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Council Delays Financing III
Thursday, December 03, 2009
So the council's big BT meeting is going to start in about 15 minutes. We'll see what kind of information they're given. I'm sure they will hear all kinds of dire warnings about what will happen if they don't take the financing. Leopold will craft projections to assure the council of BT's eventual profitability. People can make numbers say whatever they want them to say.

The good thing about tonight is that the city council is trying to pry open the hood on this baby so as to finally have a look-see at the engine. It's ridiculous that everything has been so friggin' secret. I'm proud of the things Paul Decelles said in the paper today. It's not monopoly money, and I hope he does fight like hell to avoid executive session tonight.

If it's "our network" then enough with all the damned secrecy. It's OUR network!

***

10:29pm-
They did the hard scary stuff with Leo and numbers first and got that that of the way- now the BT folks are doing the feel good stuff. The new customer service person Lisa seemed good, however her presentation included the use of "ie" where she actually meant "eg." Oh God, does she make Donnelly's old salary? Jesus Christ. I want to die.

Is it me or did Leopold change his tune a bit from "you don't just walk away from a 33 million dollar debt"a few weeks ago to "no legal recourse" tonight, saying now that if the council decided not to appropriate a lease purchase payment, then Piper Jaffray could only seize BT and no more, and the investors who purchased the certificates of public good will have simply realized the downside of their own risks- taken freely by them. Sure, heh heh- nobody else would want to enter into a lease purchase finance with the city ever again, but otherwise- Scott Free! It was unclear to me what their answer was as to how that scenario might affect the city's bond rating.

It's like I'm watching a game show. You know the contestant is gonna say "no deal!" They're gonna press their luck and they're gonna shoot the works.

There are only two options: kill BT now or keep rolling the dice, and it's simply a political impossibility that they kill BT now. It simply is. It's like fighting gravity. Killing BT would certainly incur painful unknowable fallout and cause many bills to come due immediately. Whereas refinancing... ahhh... the can gets kicked down the road... things settle down... the issue goes away...

Remember kids- no good deed goes unpunished. Suppose a majority votes to pull the plug now. What will they be remembered for? Killing BT. Even if it's the right thing to do, it won't win you any votes, because voters and tax payers would feel the pain immediately. Kicking the can down the road is politically irresistible, because A) if it fails down the road, you don't get the blame B) If BT actually succeeds you can take credit as a visionary, and C) it isn't your money at risk, except for part you might personally have to pay to the city for your own property tax and whatnot.

There are immutable laws of the universe that far surpass what we suppose is our own free will. This issue is done. It is as I have foreseen.

And hey- maybe BT can add the customers it needs and become a success. Who knows? It was me who had the problem with emailing BT and getting called back, by the way. I am all about treating the customer right, especially when I'm the customer.

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Labels:

posted by Haik Bedrosian @ 5:13 PM  
13 Comments:
  • At December 03, 2009 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yeah, your right. the dems on the city council pounded the nails in BT's coffin a long time ago. Small price to pay to "run" burlington again.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 1:49 AM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    You didn't get what I'm saying at all apparently, and it's "you're right" not "your right."

     
  • At December 04, 2009 9:31 AM, Anonymous Andrew said…

    Haik--just wanted to say thank you for this and every post and your analysis which consistently makes me say "right on" (usually in all CAPS). Cheers to you!

     
  • At December 04, 2009 9:39 AM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    Well- that's certainly nice to hear. Thank you Andrew.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Question - what is BT worth today and what should it be worth in 3 years. How does that compare to the amount of money they want to borrow?

    Anyone.....

     
  • At December 04, 2009 12:26 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    It's worth about $2500-$3000 per customer or between $11.5-$13.8 million if you just wanted to sell it today, but that has no bearing on whether or not it can generate the revenues needed to make its loan payments as an ongoing city department.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I dispute Leopold and his quote of "no legal recourse". We do have legal recourse. It starts with his removal from office, then we get down to business and solve the BT problem.
    The first problem we have to solve is Leopolds tri representation. Cao, CFO of BT, and member of the finance board.We start that with his removal.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 12:42 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    We start that with his removal.

    I have argued that JPAL's removal would be the best possible thing for the mayor's political image, but it per se would not change the existing governance structure of the city.

    The CAO system is flawed. I prefer the old system with an actual clerk, and an actual treasurer. Their functions are different and should not have been combines.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Haik.Please attribute the comment of Leopolds tri duties to me Dale T.
    I did not mean to hit anonymous when sending.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 1:20 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    No worries Dale. Thanks for writing.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 1:25 PM, Blogger Morgan said…

    Haik, the figure of $2500-$3000 per subscriber is used as a ball-park figure to determine the aggregate value of a franchised cable network.

    I emphasized the term, because most cable networks are a franchised monopoly in their respective local markets. Burlington is now a (very) competetive market with three carriers, and this makes any one franchise here less valuable to the network owner(s), to potential owners(s) and---potential lenders.

    Burlington is not a growing market, and it's also a mature market for telecom . . . most everyone who wants it already has it. In Burlington, the potential subscriber base for BT can't be a lot more than the 46-4800 already signed up. BT surely knew this a couple of years ago, once they determined their subscription rate.

    The current preoccupation with the debt bond is putting the horse before the cart. No lender will finance $101M on the good faith and credit of 4600 subscribers. The VT PSB is on the record as saying NO to city taxpayers co-signing any note, and they have the power to prevent it.

     
  • At December 04, 2009 2:08 PM, Blogger Haik Bedrosian said…

    The taxpayers have already co-singed two notes on this thing if you want to look at it that way.

     
  • At December 05, 2009 10:42 AM, Anonymous a banker said…

    Your numbers are spot on if not a little optimistic.

    Next question...would you ever put a $60mm mortgage on a $12mm house. Ummm...no.

    So why is the city attempting to do so?

     
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