City Governance of Wireless Philadelphia

Since delivering my statement to City Council on the Wireless Philadelphia-Earthlink agreement, I’ve had the chance to discuss the matter with Derek Pew, CEO of WP, and to review the relevant documents.

It turns out that there is clear and extensive involvement from the City in Wireless Philadelphia’s dealings.

Here are some of the specified powers of the City under the agreement:

  • WP-EL Network Agreement: Section 27.9 describes the City as an “intended third party beneficiary,” giving them standing to bring complaints under the contract.
  • Management Services Agreement: Section 2.4 Annual Plan and Budget. requires WP to submit (not necessarily for approval) an annual plan with budget and an annual report, requires input into plan during initial launch period, and requires WP to meet with the City at the City’s request.
  • Management Services Agreement: Section 5. WP GOVERNANCE gives the City approval over changes to WP bylaws, transferring assets or taking on debt over $10,000 (with some exceptions), and change of status (like becoming a for-profit), and input into the selection of the first CEO.

“City” is not specified anywhere that I can see, but I assume it refers to the city’s Chief Information Officer, who is under the authority of the Mayor and is an Ex-Officio member of the WP board. Seems like Dianah Neff, the current CIO who hatched the wireless plan, has done a good job strengthening her (and her successors’) role in city life.

City Council doesn’t have much to say about the network or WP’s “digital inclusion” programs. Once it signs off on the pole attachment agreement, Earthlink doesn’t have to come back before Council for 20 years. Neither does Wireless Philadelphia, for that matter. The pole rental is for 10 years with two five-year options (at the mutual agreement of Earthlink and Wireless Philadelphia).

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