Friday, June 09, 2006

Media Roundup: HB 699

The Gannett papers--like the Advertiser, as well as the Advocate and the Time-Picayune all carry stories on yesterday's battle in the Senate over HB 699. If you're a news junkie you'll want to read all three. (Though I immodestly suggest my coverage of the debate and its implications is more complete.)

If you just have time for one try John Hill's story in the Gannett papers. He has some particularly juicy bits about what BellSouth's lobbyists think ought to happen next with their bill. But he focuses, at this late date, on giving a full background for understanding the bill and what it means. He looks at what the bill means to local communities, examines the technologies involved, explains the politics of pre and post '74 home rule communities, and has the juiciest quotes from participants in the debate. He also is the only writer to pick up on the "one letter" amendment Michot hopes will exempt Lafayette from the law. Very nicely done, but don't take too seriously his belief that IPTV, the underlying video technology AT&T uses, belongs to or was created by Microsoft. Not true--and they've yet to make their version work acceptably, contrary to the glowing picture painted in the article.

The Advocate's Millhollon does the best job of understanding the crucial Senate amendments concern "information services" that have the lobbyists in John Hill's story were likely worried about and provides intriguing detail on the debate itself.

By comparison the T-P article is pretty mundane. Thought Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes were hotbeds of opposition to the bill the Times-Picayune hasn't done enough reporting on telecom issues to have a good background on the story.

The Advertiser article has an interesting sidebar that contains the following info:

Acadiana votes:

Heels: Sens. Butch Gautreaux, Nick Gautreaux, Mike Michot*, Donald Hines and Gerald Theunissen

Heros: Sens. Donald Cravins Sr. and Craig Romero

*Michot's vote may well have been in trade for the amendment he hopes will exempt Lafyette from the bill, so he gets an asterisk. However, it is far from certain that even if the law passes with that intact it won't still allow BellSouth/AT&T to entangle all the big municipalities through language forbidding the exempted municipalities from passing any ordinances which run contrary to the bill. That's a nice, juicy target for harrassing lawsuits. The Bell companies have a long history of suing their opponents into submission and I, for one, am not reassured.


Anonymous said...

I know Mike personely and I like him very much. He is an honest man and is held in high regard by all. 1 month ago he was your hero, now you call him a heel.

While I am not for the statewide cable franchise bill, Michots amendment and vote are exactly why I have always been against the government going into the business of retail sales in telecommunications. Michot did what was politcally pragmatic. He swapped his vote on a statewide law, which he is against, if they agreed Lafayette would be excempt. So at the end of the day, he voted of a law, which he is against, if it didn't apply to us. So he has used the power of the government to protect LUS, by putting up road blocks to bring comptition into Lafayette against LUS selling TV. So at the end of the day, we don't get a choice on the new technology, useless LUS changes its business model. Which will be voted on by more pragmatic politicians.

It's not fiber that is corrupting the system, it government being in the business that is corrupting the system. They are the new Bell South of Lafayette. And this is just the beginning.

No law can be just unless it applies to everyone.

Remember what the pigs in "Animal Farm" said: "Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others".


John said...

Hi Tim,

I agree with you on Michot--basically a good guy and a hero not long ago. He can regain a place in the hero column with the next vote. :-)

I do think that asterisk ought to count; I understand that he was a heel in relation to most of the state as a way of protecting Lafayette.

Government has always been in the telecom business and the legislature is the realm of compromise. I recognize that I'm not much suited to that realm but that reasonable people make decisions like this.

BellSouth has long been the biggest pig at the trough...there really are meaningful differences in degree between these guys and BellSouth soon to be AT&T deserves special condemnation.

Anonymous said...

Well, Cravins is running for mayor, I am sure that is why he voted that way. Romero is running for Congress and it would be nice to stay on the good side of local munic. mayors and parish presidents.

The other guys along with michot voted to exempt lafayette and then voted for a bill that was sold as creating competition. I do believe the bill might create competition. We will never know?

Status: After bill is vetoed Cox raises rates in some areas of state. Now if you want the Weather Channel you will have to buy a bigger package. I wonder if this bill may have lowered the consumers prices for services; just like the Fiber to the Home is going to do?

Your blog appears to be conservative; but I thought Conservative believe that government should not compete with private enterprise. I guess only in Lafayette this can happen....

P.S. The groups that rep. police jury and municipalities admitted in the governor's office that they misled legislatures that bellsouth was not going to pay a franchise fee; the fact is that the locals had a chance to earn a 5% fee and lower rates for the consumers; but the two special interest groups made sure that the governor vetoed the bill.. but they will come with a so called better version next year.... until next year...hopefully by that time LUS will be providing cable,,,phone and Dsl service....