Keep McEwen in the game
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 continued my time-honored tradition this year 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 depends on the other. I’ve been thinking about this since the FCC issued draft rules for the re-auction 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 our editorial council and occasionally writes for the publication.) 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 McEwen 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 adviser, Cyren Call. (To be fair, it is exceedingly difficult to craft an effective game plan when no playbook exists, which is exactly the position in which the FCC found itself 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 toward 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.