The vermilion weighs in with a story on the fiber optic vote. This story is the only one to take on the issue of whether or not the election was an unmitigated good. Terry Huval and Joey Durel point out that, whatever else it was, it was an expensive one year delay that confirmed the original vote of the council. In the long run would I rather have the vote or the year? The unshakeable legitimacy of the vote, I think. Representative democracy and a vote of our elected council should have been enough. My hesitation revolves around the demonstrated willingness of the opposition to tear down legitimate procedures and valuable practices simply because they want to force their extreme ideological positions on this city. They will find it hardest to try and tear down to distort an overwhelming vote of the people.
(Time out for a straightforward complaint:
Because the opposition largely avoided admitting their self-interest or their ideological passions–motivations they knew the people of Lafayette would have little sympathy with– they often raised issues that made little sense if looked at even briefly. For instance: ILOT is a straightforward way to level the playing field in the competition between public and private entities, a great way to drive down taxes, has a long and perfectly legitimate history locally, and has been widely used nationally. It is a perfectly normal and unremarkable tool of good government. To try to raise resentment over it was irresponsible demagoguery. Similarly for the racial divisiveness of the repeated charges that the north side would never get fiber — a clear political impossibility that was also disproved by the whole history of LUS’s universal service in every other service category. But the charge built on and sustained racial resentments in order to advance the opposition’s almost purely ideological ends. And on and on for many “issues” raised irresponsibly by the opposition.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming:
While the story raises valuable issues, the reader should be a little careful in their reading. There are some real inaccuracies, to wit: it isn’t true that it will take 50% penetration to pay off the interest. It will not. In fact, if they get 50% that can pay off the full bill in as little as 11 years. Somewhere between 21% and 30% is the breakeven point for the whole project over 25 years.
According to Durel, the project does not measure success by profit; as long as Lafayette residents receive better service at reduced rates, he said, the time and money will have been well spent. The election itself, however, was not the biggest challenge, he said.
“The election was definitely the biggest roadblock we faced,” said Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel, “but that was the easy part; now what we’ve got to do is make it work.”
“We want Lafayette to be the most wired community in the country,” said Huval, “or even the world.”