Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
In its lawsuit, Citibank notes that a letter written by attorney Joe McNeil on behalf of Burlington "expressly warranted to Citibank that at least 40 percent of Burlington's revenues were derived from sources other than taxpayers' funds and would be available to fund payments to Citibank, and further, that Burlington had the financial resources and ability to make all payments to Citibank for the full term of the agreement."I read that document last year and remember being fairly surprised as it appeared to be incorrect from my non-lawyer reading of the law. This is just another case in which the Mayor's Administration played too fast and loose with essential infrastructure. We have watched in dismay as Burlington Telecom transitioned over the past four years from a model community network to the worst case scenario. This situation proves only that community networks can suffer from bad management in some of the many ways private telecom companies can suffer from bad management (resulting in anything from bankruptcy to prison). Communities can learn lessons from Burlington's situation -- chief among them that transparency is important. As with other public enterprise funds, the operation should be regularly audited and oversight must be in place to catch errors early, when corrections are easier and less costly. Unfortunately, Burlington Telecom is in a very bad position presently. The actions of the Mayor's Administration made that position worse than it could have been. Time will tell if it can be saved. Given its important positive contributions to the city (millions of dollars in community savings, increased economic development), the City would benefit from its continued operation.