Thursday, June 16, 2005

"Fans already see fiber optics' benefits"

While both papers covered last night town hall meeting at the Thomas rec center, the Advertiser version ran at the bottom of the day's fiber story about discussions between Lafayette and the incumbents. The Advocate devotes a full story to the event and hence is much more comprehensive.

The Advocate story gives a good overview of the latest town hall meeting. It was, again, a pretty overwhelmingly positive crowd. After a long series of informational questions that weren't clearly from partisans of either side, Dee Stanley repeated a question I first heard from the mouth of an older fellow at the first town hall meeting. Then he asked, begged, for anyone that was still doubtful or against the plan to speak up. When two people (of the about 60 in attendence) raised their hand to indicate that they still had some doubts, he grilled them about their doubts and elicited a couple of good questions. The Advocate, without giving the full context, still does a pretty decent job of reporting the balance of sentiment in the room. The Advertiser's write up, on the other hand, could easily leave you believing both that the comments were spontaneous rather than elicited and that they represented the sense of the room. That impression would be wildly misleading.

Perhaps the most fun thing to report was that a bit of the feisty Terry and Joey show emerged again. Joey, for instance, called the incumbents "monopolists" and "greedy" again. We haven't seen that spirit in too long a while. I think maybe they are slipping out from under the control of their handlers. That would be a good thing. Huval and Durel have to lead this fight if this project is to succeed; you can't lead a fight by being so solicitious about the feelings of the opposition that your troops aren't sure they are really opponents.

There were also few hints thrown around about the recent trip to silicon valley. Apparently they visited with Yahoo and Sun Microsystems about fiber-related issues and came away feeling very good about the possibilities. It would be fun to speculate about what those two companies might find worth doing in a city that had more bandwith, and at a cheaper price, than any other city in the nation. A local portal? That might drive locals to LUS and up take rates. What of Sun? Some of Sun's famed application server provider software? That would make it a lot easier to provide online applications as the digital divide document anticipates. One license for a word processing program that could serve the whole city off a fast server? It'll be very interesting to see where this little teaser leads. We'll hear something before the referendum, I bet.

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