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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sometimes it's arrogance

Here's a new slogan for the City of Portland. In connection with the city's latest quixotic, socialist move -- free wi-fi for everyone! -- Logan Kleier, the bureaucrat in charge of the project, was asked why the city didn't go with a larger contractor with greater financial backing. In an exquisitely Stennian moment, he told the O, and I quote:

Finances alone aren't the only thing that drive a decision.

Really? In Portland city government? D'ya think?

They ought to put that one on the police cars. You can think about it when someone steals your laptop, you can't get your free wi-fi any more, and the cop won't stop to take your report.

Comments (1)

Jack, you forgot to mention that the article also says the City has no real financial risk in this deal.

Benefit to citizens, no risk or cost to tax payers. Jeez - I hate it when government does that.

Posted by: Chris Smith at July 18, 2006 03:04 PM

Yeah, sure. A company with a seven-figure capitalization is going to run citywide free wi-fi, and one-inch ads over slow connections are going to pay for it. Dream on, son. But hey, if Opie gets to give the finger to Comcast, that's all that matters. Go by Flexcar!

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 18, 2006 03:15 PM

Comcast gets competition either way. Earthlink was the "well financed" company in the bidding.

Go by Streetcar :-)

Posted by: Chris Smith at July 18, 2006 03:17 PM

"The city has done a good job in ensuring it has the obligation to buy service, but not the commitment."

That's GOLD, Jerry!

Posted by: Chris Snethen at July 18, 2006 03:18 PM

Wal-Mart -- bad! Comcast -- bad! Condo towers -- good!

Portland's economic future -- very bad!

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 18, 2006 03:19 PM

You can think about it when someone steals your laptop

Actually, four laptops were stolen from my household. The police showed up, shrugged their shoulders and called it a day. We managed to track down one of the computers in the possession of a fence, had his name, address, phone number, photos of the computer. It took the police four days to respond to us. Only our stalling tactics kept the computer in this guys hands until they finally knocked on his door and recovered it. And then they didn't even file a report about the event.

Maybe if the PPB didn't have to spend so many hundreds of thousands of dollars settling lawsuits for dousing babies with pepper spray they'd have some bucks to do their own footwork. Instead, they promote the abusive officers who perpetrate these offenses and reflect poorly on the rest of the force.

Posted by: Clay Fouts at July 18, 2006 03:27 PM

Clay get it right will ya. They cops are in NoPo bustin black kids with nickel joints. They ain't got time for real crime.

Posted by: Mikey in the 'hood at July 18, 2006 07:29 PM

Jack said:
"Yeah, sure. A company with a seven-figure capitalization is going to run citywide free wi-fi, and one-inch ads over slow connections are going to pay for it. Dream on, son."

Isn't this why Kleier said "Finances alone aren't the only thing that drive a decision"? I thought the ones with greater financial backing were also the ones fighting the idea, or willing parters that wanted too much of an earmark. Presumably the ones with less economies of scale were the most likely parters out of necessity.

Posted by: TKrueg at July 18, 2006 08:55 PM

Atleast this bureau/agency of the city acknowledges the "financing component" of a project. PDC doesn't even consider "financing costs" in their projects. Maybe the city is finally realizing the real world-NOT!

Posted by: Lee at July 18, 2006 09:34 PM

Presumably the ones with less economies of scale were the most likely parters out of necessity.

The story said they passed on Earthlink for MetroFi. The next water bureau billing deal?

Posted by: Jack Bog at July 19, 2006 02:51 AM

So when this is a done deal, who's gets to buy all those "low income" folk a wireless card for the their PC, so they can get the "free" internet access? And from what I hear, getting a decent connection in your home may require a rather expensive signal amplifier too.

I bet Sten comes up with a taxpayer plan to cover the poor folk on this one.

