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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Portland wi-fi removal could cost $200K

We blogged a few weeks ago about how removing the dopey "free" wi-fi equipment from public utility poles was going to cost the City of Portland $60,000 -- this after we were all originally assured that the ill-fated experiment "wouldn't cost the taxpayers a dime." We had a contract with a fly-by-night outfit called MetroFi, and they were taking all the risk.

Until they went under, that is.

And now the cost of this foolish game keeps going up. Here's a city bid request that sets a new price tag for taking down the unwanted antennas: $200,000! Details of this mess are here.

Comments (13)

What is also particularly annoying is that they're being offered to PersonalTelco for re-use. Why should we pay $200K to remove them, only to have that group seek help in getting them re-installed? I support giving the remains of the MetroFi system to them; I'd just rather not waste the money getting the systems off the street lights.

I don't know why Personal Telco would want this equipment. It didn't work, remember?

This is a practical question we can ask the 11 candidates for city commissioner. Why not just leave them up until someone bids to buy and remove them?

As Portland's own Dean Marriott once said in an Oregonian op-ed: the actual cost of public projects is always higher than the estimate.

See, it's all A-OK.

So, what's the cost to the taxpayer of letting them sit there and rot?

"What is also particularly annoying is that they're being offered to PersonalTelco for re-use"

Better than "Cash for Clunkers" when they took in thousands of used cars, then destroyed them. This was a better idea to the geniuses in charge than to distribute free good parts to those in need so they could keep their cars running?

It would've been easy--and was suggested--that a removal clause be included in the agreement.

But no; it was a costly vanity project approved by City Council, with the same criticisms, concerns, and cavalier attitude that has characterized the soccer stadium story.

The list of unintended long-term consequences caused by City Council actions the past several years has grown very, very long.

+1000, machinehead. Why even take them down? Just let PersonalTelco go get whatever they want. Leave the rest. It's not hurting anyone.

Here's an idea: Send members of the mayor's bloated staff to do the work. That way, they can say they're doing something meaningful. Cost: $0.

Why not just let them sit there until the street light/signpost/whatever in question needs servicing of its own, and then ask the company servicing them to cut them down? It's not like they are some huge ugly blight on the city--they're tiny pieces of metal on top of a street light. Not really causing a problem.

I wouldn't mind having a couple to play with.

I'm sure PersonalTelco could hack them into something useful.

Wait, just wait a second.

I thought that the wi-fi scheme was COMPLETELY WITHOUT RISK to the City of Portland and its taxpayers! That MetroFi would guarantee the service, would put up a bond in the event of failure, and I'm sure some MetroFi shareholders or CEO or whoever even put up - wait for it - a personal guarantee!

I wonder if Merritt Paulson was an investor in MetroFi...

The powerlines themselves are already an eyesore, I agree, just leave them up there or let whoever wants them come get them themselves.

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