I went to the council meeting earlier tonight and enjoyed watching LUS take one more step toward Lafayette's fiber-optic future. The council gave them permission to move one more step, the step of applying to the state bond commission for their permission to issue the bonds. It was clear that it will still have to come before the council again to approve the actual issue. (Lord, this is a drawn out procedure.)
There was an odd little vignette during the approval project when councilman Williams asked a series of sympathetic questions, got his answers and showed what appeared to an outside observer as general good will toward the project. Smiles on both sides. But he made an excuse and got up before the actual vote and wasn't there when the vote was taken. I heard the rumor tonight, for the second time that, Williams is being careful because he wants to run for Cravin's seat when it comes open. BellSouth does pack a wallop on the state level.... ' Course this bit of rumor could be all wrong; and honestly it seems a little far fetched. What difference could this minor absence make. But it makes a kind of sense out of an odd moment.
But by far the most significant rumor came from Bill LeBlanc who says that he and group of people including his fellow council presenter Neal Breakfield are about to launch a petition drive to put the fiber proposal on the ballot. I am not sure they realize what they are getting into. A petition of the sort the charter envisions requires 15% of the voters. That requires an army of folks walking the streets to get at least 20% of the number of registered voters. (You have to account for the inevitable spoiled signatures and signatures by folks who are registered to vote.) The task has to be completed in six months. It think it extremely unlikely to succeed. And it will be costly--so costly that I do not believe that it can be done without a big investment from the incumbents. A small crew of good-hearted men won't be able get it started in any real way. In short order any petition drive will be the creature of Cox and/or BellSouth. And then the real ugliness will begin. If you think that the initial round of incumbent ugliness was bad with its push polls, public tantrums, intimations that our elected leaders were incompetent rubes, and an utterly offensive "academic" forum were bad just wait.....
And just for the record I talked to Bill LeBlanc for a while in the parking lot. For long enough that I am sure his wife was as miffed as mine at his tardiness. ---But Mr. LeBlanc struck me as good-hearted and upright. I do think he is wrong. And that he has badly misinterpreted some of the technical material he has presented to the council--for instance on wireless technologies--but I think he's well-motivated. I just wish he hadn't thrown in with the big corporations on this one. He's the kind of fellow you'd enjoy having a good conversation with over lunch. Know what I mean?
They've got a website at www.fiber411.com. Give it a look.
This story will be in Advocate tomorrow. More when I see that..... and think a little.