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On the Home Front

Locally joining the fray were several city council members, including Republican Frank Rizzo, Jr., son of the legendary late Mayor Frank Rizzo, who questioned the wisdom and economics of the city becoming a de facto Internet service provider. Cost estimates from Neff indicate that $10 million will be required to build the infrastructure, while a yearly $1.5 to $2 million will be needed for maintenance. [6] According to the Wireless Philadelphia web site, "a mixture of taxable bonds, foundation grants, and low-interest bank loans" will underwrite the project, with "no taxpayer funds" to be used. However, in council hearings, Diane Neff, CIO, could not answer Rizzo's questions on the possibility of revenue shortfalls and who would make up the difference.

After recent Philadelphia City Council hearings, Rizzo stated, "[G]overnment involvement automatically dooms any such initiative to overruns," citing the Motorola-built 911 police dispatch system that continually breaks down. [7] Rizzo stated in a letter to the editor, "I have no confidence in government involving themselves even in a consultant, oversight way." [8] Although Rizzo was not alone in his objections, Mayor Street's use of an executive order to establish Wireless Philadelphia effectively quashed any recourse for grievance.

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