Friday, August 04, 2006

Latest on the Naquin Delaying Lawsuit

Both the Advocate and the Advertiser have brief stories describing yesterday's hearing of Naquin lawsuit. (Matthew Eastin was allowed to withdraw.) Both describe the the hearing and recount remarks by Judge Saunders to the effect that attorneys should stick to the main legal points of the case.

This is a delaying tactic and a legal tool being used to further the interests of BellSouth/AT&T and Cox. We still do not know who Elizabeth Naquin and is, who recruited her, and what she hopes to gain by frustrating the desires of the community in which she lives.

Law at this level is a matter of interpretation--though lawyers and judges seldom like to discuss it in these terms with laymen, no law simply "lays down the law" plainly and cleanly. Laws conflict in ways large and small and the terms they use are ambiguous. This case is mess because the law is a mess. It was written by a committee, and what's more the committee didn't agree on the purposes of the law, much less the mere technical matter of implementation which the case pretends to be about. The judges would no doubt like the case to be about the narrowest possible technical or even "hypertechnical" question. --The previous 3rd court panel, wrongly in my opinion, seized on an obscure legal meaning of the word "pledge" to decide the case. There is no reason to think the legislators understood that granting the community the right to "pledge" the assets of the utility company (which is the way the law reads) to mean the legal equivalent of "no pledge unless you are going broke" --which is the way the court decided the matter.

Judge Saunders insistence that the case should be about broader questions of law is, I hope, a good sign. The clearly stated purpose of the law is to enable local governments to go into the telecom business. To interpret the (un)Fair Act in the way the plaintiff does is attempt to make the business impossible. The law very clearly anticipates market rate loans. Should the court pull back and look at the whole purpose and tone of the law and what the law itself declares is its goal to be they will dismiss the suit .. and we can get on with the business of providing what the people voted for.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to commend Mrs. Naquin for taking advantage of her right to stand up for what she believes in. This takes a tremendous amount of courage and she could save the people of Lafayette millions of dollars. I think she should run for Parish President. She has my vote!!

Anthony Moussaid

John said...

Anthony,

Here we differ. :-)

I doubt that there will be any future "savings" from preventing the people from getting the service they voted for.

On the hand we KNOW with certainty that she has cost us millions of dollars in interest. Those figures are alread in.

No one so far has suggested that she doing this for the people of the city. That's because no one could be build a credible case.

As for courage--I'm unwilling to ascribe that to anyone who is unwilling to say plainly why they are doing this to the community and how the were recruited.

John

Anonymous said...

If she is protecting the overcharged revenues from the electric company she my end up the CAJUN HERO. I guess this is why we have courts. She doesn't owe you anything. She isn't banging on your door probing you for your motives.

Anthony Moussaid

Anonymous said...

"Naquin" now that is a cajun name.

Good point Anthony.

Anonymous said...

John: What should be obvious to everyone is that the problem is not with Naquin; the problem is that the bond ordnances, to this point, have been ruled illegal by the courts. Ms. Naquin didn't write the ordnances, she challenges there legality. For anyone to assume they know or can guess the motive of someone they don't know and have never met is to suggest they have the wisdom to judge another persons heart.

This government and the local papers attempts to smear a citizen, whose protest of government actions that has twice been deemed illegal by the courts, is cowardly at best, dictatorial at worst.

Anyone who suggests that it is their right to employ rumors and innuendos to stir up resentment and hatred about her motive, behind the pleadings now before the courts, sets themselves above all others.

Someone famous once said "judge not, least you be judged." I suggest everyone take a deep breath, calm down and try to save what dignity and self respect that remains.
Tim

John said...

Tim Supple, others,

Tim, I know that you've got a particular fondness for lawsuits. That venue is the only one in which the opponents of Lafayette's fiber plan have had any success. --The BellSouth/Cox lawsuit you and the other Fiber 411 crew joined indirectly pushed the city to the expense of having an elections which confirmed, emphatically, the vote already taken by our representatives on the council.

