Saturday, January 15, 2005

Reality Check: Fiber411's Plaint

In a letter to the public over at Fiber411 Tim Supple goes over the top in a disjointed and internally inconsistent plaint that he be allowed to walk Lafayette into the brutal mugging that a referendum fight would surely be.

It should be clear to all that in the real world BellSouth and Cox have not restrained themselves to a respectful or truthful argument and that there is no reason to expect that to change. Give them the platform of a referendum, the platform that they have been angling for from day one and everyone in the real world knows that they would take advantage of their huge financial advantage and relative lack of legal restraint to do to Lafayette what the incumbents have done everywhere: flood the media, a significant part of which they own, with as sickening flow of misinformation. (BellSouth's proposed state law and Cox's campaign both focused largely on making a referendum happen.)

Their whole purpose would be to defeat LUS in such a way that a public infrastructure could never be built.

Don't be deceived. If the petitioners were to succeed the consequence would be that they would never get their declared aim: to build a public fiber optic system that conforms to their idea of an ideologically correct business plan.

What follows is a partial rebuttal of the points made. My points are inset in green.


To Lafayette City Parish Government and Citizens of Lafayette:

Who is We are citizens asking for the right to vote on the $125,000,000 bond issue proposed by LUS. Nothing more. We are not bad losers, poor sports, Bell South stooges or supporters of a Cox monopoly. is a small group of citizens that started with the belief that the present LUS Fiber to the Home Initiative is not the best plan for Lafayette. We are 100% for a fiber optic network in Lafayette. We are for LUS building the infrastructure that the will bring competition to Bell South and Cox. We do not support Bell South, COX or LUS domination of our market.
Prove it: refuse the help of those who do not share either your goals or your values. It is abundantly obvious that support from BellSouth and Cox is support with an intent to kill LUS project. Demand they open their systems. Don't allow BellSouth or Cox to spend money supporting you. Denounce any use of paid time by "volunteers."
We are for an open network that will allow the owners of LUS (the citizens) access to the all of the competitive service providers throughout the world. We oppose LUS and/or the City Parish Government being both the competitor and the regulators in the retail market for telephone, Internet and cable TV.
You claim to be for LUS being the builder and owner of the network but want open competition in the retail market. There are two ways to that goal. You can try and wreck the ongoing process in hopes of starting it over --blithely ignoring the reality of incumbent power-- or you can say plainly to LUS what you think would be better, prove yourself worth by working hard to get the network in place, and mount a fight for a more open system when outsiders aren't a factor and the very existence of the network isn't at risk. A petition at that point could make good sense. If Cox or your ally BellSouth gets the fiber network because of your tantrum your dream will never have any possibility of being realized. Focus on the reality of the situation! If this is indeed what you want then accepting help from the incumbents is allowing them to use you to their ends.
We believe that the present LUS Fiber to the Home Initiative is a bad business plan that requires the citizens of Lafayette to take unnecessary risk
Actually it is you who wants LUS to take the bigger risk. A rental plan where the owner shares the revenue with the service provider 1) makes the owner reliant on the competence of others, 2) will always be a weaker business plan because it means sharing the income that could be yours with folks that don't have your gumption and haven't taken the risk to build the infrastructure required. This is precisely why BellSouth and Cox will continue to pursue their strong business plan of gathering all the profit for their owners. Why should LUS tie one hand behind them when the other guy is punching away?
and in the end will result in higher utility rates, increased taxes and limited consumer choice to new technology.
This is merely ideological. You believe it to be true only because of an unreasoning hostility towards government. In the real world what has happened is that LUS following exactly this path has resulted in generally lower utility rates than private regional competitors. It also meant lower taxes since "fees for service " substitute for otherwise necessary city tax income. And we see no evidence that LUS who has continually rebuilt the electricity plant has shown poor judgment in the new technologies it chose in those realms. LUS has arguably outperformed and inarguably at least equaled the performance of its private competitors in each of these realms. To look at history and see anything else is to be blinded by ideology.
But all of that is a debate for another day in a public forum, which allows facts, ideas and opinions to be presented to the public for their consideration.
No, it is not a "debate for another day." Arguing the actual issues instead of giving in to the pretense that stopping the plan is not your real purpose is what we should be doing. You don't want to have a vote because you'd like to "think" about it some more. No, honestly now, you want a vote because you've already thought about it and intend to stop the plan. You believe it unwise. This mealy-mouth nonsense doesn't play well and it makes it look like you are willing to say stuff like this just to avoid dealing with the fact that if the people were to actually vote on the issue right now you'd lose and damn few people would sign your petition. But you apparently hope that with a little initial finessing of the truth about your final aim and the subsequent dollars of outsiders in a referendum you can turn that around. Should this ever come to a vote the issue the incumbents make of it will have nothing to do with "open systems" and everything to do with trying to make people believe it is just too scary for anyone but big brother from Atlanta to do. And that the children of Lafayette should be grateful to wait their turn. That is exactly the tack they took in the first months and there is no reason to think they won't again. Did you miss all that?
All is asking for is the right of the citizens to vote on the present LUS plan.
(See above.)
We attended the city council meeting and were only given 3 minutes
This is an outrageous lie. Sorry. But it is. Neal, Bill, talk to this guy. Tell him not to say things that anyone who was there knows is as far from the truth as is conceivable. For the record: Neal and Bill both talked for a very long time; multiple times. And were treated with complete respect by the council. They'll both confirm that. They just didn't convince the council. It isn't that they didn't make the argument but that they lost it that galls.
to compete with the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by LUS to sell this plan to its citizens and the city council. At these meetings we asked the city council for the right to vote and they refused. If you are one of the council members that told us that you voted for the LUS plan because you had not heard objections from your constituents, we are objecting now.

