Business
17

SEMO.net Still Alive And Kicking – Becker’s Assets Are NOT Being Seized

First of all, contrary to what the DAR reported, there was no warrant and “Becker’s Assets” are not being seized. In my opinion, the paper’s slanderous headline of “BECKER’s ASSETS” is seriously appalling. Friends and family have been contacting us to make sure we are okay. I really cannot believe that the DAR would make such a terrible statement directed at me personally. In June, the newspaper also made this about me, personally, and not the company. Isn’t this covered in Journalism 101?

As for the photo on the front page of the newspaper, I have it on good authority that the City Attorney has NEVER before asked to go out with the Sheriff’s department to deliver papers until today. I can also assure you that the Sheriff’s department is not who invited the Daily American Republic to come to 1877 N Westwood and take a photo. I’m confident that it was Wally because when I asked about the DAR photographer, Deputy Armes said “I had nothing to do with that and didn’t know he was there until after the picture was taken.”

Deputy Armes who served the papers was very kind. His wife is Vicky Armes and Toni just wrote about her lovely garden a few weeks back on SEMO.net. I know Mr. Armes felt awkward about the whole deal, but I tried to reassure him that I knew it wasn’t his fault that the City had tried to make a spectacle out of all this.

Even funnier was Wally standing in my office asking what assets were Poplar Bluff Internet’s. My entire staff was laughing because it sounded like Duncan was going to grab something and carry it out to his car. It was comical and we’ve laughed about it several times since. I guess that’s why the DAR photographer was hanging out in the parking lot, just in case Wally came out with some PBII spoils. I even offered him a PBII-owned chair that he could carry out, but I guess he decided that wouldn’t be a very good caption: Duncan Seizes Office Chair To Repay City.

I asked Mr. Armes if I could have some time to provide a list of assets. Wally said “What? 24 hours?” I said, “Monday would be better for me.” Wally said, “Friday.” The deputy looked at me and I said, “How about I have a list for you sitting on this counter at 10am on Monday” and he looked at Wally and said I’m out of town on Friday anyway. Wally frowned and nodded his head, and Mr Armes said that would be fine.

Also, I did not say that “most of the assets have been transferred to another company” as Duncan told the paper. I said “sold.” Wally really doesn’t listen well. Of course “transferred” probably sounds more sinister…I guess that was his next option after he decided not to carry the chair out my front door.

In April 2011, at the injunction hearing I testified as CEO/President of Poplar Bluff Internet, Inc., that Poplar Bluff Internet could not sustain the loss of Cable Internet and continue to operate. In early 2012, Poplar Bluff Internet brought in an outside consultant firm who confirmed that there was no way to sustain the company going forward.

Bluff Technologies, Inc., purchased the brand and domain name of SEMO.net and all their users. Bluff Technologies, Inc. hired me as President and all of Poplar Bluff Internet’s staff in 2012 as well. For more than a year, SEMO.net has operated as a “dba” or “doing business as” of Bluff Technologies.

Of course SEMO.net has been and is suffering. We’ve lost a lot of customers and our income continues to drop. We’ve had terrible problems with our wireless service because of all the rain and lightning over the past four weeks which has caused even more problems for us. But we are doing our very best to stay online and continue serving our customers. Our goal is to survive. And we still have every expectation to do so. We even still have hope that some day, when the GOBs no longer control City Council, we will once again have open access to the public network in Poplar Bluff.

Friends, thank you for your prayers and support. We will get through this “asset seizure of Poplar Bluff Internet” just like all the other stuff we’ve gone through. Just know my heart is set to do the right thing and act according to my faith.

Brian

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Written by Brian Becker

After graduating from Mizzou with Computer and Electrical Engineering degrees in 1985, Brian Becker spent a decade singing Christian Rock and being a labeled artist with Benson Music Group of Nashville. In 1995, he and several investors started the area's first Internet Service called PBMO.net and by 2000 the company was serviing Internet access in over 50 communities throughout Southeast Missouri as SEMO.net. In July 2014, Becker again made a major pivot and became Publisher of the SEMO TIMES: a weekly print and daily online news and entertainment source for the region.

