Real News podcast: Broadband to get $22 million

The Escambia County Commission will receive $61.7 million in American Rescue Plan funds. The commissioners approved a plan today to spend $22 million of to a 10GB fiber backbone throughout the county, providing the ability to provide broadband internet to underserved citizens and businesses. A portion of the fiber can be leased to internet service providers, creating revenue streams. In addition, it’s estimated that using the fiber could save the county over $1.6 million per year by eliminating microwave contacts and leased circuits for the BOCC, 911, sheriff and tax collector.

Commissioner Steve Barry has championed the effort and shared more details on 1370 WCOA today.


1 thought on “Real News podcast: Broadband to get $22 million

  1. Above we read, “The commissioners approved a plan today to spend $22 million of to a 10GB fiber backbone throughout the county, providing the ability to provide broadband internet to underserved citizens and businesses.” Well, I guess that depends on what you mean by the word “approved.” I think Commissioner May summed it up best when he said that they had all just “wasted a lot of time.” Commissioner Barry said “the money will not be spent the way it is presented today.” Commissioner Underhill who seemed the only sane person up on the dais, and the only one to vote NO, described the pending ARP fiasco as rushing to spend “mad money” or money won in the “lottery.” You could almost see the string running from County Administrator Moreno’s hand to Chairman Bender’s lips as the latter meekly spoke in cryptic circles. It’s pretty obvious that county staff runs the Escambia County government and it showed during the ARP agenda item. Obviously, the proper good government approach would have been to hold a workshop on each proposed big expenditure, invite the public to come and give its expertise, hash out the details, make a decision and move on to the next item. That was not done. The “take away” is that many of the items under discussion are way not ready for prime time. On the county’s $1.3 million for more and better city tennis courts for rich people, or as we city folk say “the tennis ladies of Cordova Park,” Diane Krummel correctly raised the “want versus need” issue. Councilwoman Sherri Myers spoke in opposition. Mayor Grover Robinson actually bragged aloud about his membership in the Pensacola County Club saying “a lot of people have private club memberships.” [I am reminded of a friend who once told me about when they first saw Ashton Hayward at the county club staring at himself into a big mirror.] Robinson told some outright lies to the BCC about the tennis court project to include saying “this is a council priority.” I know what the council discussed in 2015 because I was there and I know what it says in the budgets approved by the council to include as recently as last month and they don’t know anything about “this” new project. Robinson even sent the BCC a detailed memo on September 15. I was told that the council was not given a copy. If so, that seems consistent with how they do things in secret on the 7th floor of city hall keeping the council in the dark until the last moment. Robinson said that anyone who opposed his tennis project was just playing “politics.” Commissioner Bergosh gave some of the most self-praising speeches as he verbally stroked himself in public. He even boasted, “I pay the higher fee [at the Roger Scott Tennis Center] because I’m a county resident.” Exactly how did he do that? The Family membership “All-Courts” rate is the same for city and non-city residents. I even reconfirmed that with the Roger Scott Tennis Center today. The rates to use clay courts has been the same since Fiscal Year 2012. Bergosh doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who would use the low-rent “hard” courts. He’s more of a clay court type. He bragged about a recent “Bud Light” event at the RSTC where I think I heard they were doing “shots.” Just how much booze do they sell at the Roger Scott Tennis Center? The one thing that came through loud and clear was that with the exception of Commissioner May the others really don’t care about tennis courts for regular county residents. With all the ARP cash on-hand, waiting to be wasted as Larry Downes, Jr. said, the BCC could build 7-8 tennis centers from Century to Pensacola Beach free for public use but there was no discussion of that. In the city, it really does seem unfair that a family has to pay $1,151.67 a year to play tennis at the RSTC, an amount that I was surprised to learn is great than the amount authorized by the city council. Roger Scott Tennis Center is run as a for-profit operation. It needs to be changed to a public facility.

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