Monday, August 06, 2007


Armed with information from public citizen Kimo Crossman along with the ACLU and the folks at SNAFU, the Board of Supervisors resisted Mayor Newsom’s pressure to quickly approve a citywide WiFi franchise agreement with Earthlink.

Instead, the Board, led by president Aaron Peskin, started to negotiate for more favorable terms. Apparently Newsom had accepted Earthlink's first offer.

Anyway, during the delay Earthlink announced they are reexamining their approach to such deals in general. The original agreement as “negotiated” by Newsom appeared dead.

Someone came up with a face saving ploy. Instead of announcing that the deal was lousy from the start, and that the whole thing was a waste of time, and that we need to go back to the drawing board, Peskin and Newsom put a non-binding policy resolution on the November ballot urging city officials to provide free WiFi to SF’s populace.

As Glenn Fleishman at wifinetnews suggests, we might as well add free ice cream and free ponies to the wishlist.

So, good for Kimo and his allies.

Here’s a previously posted clip of Kimo testifying before the supes.

Remarkable about this story is that citizen participation was essential to stopping the crappy contract, and, that the citizen participation was non-political.

The opposition to the Earthlink deal was technical—we’re not getting enough bang for our bucks—as opposed to being pro-Newsom or anti-Newsom. I think even self-identified progressives split on this issue.

Kids whose families don’t have phone service will still need to access the internet at school or at their public library branches. The Earthlink deal was touted as a way for kids in violent neighborhoods to access the internet without having to walk to their local libraries.

If the kids in BVHP can’t go to the library because the streets are unsafe, it’s time to make the streets safe.

They called out the National Guard to escort kids to school in Little Rock. If need be, we should have the National Guard escort kids to their local branch libraries in BVHP.

The inability of Mayor Newsom and Chief Fong to provide safe passage for school kids who want to go to the library is a failure of government so monumental that we hardly notice it. It’s a disgrace.

Of course we won’t have a “safe streets” ballot measure—why bother! WiFi is more “doable.”
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