Shame on the Advertiser.
Titch who, I think, lives near Houston, and works for the sock puppet institute known as the "Heartland" (AKA Heartless) Institute in Chicago runs a business called "expert editorials, inc." which advertises the service of inserting the opinions of "experts" (Titch) into public discussions about corporate behavior without involving the "marketing and...." of the firm in any messy overt lying. This man's history is well-enough known locally to have precluded the Advertiser from running the letter.
Titch has had a previous "guest editorial" after which his night job as an editorialist for hire was revealed. That editorial appeared across the country as part of a concerted effort to smear municipal telecom utilities. He has continued to send out editorials to papers large and small, most of which do not see the light of day except in small, regional newspapers. As part of that ongoing campaign Titch is the author of a recent, thoroughly debunked, psuedo academic attack on LUS. That paper (represeented as an independent outside study) fits the modus operandi of Titch and the Heartland Institute to a "T": get paid for your opinion through the secret funding of the Heartless Instititute or "Expert Editorials, Inc." and then present a "expert" paper that you claim is objective. The problem in this instance is that Titch and the Heartland Institute left a tell-tale trace: an early draft of the Bristol/Lafayette paper was presented on behalf of BellSouth at the state bond hearing. Authored by Titch and associated with the Heartland Institute this advocacy brief was originally intended to convince the bond commission that LUS' business plan was flawed with the hope of preventing LUS from getting the authority to issue bonds that is the basis for the July 16th referendum. The bond commission saw through it and the election is being held. So, being frugal at least, Titch has repackaged the bond commission paper for wider dispersal. This is the know history. And the Advertiser should take it into account before reprinting his words.
Titch is welcome to his opinion, even paid for, but the letters to the editor space should be a forum for ideas, not a space for product placement by those whose opinions are for sale.
Now on to Titch's deliberate distortions and the central lie in the letter. Here's the crucial bits:
Titch is knowledgeable enough, even if demonstrably unprincipled, to know that universal service is not about cost but about access. Precisely as he says in the second sentence cited above. If he were actually concerned that all Lafayette's people be equitably served he'd not complain about a questionable business decision 700 miles away but about a questionable business decision made public right here in Lafayette: BellSouth's "generous" plan to provide advanced services to 80% of Lafayette. Titch knows quite well who the 20% will be. They will not be able to buy these services at any price--because their neighbors aren't wealthy enough. Making sure that this does not happen is what universal service is and has always been about and what utilities do that private concerns do not: provide clean water and electricity to all at affordable prices. If Bristol had decided not to sell in those areas where the Return on Investment was low Titch would have a case. But since it is the industries that he defends, and not public utilities, who calculate this way Titch is obliged to try and sneak by a change in definition. Do not let yourself be fooled.
Is OptiNet a model worth emulating? Not if the goal is universal high-speed Internet access. OptiNet recently stopped selling Internet access as a free-standing service and now requires customers to commit to paying $44.95 a month for assorted services before it will run fiber to a home.
Mission failure - the decision to abandon the universal service goal in order to stay financially stable - tends to be the common outcome of municipal excursions into broadband. The municipality must adopt the same business approach as the commercial service providers it sought to replace.
Here is what is really happening: Titch has been rocked back by events. His initial "guest editorial" made sweeping assertions that no utility had ever been successful. That was and is clearly nonsense and the repitition of the claim by the opposition in the face or repeated disproof is simply evidence of the their fundamental dishonesty. Lafayette went its own way. His more recent attack on Lafayette via an attack on Bristol's business plan has clearly has failed to stir up any real energy. He's gotta produce... that is the point of his involvement in a town a days drive away. So he switches from hoodoo about business failure to the equally bogus claim about universal service. LUS will provide universal service paid for by those who use the service. That is their plan. BellSouth will provide universal service if we pay them from our general tax revenues. Only if we pay them off with our taxes. That is their plan, publicly and proudly announced.
No amount of fancy dancing from the likes of Stephen Titch can change those raw facts.
Eyes on the prize, folks: Vote Yes! For Fiber on July 16th.