That fondness doesn't make them right.

Nor does it make your assertion that bond ordinance Naquin has challenged has been ruled illegal by the courts. In fact, she's never been part of a suit which survived even the first challenge. What she is engaged in is another appeal of another loss. The bond ordinance has, in fact, been found legal and it is that status that Naquin's name on the legal papers filed at the last legal moment allows to be challenged.

This is a delaying tactic...purely, simply. The grounds for challenging the rates that are set by our representatives are virtually nonexistent. (You need to have broken your own rules for that approach to be successful; that's not happened.) Repeatedly judges have tried to drag both sides back to the putative legal point: the rates. They've been unsuccessful because these lawsuits are NOT about rates. They are about finding the smallest excuse to block the progress of a project the community supports.

The history of the lawsuits that Naquin is associated with is very clear. This didn't blow up out of the blue. The first of their lawsuits (dismissed) came up at the moment some folks (cough, cough) were trying to make hay with the bogus argument that the In Lieu of Taxes (ILOT) was some nefarious, hidden plot to drive up costs to the public instead of a commonly used, quite sensible way to make sure that the city doesn't lose tax revenues and that the playing field between public and private companies was fairly leveled. That ploy failed, the suit was dismissed, and the lawyers failed to activate an appeal--apparently because it wasn't serving its obvious political function. It arose again at the last minute when BellSouth and Cox wanted repeal bills off the table at the legislature during a session in which BellSouth especially had hurricane relief in mind and a whole nother axe to grind in its state-wide video franchise law. I don't think the timing of these suits is coincidental. Surely the effects of them are far from coincidental. They delay and add cost to the project; that nobody can deny.

I's sorry but I can't go along with your interpretation of the "judge not" quote to mean that we shouldn't make judgments about the things that go on around us and to draw reasonable inferences from the obvious effects of what people do. My own hesitation about judgment is that I think we ought to be responsible for the effects of our actions, making and accepting judgment based on those effects rather than what anyone claims is in their heart or mind. Too often claiming a noble motivation is used as an excuse to do things that have and obviously must have bad consequences for others.

It is my judgment that suing the city over rates and using the suit to block the bond issue has the obvious and clearly intended consequence of delaying a project the people have approved and driving up the expense of that project. It is my judgment that not wanting to acknowledge that, nor acknowledge who recruited them to the lawsuit is the reason for the plantiff's extended silence. I think a whole lot of other people draw the same reasonable conclusion from the effects--not the hearts or minds--of the actions we see.

----

You cite the sermon on the mount, from Matthew, allow me to counter with a bit from a little later in the book. As little as I like religious justifications for secular matters (there's a slippery slope there) the following seems to demonstrate that Jesus could not have meant that we are not to make judgments...he even gives us a tool by which to recognize those who would deceive us:

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits."

Given that this is is the same sermon that starts off with the "Judge not" phrase I have to wonder if it wouldn't be appropriate to consider that the "judge not" is followed by an explanation that makes it clear that he is referring to deceptive hypocrites. It has always seemed to me that he is pointing to people who make claims that they themselves do not believe to be true and use standards they could not themselves meet but which, instead, they think will be effective in swaying their fellows to an opinion they hold on other grounds.

Worth thinking about. I've always thought there was some of that in the air.

Anonymous said...

I think I am clear at what you are saying. You will continue justify judging what is in the heart of others, even thought you don't know them. And you feel you are justified in spreading unsubstanticated rumor and innuendo about them, while ignoring what they have put in writting before the courts for all of the public to read.

Is that about right?

I think we are all clear.

Tim

Shad Price said...

Yeah Tim. We DON'T KNOW THEM. Because nobody seems to have seen or heard a thing from either of these people that are sueing.

Please get your head out of your butt and see what is really happening here. Do the right thing and support the Fiber Project.

