Friday, November 03, 2006

"Groups support LUS on network"

A second group has joined the Louisiana Municipal Association (LMA) in filling "friend of the court" briefs in support of Lafayette's fiber to the home plan. The Advocate this morning reports that the Fiber To The Home Council has joined the LMA, whose support had been previously announced.

Amicus curie briefs like these are important because they offer the court a broader and often more authoritative view on the issues brought before the bench. The current lineup offers points of view from the perspectives of the city, the state, and now the nation.

The new FTTH Council brief, I understand, was authored by Jim Baller. Baller is widely held to be the nation's most influential lawyer on the subject of broadband and has been a tireless supporter of the concept of municipal broadband. Baller has consistently promoted the idea of a national broadband policy--something few who follow the subject believes exists now--and holds that municipal broadband is an essential element in any practical plan to bring the US back to a competitive level of broadband speed and adoption. Baller was also involved in crafting the now infamous "Local Government (un)Fair Competition Act" and would certainly have a unique basis from which to explore the unanticipated consequences of the law that has been used to keep the fiber-optic network plan in court.

John Gallanger spoke to the paper on behalf of the LMA. I met him during the video franchise battle in Baton Rouge during the last legislative session and have respect for his obvious smarts. The LMA holds that the third circuits circuitous redefinition of bond law is dangerous to the bonding authority local governments have always enjoyed.

Point of personal privilege:

I look forward to giving these briefs a close read -- sometime after the election on November 7th. I'm supporting Mike Stagg for Congress....a candidate who actually understands these issues and showed his commitment to Lafayette's fiber plan in the clearest possible way: by assuming a leadership role in the fight to get it. Boustany was urged, repeatedly, to help co-sponsor a bill that would have provided federal protection for municipal broadband programs by forbidding the states to prohibit them or to author laws, like the (un)Fair Act, that effectively prohibit them. Mike's opponent has yet to utter discernable support for his home-town's most ambitious and embattled program, has voted against net neutrality, and just yesterday came up with a 25% score on C|Net's scorecard of votes in support of technology issues. That score put him in the bottom 5% of the house. From the point of view of a technology advocate he's not what a Lafayette that sees itself as a high-tech enclave needs.

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