Friday, January 07, 2005

"BellSouth to join petition drive"

Well it's official; the fiber411 petition drive has finally taken shape: as a tool of the incumbents.
"BellSouth employees are circulating a petition with the aim of bringing Lafayette Utilities System's planned telecommunications venture to a vote."

"Williams said BellSouth is allowing its employees to carry the petition with them at work."
This no doubt "rescues" what had begun to look like a pitiful attempt to put together a petition based on the wrong law by a group whose big push was to have been to have their petition join the anti anti-smoking one at two local body shops. On the tenth. Maybe. Premised on the wrong law and accomplishing nothing but the opposite of what the two front men claimed to desire the petition seemed destined for a slow and quiet death.

No more. As of today it becomes a creature of BellSouth.

This strategy of "allowing" your employees to carry the petition is transparent and typical of the sort of casual duplicity that the incumbents have pursued since the day one of this battle. If you were an employee of a big corporation in little ole Lafayette would you really believe it smart not to carry such a petition? Don't you think there will be implied, but well-understood, quotas for these guys to meet. No, make no mistake about it: BellSouth has turned its entire workforce into a paid petition army. That they are willing to use their people in this way, knowing as they do that some--perhaps many of the more technically sophisticated--must in their hearts think BellSouth is in the wrong on this one confirms Lafayette's conclusion that these guys are simply without honor. All that matters to them is lucre. And it is all that ever has.

Trust me, BellSouth is not acting out of a pious hope to help the people of Lafayette. BellSouth is imposing on its employees because and only because it hopes to derail Lafayette's project. LeBlanc and Breakfield must be realistic enough to know that. The position that this is only about giving the people a chance to vote is transparent. That plea gathered about 10 members on a thin website one of my informants revealed yesterday. And some of those are clearly pro fiber. NO, the petition as of today becomes only about trying to find a way to toss a roadblock in the way of LUS, and the incumbents have demonstrated once again that they are willing to use any tool.

Since LeBlanc seems determined to go through with a petition that has dubious legal basis the number needed will be small enough that this paid army will amass it in short order, I have no doubt. I also have no doubt that the legal eagles at the incumbents realize it has no basis. But hey, they can sue! They can pop up a little fear, uncertainty, and doubt. They can delay and try and get a complaisant court to issue a restraining order until the thing is appealed. And appealed again.

I hope all that fails. In a fair world that is what would happen. But what you can do is register your complaints. Let BellSouth know what you think of this sort of tactic. Let their employees know when you see them. And let Williams and the central office know as well.

John Williams
Regional Manager, Acadiana
BellSouth
(337) 491-6850 (337) 261-2800 (Updated by a helpful reader! Thanks!)
John.C.Williams@BELLSOUTH.COM

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