Newsweek, putting out a year-end list as magazines are wont to do, included Kansas City Mayor Sly James on its list of the “most innovative mayors in the U.S.” for what it called his “vision of building (a) ‘Silicon Prairie.’ ”
The periodical credited James for lobbying Google to bring its ultra-fast fiberoptic Internet service to town.
“As a result,” Newsweek said, “new businesses and entrepreneurs are already starting to come to this Midwestern tech mecca.”
The magazine said that “James helped create the environment for this investment by embracing local tech startups,” gave him props for moving City Hall’s computing to the Internet “cloud” and for the development of the coming downtown streetcar project.
Newsweek may be a tad bold in crediting James for landing Google Fiber.
After all, Google chose Mayor Joe Reardon’s Kansas City, Kan., first for the project. And although a few neighborhoods in Wyandotte County have Google Fiber service, it hasn’t yet reached Kansas City, Mo.
And Google’s decision to pick Kansas City for the project has at least as much to do with its railroad crossroads past — and the way the track right of ways have been used to lay high-capacity Internet lines — as any tech-focused present. The company was also seduced by utility poles — property of local utilities, and not the purview of the mayor.