Fiber411 “in lieu of” stories

Both the Advocate and the Advertiser carried stories on Fiber411’s press conference Tuesday afternoon. On the balance, both stories serve to give the reader valuable background on what “in lieu of taxes” (ILOT) actually is and that has got to be a valuable service. The much more complete story, however, is in the Advocate’s version—something that is unfortunate considering the relative circulation of the two in Lafayette. If you’ve only got time for one today I have to recommend you go to the Advocate.

On What In Lieu of Tax is:


Instead of paying taxes as a private company would, the publicly-owned LUS pays a percentage of its gross billings to the Lafayette Consolidated Government’s general fund.


LUS pays the in-lieu-of tax because, as a government entity, it is not required to pay the normal taxes a business would — such as property or sales taxes.

On What ILOT is Used For:


The $17 million is roughly one-quarter of the entire general fund — about the amount required each year to run the Police Department.

(The conclusion that ILOT saves local taxpayers almost 25% of the taxes they’d otherwise pay to fund city services is unavoidable. If LUS did not exist, private utility companies would never pay nearly that much –25% of a municipal budget — in local fees and taxes. LUS offers fair, competitive pricing. While doing so it shifts the increment of income that a private company would normally send to federal taxes, state taxes, and profit taking to the city coffers. ILOT is a great deal for city taxpayers.)

What Supple is Asking For:


A group with reservations about Lafayette Utilities System’s plan to enter the telecommunications business announced Tuesday it wants the City-Parish Council to pass an ordinance to assuage one of its concerns.

Supple said LUS should forgo paying that in-lieu-of tax altogether, in case revenues don’t rise enough in one year to pay the entire debt service.


Citizens group Fiber 411 announced Tuesday its members will not support the Lafayette Utilities System fiber optics project unless an ordinance is adopted exempting LUS from having to pay certain fees to the city until fiber operations make a profit.

(It should be noted that this is not completely accurate; only Tim Supple pledged to vote yes if his demands were met. The other two members of the group, Bill LeBlanc and Neal Breakfield, said such an ordinance would not eafect their votes.)

What LUS has planned for ILOT:


Huval said Tuesday after the Fiber 411 press conference that LUS already plans not to pay any in-lieu-of taxes until it is earning enough revenue to pay its debt service.


LUS Director Terry Huval said after the Fiber 411 news conference that the city’s plan calls for the communications division not to pay in lieu of tax until the fiber division makes more money than it spends, excluding debt service.

On the Effect that an Ordinance Would Have:


Taking the in-lieu-of-tax payments off the table would not result in lower bills for future LUS communications customers.

State law passed last year requires LUS to charge communications customers for taxes and fees that private communications companies charge their customers — because as a government entity LUS would otherwise be able to charge lower rates.

Requiring LUS customers to pay artificially higher rates than what LUS actually has to charge to cover expenses would be more fair to LUS’ private competition, which was the point of last year’s law.

Whose Concerns Would Be Meet by an Ordinance:


Supple said that if the council passes an ordinance not allowing LUS to pay in-lieu-of taxes on communications, he would vote for the measure on July 16.

The other two members of Fiber 411 attending the news conference said the ordinance would not sway them from voting no.


KATC reports:

Huval says Lafayette Government is pleased the group supports the fiber plan.

(Now, I have to say that I think that a little canaille. Still, the logic is hard to argue with. If Fiber411 endorses fiber for Lafayette, and if it thinks that LUS should build a network to provide competition to Cox and BellSouth, and if it wants LUS not to take ILOT out until it’s making money…well then, the rest is just a matter of implementation details, not principle. Since private concerns will not build a fiber to the home network for Lafayette in the foreseeable future, and since competition is good, and since only LUS will provide any degree of network openness, and since LUS won’t give ILOT until it is taking in more than it spends…well then, what are we arguing about that would prevent a yes vote? It is a reasonable question for Mr. Huval to ask.)

The Advertiser misses the mark

The Advertiser has thrown up a quickie of a story on this afternoon’s press conference by Fiber411. I went to the event, hoping it would be a bit more interesting than it actually turned out to be. Here’s the breaking news: the three individuals that comprise Fiber411 are going to withhold their support of the fiber initiative unless their demands are met. The city must enact an ordinance forbidding LUS from handing over any in lieu of taxes until it is making a profit before those three will support the project. Well, not all of them. Actually, only one of them, Tim Supple. The other two are going to fight it regardless. So this press conference was actually about what only one person might do…leading cynics like me to ask what the point of this press conference (and how it earned a flotilla of media attention) was if was actually about what Tim Supple wants the council to do to assuage his fears about future administrations. (Tim was very vocal about trusting the current crew in a post-press conference exchange with Huval.) I am afraid the answer is actually pretty clear: Fiber411 needed something at least semi-credible to oppose if they were going to have a press conference.

