Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Phone company franchise bill makes it out of committee

Despite the combined efforts of the cable industry, the police jurors, and local municipalities BellSouth prevailed today in the house commerce committee. A heavily amended state-wide franchise bill passed by a vote of, I believe, 13 to 9 13 to 5.

While it had been reported that Montgomery's bill, HB 699, was to be considered this morning it didn't appear on the agenda until a few moments before the committee convened. 699 was quickly moved to the first slot of the day and testimony on it lasted most of the morning. New Orleans' wireless bills, which had been on the agenda were withdrawn from consideration, presumably to make way for the last-minute appearance of the franchise bill.

The session, which should show up in the house archives, was worth watching. In a nutshell: BellSouth and Montgomery said it was all about faster competition and getting a better price for the little guys. Cox said it was about unfair competition. The locals said it was all about stripping local communities of their rights. The most interesting speakers were near the end and Mike Stagg, a writer on this site, laid out the ugly truth is that this law is destined to be a huge ripoff that leaves local communities without promised income or control of their own property.

I'm very interested in following up on the "new" bill. A huge set of bills were offered and accepted with little comment by Montgomery, BellSouth's front man on the bill. They were all said to be amendments put forward to convince local governments to back off the bill. That didn't work and local governments remain adamantly opposed, so the new shape of the bill will likely call for a review. Tune in.


Anonymous said...

Most interesting speaker??? John, you wern't even there. He also had the most interesting hair cut but you didn't award him that title. Let me guess Mikey Boy wrote this spot himself?

John said...


Still hiding who you really are? It's always so cute when cowards sneer at folks who have the courage of their convictions.

You think I wasn't there? Hey, I wasn't. You want to believe that means I must be lying. Nah... Trouble is, thanks to the wonders of modern technology (of which you seem to be ignorant) concerned citizens can watch our legislators being lied to via streaming video. I actually troubled myself to do so. Heck, I even took notes.

You know,so I know what I'm talking about.

You could try it.

Shad Price said...

John - Perhaps you need to install some sort of "shill filter" on your site. :)

From Wikipedia! :)


Anyway, where does it go from here in your opinion John? I really hope that Lafayette can get all of these monkeys off their backs so they can go ahead and move forward with the fiber plan that THEY VOTED IN FAVOR OF! (At the wishes of the corporate entities no less...)

John said...

Hi Shad,

About all we can do is to continue the fight. I am all in favor of a continuing guerilla war against the incumbents at the state and local levels. Lafayette partisans and partisans of local communities and local self-determination should be able to see by Lafayette and New Orleans' experiences that BS and Cox are blood enemies.

Watch 'em like hawks; join in vigorous coalitions to oppose them wherever the interests of local communities in our state are at stake. Currently that would involve supporting New Orleans' wireless bills and opposing BellSouth's franchise sellout. Today we can add the bill to repeal the LGFCA for private companies only. (See my post today.)

Honestly, BellSouth and Cox would be a lot smarter at this stage of the game if they just let Lafayette go and let it build without restriction. They are creating a cadre of former "fiberistas" in Lafayette that is spoiling for a fight. If we had our Lafayette network we'd work on the dreams that originally inspired the plan. By continuingly frustrating the public will they are creating a determined locus of opposition that has good reason to think that Bellsouth and Cox are "the great satan." There may be a price to pay in the long run for creating that kind of impassioned opposition. I certainly hope so.

(Shad, I invite you to join the forces of light. :-) )