Friday, December 30, 2005

"Court hears LUS appeal"

We've got intelligent, educational reporting from Kevin Blanchard over at the Advocate. The piece reports on the BellSouth/LUS case being argued before the 3rd Circuit Court in Lake Charles and does it well. No doubt it is the old teacher in me but this is what reporting about difficult and important topics should be--smart, careful, and explanatory.

If you care about Lafayette being allowed to build the system it voted for in the way the city-parish council that oversees LUS desires, the way that the author of the law restricting it apparently believes is proper, the way the PSC has argued is already settled, and the way the trial courts emphatically believed was appropriate you'll have good reason to read this story carefully. The arguments are carefully explained and it appears that the court, or at least one judge, engaged the city in sharp questioning.

Be aware, as you read, that the real issue here is the ability of BellSouth to raise the cost of cable, phone, and internet that the people of Lafayette will have to pay to receive these services from LUS. The sole purpose of opposing the judgment of all the other parties involved is to make the interest rates on the loans as high as possible in order to raise the ultimate costs to consumer. The cost of the bonds is the single largest line item cost of the project and the only cost that is rising rather than falling as the months of delay roll by. If successful, this tactic will keep BellSouth's profits as high as possible and preserve, as much as is possible, BellSouth's market share.

It is profoundly and intentionally anti-competitive.

Ottinger, in the Advocate story, remarks:
The Legislature intended for Lafayette to be allowed to engage in "any other lawful business practice" that private competitors can -- and the payback mechanism LUS plans to use is a normal business practice, Ottinger said.
Ottinger is right. No private company would be forced into default when other, more established, parts of the business had plenty of money. It would ruin the businesses credit rating for no rational purpose. Why is there even a question? Why is there any argument that LUS not be allowed to do what BellSouth can do without challenge? Because of BellSouth's law..the "Local Government Fair Competition Act." It is not about "Fair Competition;" it is anti-competitive and anti-consumer to its core. It must be repealed.

Write or call your legislators and argue for repeal--argue that LUS should be able to do anything BellSouth can legally do...Lafayette Coming Together is willing to help you out in the letter writing and calling. Jump to their "Repeal" web page.

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