Unfortunately, in lieu of taxes isn’t the issue on which to ride back into prominence. As Terry pointed out to the press after the press conference, LUS never planned to give LCG any In Lieu of Taxes until it was cash flow positive–a concept that the council endorsed when they approved the feasibility study that outlines this position.


I guess the Fiber411 three could nobly fight for an ordinance that makes a legal obligation of what LUS and the council have always said they intend to do. But that lacks a certain pizazz. And it is unlikley to garner continuing coverage.

I hope the Advertiser fleshes out the story a bit before tomorrow. As it stands now it’s pretty incomplete. The lead paragraph has a few troubles; it reads:

“Citizens group Fiber 411 announced today that its members will not support the project unless an ordinance is adopted excusing LUS from paying “in lieu of tax” on the telecommunications division

As I noted above, both Neal Breakfield and Bill Leblanc were forthright in response to my question during the Q&A about not supporting LUS even if they meet their demand. So what we really know is that 2/3rds of Fiber411 won’t “support the project” if their suggestion is adopted. There is no visible membership beyond these three. Which members? Are they thinking of the denizens of the Fiber411 chatbox? My guess is that changing the in lieu of tax proposal to legally require what LUS has already said it would do won’t make any difference to that group.

Misinformation Alert: Williams “informs” the few

Well, the incumbents are back at it. Last night BellSouth’s John Williams misinformed the few at the Concerned Citizens for Good Government. Promising the moon, the same Williams who didn’t know a thing about a push poll dialing up all his local customers is out telling us that he knows all about the Atlanta office’s plans for Acadiana. Really? No. Recent history demonstrates that Williams is told what Atlanta wants him to repeat locally and nothing more.

[timeout for irritation]

We need to begin to ask ourselves why something like John Williams talking to a few people about pie in the sky in the back of Don’s is newsworthy. In this town you’ve got two large out-of-state corporations (which the Consumers Union straightforwardly calls monopolies), one low traffic web site and maybe four Lafayette residents who are willing to use their name in public opposing this measure. On the other side you’ve got both political parties, the city government, a trusted local utility, the business community in the guise of the chamber, LEDA, and the home builders, various citizen’s groups, several active websites, an organized citizen’s action group with real membership, a fiber film festival, and lists of people online and in the newspaper who are willing to publicy endorse the project. The contrast is stark, dramatic, and unremarked. Surely this is newsworthy. But running a story that looked at the actual levels of support for the two sides would make it all the more embarassing to continue to pump this story as one with two robust local points of view. The illusion that there are two credible, active points of view serves the mildly sensational reportorial style that pits two matched groups in opposition and lets ’em duke it out on the pages of the newspaper. The actual, rather pitiful contrast doesn’t sell papers. At some point a style based on circulation figures has overcome the function of informing the public. That’s too bad and doesn’t serve the public.

Look for this syndrome to be repeated this afternoon when the press trots over to city hall to hear a couple of guys with no visible support outside an anonymous ugly-talk online chat box announce their “decision” on whether or not to support the fiber plan. Come on, press folks, pleeaaseee don’t treat this as if there is any news in it. You know, I know, alla god’s children know that the fiber411 boys are against the plan. They’ve been against it since you anointed them as the local opposition during the first hearings, they were against it during the entire interregnum when they claimed to “only” want a vote. They are going to renew their opposition this afternoon. A little perspective, a little historical awareness (not a lot, only a year’s worth) is all I ask……

[/timeout for irritation]

Thank you for your patience. Now back to the misinformation.

First paragraph:

BellSouth can provide fiber optic-run services in some parts of Lafayette and hopes to have fiber down every city street in the future, BellSouth’s John Williams told less than a dozen people Monday at a Concerned Citizens for Good Government meeting.

Now we have something which is closer to the truth than we used to get from the BellSouth spokesmen. Used to be that they’d shuck and jive about their company’s ultimate and publicly anounced plans to run fiber deep into their territories. Back then they were trying to claim that fiber was unnecessary. They respect us a bit more now. But be not fooled. “In the future” means in the future. Sure they will provide—at their pace; when they decide we are worthy of moving modern infrastructure a bit closer. When it is the most profitable thing they can do with their money. All of this is exactly the same plan as they had before LUS announced its study. NOTHING real has changed. All that has shifted is they way they talk.

A little further on:

In an October 2004 decision, the Federal Communications Commission declared that fiber-to-the-curb and fiber-to-the-home “are functionally equivalent,” Williams said. Both use fiber to transport data. Both provide video, high-speed data and telephone service, but with fiber to the home, data is switched to copper at the home, while with fiber to the curb, copper starts at the curb, he said.

