"ALL-IN" CLICK! Network Rescue

Keep CLICK! control here at home
posted Dec 10, 2015
tacoma, tacomic, CLICK!, Bill Gaines, TPU, Tacoma Public Utilities, selling click network
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Hi, We're working on an open letter to the city council. Here's the contents of it- if you would like your name added to the end, please comment so and I will send it out Sunday. 
Message begins:

Hello Councilmember (name),
We write you today in support of Amended Resolution U-10828, authorizing Click! Network to prepare a business plan to provide, in addition to retail cable television, retail Internet services, voice over Internet protocol, commercial broadband and Gigabit service - aka - the “All-In Retail w/Gigabit” option.
We all want a Tacoma with a vibrant and diverse economy with good jobs for all Tacoma residents. What this meant to Tacomans in the Tacoma 2025 strategic plan were the following objectives:
  • 3A: Increase the number and quality of jobs throughout Tacoma
  • 3B: Diversify Tacoma’s living wage business base
  • 3D: Strengthen downtown Tacoma as a business core and residential option
  • 7B: Engage residents, stakeholders, and partners in the future of Tacoma
We believe that investment in a public gigabit network will help drive economic development for Tacoma. Investing in a public gigabit network sends a strong signal to the tech sector that Tacoma is serious about attracting high tech, high wage jobs. Many Tacomans head north to King County and fight hours of traffic each day to work at tech jobs that they would rather have down here. In Seattle there are 100,000 tech workers, in Tacoma, just 3,000. Obviously we need to be doing more to grow the tech sector locally.

On December 3rd, TPU Board Chair Flint relayed findings from a consultant that the network only needs $4m in investment to provide gigabit Internet capacity - the same amount of money that the Tacoma City Council just spent reacquiring Old City Hall. Gigabit Internet capacity is something that the City of Seattle is investigating spending between $480m and $665m to do the same thing. There is a distinct opportunity here to acquire a significant competitive and public relations advantage in the Puget Sound Region, which may lead to new economic development opportunities and high paying jobs that Tacomans need and want. Gigabit Internet sold at public utility rates would be a tangible reason for companies to consider Tacoma for a headquarters, satellite office, or data center.

Click’s base fiber infrastructure is robust and the utility’s Internet subscriber base continues to grow. What Click! needs today is a new business plan and new leadership to preserve and renew this public asset. That is what the “All-In” option does. It provides for the creation of a Click Engagement Committee that involves two members of the City Council, three Public Utility Board members, two individuals from the tech industry, and a utility customer. This is really what the public has been calling for all along - to work together to come up with a new business plan, to ensure it is viable, and to move forward.

We will briefly respond to TPU’s calls for privatization. Privatization is not the way to go, not for 40 years or 5 years. Think about what will happen in the very first year - all of Click!’s employees will be gone, either to work for the firm we leased Click to, or to other jobs where we will not be able to get them back. The utility will effectively be privatized, taking with it any real level of control Tacoma’s citizens and TPU’s ratepayers had over it. The authors of the City Charter had this sort of situation in mind when they crafted Article 4.6, regulating the sale and lease of City Utilities. It simply cannot be done without a vote of the people. The majority of the Utility Board, through Resolution U-10828, affirms this fact on lines 20-22, "the City Charter Section 4.6 requires a vote of the people before the City may sell, lease, or dispose of any utility system, or parts thereof essential to continued effective utility service".

So please engage with the public, safeguard Tacoma’s investments in technology, and work towards a better future for our people.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Previously on the Tacomic...