at 3:15pm by Berit Anderson
Each time Seattle elects a new mayor, he or she (oh, wait, there hasn't been a she in, well, never mind) dutifully takes up the city's better, faster broadband drum and begins a slow, measured beat toward 'progress'. Though he brought fast Internet to Pioneer Square, former Mayor Mike McGinn's elaborate Gigabit Seattle ploy turned out not to have any financing.Now, according to the Seattle Times' Brier Dudley, Mayor Ed Murray is planning to give phone companies free rein when it comes to placing utility cabinets — those big metal boxes so loved by street marketers and guerilla artists — on parking strips. Previously, the installation of new cabinets required written permission from nearby homeowners — a practice Crosscut writer Bill Schrier criticized as a roadblock to competing services like Google Fiber just last month. Now, Murray says he'll throw the rule out by the end of June, making way for 349 new cabinets in the first year. Progress, of a sort.The big question, which Dudley raises, is about strategy. If Murray really, as he claims, wants a city-owned broadband network, why is he giving away one of his best bargaining chips to a corporate broadband provider (CenturyLink stands to gain the most) without any guarantee of a return? As Dudley reports, "The company and its lobbyist gave his mayoral campaign the maximum possible donations. He also received a $5,000 donation from the state broadband-providers association." — B.A.