Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Council Meeting, Digital Divide, and that Petition

Well Layne and I did our digital divide presentation before the council. It went fine and we basically covered what I intimated in the last post: integrate digital divide support and education into the basic plan and bring neighborhood level end-users into the conversation early rather than expecting that any plan will succeed that is delivered to them. The main purpose was to start the public conversation and that seems to have succeeded—there was a long period of discussion between Benjamin, Williams, and Durel on whether or not the plan really had to incorporate digital divide or if it could be done in parallel. Benjamin waffled, Durel thought parallel was good and Williams plumped for incorporated. It was good to see people actually talking seriously about basic issues.

Bill LeBlanc stood up at the end and announced to the council that his group was going to start up a petition drive. I still have my grave doubts that it will actually happen (and am sure that it should not.) Leblanc confessed in response to a question that he wasn't sure how many signatures would actually be required. He really needs to get straight about that. That response indicates that he isn't sure what law governs. Trouble is, numbers aren't the only differences between the three competing regimes (state law, home rule charter, and "fair" Competition act). They also impose very different conditions on the petition itself. They will not be interchangeable and signatures gather for one will not be good for another.

Interesting times.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even if they somehow miraculously get their petition to fly, do they honestly think the citizens of Lafayette would vote the measure down?

Doug Menefee said...

1) Regardless of LUS rolling out FTTH - this community still needs to address the digital divide.

2) Bill LeBlanc and Neal Breakfield really need to provide some focuse on their initiative. Bill couldn't even say what people would be signing in regards to the petition. He merly stated, when questioned, that it would call for a vote... and that people should sign it even if they support the city-parish doing this project.

I personally believe that they may be looking for some free press to drive the momentum of getting something started. The problem is that they are lost their credibility in the first roll out. The media is going to show up again to have them say something which contradicts their first statements - as were written about in yesterday's news. (5% of the vote - to prevent LUS from building out a network)

From their 411 website, I'm even more confused. It looks like they want us to vote on an open vs. closed network.

I guess time will tell - but IMO they missed their opportunity.

John said...

Anon,

Yeah, I think they really think that the public will vote this down. I think they're dreaming. On the merits they shouldn't have a chance. LUS has been the most consistent engine of Lafayette development since its inception. In addition to consistently lower prices than the regional competition and better products (everyone wants LUS water, for instance) LUS funds a 1/4, yes 25% of the city. If LUS should go away we'd all get higher prices and 25% higher taxes. No, these guys should have no case.

The problem is that should this come to a vote the city would not be allowed to spend _any_ money on promoting its position. State law. But Cox and BellSouth couold blanket the city and abuse Cox's control of the major way we get TV signal to bury us all with advertisements. I am sure I'm not telling anyone anyting new when I say that we all know they are willing to lie. More importantly they are willing to push every irrational fear button they can find... It would be ugly beyond belief. And this isn't just speculation. Take a look around the country to see the tack that the incumbents take. Disgusting. But you've got to take it seriously.

John said...

Doug,

Good to see you back in the blogosphere (sp?).

You're right, of course, about needing to address the digital divide regardless of the fiber project. But surely you recognize that 1) nobody would notice it if public fiber wasn't on the table and 2) _public_ fiber represents a huge opportunity to address this much, much more effectively than would ever be possible if the only resources were private. It is, even more thant the fiber plant itself, a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring this community together.

'Bout fiber411, I think that they just haven't thought this stuff through. At every turn they seem to not really understand the context or the practicalities involved. I don't get the impression that they understand that they could troll for support this way. It may work out that way but I don't think they will have intended it.

And yea, they've waited to long. Support or at least acceptance has solidified. The train has pulled out. Derailing it will be hard. My own guess is that they or at least LeBlanc isn't up for the nastiness that would be involved in really lashing this thing into the public consciousness. He'd have to say a lot of things he knows are not true. And I don't think, in the end, he would. Though he is really tempted.