Broadband screeches to a halt

March 1, 2013 

Like it or not, you have to respect the decision making that can happen in our county when we actually have three county commissions who are accountable and present.

Three men. Three votes. Two said nay to the broadband initiative. And just that quickly, we’ve killed the encumbrance that’s been hanging over the collective county head for a couple of years.

In all honesty, this thing was probably doomed for a long time. And that fact alone is sad. Cass County could use a sustainable, high-speed, functioning broadband plan that will pique the interest of new businesses and help spur some economic development.

While this decision doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen, I would imagine it will be a long time before we see any plan like this in place again.

Largely because the first shot out of the gate on this was such a monumental miss.

This effort wasn’t just shoddy. It was ill-advised, as witnessed by the massive amount of money spent with virtually no return on that investment.

Paperwork wasn’t done correctly, reimbursements were delayed or misdirected. And all the while people like County Auditor Ron Johnson was screaming for accountability.

No one at the county courthouse can feel more vindicated than him right about now.

To dump all blame at past commissioners, including Brian Baker, for this failed project is shortsighted. I say that because I simply have to believe that those directed with running our county – no matter how thin their authority became over time – were truly interested in using the public money for the best public purpose.

Broadband is a noble cause that was orchestrated in a less than noble way.

Maybe decisions were rushed. Perhaps personal politics got in the way.

Whatever the numerous reasons, very little work actually got done after hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent. That alone will bog down a similar project for quite some time.

There are simply too many people in government watching – sometimes it seems waiting – for small slip ups to not have all of our bases covered on a development of this magnitude.

But, we have three commissioners now. Regardless of the letter next to their name, it seems each is serious about the job they were elected to do.

At its core, that involves good, sound decision making.

And if that means broadband comes back some day – in whatever form – I would trust this crew to get in right the second time.

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John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Cass County Democrat Missourian. To comment, call 816-380-3228 or e-mail jbeaudoin@demo-mo.com.

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