Monday, October 16, 2006

Lafayette Appeal Will Be Heard

The Louisiana Supreme Court has announced that it will hear Lafayette's appeal of the third circuit's decision. The decision to hear the appeal was unanimous, 7-0. Oral arguments are scheduled for November 28th...

That is good news. A finding in favor of Lafayette would mean an end to the legal wrangles over the bond issue. That would allow us to go forward without further delay and trying to expedite the construction of the system has been a primary goal of the city and LUS since the incumbents started trying to delay the project. The way this appeal has been argued by Lafayette it is possible that the Supreme Court will not only overturn the current third circuit decision but roll back the previous one that was unfavorable to LUS. (Recall: this is the second time that Lafayette has been frustrated by the 3rd circuit's interpretation of the (un)Fair Competition Act. The first time Lafayette re-wrote its bond ordinance with additional crippling aspects included that were meant to satisfy the third circuit's strained interpretation of the law.)

There would be some primitive justice in the possibility that that the people of Lafayette might actually, finally, benefit a little by by the incumbents' and their agents' intransigence. Lafyette might well end up with a more favorable ruling interpretation of the (un)Fair Act than if they'd left it alone after their previous win. To what degree the city could take advantage of that new interpretation without re-writing the bond ordinance and starting a new window for legal challenge is not clear to me. But having the law loosened up would be a very good thing--and a favorable ruling would almost certainly loosen the strictures that the 3rd Circuit unreasonably applied.

Frankly, even if the ruling goes against our city I'll count the appeal a good thing: it will give Lafayette and its allies in the Louisiana Municipal Association solid grounds to go to the legislature and demand repeal of a law which effectively prevents municipalities from building competitive telecommunications networks. The state legislature was told that the law would facilitate fair competition, not cripple new competitors. Even the "author" of the original bill has said that he thought some of the issues the incumbents were suing about had been settled in discussions while the bill was being drafted and wished that the incumbents had not brought suit. When the legislators who were your biggest supporters think you've reneged on the deal it is apparent that something is wrong.

Light a candle for the good guys....

Update: KATC has a short blip on the story as well.

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