Just when you thought you had heard all the ideas for fixing east Gainesville

The Gainesville city commission is seriously making the case for a $9.5M broadband infrastructure experiment in east Gainesville. They say it is the type of city investment the area has longed for and will be the difference maker for families and businesses alike.

The $9.5M being used is to come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the city of Gainesville received.
An outfit called Magellan Advisors has been brought in to make the sales pitch to the public even though the actual presentation is being given to the board of city commissioners. Rarely does the city as well as the county commissioners listen to a sales pitch without their minds being already made up beforehand. So the sales pitch is usually just a formality.

The advisors claim they can close the digital divide and reduce the poverty level in Gainesville by rolling out affordable high-speed fiber internet, if given the opportunity to do so by the city. Other benefits the city will gain include new businesses, a diverse local economy (no more depending on GRU and UF), and a greater opportunity for minority and women owned businesses to succeed.

The advisor did come clean on the fact that high-speed internet is already available in east Gainesville. Their pitch is that they will offer a better internet service that Cox and AT&T. The Magellan advisor came with a bag of models that offered a full spectrum of choices for the commission to choose from; most of which came with a price tag that was shocking even for the city commission.

It became obvious during the funding portion of the sales pitch that Magellan is out to con some unsuspecting city of their share of the ARPA money they received from the federal government. In order for any good flimflam job to be successful the pigeon has to be enticed into thinking they have an opportunity to make a killing if they act fast.

The city commissioners who were the biggest pigeons in this scam were Hayes-Santos and Saco. They both seem to think high speed fiber internet is something new, when it has been around for almost twenty years. However, they had sense enough to know that trying to rollout this scam onto the city at-large was a none-starter. So they settled for a priority area as the rollout territory, a priority area called east Gainesville. Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut was wise enough to see through the priority area idea and called it for what it is worth; which is a bio-mass style 2.0 scheme designed to glean away $9.5M from being spent on something that is of a higher priority that a new internet service provider.

The final vote on moving forward on the motion to go with the priority one east Gainesville $9.5M broadband experiment was 5-2 with Cynthia Chestnut and Desmond Duncan-Walker in dissent. The five who voted in favor said they reserve the right to oppose the project if the business plan staff has been assigned to come back with is not to their liking. Note: The city and county commissions are notorious for making it a 'done deal' without ever declaring it is a done deal; stay tuned.