Commentary

Fad Lovers II

Like ultra-self conscious junior high schoolers, city officials are suckers for fads. Forget addressing the core issues of local government–sewers, schools, and roads are boring! These folks want to do what’s cool. And right now what’s cool is giving your city Wi-Fi access. Recently cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Portland, and Houston have said they want to do it. And now this:

A Milwaukee firm is leading an effort to create a citywide wireless computer network, a $20 million-plus initiative that could leapfrog the city to the front of a national push to create such systems, city officials said Wednesday. Midwest Fiber Networks would construct the system at no cost to taxpayers – a key selling point for the cash-strapped city. The firm and its partners could even end up paying the city money to lease space in the city-owned underground conduit system. Officials could also seek free wireless access in all parks or housing projects as part of the arrangement. “This is an exciting proposition for the city,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, who has had informal discussions with the company. He said it could lead to Milwaukee being the “first American city to become totally wireless at no cost to the taxpayers of the city.”

Yeah, and how abut that wastewater system (p.4)! Anyone? (crickets) Milwaukee is one city that could actually brag about wastewater. Perhaps city leaders are now entitled to be a bit frivolous? Article here. Why muni Wi-Fi isn’t such a cool idea here.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.

Ted is the director of Can We Take a Joke?, a Korchula Productions feature documentary about the collision between comedy and outrage culture featuring comedians such as Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, and Adam Carolla. Ted is producing Little Pink House, a Korchula Productions feature narrative about about Susette Kelo's historic fight to save her beloved home and neighborhood. The film stars two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love, The Firm, Basic Instinct).

Ted produced the award-winning shorts The Conversation and Cute Couple. He is an executive producer on the feature documentary Honor Flight, and produced the film's first trailer, which attracted more than 4.5 million views. The Honor Flight premiere attracted an audience of more than 28,000 and set the Guinness World Record for largest film screening in history.

Ted is a founding member of ReasonTV, where he produced hundreds of videos and documentary shorts, including Raiding California, which introduced a nationwide audience to the Charles Lynch medical marijuana case.

Ted is co-creator of The Drew Carey Project, a series of documentary shorts hosted by Drew Carey, and creator of the comedic series Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do? and Nanny of the Month.

His ReasonTV contributions have been featured by The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, and on the he John Stossel Special Bailouts and Bull, a first-of-its-kind joint project between ABC News and ReasonTV.

During Ted's tenure, ReasonTV received the Templeton Freedom Award for Innovative Media and in 2008 Businessweek recognized his short Where's My Bailout? (created with Courtney Balaker) as among the best of bailout humor.

Prior to joining Reason, Ted spent five years producing at ABC Network News, producing hour-long specials and 20/20 segments on topics ranging from free speech to addiction.

Ted's written work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Reason magazine, The Washington Post, and USA TODAY. He is the author or co-author of 11 studies on topics ranging from urban policy to global trade, and his research has been presented before organizations such as the Mont Pelerin Society and the American Economic Association.

Ted is co-author (with Sam Staley) of the book The Road More Traveled (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), which Chapman University's Joel Kotkin says "should be required reading, not only for planners and their students, but for anyone who loves cities and wants them to thrive."

Ted has appeared on many radio and television programs, including ABC World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, and has interviewed hundreds of thinkers and innovators, ranging from X Prize recipient and private spaceflight pioneer Burt Rutan to Templeton Prize-winning biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala.

Ted graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Irvine with degrees in political science and English.