SF Gate: Multimedia (image) So remember when Google and Earthlink inked a deal with the City of San Francisco in order to have free citywide wi-fi? I blogged about it back in April earlier this year when Mayor Gavin Newsom said he “hoped” we would have free wi-fi in the City by the end of the year.
Well I wouldn’t hold your breath for this anytime soon. In typical bureaucratic fashion the whole mess has gotten bogged down in a bunch of citywide red tape.
Katie Fehrenbacher over at GigaOm has more here, but unfortunately, even after already having a signed deal, Google and Earthlink are having to run around town promoting and organizing a bunch of community town hall type meetings in order to try and build political support and pressure for their initiative.
So how did we go from Mayor Newsom wanting to “make San Francisco a more appealing place for businesses and help close the so-called ‘digital divide’ by enabling more low-income households to connect to the Internet more easily,” to the current political debacle that we have on our hands now? I have no idea, but I think if I were the Mayor I’d fire Ron Vinson, San Francisco’s Technology Administrator.
Best I can tell Vinson is the top guy associated with this program. Chris Saca, who leads Google’s special projects, last month expressed concern to the San Francisco Chronicle about how frustrated Google is getting with the City’s slow negotiating style.
“Sacca said that talks to come up with a final contract have advanced little since they started and that officials have made unreasonable demands, including a request for free computers and a share in revenues.”
So let’s see, Google wants to do something nice, something community driven, by putting together a kick ass wireless service at what is probably a huge cost to them for the benefit of the people and visitors of San Francisco, and unnamed City officials would rather look a gift horse in the mouth and try to make up demands for free computers and the like?
Of course, if you listen to how Vinson, the chief administrator for this project apparently sees things he “declined to address Google’s complaints,” and added that “the city is pleased where the negotiations are headed.” WTF.
Mayor Newsom. Your free citywide wi-fi initiative is an amazingly positive thing. You have the opportunity to make San Francisco a shining example of how a connected City can operate. You can help bring internet access to poor people. You have two companies that have already signed up to build this out for you.
And then you’ve got this hack not getting it done.
You need to fire Ron Vinson and put someone in place who can run the City’s technology department for the benefit of the people.
It is not in the people’s best interest to have to wait an extra year for wifi while some bureaucratic jack ass tries to play hard ball and extort some free computers out of Google.
Fire Vinson and put somebody in place who can get this deal done now. Please. So that we can have wi-fi access before the year 2010. This is your opportunity to say screw the telecommunications companies, screw the cable companies that charge people too much for internet access, screw the pork rollers who would like to add anything possible to this deal — and just get it done. It really should not be this difficult and it’s a shame that Earthlink/Google has to have some person down handing out fliers at lunch to try to drum up attendance at town hall meetings to make sure that this thing happens.