Posted by: Jon at July 19, 2006 07:51 AM

Chris Smith - Another issue, when the city says no financial risks, I'd look harder. Most issues are when the barely-alive companies underbid business and then go in the tank, then the city gets stuck with the bills.

Two examples -

PGE Park which Vera gave to the CoP finance director (he's on the PERS board now - oh boy) and Glickman's ne'er-do-well son. We're stuck with the payments and the BB team cant find an owner.

Armory Theater - Sam tells everyone that the local theater company will make mortgage payments on a $30M mortgage. Problem is said theater company has barely ever eked out a profit. Guess who guarantees that debt?

They should stick to fixing potholes first before they venture into WiFi.

Posted by: Steve at July 19, 2006 08:22 AM

They went ahead and gave Metro-Fi the contract today. It essentially is a 16 million dollar give-away. Randy was tough on them though, I have to hand it to him. He asked the tough questions, which Lampe avoided as much as possible. At one point, the mayor interrupted him and tried to answer for Lampe, they had a in with Old Tom. But his vote was not going to stop the contract.
It went 5-0.
This part really is amazing:
"The city has done a good job in ensuring it has the obligation to buy service, but not the commitment."
That is what you get when you let a 25 year-old kid help run a bureau.
Not one person from the selection commitee has ever sold an ad in the Portland area and I can personally gaurantee you that they will not gather more ads than the Trib. I am guessing around 40k a month. The advertising model has not worked in any area it has been tried except for Google and Yahoo!
Can't pay for it for that and then guess who gets stuck with the bill. Randy tried to ask exactly how much the City is stuck for but they squirmed like crazy.
Also, we are not even mentioning the local Portland alternative, always good to bypass the local talent and import the overhead of a silicon valley start-up.

Not to mention that the NE community, who Adams stood up for in the council, will never see services. Not enough money there to pay for the ads. Advertisers are not dumb. I suppose there are restrictions on the ads, otherwise get ready for the back pages (personal services) of the WW all over your laptop.

20 bucks says Lampe is working for Metro-Fi in less than 6 months

Posted by: stay wired! at July 19, 2006 02:23 PM

Brilliant! We will have every pedophile in a 100 mile radius coming to Portland to trade child pornography anonymously over the free wireless. Thanks city of Portland for the wise use of my tax dollars.

Posted by: Pat at July 19, 2006 06:23 PM

Pat: Nice try, but no tax dollars are being spent on this.

Are you actually putting forth this child pornography angle as a serious argument? Should we outlaw all anonymizing technology, too?

Posted by: no one in particular at July 19, 2006 06:32 PM

Wait. What, exactly, was the problem with this plan? No financial liability for taxpayers and free wifi? Wireless cards can be purchased for about $20, which is less than one month of internet service through most companies.

"The advertising model has not worked in any area it has been tried..."

Any reference on this? It seems that the model in place in MetroFi's (admittedly smaller) SF area network has worked quite well.

Posted by: Dan at July 20, 2006 02:16 AM

New Orleans has had free WiFi since Katrina.

I hear it works much better than a U.S. Corp of Engineers flood levee. :-)

Posted by: Jerry at July 20, 2006 09:25 AM

Let's put on our Portland rose colored glasses, and believe that the city isn't going to take it in the shorts financially on this. My concern is that so much effort and time has been spent on this, all the while, things continue to be a mess in the city. I would prefer discussions and effort on paving the hundreds of miles of ill maintained roads, coming up with solutions to the homeless and panhandling problems downtown, increasing public safety, reducing crime, keeping kids off the streets and retaining businesses in Portland particularly downtown.

There are so many REAL issues that should be focused on, and nobody in power seems to pay attention to those.

Posted by: JustLooking at July 20, 2006 09:28 AM

The poor people can go to Free Geek and get a free PC and training in exchange for a few hours of sweat equity.

Free PC + Free WiFI + Free Training = I'm loving it Portland!

Posted by: Tech Transfer at July 20, 2006 09:32 AM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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