Saturday, October 02, 2004

Help the People of the Tricities!

Annie Collins, who was our first Monday Conversations interviewee, has appealed to Lafayette for help in their fight for Fiber. The pro-fiber group there needs money or design help to counter an ad campaign by the Comcast and SBC, the local equivalents of Cox and BellSouth. They are going up for a second vote on their proposal on November the 2nd.

Annie represents "Fiber for Our Future" a group of citizens who have been fighting the good fight in the TriCities region of Illiniois—a cluster of cities near Chicago. They went to a referendum in 2003...and lost. The incumbent providers there, SBC and Comcast, unleashed an overwhelmingly expensive blizzard of disinformation using tactics like dual push polls, glossy brochures, a large ad campaign, mail campaigns that blanketed the regions and more, all of which quite deliberately misrepresented the plan and blatantly attempted to confuse the real issue with claims that were intended to make people uncertain about what was proposed and what realistic alternatives were open. The cities had to rely on citizens like Annie to promote the plan because of legal restrictions on cities mounting a ad campaign to "promote" new services. The Fiber for Our Future band was overwhelmed by the campaign to which they were not in a position to adequately respond.

The people of Lafayette owe the TriCities a debt of gratitude: their experience, coupled with our initial, very similar, experience of Cox and BellSouth's "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt" campaign demonstrated that allowing the city to be pushed into a referendum by the incumbents would be simply result in an unfair media onslaught that would only serve to confuse the issue. Since Lafayette, like the TriCities, would be legally prevented from defending the idea only the incumbent spin and disinformation would be available to citizens. The Council, wisely in this writer's opinion, chose not to cave in to pressure for a referendum which would have inevitably resulted in the people of Lafayette being systematically lied to and mislead. Without the experience of the TriCities and similar cases elsewhere Lafayette might well have been enticed into that trap.

After the incumbents won in 2003 they thought they didn't need to worry any longer. Service remains subpar and prices for cable, amazingly, jumped more than a third. They didn't count on Annie and her band who have roared back with a new plan and recently won petition drives for a spot on the ballot in all three cities.

They need our help now and are trying to raise money or any other sort of support. If you can help or have ideas get in touch with Annie at: acollins@tricitybroadband.com;
Their postal address is: 9 N. Lincoln St, Batavia, IL 60510
Checks can be made out to: Fiber For Our Future.

More info at the Fiber For Our Future website.

10/6 UPDATE: Fiber For Our Future has put a PayPal Bug on their website. Travel to their front page, click on the pay pal button and you will be brought to a secure site where you can quickly and easily contribute any amount, large or small. A nifty web tool.

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