To this end, we are circulating a petition, which asks the city council to give the citizens of Lafayette the right to express their opinion by referendum. We are getting great response from both those who are in favor of the LUS plan and those who are opposed to the LUS plan. The most often quoted phrase is "Well of course the citizens should have the right to vote".
Ahem, remember Evelyn?
The statute the government is trying to use,
Hey, wait, "the government" isn't trying to use anything. YOU are trying to use a law that you were warned was not appropriate. (I know this for a fact. I did some of the warning. Ask Bill. Or read the blog.) Your research was bad. That is not the fault of the city-parish. It is your fault. (In my judgment this isn't the first poor research; it's just the first you've had to really deal with.)
would require us "to submit the proposal to the Council which shall specify within 30 days the form of petition for circulation". It would then require that the petitioners gather 18,978 signatures on or before January 24, 2005. In the last election only 42,000 people in Lafayette Parish voted. If that is this government's idea of "government by the people, for the people and of the people", then we have much bigger problem than LUS fiber initiative and we can all agree that the city government has defeated the right of the citizens to vote.
Really now, be fair. the rules were in place long before this issue arose. You are losing and want to change the rules in the middle of the game. That's not how it works. You play the game out. Then, if you still think it unfair, you fix the game. This part does sound like someone is being a poor sport. Of course you don't mention the real figure you'd have to meet: you'd have to get 15% of the voters. That is all. If the town was angry and ready to overturn the decisions of people they voted in to do just this sort of work getting 15% would be no problem. But, I suspect, you know that speaking plainly would make it visible that you represent a very a small minority whose only hope is to get the big boys in from out of town to scare us all into submission. You may think that harsh. It is; I admit. But in the real world that sort of campaign will be the inevitable result of any election that allows Cox and BellSouth to pour money into defeating LUS. And defeating LUS today will only result in either Cox or BellSouth extending their current monopoly networks. And foreclosing an open system forever.
The city council has the power to call for a vote of the people. We are asking our government: "Do you think we should have the right to vote" and we ask our government to respond. Quoting the statutes you have selected,
I interrupt for a reality check. The city has not, cannot "select" any statue. They have merely pointed out which are the controling parts of the code. YOU chose the wrong one because it called for numbers so small that you might actually succeed. The city did nothing to you. You let a little wishful thinking carry you away and are now lashing out at the city for your mistake. Get over it.

