On June 28, a Pierce County Superior Court judge denied motions by Thomas McCarthy, Christopher Anderson and Mitchell Shook to stop the City of Tacoma from pursuing a final agreement with Rainier Connect to provide broadband services over the Click! Commercial Network without a public vote. Additional requests by the plaintiffs to define Click! Network as a separate utility were also denied.
The judge affirmed that the City of Tacoma is following a process authorized under state law and found no basis to stop negotiations with Rainier Connect or require a public vote. The City confirmed there will be public hearings before the proposed agreements are presented to the Tacoma Public Utility Board and Tacoma City Council for their consideration. The judge also indicated that he would review the City’s actions in the event that the Council and Board approved the agreements with Rainier Connect.
“Based on this ruling, the City will continue negotiations as directed by the City Council and Tacoma Public Utility Board with Rainier Connect on a partnership agreement according to the 12 community policy goals,” said Jackie Flowers, director of Tacoma Public Utilities. “If a proposed agreement is negotiated, it will be submitted to the Board and Council for consideration, public input, and possible approval later this summer.”
In March, the Board and Council voted to pursue negotiations with Rainier Connect to expand the existing public-private partnership to maintain the Click! Network as a publicly owned asset after an extensive vetting process that included public feedback opportunities. Rainier Connect’s proposal ensures that Tacoma residents retain ownership of Click! Network, and includes a landmark commitment to net neutrality, customer privacy, low-income affordability and non-transfer to an entity with substantial market share. Rainier Connect is a local Internet provider with a long history of doing business in the Tacoma area.