Friday, November 18, 2005

"Cox renews focus in Lafayette"

In January, control over Cox Communications operations in Lafayette will switch from Tyler, Texas, to Baton Rouge
So saith the Advocate this morning. The switch to Baton Rouge was pretty much inevitable following the sale of the rest of Cox's Louisiana properties that were in the "Middle America" division run out of Tyler. Cox is retaining its Baton Rouge, New Orleans properties and adding Lafayette to that division.

Go zip over to the Advocate story; it's a very nice "review and current status " overview of the story. It reminds us of both Cox's earlier strategy and current "quiet;" reviewing, for instance, the infamous push polls and the TJCrawdad debacle. (The TJCrawdad saga was dealt with on these pages, on the pages of LUSFTTH and on in the lost, much-lamented Timshel.) What is not mentioned is that the entire crew that ran the Lafayette operation in the early days, including the infamous TJCrawdad, were replaced mid-stream by Cox. The shakeup left, so far as I know, only the local "PR face" of the old office staff in place. That remnant may be about to go when Karmen Blanco officially takes over the PR reins in Lafayette.

(The distinction between the BR crew and the old Lafayette crew is elliptically alluded to when Baton Rouge representative Sharon Kleinpeter is careful to distance her group from earlier events:
Though Cox officials watched closely the debate in Lafayette, "the entire strategy and situation was really handled through Tyler," Kleinpeter said.)
The new group certainly knows what to say:

"In January (when the switch-over takes place), I don't see anything that we're going to go into court," Kleinpeter said.

Kleinpeter said that Cox still believes that municipally run communications businesses are a bad idea, but "the people have expressed their opinion."

"We need to compete and we need to win in the court of public opinion," Kleinpeter said.

While not backing down on their objections, that certainly is a vast improvement over the old Cox rhetoric and accords at least some respect to the people of Lafayette. We'll be excused if we reserve judgment on whether or not Cox can stick to that resolution--and whether local representatives like Kleinpeter would be in the loop if they were planning anything else. After all the humiliation suffered by BellSouth's Williams when he was depicted as being out of the loop on the push poll demonstrates that the lower levels aren't always in the loop--though, like soldiers anywhere, they take the hit.

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