Office of Broadband Development Update with Angie Dickison, Executive Director

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Update from Teddy Bekele, Chair, Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Discussion on Subgroup Topics

1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, February Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

OPPORTUNITY: MN Broadband Task Force looking for one member

The Minnesota Secretary of State reports

The Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State today released the January 2022 notice of vacancies for various state boards, councils and committees that are accepting applications, due 1/22/2022. Minnesotans are encouraged to apply and serve in demonstration of public service. The full list of vacancies are listed below and here: Open Positions.

They are looking for a member for the MN Broadband Task Force…

Governor’s Task Force On Broadband
Vacancies: 1 Seat — Member
You can learn more and see who has applied online.

AT&T’s Paul Weirtz named state president of AT&T Wisconsin (as well as MN)

If you don’t know him from anywhere else, careful readers will know Paul Weirtz from his seat on the MN Broadband Task Force. Wisconsin Business reports that we’re going to have to share him – and congrats to Paul…

AT&T* announced today that Paul Weirtz has been named state president of AT&T Wisconsin.

As president of AT&T Wisconsin, Weirtz will lead all external, government and community affairs efforts for AT&T in the state. Weirtz succeeds Scott VanderSanden, who retired in December after nearly 33 years with the company.

“I am honored to lead AT&T external affairs in the great State of Wisconsin,” said Weirtz. “AT&T has a long history of investing in Wisconsin, and I’m excited to work closely with our team to continue those investments, from expanding our networks to giving back to our local communities.”

Weirtz has more than 22 years with AT&T. In 2013, he was named president of AT&T Minnesota. He has served on the Minnesota Governor’s Broadband Task Force since 2015 and played a key role in the passage of small cell legislation in the state in 2017. He has also held positions in local external affairs and government relations for the company.

As current state president for Minnesota, Weirtz will lead legislative and community affairs operations for both Wisconsin and Minnesota, working closely with legislators, business leaders and other policymakers.

NOW OUT! 2021 Annual Report from the MN Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

The MN Broadband Task Force Annual Report is now available. Here are their recommendations…

Recommendations – Unserved, Underserved, & Funding

(1.1 & 1.3) The total $180 million Capital Projects Fund allocated to Minnesota from the federal ARPA fund, should be allocated to OBD for funding the Border-to-Border Broadband program over the next 2-3 years to help attain broadband service for all Minnesota residents.
(1.2 & 1.3) Grant funds should first be focused on unserved areas (~171,000 households fit this category), and the definitions of ‘unserved’ & ‘underserved’ should remain unchanged as they highlight the geographic areas not meeting stated goals.
(1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5) Geographic considerations should be factored in when allocating broadband grant funds. A “one-size fits all” grant allocation will not secure service in areas of the state where a fiber/cable option is difficult or impossible:
● Unserved areas of the state that are difficult to reach due to low density, tough geography, etc. should receive a higher % of funding match from OBD to increase build out options for wireline projects/solutions
● The legislature should require all future projects funded by OBD grant dollars be capable of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload at the time of deployment (irrespective of whether or not a provider offers a service package of 100/100), and meet network reliability requirements in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Recommendations – Mapping and Speed Goals

(2.1-2.3) Minnesota should continue to invest in improving broadband maps
● strive to achieve ISP cooperation in producing address-level or ‘shapefile’ broadband maps (rather than rely on current FCC census block data)
● include eligibility data related to the various federal programs supporting broadband infrastructure development
● OBD is encouraged to incorporate, whenever possible, data from reliable 3rd party ‘crowd-sourced’ maps when determining eligibility for Border-to-Border grants (2.4 & 2.5) The legislature should continue to make the investments from state general funds necessary to ensure that all Minnesotans, regardless of zip code, have access to broadband at speeds that meet state goals. Federal investments should not be seen as a substitute for ongoing state investment

