Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Utilities lawsuit headed to federal court"

More of the same old same old. I am finding it easy to get truly weary of the new tactic of trying to tear down LUS through lies and innuendo.

The news part of this story in the Advocate is that the oh-so-convienent-for-the-corporations lawsuit that alleges that LUS has overcharged its customers has been moved to federal court as a consequence of the fact that the only real charges that allege something specific has to do with federal regulations that require LUS to help balance the electrical grid in our region. Other charges are in the suit, but they are "publicity charges" without any real facts that can be judged. They exist only to fuel publicity releases and for inclusion in flyers and mail pieces during the final weeks.

The "news" part of the story, though, is the least interesting part. What is emerging is a pattern for how the incumbents and their allies want to pursue this fight: through tearing down the proponents instead of mounting any of their unsuccessful argument.

Does anyone, anyone, really believe that this lawsuit, which alleges that LUS overcharges its customers on some esoteric bit of federal "fuel adjustmen," is anything other than a ploy to smear the utility as we go into this referendum on a fiber optic network LUS will build and run? LUS' excellent reputation is the single greatest reason not to believe the tales the incumbents tell about failures and municipal incompetence. The solution for BellSouth and Cox? Smear LUS. This lawsuit was an opening salvo in that. Neal Breakfield's recent anti-fiber editorial that declined to mention fiber in favor of smearing LUS was the most recent.

You know, when we first went into this fight, even anti fiber people were willing to admit that LUS was an excellent utility and that Terry Huval and Joey Durel were honorable men. Back in those halcyon days the argument was over the idea...and, frankly, ideology. But what has happened is that the opponents have discovered that the idea of a municipal fiber optic utility is widely accepted as a good one. And that the sort of ideology that makes your local police, utilitities, and city council into something evil is not an ideology that sensible people share. So, lacking a convincing argument, falling back to smearing people and institutions is acceptable.

So when you start to see a pattern of stories about and hear opponents of a municipal fiber network focus on how you should feel suscpicious of an institution that you and your neighbors trust, ask yourself if the opponents are really watching out for you as they pretend...or for a couple of corporations whose only interest in Lafayette lies in the profit they can extract and ship to Atlanta.

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