which make it virtually impossible for citizens to file a petition for referendum with its government, is not an answer. It's up to you. It's either yes or no.
Again 15% isn't an impossible number if it were more than a very small minority that wanted to stop this project. If the people were up in arms it would be easy. They are not. Referenda shouldn't be easy. We have a representative government. We elect people to do this work. When we don't like what they do we fire them.
To our government we suggest that you trust your citizens. To our fellow citizens we suggest that you trust your instincts.
No, be honest, what you are really suggesting is that we all trust BellSouth and Cox to play fair during a referendum and that we overturn the decisions made by the men we elected to do the job because their decisions don't suit your ideology. We are being asked to trust that you really want LUS to succeed when your actions say otherwise. It's reality check time for you all and a opportunity to sit back and look at things as they really are and make a better choice about how to achieve your declared ends. I suggest you use that opportunity. Or permantly forfeit your credibility.
In the meantime, we hope the citizens of Lafayette will support this petition and call your city councilman to express your support for a vote by the citizens.
We here at Lafayette Pro Fiber suggest that you call, write, and visit our representatives to let them know of your support for LUS and our city showing a little self-reliance. We don't need to wait on the whims of Atlanta. We can do it for ourselves-and do it better and cheaper too.
Tim Supple
John St. Julien


John said...

I hear from Profiber operatives in the field that Tim Supple is out at the Albertson's on Johnson at College pushing his petition. And pushing many of the same inaccuracies I criticize above. (Plus the old saw that it never succeeded anywhere. See our fact check piece on Bristol and our Q&A interview with Billy Ray for a dose of reality.)

You might want to go and talk with him. He apparently has an unrealistic view on what opinion in this town really is.

John said...

Just finished talking to Tim. Sitting at CC's enjoying a cuppa and thinking about what a strange place fear of our own government gets us. In my judgment he's cut from the same cloth as Bill--at least as far as this is concerned. Sees 90% of the rational argument. Yes, it will be a monopoly; no neither Cox or BellSouth will ever open their systems.Yes they will pursue a referendum on their own terss for their own ends. Yes, this is what they've wanted all along.

But no...somehow he just can't trust LUS unless he forces his position on them from the first--even in the face of the overwhelming evidence that LUS has done nothing but serve the people of Lafayette for the last one hundred years.

I really do think ideology has gotten out of hand in this country. We need a good does of reality therapy.

Anonymous said...

Tim S. is one of the folks who distracted the chamber on moving forward with the government v. private policy. Tim also has a personal intrest in this project. He's been trying to throw kinks into the new LEDA technology center project as well.

The new technology center is taking tenants out of the building that he owns and manages. You see gov. v. private also relates to relestate because the center is going to be providing lower cost space to cluster IT companies togather.

Worste yet the center also has a super computer which Tim feels competes against his geological database. He's very short sided and doesn't get it.

Oh yeah - how does this tie into the fiber. Well the cent will be connected to the fiber, LONI, and the National network via fiber. I think that he is trying to use one project as an example to kill another project.

Doug Menefee said...

John - This is such an amazing comeback to Tim's letter. I highly recommend that you write a letter to the advertiser to make your case even more public. I'm outraged at the fact that they say they were only given 3 minutes to speak.

Supporters were only given 3 minutes, but out numbered opponents 5-1. And I know atleast 15 supporters that were going to speak, but opted not too b/c of the level of support.

The opponents each asked for multiple extensions. As I recall Tim went back and forth on his comments. When he finished I couldn't tell if he was for or against the project. The council treated them with the utmost respect and even shamed the members of audience for their vocal grunts at each extension.

The context of their message was reading from websites without a real historical understanding of the issue at hand. It was either Neal or Bill who brought up lingo as the VOIP solution of the future. I have lingo... its cool, but I would never rely on it for all of the residents of Lafayette. I have to reset the box all the time. I love it - but it still needs some tender loving care.