Recommendations – Access, Affordability & Education

(3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6) Provide funding to the Office of Broadband Development to promote broadband adoption and use to redress digital inequity.
(3.2) Fully fund the Telecommunications Access Equity Aid (TEA) program (by raising the funding cap to at least $9 million) in order to allow school districts to equitably procure the internet and network bandwidth needed to fully support digital learning. This
aid program benefits school districts by making access to broadband more affordable by fully funding the eligible costs of the federal E-rate program.
(3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6) Establish and fund a position within the MN Department of Education to provide leadership and support to schools (and families) in areas of digital equity, digital literacy, funding (E-rate, etc.), cybersecurity, instructional technology and
other areas of education technology.
(3.7, 3.8) Given expressed needs from city & county leaders to expand the Lead for MN American Connection Corp fellows program (Americorp/Vista), the state should provide supplemental funding of $225,000 to support work in Minnesota communities on broadband expansion projects (15 more fellows @ $15,000 per fellow)

MN Broadband Task Force finalizes annual report

Today the MN Broadband Task Force was all business getting through the brass tacks of the annual report. There were a couple of hot topics or sticky issues. First, in the draft, there was a waiver to allow state funding to go to projects that did not meet the 100/100 standard in areas that are difficult to serve. That has been removed. The reasoning was that public funding should not go to invest in short term solutions, especially when we are in a flux of unprecedented federal funding. There was a lot of discussion on whether to say all recommended funding should come from base budget. Lots of discussion on how to describe satellite – is it a gap technology, is it good enough for people who choose to live in otherwise unserved areas, is it affordable? There was a brief discussion about removing the $5 million cap on state grant projects. It would allow for bigger projects but the group decided to leave that discussion to next year, when hopefully the Office of Broadband Development will be looking at what to do with $180 million proposed funding for broadband. (Fun note – the proposal to get that funding was submitted today.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a PDF of the document today but with the new PPT format, it’s easy to follow along with the action in the video. I guess that’s a silver lining of COVID – better archive of public meetings.

EVENT Dec 20: MN Broadband Task Force meeting to discuss final draft of annual report

I will attend and will livestream via Facebook – although folks are welcome to attend directly as well. I don’t have the most recent draft of the report to share but I have the previous version. There were a few things that people might find concerning – like opening the door to using state grants for projects that only meet 25/3 requirements or emphasis on unserved.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband

December 20, 2021

10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Join on your computer or mobile app

Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device

mn@m.webex.com

Video Conference ID: 117 952 458 6

Alternate VTC instructions

Or call in (audio only)

+1 651-395-7448,,771759466#   United States, St. Paul

Phone Conference ID: 771 759 466#

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10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.                Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from December 3, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Office of Broadband Development (OBD) Update

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  Walk Thru of Draft Report

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.  Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Continue Walk Thru of Draft Report

12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.  Discuss Next Steps

12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, 2022 Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force Dec 2021 Meeting Notes & Video: Editing Annual Report Draft

Today, the MN Broadband Task Force got an update from the Office of Broadband Development and quick lesson on synchronous and asynchronous broadband technologies and then they went through the latest draft iteration of the annual report. I iteration I have is the one they discussed, not post-discussion version but you’ll get a flavor of what they are thinking in it.

Here are a few high level remarks on the draft and the discussion. The format is much easier to digest as a PPT than the old report format. Here’s the Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Executive Summary
  • Key Challenges and Concerns
  • Recommendations
  • Economic Impact Inter/Intra Agency Cooperation/Coordination
  • Policy and Statutory Goals
  • Appendixes

There was discussion about speed goals; the Task Force had earlier decided not to recommend an increase in speed goals. There was also a recommendation that the state fund projects that only go to 25/3 under special circumstances. I think that got removed. Some folks felt 25/3 was better than nothing; but others disagreed especially since getting 25/3 might disqualify a community from getting funding for a more permanent solution. There seems to be tension between trying to get something to everyone who needs it versus taking the time to build long term solutions. The discussion reminded me that while in town earlier this week, President Biden implored Minnesotans to use the upcoming in flux of cash to build to help the US become a leader again.