This is profoundly misleading. And it’s been floated before as a talking Bill Oliver, BellSouth’s Louisiana president. They know it’s misleading. That is why they say it. The real issue is less “what” than “how much.” And LUS will be able to provide enormous amounts more–enough more that new services like video telephony will be cheaply and easily available to folks with a modest (by LUS standards) connection. Every “innovation:” every “ADSL,” “VDSL.” and “bonded pair,” is a way of squeezing a little more bandwidth out of aging infrastructure. It’s patching and repatching a old jalopy in hopes of staying in the race. It will never equal the speed and handling of a new system handbuilt for the purpose.

Sometimes a little satire is more effective than any long-winded explanation. Happily we have some of that. Take a look at “Slick Sam Slade” at the Lafayette Coming Together’s Fiber Film Festival website.

About the FCC’s supposed endorsement of Fiber to the Curb: In fact, the FCC does NOT say anything about functional equivalence in the document to which Oliver and now Williams so confidently refers. I refer you to the FCC order degregulating FTTC that was adopted October 14th, 2004.

BellSouth argued there that FTTC and FTTH were “indistinguishable” in their ability to deliver services, along with several other reasons in a petition to the FCC to allow them to shut the competition out of any FTTC loops they might build in the same way that FTTH loops were already excepted. The FCC, while allowing BellSouth to lock out competition as they requested, noticeably did NOT list “indistingusihability” as a reason for allowing BellSouth to close its system to competition. In fact, even the most cursory reader couldn’t avoid the conclusion that in both the order and in the commissioners’ individual comments, the difference continued to be something the commissioners felt they had to contend with. (They did explicitly accept other parts of BellSouth’s argument, such as the contention that locking out competitors would make it more likely that BellSouth and other incumbent phone companies would build FTTC systems.)

The reason that the commissioners didn’t fall for that one is that it isn’t true. That the marketing (and politically savvy) operatives of BellSouth want us to believe it is so doesn’t make it so. Saying it to the FCC doesn’t mean they fell for it and saying it to us doesn’t mean we should fall for it either.

More misleading stuff:

City and LUS officials have said BellSouth will not provide the city with fiber-to-the-home, so the city utility should provide it for economic development purposes.

That’s true, the city and LUS has said so. But reporting it like that ignores the fact that they were qouting BellSouth! It was a major issue at the so-called “Academic Broadband Conference” last year. Doug Menefee asked. And both BellSouth and Cox told us no…not even if we held a vote an voted for it. That’s not the way they make decisions. It is only the way that our local utility makes decisions.


They say fiber to the home offers better quality than fiber to the curb or existing copper cable.

That’s true too…and so does every other expert in the country. Including those from BellSouth. They brag about it—in the few wealthy subdivisions where they offer it.

And then, tacked on to the end, is the FUD factor (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt).

The LUS project poses financial risks for existing LUS customers, Williams said. If the fiber project fails, electric customers’ rates could increase, he said.

This guy is shameless. Sure there is some risk. And the city has been over and over it. The incumbents don’t bother to ever engage the facts and figures that demonstrate how small the risk is and how unlikely that the full amount will ever be at risk. They don’t engage in that because it doesn’t suit their purpose. Which is to make the public fearful. Pure. Simple. What’s irritating to me is that nobody, nobody thinks it appropriate to ask BellSouth whether its enormous failed speculation in wireless systems in Latin and South America cost its core customers money. (Of course it did—and will for decades as they pay off the debt incurred.)

A final tidbit of Uncertainty:

In addition, the $125 million bond issue would allow LUS “to make improvements to the utility system,” Williams said. “They can make any improvements to the utility system they feel are important.”

LUS can spend the money not just on fiber, but to improve the water and electric systems, he said.

“I hear some people refer to that as a blank check,” Williams said.

Somehow the idea that LUS follows absolutely standard procedures in putting together its bond issue in order to ensure that it isn’t left paying interest on money it can’t use is something to be “doubtful” about. The constraints on the money mean they have to use it for infrastructure maintenance or upgrades. This is a good idea and is standard smart management. Private companies like BellSouth do exactly the same thing when they take out loans. For the life of me I can’t figure out what Williams is afraid of…other than that LUS will win this referendum and his career might not be as smooth as he and his father once anticipated as a consequence.

The Great Divide

Muniwireless tracks the coming great divide: states that subjugate themselves to quasi-monopolies, and states that are poised to grasp any competitive advantage opportunity that comes along. It’s easy to see who’ll come out ahead in that competition.

Nebraska has just outlawed municipal broadband networks. And Maine just explicitly clarified the status of cities that would allow them to offer wireless networks. These contrasting approaches will help define the developmental potential of these largely rural states well beyond the next decade.

From Lafayette’s point of view we can only hope that more states will join the ranks of Nebraska. States like Nebraska, Florida, and Texas putting themselves at the mercy of private providers by taking away the power of local governments to offer an alternative to what is, in terms of emerging global standards, shockingly bad and expensive service. Without even the credible threat of being able to offer an alternative, nobody should be surprised when the services offered in Dallas by the incumbents are not keeping up with places like Lafayette, where real competition forces upgrades and keeps prices low.

