Urgent Matters

McEwen should be left in the game

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I’m really not a football fan. It is much too violent and barbaric a game for my tastes. I prefer baseball, a tough, yet civilized, contest. (If you don’t think baseball players are tough, you’ve never taken a fastball in the ribs or a foul tip to the collarbone.) So, I will continue my time-honored tradition this weekend of going to a movie on Super Bowl Sunday.

Nevertheless, I know enough about the gridiron and its combatants to know that a team’s fortunes typically depend on whether the quarterback plays well or the game plan is effective. Quite often, one is dependent on the other. I’ve been thinking about this since the FCC issued draft rules for the reauction of the commercial D Block spectrum in the 700 MHz band, which would be paired with public-safety spectrum to form the backbone for a high-speed network for first responders. These rules would require the formation of a new board for the Public Safety Spectrum Trust, the licensee that holds the public-safety airwaves in the band.

That means Harlin McEwen, the current PSST chairman would be out—which would be a mistake. (Disclaimer: McEwen is a member of the UC editorial council and occasionally writes for our print edition.) Certainly, he has his critics. Politics are a factor in this. So too, I believe, are McEwen’s intimidating presence and considerable fortitude and conviction. But from the press box, it appears that he has done a solid job with a game plan that was flawed from the beginning. For example, the PSST board is too large to be effective and the organization was unfunded, leaving it in the awkward position of having to take controversial loans from its advisor Cyren Call. (To be fair, it is exceedingly difficult to craft an effective game plan when no playbook exists, which is exactly the position the FCC found itself in when it approved the public/private partnership plan for this network.)

Say what you will about McEwen, but I have never met anyone whose loyalty towards and passion for public-safety communications exceeds his. Just as no coach would yank his starting quarterback in a big game after an interception—or even two—McEwen deserves to stay in this game until the final gun.

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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