Fiber For Our Future supporting Tri-City Broadband for Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles, Illinois

Citizens of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles Illinois
in support of Municipal Broadband
for our Communities

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Portions of Kurt Wehrmeister's column of 06/23/04

reprinted by permission from the Kane County Chronicle

Again, if local broadband were truly such a bad idea...

When I heard earlier this month that the citizen proponents of a municipally-owned-and-operated broadband system for the tri-cities are now developing a plan in which financing would be private—in which the bonding risk would be borne by private investors, not taxpayers—I wondered what possible specious argument could now be floated by the PR departments of Comcast and SBC to try to kill a November referendum to make it happen.

(Actually, what I first wondered was: If taxpayer backing isn’t required for the bonding to fund such a system, why must such a plan must go to referendum at all; why couldn’t it simply just go forward on votes from the St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia city councils? Turns out that in Illinois, only home-rule cities of 25,000 population or more can undertake such a bonding program on just a city council vote. St. Charles has long qualified, and Batavia just recently cleared the 25,000 threshold, but Geneva is still a couple thousand residents short.)

If you’d like to see voters have a chance to make this decision—whether to build, with private financing, at no risk to us as taxpayers, a locally controlled system for Internet, cable television and telephone; offering an alternative to the corporate behemoth SBC and the cable-TV monopolist Comcast—call organizer Annie Collins at 761-2978 to get your signature on a petition (or to help circulate one).

Again, I ask: If local municipal broadband were really such a stupid and unworkable idea doomed to failure, wouldn’t the only logical corporate PR position for SBC and Comcast be to warmly announce that they "welcome the competition"; to then let muni-broadband die its own "inevitable" death? Of course, this is anything but their public position! SBC and especially Comcast both campaigned hard and expensively, and ultimately successfully, against the April 2003 municipal broadband ballot. That should speak volumes to us all.

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