Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Clever, Canille, Ordinance Passes

Both the Advocate and the Advertiser have stories today on last night's passage of the bond ordinance. (Clever, sly, canille ordinance!-- on which more later.) A quick look at both stories is a good idea as they touch on various issues.

The Advocate exhibits a "what next" approach. Tracing out what LUS intends to do until the bonds are locked in... or BellSouth sues to stop their competition again.

The Advertiser also takes a look at the rate hike dispute that was recently revived. That's a likely source of a lawsuit to try and halt the bond issue as BellSouth's involvement is not immediately visible. And BellSouth might soon want a legal opportunity to try and interfere with the final adoption of the Bond ordinance which does not directly bear their name as plaintiffs.

The Advocate notifies us that we now enter an important waiting period:
Once this new ordinance is officially published in the newspaper, there will be a 30-day deadline for anyone to file suit to challenge its validity — sometime around the end of April.
And that, fair reader, is part of what you need to know to recognize the sly, canille part of the ordinance. The rest of the story can be found on the website of the Louisiana legislature:

2006 Regular Legislative Session
To convene at noon on Monday, March 27, 2006
Final adjournment no later than 6:00 pm on Monday, June 19, 2006

So a sly aspect of the ordinance is the time when it was presented. It is presented at a moment when any lawsuit seeking to overturn it will have to be filed during the legislative session. I, for one, had wondered why LUS let such a long time pass between the 3rd circuit ruling and actually putting another ordinance to place before the council. The delay had been attributed to a desire to go over every dot and dash with a careful eye. I now suspect that at least as big a factor was that LUS and the city had a strategic moment in mind for introducing the ordinance. This moment.

We are less than a week out from the opening day of the regular session in which three (count 'em 1, 2, 3) bills have been introduced that will repeal or radically modify the Local Government (un)Fair Competition Act. If BellSouth or its allies are to sue yet again they will have to do it while three anti-BellSouth bills are being considered in the Legislature that are at least partially based on the idea that BellSouth and its allies prefer to file wild, unfair lawsuits instead of competing at all--much less "fairly." The bills offer lush opportunities to point out how unfair the original bill is and how much damage BellSouth's law is doing to south Lousiana in the wake of the hurricane.

BellSouth wants, badly, a chance to dip into Louisiana's reconstruction funds for a subsidy to rebuild its networks. Recall that one of the bills ( HB 244) would force BellSouth to adopt all the restrictions its law unfairly imposes only on LUS if it accepts "subsidies" from the government. You can bet that BellSouth does NOT want to have to deal with questions during the hearings on whether it intends to ask for "subsidies" from Louisiana while it beats down projects in two of Lousiana's coastal cities. Especially not while it is simultaneously trying to defend suing the city of Lafayette yet again.

Repeal is a real prospect; authors of the repeal efforts include the man who co-sponsored the original act and, in addition to Lafayette's continuing anger, New Orleans is sitting out there seething about BellSouth's attempt to shut down New Orlean's free WiFi system so it can charge businesses for a similar but "backup" system. (More in a later post on this developing story.)

BellSouth will be forced to choose between adding fuel to fire of repeal by suing Lafayette yet again or standing aside while the bond ordinance gets locked into law. Once the bonds are sold it will be difficult, verging on impossible, to stop construction of LUS' network.

That, my friends, is a fine definition of canille.

(You can get into the fun by penning a little letter, tapping out a little email, or placing a small call to your legislator supporting repeal and rumbling about the unfair tactics and greedy nature of BellSouth. --Addresses-- The more folks express themselves, the more credible repeal becomes and the less BellSouth will want to risk an inflammatory lawsuit. No reason to let LUS have all the fun.)

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