Michael Kasperzak, City of Mountain View

The spotlight shines on Councilmember Michael Kasperzak of Mountain View.

A little about Mike...he was on the first panel of speakers to welcome us to the 2013 LGO Roundtable and is a past president of the League of California Cities as well as an appointee to the National League of Cities (NLC) Finance and Administration and Inter-Governmental Relations (FAIR) Steering Committee. Mike is an attorney and mediator with over 28 years of legal and dispute resolution experience and has served as adjunct faculty at Stanford University Law School, and Santa Clara University Law School. He has served in a variety of leadership capacities with the American Red Cross, Community School of Music & Arts, Mountain View Library Foundation, Lewis & Clark College, National Ski Patrol System, World Cup USA 1994, Los Angeles Olympics 1984 Organizing Committee, among other national, regional and local organizations.

We were happy he agreed to be our first feature for this section of the Buzz and the following is a q & a facilitated by Jodi Mulligan.

Q. Please give is an update on what you have been doing to work on deployment, adoption and digital literacy since we last saw you at the Local Government Officials Roundtable.

A. I have personally made some connections through the League of Cities which has helped ensure that the surveys [California Public Utilities Commission Public Feedback Survey] were announced, distributed broadly, and that the surveys were being done. This has helped the project in moving forward and gathering more information.

Q. You mentioned that the City of Mountain View had been served with free Google wifi, but that the technology was old. You said that public officials were thinking about next steps to assure sufficient bandwidth. Where are you at in this process?

A. Google advised me that when they take down the free wifi system, the scrap won't be worth anything to anybody. Google will no longer be providing city-wide wifi. They are, however, going to provide free wifi access to downtown outdoor spaces like outdoor cafés and parks and there will be street access. They are also making grants available for the city library, senior center and recreation center.

Google also announced they are working with a number of other cities around the country on building fiber networks, along with working with cities in California like Mountain View and Sunnyvale. But in order to do this, they need to be the sole provider and there will need to be major changes in permitting requirements. If municipalities want fiber, then they will have to update their regulatory framework. We are working with other cities to ask what their concerns are and how we can all be consistent.

Staff recently brought this back to council for direction and we authorized staff to pursue it further with Google with a here's what we have all agreed on could work type of negotiating phase. Google will be cherry picking. They are going to put fiber in neighborhoods where something like 80 percent of that neighborhood is willing to participate. So they are not just putting fiber out there for everyone, they are not going to change that, and that might not work for Mountain View. But we as a city are working on the fiber issue.

Q. You made a great point at the LGO Roundtable that leaders need to look ahead for next steps. As a past president, what advice can you give to the members of LCC to best promote broadband deployment and adoption moving forward?

A. We are learning with fiber that the concept is easy. The details, however, are myriad. When it gets down to brass tacks, there are a lot of details which may seem like steps backwards. Just saying yes to Google and taking their fiber is not an easy decision. The technology is seductive but the details are onerous, so it is a good idea to look before you leap. Don't be afraid of the future but go into it wide-eyed and ask lots of questions.