EVENT December 3: MN Broadband Task Force Meeting Agenda

The Task Force meetings are remote and open to all. For folks who don’t want to join via Webex/Teams, I will livestream on Facebook and archive.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
December 3, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Microsoft Teams meeting
Click here to join the meeting
Join with a video conferencing device
mn@m.webex.com
Video Conference ID: 119 694 806 6
Alternate VTC instructions

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from November 1, 2021 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Office of Broadband Development (OBD) Update
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:35 a.m. Broadband Technologies and Symmetrical Speeds
    Dave Wolf, CEO, Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Assn.
  • 10:35 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Walk Thru of Draft Report
  • 11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Break
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Continue Walk Thru of Draft Report and Next Steps
  • 12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Public Comment, Other Business, December 20th Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

MN Broadband Task Force asks Governor Walz to expedite and increase request for federal funds for broadband

The MN Broadband Task Force sent a letter to Governor Walz, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, Senator Erin Murphy, and Representative Debra Kiel…

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act funding that Minnesota is slated to receive, there is a Sec. 604
Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund that is intended to be used “to carry out critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).” The U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), which is charged with administering this fund, notes on its website that a
purpose of this funding is to “contribute to the Administration’s goal of providing every American with
the modern infrastructure necessary to access critical services, including a high-quality and affordable
broadband internet connection.”
In August 2021, Treasury identified the amount of Sec. 604 funding that would be allocated to each state; Minnesota’s allocation is $180,702,620. In September 2021, Treasury issued guidance as to how the Capital Projects Fund dollars may be used and broadband infrastructure projects were identified as a presumptively eligible use.
In the 2021 Minnesota legislative session, language was passed to fund the state’s Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant program with $70 million over the biennium and with that funding coming from the Capital Projects Fund. This decision was made prior to either information being released regarding Minnesota’s total allocation or guidance on allowed uses.
Minnesota is required to apply for this funding by December 27, 2021 and once its application is
approved and an agreement signed with Treasury, the state must submit a Grant Plan and a Program Plan(s) outlining how it intends to use the state’s allocation of $180,702,620. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband would urge the state to submit its application as soon as possible and once an agreement is in place, file a Grant Plan and Program Plan to use all the funding for the state’s Border-to-Border
Broadband Infrastructure grant program. With prompt approval by Treasury, the Office of Broadband
Development could then open a grant window and approve projects in time to be built, or at least started, during the 2022 construction season. As you are aware, Minnesota’s construction season is shortened due to weather and it is imperative to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
The guidance issued by Treasury indicates that any home or business in Minnesota that does not have a reliable, wireline broadband service of at least 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload is eligible for this funding. The latest data available shows that there are at least 240,000 households in Minnesota without a broadband connection meeting those speeds. Assuming an average cost of $5,527 per location to deliver a broadband service (taken from the Task Force’s 2020 annual report), deploying service to those 240,000 households would require funding of over $1.3 billion. Even assuming the grant portion for that funding is capped at 50 percent as it is under current state law for the Border-to-Border Broadband grant program, funding of $663 million would still be necessary.
While Minnesota has been a leader amongst the states with its Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program having awarded $126.2 million to reach approximately 57,000 locations with broadband service between 2014 and 2020, the state is falling behind. In March 2021, Wisconsin awarded over $24.8 million for 58 projects, in October 2021 Wisconsin awarded $100 million to 83 projects and in early November announced that the next grant window to award another $100 million will open December 1, 2021. In October 2021, Iowa announced that it would make available another $200 million for broadband grants in addition to the $100 million in grants announced in September 2021 as part of its Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. A few other examples include Missouri announcing it will use at least $400 million for broadband infrastructure; Ohio is using $250
million to improve high speed internet service; Texas Governor Abbott just signed a bill allocating $500
million for broadband infrastructure; and Virginia has plans to use $700 million to provide universal
broadband by 2024.
The pandemic has made clear the need for fast, reliable broadband service to all homes and businesses in the state. Federal funding is available to get that infrastructure deployed. Broadband is the foundational element that is a force multiplier for all other issues. We need it to better address critical challenges and build economic opportunity, competitiveness, and prosperity. The state has in place a
nationally recognized broadband office and grant program. All that is needed is for the Governor and
the Legislature to direct the available federal funding to the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program so that the real work of building out the infrastructure to meet the state’s broadband
goals can be achieved. The time is now to invest in our communities.
Thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.
Sincerely,
Teddy Bekele
Chair, Governor’s Broadband Task Force

MN Broadband Task Force Nov 2021 – update on regional meetings and draft recommendations

The Task Force heard from Benya Kraus about the regional meetings that led up to the statewide regional meetings. She outlines what folks on the ground were saying and made some recommendations for the state and for the task force to help move broadband forward. Then the task force subcommittees talked about their various recommendations. (You can see them in the draft report.)