Oh yeah - it needs a broadband connection. 8-) I've run into problems uploading files and talking at the same time. Why? B/C we are so limited on upload speeds.

Anonymous said...

Fiber 411 leaders are finding it easy to get signatures for a petition that would result in a referendum that would call for a vote of the people on the $125 million bond issue proposed by LUS. The bond issue would fund LUS' Fiber initiative.

"8 out of 10 people we are presenting the petition to are willing to sign the petition," said Tim Supple, one of Fiber 411's organizers. "We find that the citizens are concerned enough about the amount of money that LUS wants to borrow, that they want to see it come to the vote of the citizens of Lafayette instead of just letting the Parish Council vote on it."

"Today has been very rewarding," said Bill LeBlanc, another Fiber 411 organizer, whose family went door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods.

"Most people who do not sign are in a hurry or don't want to sign because they want to know more about the project before they sign anything. The people just seem to get it. They want a vote," said LeBlanc.

The group and its supporters are on the streets gathering petitions. For anyone wanting to sign a petition, Luke's Paint and Body Shop will be accepting signatures. Hours are 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Luke's has two locations in Lafayette:

Johnston St. past the Mall of Acadiana

6879 Johnston St. Lafayette, LA

Alberston's Blvd. in Broussard, by the train tracks.
1004 Albertson's Parkway
Broussard, LA

Anyone interested in getting involved or finding more information can go to on the internet or call 988-1455.

John said...

Ok, you know, its difficult not to be a little amused when people who issue press releases in order to brag on their successes feel it necessary to attach it to the dismemberment of their previous press release in order to get it read. The only solid evidence of "success" in this press release is the old "news" that you can go over to a body shop, shove aside the anti-anti smoking petition and sign the anti-anti fiber one. Oh yeah, you'll have to go out past the mall outside the city limits or over to the city to Broussard. Can't you find some support in the city? Come on guys this press release is supposed to be about your level of success!

No mention, you'll notice, of their only really substantial support and the only reason they are still in the game: BellSouth. Why no mention? Oh, because they're a little ashamed of it. Why? Because it gives the lie to the little white lie that they are telling people when they cajole them to sign: that the person signing is not taking a position against LUS building a fiber network. If they mentioned their only really substantial supporter someone might remember that BellSouth has been 1) trying to kill any public fiber network and 2) from the beginning they've been angling for a referendum where they could outspend locals 20 to 1. So it makes sense, to try and brag on your support without mentioning your only real support. But for those who are watching closely the silence speaks volumes about what they are ashamed to say.

Here is the truth: Fiber411 is against LUS' plan. They are in this game to kill it. They ought to say so honestly and only take the signatures of supporters. Why don't they? Because they don't think they could get the signatures if they did. To pretend that after a bloody referendum battle waged by the incumbents (Fiber411 will vanish into the background) that trashes the integrity of our elected officials, the competence of LUS and focuses on convincing people that no public solution should ever be considered--after all that--to pretend that LUS will come back and try again with some business plan these guys come up with is just plain naive. I don't believe it and neither should anyone living in the real world. No, in the real world LUS will either win or lose at a referendum and the real chances for a public network either closed or open will win or lose with them.

i suppose that by attaching their "press release" to my comments these folks think they are being defiant. But really they are just highlighting their unwillingness to actually respond to the points I raise. They are good points and they deserve an answer. They claim, oh so disingenuously, that all they really want is the chance to have a public debate. And then, in the very next breath, without any noticeable awareness of how contradictory it is, they immediately say they don't want to debate anything of substance now. You really can't have it both ways. If you've got an argument make it. If you think you haven't been heard speak. But whining about there not being a debate and then refusing to debate is dishonest.

Here is a couple of things the might try dealing with in public instead of hiding from:
1) the post above for starts.
2) So Whaddaya Want? An Open Network? (2)
3) So Whaddaya Want? Fiber? (1)