"BellSouth threatens pullout" is the headline in a story which could have been about Bill Oliver scuttling down to the capital paper to try and get an endorsement from some newspaper after the Advertiser's stunning 4-part endorsement of the city-parish/LUS fiber plan.
BellSouth in a bit of calculated rage threatens to pull its low-wage job center, built with substantial public give-backs out of Lafayette if LUS should become successful. What they don't threaten (because that is the more "realistic" likelihood) is that they might cease developing their system in Lafayette in the face of real competition that shrinks their profit-margin. Instead they try and threaten to take away that which the don't own (they are a 40% shareholder in Cingular with SBC owning the other 60%). There are those who think that the sorts of low-level, poorly paid jobs that are characteristic of call centers is the best that the people of Lafayette can hope for. Except for a few, those people live outside Lafayette.
The people who live in Lafayette, and their representatives, think we can do better than counting on just the sorts of jobs that are regularly outsourced to third world companies for our community's future. And lots of folks don't like to be threatened. It's no accident, I feel sure, that this off-the-cuff remark was made in a closed editorial meeting that would normally be immune to reporting. My guess is that Oliver won't be too happy that his threat is being reported. He has better strategic sense than to bandy about in public something that is more useful in impressing "influentials." Another indication that he didn't really think he was talking to the public is that he reiterated a claim that got him in to hot water early in the fight for fiber here in Lafayette: that the people of Lafayette don't really need any more than we've got in the way of telecommunications. Now there is a classic little bit of arrogance.
Kudo's to the Advocate for reporting the sorts of unsupportable claims and threats that are usually made behind closed doors.
Update 3:24 (from Baltimore's Inner Harbor) --I got a call from Lafayette this morning reporting that the folks at the Lafayette call center are pretty POed at being treated like expendable munition in BellSouth's fight with Lafayette. Apparently an email is making the rounds complaining about BellSouth't presumptions. (These folks don't feel like they are working for BellSouth.) Apparently it's being "discussed" up the management line...
I also see an announcement of a joint LUS/City-Parish/LEDA conference to respond to the BellSouth threat set for 3:00 pm. Not being in the fair city I can't make it. I'd be curious to get a report filling me/us in here. What's new and unique is the inclusion of LEDA in the repsonse. LEDA's been one of the folks that reason and scuttlebut tell us have been in favor of the fiber plan but haven't come out clearly and publicly for "relationship" reasons. Maybe this will prove the final offense that leads to the marriage coming unglued. It would be good for LEDA to stand up and come out of the closet.
Anyway...it sure isn't looking like threatening Lafayette is turning out well for Oliver. Or BellSouth