John said...

No Tim,

You are not clear on this.

You are ignoring what I actually said. (Something I've said often before.)

I made a clear distinction between judging the CONSEQUENCEs of peoples actions and thinking that it is even interesting what they claim or don't claim is in their hearts and minds.

This is a distinction I urge on you. It doesn't matter, except at the "forgiveness" stage, what people believe or say they believe.

It matters what the consequences of their actions are. And we know, without any doubt that the actions of Elizabeth Naquin have delayed a project the people voted for and cost us all real money.

I notice you don't argue with that. Or deal with the issue of consequences at all.

But to be just as clear as I can be: Anyone who has raised children knows that it is VERY unwise to set up a situation where the "right" excuse will get the child out of trouble. You HAVE to take the position that it is what they DO, and the Hurt--aka "consequences" of what they do that matters. If you do otherwise you train them to feed you any sort of fabrication for selfish and thoughtless behavior and expect that it will get them off the hook. If you want to like them when they are grown you don't let them get away with it.

Consequences are what matter. Not the excuses offered for questionable behavior. I leave open the possibility that there is an actual reason that I might respect. I haven't heard it uttered and haven't been able to imagine it.

Frankly I am not too surprised that the idea that the real consequences of behavior (and not the variable excuses about hearts and minds) are what we should really judge people on the basis of.

My understanding that the consequences of behavior are all that is worth "judging" (forgiveness is a different matter) is not new and we've had this discussion before as you may recall:
http://lafayetteprofiber.com/Blog/2005/04/debate-follows-money.html

I've always believed actions speak louder than words. This is NOT something I am inventing for this occasion. See also:
http://lafayetteprofiber.com/Blog/2005/02/bond-voteand-fiber411.html

Anonymous said...

Shad
Can you tell me what is really happening here?

Anthony

Anonymous said...

John
The people voted on the sale of bonds not to allow the local Government to do what they like. The poeple didn't expect the local officials to violate laws to sell the bonds.
The second ordinance approved by the council is delaying the project because it is questionable just like the first.
If you want to talk about real money, let's talk about the hard earned money people paid to the LUS Electric company to build the reserves that are being pledged to secure the bonds. DID THE PEOPLE VOTE GET A CHANCE TO VOTE TO ALLOW THAT??? THE ANSWER IS "NO"!!!! I don't understand why you would support a group that takes advantage of the lower income and those on fixed income. This is not what we want Lafayette to be known for.

Anonymous said...

John
I would like to point out to you the intent of the negotiated Fair Competition Act was to allow Local Governments to enter into the Telecom business but to do so in a fair manner. The private sector representatives understand the need for start up cost but were concern about the cross subsidizing with other public owned utility companies. Both of these issues were addressed in the Act and now it is being challenged in our court system. Let's see how the courts interpret it.

Anthony Moussaid

John said...

Anon,

No amount of screaming is going to make it true that LUS has been milking the public for reserves...Show me where that is true because I don't believe it. This is the problem with anonymous folks: they can spout tripe without being held to account.

In fact there is NO need for special reserves. LUS is perfectly capable of being loaned money on the basis of their current income and captialization--just as they did for the considerably larger (yes, LARGER) loan to build more electrical capacity they got just recently.

As for the benefit to lower income people: I refer you to today's announcement.

http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060808/NEWS01/608080311/1002

Gee...

John said...

Anthony,

Again we differ...the intent on the part of the incumbents was to make sure to be as (un)Fair to the competition in the form of LUS as possible.

Will AT&T, which is facing a shrivling and anemic landline market "cross-subsidize" its competition here and elsewher with genrations of cash provided by its public utility status. IT WILL. Will it "cross-subsidize" with income from its ATT/Cingular, completely different, line of business? And other investments? IT WILL.

Forbidding LUS to do the same is unfair. And was intended to be.

