Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"Petition's Validity Questioned"

"A petition attempting to block Lafayette Utilities System from borrowing money to build a telecommunications network may not be valid."
An Advocate article on the petition drive digs down to get at the story behind the laws which (might) authorize the anti-(retail business plan) fiber petition. The long and the short of it is that there is every reason to believe that the approach chosen by the petitioners is simply not valid under state law. The law which their petition assumes is not the law under which the bonds were authorized. That law, dealing with "revenue" bonds, has no provision for petition. The city is confident that any petition challenge would have to be brought under the provisions of its home rule charter. The recent state law dealing with municipal telecom issues—which was designed to be controlling state legislation on such issues—spends a lot of time dealing with referendum issues and specifically defers to a city's home rule charter where available.

As readers of recent posts will recall I am not surprised to learn that the petition groups research on this issue (they are going to ask their attorney about this) is off-base. In fact large parts of the "research" that they have publicly cited has been similarly off-base. If they are truly opposed to LUS' project (and, oddly, I am not honestly sure that the two who are the public face of the project really are) they need to take a deep breath and get their act together.

Anyway, go to the story, which is a nice counterpoise to yesterday's Advertiser "coverage" and read it for yourself. There are some juicy details buried in those paragraphs.

update 9:45, a little lagniappe: A little reflection after a second reading leads to a small smile on my part. Apparently the only way to get a definitive opinion on which law governs a valid petition drive is for the city-parish to petition the state for an opinion. The petitioners can't do it for themselves. If they proceed on the current path LUS can pull the rug out from under them whenever they want. They can try to go forward under a cloud of uncertainty or take the certainly legal but likely impossible path provided for in the home rule charter.

They'd better get good not just passionate legal council.

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