Politics & Government

Instant polls to guide Thursday meeting on Click

Those who attend Thursday’s public meeting about plans to lease Tacoma’s Click cable network will answer a series of questions with technology called instant polling, or clickers in education circles.

Tacoma Public Utilities has an offer from Wave of Kirkland to lease the Click cable infrastructure for 40 years. Wave in turn would make regular investments to the city’s fiber network, and pay the utility $2 million per year.

TPU has planned two public meetings for people to learn more about the proposal and provide feedback.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Tacoma Public Utilities board member Mark Patterson will open the gathering with a few remarks, said TPU spokeswoman Chris Gleason. Click general manager Tenzin Gyaltsen will then provide a short presentation about the Wave proposal.

Gleason said given people’s reaction on social media, “I think there’s a lot of people who don’t understand the current business model and how it works. We want to make sure there’s clarity on that.”

Gleason said TPU will present a series of “guided discussion questions” to the audience. People will respond to the questions by pushing a button on a hand-held device about the size of a credit card.

The audience’s collective answers will then show up on the screen. Gleason said she expects the polls to be a good gauge of audience opinion.

“I don’t know if it’s going to work or if it’s going to crash and burn,” she said of the polling method. “I think people are going to come with their opinions and fired up, and want the opportunity to have the microphone and let us have it.”

Gleason initially said she didn’t know if there would be time after the polling for free-form comments from the audience. Later Wednesday evening, Gleason clarified her earlier statement and said there would be enough time for residents to offer comments.

On Wednesday, Gleason said she was still preparing questions for audience polling and had none to share. But questions could gauge attendees thoughts about fiscal policy.

For example, she said, TPU says Click loses $9 million per year. That money is paid by TPU’s power customers.

Gleason said questions could include “Do you think it’s OK for electric customers to subsidize the cable side of the business?” and “How important do you think it is for Click to pay for itself?”

Thursday’s meeting, 7 p.m. at Stadium High School’s theater, is the first of two. The second meeting will be at 7 p.m., Thursday April 23 at the Tacoma Public Utilities auditorium, 3628 S. 35th St., Tacoma.

The only way to access the TPU auditorium is through a long stairway into the basement. People with mobility issues need to call ahead of time to arrange an elevator ride to view TPU board meetings, which are also held in the auditorium.

“We will make arrangements for people who can’t walk down stairs to come to the meeting,” Gleason said.

For those unable to attend either meeting, Gleason suggested people send an email with comments to customercare@click-network.com, or to leave a comment on Click’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ClickCableTV.