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Motions to block public-private partnership with Rainier Connect denied

Injunctions filed last month denied, Judge allows utility to continue negotiations

On Friday, 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 Public Utility Board and Council for their consideration. The Judge also indicated that he would review the City’s actions in the event that the City Council and Public Utility 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 twelve 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 Tacoma Public Utility Board and City 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.

To learn more about the Click! Network, go to MyTPU.org/ClickUpdate.

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