Todd Paris on Fibrant Losing Three BIG Business Accounts. Are Sabre Tooth Tigers Pawing at Fibrant’s Unlocked Door?

Posted on October 26, 2017

Todd Paris

♦ On Wednesday October 25th the Salisbury Post’s Josh Bergeron wrote an article entitled “Fibrant Loses Three Big Business Accounts.” The article details how “Integro Technologies, Gamewell Mechanical and Arco Capital Partners have all left Fibrant for a competitor and quotes a city source that indicates the three contracts combined will cost the city Fibrant around $100,000 per year.”

What’s more interesting is the claim by the City’s public relations/public information officer’s claim that “the city could not comment about specifics of the recent business departures other than to say Fibrant has lost some customers and gained others.” And that “Fibrant is considered as a municipal utility and we are not able to share customer information,” and that “Also, our utility relationships are not public record. You will have to receive the information you seek from the customer themselves.” (All quotes from Bergeron’s article and an email from the city.)

There some curious items that need to be commented on here. The city voted months ago to give their Fibrant director the power to set rates without coming back to council for permission. I thought this might give him the power to negotiate and compete with those who leave our broadband. What’s up with that? Is one of Fibrant’s former crack sales team working for a competitor now? More troublesome is my concern that a major national competitor may have finally “taken off the gloves” and may be using their economies of scale to massively out-market and underbid Fibrant. The city could be in serious trouble here. Change and better management are now crucial.

People ask me why I still subscribe to Fibrant while being so critical of the $3 million dollars per year losses it generates. I have never answered publicly before, but I have been scared if I left and folks found out it might create a panic and a rash of cancellations. Folks might think RFP and myself have inside information about an immanent collapse of Fibrant or city take-over by the State Treasurer. I wouldn’t want to be blamed for Fibrant’s collapse.

Time will tell on this issue. What is most striking were the assertions in the article from certain city leaders that amount to “Move along now, nothing to be seen here.” We might wonder if recent defections are a gauge of some business leader’s faith in the competence of Salisbury City leadership, both elected and appointed. An almost universal opinion is spreading in all neighborhoods that massive change is needed and that level of change necessitates change at the top.

One more item that is curious are the assertions by the Public Information Officer regarding the sanctity of client info. I did a Chapter 132 Public Records request a few months back and the city sent me a pile of FOIA information in which appeared to be their full subscriber list including what amounts everyone was charged. RFP’s editor decided not to publish it.  The subscriber list did indicate at the time that “a certain business” was not charged anything for Fibrant and there was a hand written note about whether that should change. You can view the resulting RFP video here:

“Chapter 132 of the NC General Statutes – (c) Public Enterprise Billing Information. – Billing information compiled and maintained by a city or county or other public entity providing utility services in connection with the ownership or operation of a public enterprise, excluding airports, is not a public record as defined in G.S. 132-1. Nothing contained herein is intended to limit public disclosure by a city or county of billing information… (2) That is necessary to assist the city, county, State, or public enterprise to maintain the integrity and quality of services it provides; or…” I guess I received this information under subsection (2).

Of course, this article is admittedly partially self-serving in that I am running for Salisbury City Council this year. The amount of support I have been offered this year is a degree of magnitude higher when compared to 2015. I worry more than a little that here, in “the city of smoke and mirrors” that Rowan Free Press, the Post and myself may have only uncovered the “tip of the iceberg” of the city’s problems and much worse problems may be lurking beneath the surface. Oh for goodness sake give me a “positivity” pill.  No not the ones that will magically turn me into a visionary and the voice of reason who wakes up in some la la land called the “Paris of the Piedmont”.

I still feel that with the correct leadership who cares more about fixing problems than hiding them and saving face, we can turn this town around. By the way, that leadership should not include re-electing Karen Alexander and Brian Miller who have had five and eight years respectively to do “something” about Fibrant and have failed. Now we’re paying for that mess.

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