It will be interesting to see how the subcommittees compromise on some of the recommendations. At a super high level here are a few topics:

Speed goals: some folks want to change the goal; some do not

  • Unserved/underserved: most folks seem to want to focus on grants for unserved over underserved
  • Geographic distribution: grants need to be evenly distributed based on geography – most folks want to change that
  • Grant match: right now the grant requires a 50 percent match – but as the focus is on hardest to reach places, most folks want to see less match required

Those recommendations would require legislative changes.

10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from October 5, 2021 Meeting

10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Office of Broadband Development (OBD) Update

  • Hiring 2 positions
  • Capital projects funds – working on getting the application together
  • Looking for answers to FAQs about Capital projects fund – especially waiting to hear about conflicts with RDOF
  • ReConnect funding is open
  • No news on a potential session

10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Regional Gatherings Overview – Benya Kraus, Executive Director, Lead for America

An update of the Regional meetings. Some local themes:

  • Bring trusted providers together
  • Explore the broad continuum of public-private partnerships
  • Coordinate a statewide PR campaign on the importance of broadband, similar to the saturation and effectiveness of the veterans billboard strategy
  • Digital Literacy Investment

How can we get there?

  • Cultivate local champions
  • Frequent and digestible funding updates
  • Cross County Coordination on projects
  • Adaptive funding mechanisms that incentivize providers

10:45 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Mapping and Speed Goal

Questions/Comments

  • Should we ask providers to measure reliability?
  • We will want to reconcile overlap in recommendations between subcommittee.
  • If we want to change the speed goals, let’s just say it. Although I don’t want to change it. People won’t get service faster if we change the speed goals.
  • If we say broadband needs to be 100/100 or nothing people will get nothing.

11:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.  Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Accessibility, Affordability and Education

Questions/Comments

  • Do we think we should send recommendations straight to the department?
  • Might be nice to include info on what it takes to deploy 100/100 Mbps.

11:45 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Un/Underserved and Funding

Questions/Comments

  • We should focus on unserved areas. Other agencies might be looking at the federal broadband dollars.
  • The legislators may balk at future funding – especially if we are asking them to provider “ perrier” style broadband versus tap water variety.
  • We need legislators to make some changes to the grants if we want changes.
  • The state speed goals for 2026 are 100/20 – so maybe that’s the new definition for unserved?
  • We are not going to meet the 2022 speed goals of ubiquitous 25/3
  • We need to remove the caveat that says we need geographic distribution of grant funds – some areas need more – we need legislative change to do that.
  • We’ve seen legislators try to add broadband projects in bills – especially with some suggestions to offer rebates to satellite users. Maybe we need to work with legislators now to get changes that make sense.
  • With pandemic related delays in supplies, we are looking at later build outs no matter what we do.

12:10 p.m. – 12:20 p.m.  Next Steps for Subgroups and Draft Report

12:20 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, December Meeting Plans, Wrap-up

What are thoughts on sending a letter to the Governor asking to tap into the $180 million in federal funding for broadband?
The decision is to do it

 

EVENT Nov 1: MN Broadband Task Force monthly meeting

I will plan to attend and I will livestream. Everyone is welcome to attend the actual meeting and there’s always time for public comment – but sometimes it’s easier to view on Facebook.

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
November 1, 2021
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Click here to join the meeting
Join with a video conferencing device mn@m.webex.com
Video Conference ID: 115 972 031 9
Alternate VTC instructions

  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Task Force Introductions, Attendee Introductions and Approval of Minutes from October 5, 2021 Meeting
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Office of Broadband Development (OBD) Update
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.  Regional Gatherings Overview – Benya Kraus, Executive Director, Lead for America
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Mapping and Speed Goal
  • 11:10 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.  Break
  • 11:20 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.  Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Accessibility, Affordability and Education
  • 11:45 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. Subgroup Update/Topic Discussion: Un/Underserved and Funding
  • 12:10 p.m. – 12:20 p.m.  Next Steps for Subgroups and Draft Report
  • 12:20 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Public Comment, Other Business, December Meeting Plans, Wrap-up