Several southcoast residents — including former Supervisor Norman de Vall — have written to us with questions about what happened to esplanade.us, the Gualala-based wireless internet services provider that abruptly shut down last week.
It's not entirely clear what’s going on, but it looks like a domestic dispute between esplanade’s former co-owners — entrepreneur and one-time possible supervisorial candidate Marshall Sayegh and his wife Terri — has left esplanade.us and their thousands of southcoast customers out of service.
Mr. Sayegh got a restraining order against Mrs. Sayegh on February 10, saying that the “protected party” was Mr. Sayegh and the “customers and clients of protected party’s business.” But Mrs. Sayegh, according to Mr. Sayegh, violated the court order and got into the internal internet coding and changed it so that the website no longer functions — before the order was officially in force or served on Mrs. Sayegh. Mr. Sayegh filed a complaint about his business being “stolen” with the Sheriff but the whole affair is in limbo while Mr. Sayegh tries to get the Sheriff or the DA to act on the restraining order violation charge against his wife.
Sayegh says he received something like $2 million in gross revenues since esplanade.us was originally set up in 2003 and has paid out about $400k to local workers since then. As we understand the esplanade concept, subscribers pay from $75 to $150 a month (depending on which transmission speed you signed up for) and that includes free wireless equipment to (but not inside) the home. We can’t tell from the available information if the business’s finances had anything to do with the flap between Mr. and Mrs. Sayegh. But it sure is inconveniencing a lot of people who lost their relatively high speed wireless internet on the Coast last week.
Trying to log onto www.esplanade.us now produces an automatic re-route to www.terisayaenterprises.com with a page of crude all-caps text with Mr. Sayegh’s jumbled explanation of the problem, plus an attachment with more of the same jumbled text, copies of the restraining order, and annotated copies of the alterations that Mrs. Sayegh allegedly made to esplanade’s internal internet coding data. But why such accusatory material from Mr. Sayegh is on a website that appears to bear Mrs. Sayegh’s name is not clear.
One observer and former esplanade.us customer who looked at the posted explanatory material described it as “a load of garbage.” Another said that the fiasco has echoes of the incident in mid-1990s when Gerhard Hanneman’s “Wander Cable” service flamed out and died amidst drug charges, multi-agency helicopter-aided drug raids and some very colorful coastal radio broadcasts featuring Mr. Hanneman denouncing his critics as “snitches, whores and druggies.” Hanneman himself was subsequently brought down by methamphetamine abuse and packed off to jail.