Both the Advertiser and the Advocate cover last night's council meeting. The Advocate's "Council grants request" and The Advertiser's "LUS' fiber plan clears another hurdle" nicely review the basic procedures and just how much (and by implication how little) the vote moves the project ahead. Boiled down: every step is a commitment but no final commitment has been made. LUS is engaged but not yet married to this project; however, the longer the engagement lasts the less likely the groom is to back out.
The Advocate's Blanchard also has the rumor I reported last night about the possibility of a petition drive, and from the same source. LeBlanc certainly intends to help mount such a drive, that much is not a rumor. But the real question is whether that intent will be realized; that, at least in my judgment, is still to be seen. The petition task set by Lafayette's home rule charter is daunting. 15% of all voters is a large number. Practically speaking the number will need to be larger to account for spoiled signatures and good signatures by folks who just don't happen to be voters. Getting a petition signed by 20% of the voters entails a door to door campaign and without deep voter outrage you won't be getting volunteers to carry anything like the number of petitions necessary. Sixty days isn't all that long a time; you'll need a lot of people, all day every day. Volunteers on Saturday won't cut it. A serious drive will require the deep pockets of the incumbents; it will, in short order belong to them.
I'm not at all sure the proponents really see the difficulties (Mr. LeBlanc was under the impression that 5% was the number needed, for instance) and who they will have to be in alliance with. Some people may doubt LUS in this town. But very few trust BellSouth or Cox; standing with them throws doubt on the groups independence.
What threatens to go unnoticed in this is that this group is NOT against municipal fiber. They want LUS to be a wholesaler only. I continue to be amazed at how thoroughly LUS has carried the day. Even their most visible opponents only want to tweak the business plan. Even they accept that a municipal network is the only way to get fiber.
And that may be the lasting lesson of this episode.