Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Dead Rise; Rate Complaint Returns

Endless Delaying Lawsuits Department

The Advertiser's version of this story quotes Pat Ottinger with all you really need to know about this story:
"It should not go unnoticed that the lawyers found it necessary to wait approximately four months after their prior lawsuit was dismissed, to file their complaint on the very day that the LPUA and the Council will take up the bond ordinance," Ottinger said. "It stretches one's imagination to think that this is a mere coincidence. It is obvious that this is yet another attempt which is designed to impede the will of the citizens relative to the fiber project."
These are the same characters that joined BellSouth's previous suit. The first question is "who's paying?" You can bet it's not the names at the bottom of the petition. It's a question reporters and the council should ask. The obvious answer is BellSouth. Follow the money.

The Advocate's version lays out some of the details of the complaint, the history of the complaint's previous dismissal by the courts, and also notes that the LPUA (the city subset of the council that regulates LUS) is being asked to recluse itself by plaintiffs. A key detail is the complaint stretches itself to find a way to involve bond issues that have no discernable relationship to the allegations about rates that are at the core of the complaint. This will give BellSouth yet another path toward filing a delaying appeal. But this one will not rely on the (un)Fair Competition Act. If that act is repealed this challenge, however weak, can be fired up to provide a last line of defense for BellSouth against the threat of local competition.

It is abundantly clear that BellSouth understands that it will have the least capable network in Lafayette when LUS comes on line--and that in a battle between Cox and LUS the first casualty will be BellSouth Lafayette. So BellSouth is using it considerable advantages in lawyers and compromised legislators at both the state and federal levels to prevent open competition with better networks. Welcome, Lafayette, to the world of modern corporate "competition" where neither price nor service determine the outcome if sheer size or influence can be substituted. More proof, should more proof be needed, that this has never been about "free enterprise" but has always been about extending monopoly power.

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