LUS and the city were forced into a bad compromise when the alternative was BellSouth using the legislature to forbid it altogether. That's the kind of competitors BS and Cox are.

Competition? Run to the government for "relief."

Anonymous said...

John

Again you don't understand.
You must understand LUS is the only Electric provider in Lafayette City limits. THAT MAKES THEM A MONOPOLY!!! People don't have a choice. LET ME DEFINE THAT FOR YOU. MONOPOLY--(economics) a market in which there are many buyers but only one seller;"when you have a monopoly you can ask any price you like."
I hope this is helpful to you as you try to understand the reasoning for regulations in a monopoly environment.

John said...

Anonymous coward,

Screaming louder doesn't make anyone take you seriously. Ignoring the ways the law is actually unfair and was intended from the beginng to be unfair also doesn't make you sensible.

If you want to be taken seriously you have to actually address the issue at hand.

Are you saying that LUS overcharges? On what basis? That you believe it as part of your ideological faith?

Go right ahead then and believe.

But what history shows is that over the long haul LUS' rates have been equal to and slightly lower than the surrounding private suppliers.

Them's the facts; kick all you want. Ignore the actual points I make all you want...you'll get exactly the respect from me that you've earned.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am saying LUS overcharges and the basis of my belief is the 20 million dollars in excess revenues they are sitting on and using to "pledge" to the investors that purchase the Fiber bonds.
How much did the rates go up to collect these reserves?
In 2004 LUS was the 13th lowest electric provider in the state. In 2005 LUS was the 28th lowest electric provider in the state. You can lie all you want but when a LPUA approves the Electric rate increases and reserves build up the way they have some people refer to that as "overcharging."

I would like to congratulate Greg Gautreaux on winning the business of NuComm. He is the only person doing anything good for this community.

Anonymous said...

The LUS electric rates went up but we now have an electric generation plant that will help generate revenues for the utility system.

Anonymous said...

Wrong, the increased rates will help build the reserve revenues for the utility system that will be pledged to the bond holders for the fiber project. This is cross subsidizing and the Fair Competition Act prohibits cross subsidizing.

John said...

This is the same sort of anonymous, untrue bad-mouthing that we saw during the fiber campaign. People who know that what they are saying isn't quite right don't use their names. I notice that you don't claim that LUS has INCREASED reserves. I doubt it. If you think it true SHOW ME. Give me a reference.

The real facts are that LUS is mostly a gas-based utility (using a source that is local and cleaner than the alternatives). Historically that's been the cheapest source of energy locally. Over the last year gas prices have increased way more than other sources--especially coal and gas is no longer cheapest. MY guess is that this is a much better and more obvious explantion for the change in relative rates that you cite. (And I'd like to know where you got that data, even though it sounds likely to me.)

You are the one that is lying...and you are doing it anonymously so that no one can hold you accountable for your lies. I've gotten weary enough of this that I don't feel obligated to soften my language especially as you open the accusation. Own up to your words or be considered unable to defend them. (But hey, I'll admit that at least addressing the issue instead of spouting undiluted spleen is an advance. Congrats.)

John said...

Oh yea, Good for Greg Gautreaux (or Gothreaux as he spells--not that such matters to the factually challenged anonym) Yes, he has done good work for the community.

But if you believe there is ANY other differentiator more valuable than a local FTTH network to NuComm you're mixing something in your coffee that you ought not.

Neither LITE nor LONI will be immediately useful to NuComm. A local fast network will be. The very thing you praise Gothreaux for was what was his strongest argument with the company to differentiate Lafayette from 200 other places.

That you don't thank Terry Huval and Joey Durel with the same breath is revealing.

Anonymous said...

John is right, you sould not praise Go-Tro. He was the individual that made the comment the Cingular call center jobs were not the kind of jobs we were looking for here in Acadiana now he is taking credit for the NuComm that pays less than Cingular. He only steps up when he wants to take the credit.