John Curtis EXPOSED. iProvo: Incompetence or Corruption?
John Curtis likes to take credit for bringing Google Fiber to Provo while he was Mayor. Was it his greatest political accomplishment or his biggest debacle?
Below are some fact checking questions we would like answered.
Mr. Curtis, is it true you were on the Provo City Council when Mayor Billings asked you to support a vote to declare the world’s most advanced fiber-to-the-home municipal network be declared “government surplus property” so the Mayor’s office could dispose of it as the Mayor saw fit? This was done at the request of the city attorney, right, because the terms of the deal were already agreed to but the Mayor lacked the authority to divest, or dispose of, such a valuable asset by other means?
Is it true you voted yes knowing the city would actually pay Broadweave $500K for the privilege of taking over the iProvo network without disposing the city’s municipal bonds which paid for building it? By “selling” the network in this manner without discharging the municipal bonds, doesn’t that leave the city and its taxpayers on the hook for those bonds and interest payments? Doesn’t that transfer all the upside benefits to private shareholders while limiting any potential downside risks to the citizens of Provo? Is that the kind of capitalism you stand for? Exactly how much did the city pay to build the iProvo network? Was it about $40M or more at the time? Was 100% of the cost financed with municipal bonds? What were the terms on those bonds?
Is it true that the terms of the “sale” of the iProvo network were originally proposed and orchestrated by Fraser Bullock of Sorenson Capital (and founding member of Bain Capital with Mitt Romney)?
Isn’t it true that Mr. Bullock was at the time also the Area Authority for the LDS Church for Provo and therefore your direct ecclesiastical supervisor? Were any ecclesiastical promises made to you in order to gain your City Council vote in favor of privatizing the iProvo network, such as advancement in church leadership or other enticements or pressures? As a city official, were any of your meetings and phone calls with Mr. Bullock regrading the iProvo network logged or recorded? As leaders in the Utah Republican party and significant fundraisers, did Mr. Bullock or Mayor Billings make promises or offers of leadership advancement opportunities within the Republican party in return for your support?
When Mr. Bullock recused himself from the deal in response to outside allegations of improper conflicts of interest raised with Church headquarters, did you assist Mayor Billings and Mr. Bullock in approaching Provo Power Utility board members into acting as front-men for the acquisition for Broadweave while Sorenson Capital still backstopped the deal with a $6M letter of intent? Why do you think a $6M “letter of intent” would be adequate to backstop a deal worth far more than six times that?
At anytime in this process did the city retain an investment banking firm or any outside counsel familiar with how to evaluate or structure the privatization of city assets or municipal utilities? If not, why? If yes, who? Can you provide their credentials or successful track record in these kinds of transactions of at least similar size and scope?
Why was it so important for you to support the “sale” of the iProvo network without an open and transparent process? Do you oppose public ownership of utilities on philosophical or ideological grounds? If so, why did you not sell off the Provo Power Utility to your country-club friends on similar terms as iProvo? Would it surprise you to know Mayor Billing’s office turned down offers of interest by at least 3 companies seeking confidential due diligence? In the absence of an open and transparent process, is it fair to characterize the “sale” of the iProvo network as a secret under-the-table deal to politically connected insiders?
When did you first learn that Broadweave would be acquired by Veracity? Are you acquainted with the shareholders or management teams for either company? If so, how?
Did Broadweave and/or Veracity ever pay the required interest payments for the iProvo municipal bonds? If not, why? How much did the city coffers pay to prevent a default? Were there any fees or penalties accrued?
When did you, as Mayor, and or the city attorney first discuss exercising the “clawback” clause for the iProvo network from Broadweave and/or Veracity? Whose idea was it?
Is it true that you allowed Broadweave/Veracity to retain one third of the fiber strands in the city-wide iProvo network in return for their dropping any objections to the city exercising its clawback clause? Exactly how many strands of fiber were deployed in the original network? Doesn’t that mean that Veracity now enjoys the benefits of a city-wide fiber network that they never had to pay for building out? If the municipal bonds represented 100% of iProvo’s construction costs and the bonds were approximately $40M at the time, doesn’t that mean you transferred from the city more than $13M dollars of value to Veracity’s shareholders? Isn’t that a theft of more than $13M from the city, or is it simply in your generous nature mixed with incompetence in how to privatize a public utility? Do you think you maximized the city’s ROI or adequately represented the city’s interests in this?
Under what circumstances did you and Google Fiber first begin to discuss terms for the remaining network? Is it true the city has retained one third of the fiber strands for its own city needs? Does the city really need that many strands of fiber for its SCADA network and other IT needs? Is it true Google Fiber is only paying $1 per year for the remaining network capacity, only one third of the original capacity, for 20 years? Who will own the network at the end of the 20 year lease? Will Google Fiber have paid off the total value of the municipal bonds in that 20 year period? Doesn’t that mean Google Fiber is paying for three thirds of the construction costs, but only getting one third of the network capacity? Google Fiber’s lease includes use of the city’s digital headend which aggregates multiple satellite feeds and grooms them into Google Fiber’s TV offering, right? Do you know what the value of iProvo’s headend and grandfathered distribution rights were worth?
How can we ever know if Google Fiber paid too much or too little for access to the iProvo network, especially considering that no investment banking services were ever retained to assist with the negotiations? As the network operator, Google Fiber has total access to every customer’s data streams, right? What’s all that collective customer information worth? How do we know you didn’t compromise the internet privacy of every customer in Provo for twenty years? What makes you think you and the city attorney and whatever other country-club attorney buddies you hired to assist you in this deal where qualified to negotiate such a complex valuation without seeking the assistance of an investment banking firm with experience in privatizing public utilities?
Did you know that many if not most of the Russian Oligarchs who own and control nearly every aspect of the Russian economy today obtained their wealth through corrupt privatization of publicly owned assets?
Did you know that China and the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee had to adopt a policy of threatening public execution by firing squad in order to curtail the corrupt privatization of public assets in China?
Do you think public officials who participate in corrupt and/or inept municipal privatizations should be punished by death, imprisonment, or rewarded with more political power?
Have you ever received any form of campaign finance support, or any other gratuity, either directly or indirectly, from any of the shareholders or management teams from Broadweave, Veracity, Google Fiber, Alphabet, Sorenson Capital, Bain Capital, Comcast, CenturyLink, ATT, or any person, principal, or entity affiliated with, or benefiting from the iProvo deal?
What is the net-present value of the iProvo network and why would you ever want to privatize a crown jewel like that?
On second thought, save your breath Mr. Curtis. I’m sure you will deny any wrongdoing or any improper or uncouth behavior on your part. And before you turn your lawyers loose on us for slander and liable I trust your lawyers will point out that I am only asking hard questions that need substantive answers. You, as a public official, need to be held accountable. If you think your constituents are just as blissfully ignorant as to accepted standards and best practices in the privatization of municipal utilities, you’re wrong. I’m sure you did nothing corrupt. But just in case, let’s ask for a comprehensive independent outside audit for all the transactions tied to the iProvo network and cross checked for generally accepted accounting practices, and campaign contributions, just to be sure. Or, if you’d rather the FBI do it, I’m ok with that, too.
For a guy like you whose fortune is tied to selling gun range targets, we suppose this election is a bit like a firing squad when you think about it. We already know who we’re not voting for.
And while you’re not answering these questions, why not not-answer these other documented 120 Questions for John Curtis that Utah Deserves to Have Answered about Sexual Harassment, Gender Discrimination, Business Experience & Incompetence, Inappropriate, Illegal & Criminal Behavior, Broken Contracts and “The Golden Goose?
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