Saturday, April 16, 2005

"LUS bill called a 'delay tactic'"

Both the Advocate and the Advertiser run stories on Sharon Weston Broome's anti-LUS bill. Both headline an unattributed quote by a Lafayette public official that the bill is a "delay tactic." But it sounds more like it is, to be generous, "ill considered" from the point of view of the sponsor. Broome, a former TV personality, was approached by someone from the Louisiana Cable and Telecommunications Association (LCTA) and she just went ahead and posted the bill they asked for. She says she didn't really intend for there to be two elections though that is the clear meaning of the bill. Broome also claims that this bill is not about Lafayette--even though no place else in the state is considering such a move. Of course it is about Lafayette. Not understanding your own legislation is apparently not something to be embarrassed about in today's legislature. It seems pretty likely that she's just being used (albeit with her consent) and didn't consider the implications. On the other hand, the LCTA surely knows what effect this would have.

The Advertiser's story contents itself with the new elections aspect of the story but the Advocate goes on to explore the "punishment" side of the bill and a little history. It's pretty simple: if the people approve the fiber project the state would let Cox walk away from its contract with the city (money, AOC, and service guarantees are all involved). I'd love to see some reporting on why this law proposes to only "suspend" the contract with the city. Could it be to ensure that LUS will still be required to "match" the deal with the city that Cox would be able to back out of?

The good news is that local reps are not deceived. The Advocate reports:

State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, said he thinks the Legislature should stay out of the issue. The proposed bill serves the interests of private companies, Robideaux said.

"It's just simply out-of-state companies using politics and lobbying to accomplish their mission for them," Robideaux said. "It effectively lets a bunch of legislators tell Lafayette what it can do and what it can't do."

He's got that right.

The Advocate also notes:
The bill has been forwarded to the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs Committee, of which State Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, is co-chairman.
Michot got caught flat-footed last year when the original anti-LUS bill—the one that would have prevented LUS from even studying the issue—bore his signature. He did some good work with the compromise bill but this is his chance to make up for the initial misstep. This bill should never see the light of day. Robideaux is right. The bill is all about out of state companies using the state legislature to try and control what local, and specifically Lafayette, people are allowed to do with city property. Our legislature is supposed to represent the people, not out-of-state corporations. The bill's death should be swift, sure, and public: an execution that would serve as an example to other state lawmakers similarly inclined to meddle with the local rights of the people to the benefit of outsiders.

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