The Chamber and Government-Owned Broadband

Nov 7, 2017 | Uncategorized

Today is Election Day and on the local ballot is City Issue 2B. The measure was placed on the ballot by the City Council. It asks voters for the option of establishing city telecom services and issuing up to $150 million in bonds to build the system.

The Chamber opposes 2B. I’ve written about it here and here.

The ensuing media coverage and commentary have created some misperceptions, which I want to address.

First, the Chamber strongly believes having a well-connected community is important to the community’s economy and quality of life. We endorsed the measure in November 2015 that authorized the local community to investigate this option.

Second, the Chamber has spent no money, as in $0, opposing this measure – no member dues, no other funds. An independent organization founded some years ago by a group of then current and past Chamber leaders has contributed to the opposition campaign. It is called Citizens for a Sustainable Economy (CSE), and I serve on its board. But, again, no Chamber funds have been used to oppose 2B.

After careful review and a lot of questions, Chamber leaders told the City administration and City Council that we did not believe their plan was well-thought-out and asked them to delay putting it on the ballot. When they proceeded anyway, we could not support them.

We still have concerns about the impact of this on city finances and the maintenance of the electric utility due to using up the bonding capacity.

In the end, we trust the collective wisdom of voters. If they decide to plunge ahead with creating a public telecom (a real possibility based on the overwhelming support in November 2015), it means they have weighed and accepted the risks.