  • tom

    I hope they get whats coming to them , You have exposed their corruption so many times I am amazed they still hold their Jobs .

  • Sandy Stamps-Doss

    Brian,
    Praying for you, your family and employees. Keep the faith. Glad to hear that the DAR has made yet ANOTHER MISTAKE!!
    Sandy

  • jerry

    i like your style brian T.C.B

  • Laurie

    I think you are doing a great job of exposing the city, This is very important to the people of PB, weather they want to hear about it or not. I was tought at a young age that NEVER let with other people do change the way you are, so rememeber with or without SEMO.Net don’t let these people change the way you are, we NEED more like you.

  • Jimmy K

    How much did this Bluff Technologies pay for semo.net? I’m going to guess nothing, or damn near close to it since its just another company you created to be cute and transfer the assets to. Did you purchase Poplar Bluff Internet from yourself as well?

    • Brian Becker

      My guess is that any price wouldn’t be good enough for you, Jimmy. A fair valuation was placed on it and paid for it.

  • jerry

    only in America Brian Becker your part of the mafia and been laundering money to a Swiss bank account .to cheat the city out of their dollars ! hmm

  • Zena T

    It’s funny the City never said anything about you reselling their Internet being a money loosing deal until you started selling their Internet cheaper than they were selling it. Isn’t this when everything started.

  • Pingback: Mr. Schrieber—Have The Integrity To Retract! | SEMO.net

  • Ruthie Carter

    So…will these assets be sold as part of the PB auction now online? If so, good chance you can get them back! If you want them I mean…

    • Brian Becker

      I hope they just store these assets until the appeals is complete. After all, many of these assets have significant value because they were a part of our company back in 1995. We can’t just ‘replace’ them with another such item later.

  • Regina

    Hope things work out keep the faith

  • C

    Brian,

    Can Semo.net serve us if we’re in Colorado?

    -C

    “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” – bono

    • Brian Becker

      Wish I could, wish I could.

  • Dewayne

    brian can u up to speed me on why u and the council got crossways. i am having a tough time understanding the complexity of this issue. i went to school with u at greenville and was impressed with u then as a human and hate to see u in this unfortunate situation. best of luck and more importantly best of faith and mercy

    • Brian Becker

      It’s a 3.5 year-long struggle. In 1999 our citizens voted to build a network around the city and use it to provide TV, Internet and telecommunications. One of those telecommunications services was “Open Access” to the network which allowed companies like mine to buy a network connection which went from each customer back to our building. Once connected, we could supply them Internet, VPN or other services across it.

      The City officials got upset that I was able to provide faster services at lower prices than they were able or willing to charge. In 2010, Council voted to end Open Access after an 8 month window and increase the price by more than 40% during those last months. They raised the wholesale price (which included no Internet, DNS, Tech Support, or email) to $1051/megabit of network bandwidth (meaning from our customers to us) not Internet bandwidth whereas the City retail price included Internet, DNS, Tech Support and email for $50/megabit.

      Missouri has a law (MoRevSt 392.410.7) that states if a city owns a municipal utility and the sell telecommunications services or facilities, they have to do it at cost and non-competitively. We feel the city violated both provisions since the cost has been calculated to $9/megabit of network bandwidth, and they kicked us off the network and took most of our customers.

      During the first of those six months we paid only what the price would have been without the rate increase, then the last two months, after we had an expert come in and calculate the cost of the service, we paid the city what it cost them to provide the service. The difference between what we paid and what they charged is $175k (the $206k figure we “owe” includes interest). Anyway, a judge ruled against us without letting us have a trial. We’ve appealed the decision but the city got impatient and took the assets of Poplar Bluff Internet, Inc.

      • jerry

        you forget those laws are flexible written in pencil ..any time one deals with a government issue. sad to say the small business owner is being squeezed out by Big Business .. every body seems to think wal mart was a God send.. how many mom/pop places are open any more? this case has no bearing on me as i am in doniphan.. stuck with wind stream.. another big business isp. go to their face book page read all the complaints about slow service isp outages no internet . honest i hope you win and win big time.. .but part of me worries you will get the shaft .