> Sten pushed the wi-fi relentlessly, and
> the city had employee Logan Kleier
> working on it for a year or more.

Assuming that was his only duty at the time that's $76K. Plus another $250K or so for removal costs, is that in the ballpark? Then you minus the value of the impounded hardware... even at wholesale has to be 100s of thousands. I'm not seeing the cost of this hit the average home price in Portland metro.

I suggest you look at what other cities have spent on this type of stuff before holding it up as a symbol of CoP mis-management.

Sten pushed the vision, but MetroFi were the engineers that should have known better. If the city looked at the upside (open broadband wi-fi city wide) vs the downside (left holding the bag on cleanup costs) I think one can argue the risk was worth the reward.

I'm not saying the city didn't screw up. At the least they ran a poor RFP process and they picked the wrong service provider. But they didn't spend a ton of money upfront in infrastructure and didn't allow themselves to get railroaded by MetroFi into dumping more money in at the end. Not bad. Considering what goes on in Water and Sewer on a regular basis I call that a push.

> Gene is from Personal Telco, and I'm
> glad that that organization got the
> leftovers of the wasteful dabbling in
> something City Hall knew nothing about
> and should have stayed away from

I'm not "from" PTP, I used to volunteer in the early days, haven't in years. I still have a PTP email alias, I'm guessing you saw that in my profile?

I'd love to see some info on the true costs of the UnwirePDX/MetroFi project but rather than assuming you know what went down why not call up Logan at BTS? Or file some information requests with the city? You've got to find some muck before you start raking it.

Posted by Gene | April 7, 2011 1:52 PM

MetroFi was a bust, Gene. Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars were blown. If you want to defend it, fine -- we'll keep that in mind in judging the relevance and trustworthiness of your "Personal Telco."

Posted by Jack Bog | April 8, 2011 11:36 PM

Jack, you should recall, since this is such a big issue for you, that Personal Telco members were extremely critical of MetroFi and the way that Unwire Portland unfolded. I personally, when both a spokesperson and later president of PTP, criticized the Unwire Portland RFP and the assumptions the City made in planning the project. I pressed the PDC to be clear that property tax dollars were used in the planning phase of what I, and the majority of Personal Telco members, felt was a lousy RFP that was destined to result in a failed network.

Once the MetroFi network build out began, I criticized the performance of the network from day 1. The current PTP president (Russell, your neighbor, whose wifi you praised before labeling him "combative" for not agreeing with you) and another member did a serious analysis, on their own dime, of the network performance and encouraged the city not to allow MetroFi to proceed until they fixed the problems. When the city announced that the company they hired to evaluate the initial MetroFi build out determined that it met the criteria the city demanded, I wrote a lengthy, open letter examining in detail the faults with this testing and the failure to test the network under real world conditions.

Throughout the MetroFi project, Personal Telco members were derided by MetroFi spokespeople and called biased by many journalists and bloggers who felt we saw MetroFi as an existential threat. Obviously, this was not the case.

Unwire Portland, as it was handled with the MetroFi contract, was an abject failure. We predicted that. We also attempted to help the city (and that really means the tax payers) of Portland derive value from Unwire Portland in the face of horrible mismanagement by a company that no longer exists, corporate advisers who have moved to greener pastures (or new snake oil, if you want to be cynical) and both a CTO and PDC staffer who are long gone from Portland. Somehow, in your world where it is more important to make enemies than it is to make friends, you have decided that this makes PTP members combative and shills for a city government you despise.

As bad as Unwire Portland was, it could have been worse. The city limited its exposure pretty significantly in a climate where many cities were being pressed to take on much larger financial stakes in these networks. Did the city lose some money? Yes. Could they have made a better choice? Yes. Would it have been wiser, in hindsight, to never pursue Unwire Portland? Probably. The Unwire Portland process began in 2003, as I recall. It ended, again, in failure, in 2008. Over that period of time, the city and PDC together spent under $1 million. I'm not going to call that chump change, but put it in perspective. That's under $200K a year, out of a $2.5 billion budget (http://www.portlandonline.com/omf/index.cfm?c=53162), or less than one hundredth of a percent (0.008%).

Add up the time you've spent criticizing this project, or better yet, just the time you've spent sniping at PTP because some of us support public fiber (which has nothing in common with Unwire Portland, other than both of them being infrastructures that could be used to visit your blog). I bet that you'll find you're burning more than 0.008% of your life on this. It's probably not worth it.

Posted by Michael F. Weinberg | April 13, 2011 10:30 PM