The Advertiser has thrown up a quickie of a story on this afternoon’s press conference by Fiber411. I went to the event, hoping it would be a bit more interesting than it actually turned out to be. Here’s the breaking news: the three individuals that comprise Fiber411 are going to withhold their support of the fiber initiative unless their demands are met. The city must enact an ordinance forbidding LUS from handing over any in lieu of taxes until it is making a profit before those three will support the project. Well, not all of them. Actually, only one of them, Tim Supple. The other two are going to fight it regardless. So this press conference was actually about what only one person might do…leading cynics like me to ask what the point of this press conference (and how it earned a flotilla of media attention) was if was actually about what Tim Supple wants the council to do to assuage his fears about future administrations. (Tim was very vocal about trusting the current crew in a post-press conference exchange with Huval.) I am afraid the answer is actually pretty clear: Fiber411 needed something at least semi-credible to oppose if they were going to have a press conference.
Unfortunately, in lieu of taxes isn’t the issue on which to ride back into prominence. As Terry pointed out to the press after the press conference, LUS never planned to give LCG any In Lieu of Taxes until it was cash flow positive–a concept that the council endorsed when they approved the feasibility study that outlines this position.
I guess the Fiber411 three could nobly fight for an ordinance that makes a legal obligation of what LUS and the council have always said they intend to do. But that lacks a certain pizazz. And it is unlikley to garner continuing coverage.
I hope the Advertiser fleshes out the story a bit before tomorrow. As it stands now it’s pretty incomplete. The lead paragraph has a few troubles; it reads:
“Citizens group Fiber 411 announced today that its members will not support the project unless an ordinance is adopted excusing LUS from paying “in lieu of tax” on the telecommunications division“
As I noted above, both Neal Breakfield and Bill Leblanc were forthright in response to my question during the Q&A about not supporting LUS even if they meet their demand. So what we really know is that 2/3rds of Fiber411 won’t “support the project” if their suggestion is adopted. There is no visible membership beyond these three. Which members? Are they thinking of the denizens of the Fiber411 chatbox? My guess is that changing the in lieu of tax proposal to legally require what LUS has already said it would do won’t make any difference to that group.