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July 21, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Fiber project paused; no November vote Fiber project paused; no November vote (July 21, 2004)

Plan returns to bureaucratic limbo

by Bill D'Agostino

The Palo Alto City Council pushed pause on a proposal to spend $40 million to build a citywide network of fiber-optic cables to provide high-speed Internet and digital television to all homes and businesses on Monday night.

Despite years of study, the city's financial experts have not found a viable way to fund the proposal. They will continue to monitor other California cities considering similar ventures.

The city's elected officials also officially put off a once-planned November vote on the topic.

Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell questioned whether it was time to pull the plug on the entire project. "In Palo Alto, we have a hard time bringing closure and saying no," she said.

Councilwomen Yoriko Kishimoto argued the project was important for the future of Palo Alto since it would bring local control to the spread of information and provide a new source of future funding for city services.

Kishimoto, along with Councilwoman Hillary Freeman, wanted the council to instruct city analysts to be more proactive in finding a way to pay for it, but their proposal was rejected.

Mayor Bern Beecham said the analysts have gone through their bag of tricks and "there aren't any more tricks in the bag."

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