Telephone company defiant

SBC strikes defiant tone after legislation

The phone companies are used to getting their way. But a recent defeat in Texas has SBC (also known as SouthWestern Bell) charting a new course for the Bells: outright defiance of the law. Federal law requires cable operators to negotiate contracts with local governments for the use of rights of way and other city property. SBC just engaged in a bruising set of battles in Texas in which it lost both in an attempt to outlaw municipal wireless and an attempt to take local control of franchise agreements out of the hands of those who own the property and transfer the contract to the state level—a level of government the Bells have always dominated. Apparently losing doesn’t sit well and SBC has gone from fighting a pitched battle to ensure state control of franchises to the cool assertion that they never needed to get a franchise in the first place:

Cable operators have long had to negotiate franchise agreements with each city they serve, but SBC doesn’t to because it will be offering TV service with new Internet technology that isn’t subject to local regulation, Senior Vice President Jim Epperson said Tuesday.

What is astonishing about such stuff is utter lack of any pretense that anything is at stake other than the corporation’s self-interest. Last week doing the franchise “right” was crucial to the salvation of the American consumer and a moral imperative for every Texas legislator. This week the franchise never mattered anyway. There was a day when even corporate shills felt obliged to notice and attempt to explain away such self-serving inconsistencies. Not today. Everyone understands that all the explanations of the Bells are faux–that their relationship to the truth is never more than coincidental–and that the only reason any reason is uttered is to prop up whatever management has decided will be most profitable for the company. We are all supposed to understand this. And the agreement that this is all that is really going on runs so deep that reporters, who are especially “cued in” on such matters, don’t even bother to notice the apparent contradictions.

I’m old school. It still bothers me.

I’ve pointed out before that all the hoopla about “competition” and “level playing fields” that the Bells trot out when trying to evade their local obligations are just attempts to cover their hopes of developing or maintaining special privledge. The key element in the competitive advantage the Bells seek in relation to local franchises is not how fast they can get to market with a video product. And it is not even that they are desperate to avoid fees to local governments–after all, the state-wide franchise that they were pushing in Texas would have required hefty fees. No, the real, desperately needed advantage that both eliminating the franchise concept or moving it to the state level would accomplish is that it would eliminate universal service. The Bells want to be freed to provide advanced, high margin services only to the most profitable (read: wealthy) parts of each city and town. They want their cable competition pushed into less and less profitable marginal areas by the local requirements that all of a town’s people be offered the same service at the same price.

Luckily, reporters are begining to regularly notice and report on this:

Cable operators accuse the phone companies of trying to dodge rules requiring a television provider to serve all neighborhoods, even poor ones.

The Texas Cable & Telecommunications Association seized on an internal SBC report from last year in which the phone company told investors it planned to target its new network at 90 percent of “high value” homes but only 5 percent of “low value” homes.

“It’s a fancy way of defining redlining,” said Tom Kinney, the Texas cable group’s chairman. “It creates a bigger gap in the digital divide.”

For once, the cable guys are right.

Reporters get smarter about telecom franchises

The Chicago Tribune carries a good story on the emerging issue of state-level franchise agreements. We’ve seen a wave of bills at the state level that attempt to circumvent the traditional—and federally mandated—franchise fees paid to local government. The immediate context for the story is the failure of the phone company to get the Texas legislature to take franchise control away from cities and towns and lodge it in the state legislature (great idea, that one). It failed. And the phone companies coolly announced they’d seek a federal remedy. (Yet a better idea, no?) The Chicago Tribune actually has a pretty good piece of reporting on this arcane but important topic that involves every level of government and some of the nation’s most powerful monopolies.

Telecommunications reporting is plagued with what can only be called poor reporting. It is generally nobody’s beat and so far out of the range of glamorous — or even interesting for most reporters— that it isn’t even funny. Generally it gets tossed to the business reporters and that’s not usually appropriate. They’re used to dealing with local businesses and mostly, no offense, puff stories. (When was the last time you heard of a hard-hitting exposé of the working conditions at the local hardware store?) The idea is to help a local business look good. That approach doesn’t work with the cable/phone duopolies. What people read, even in large newspapers, too often amounts to rewrites of press releases. Or, even more insidiously, unreflective pieces that assume the sugary goodness of all corporate endeavors. That’s unfortunate, because telecom reporting is actually important stuff at both the national and local levels; it’s a huge and growing chunk of the economy at all levels and the interests of the incumbents are distinct from the interests of the people they exist to serve—sugary goodness is not on the menu. The topic deserves good reporting by reporters whose experience leads them to question rather than accept. (I’d assign guys from the local politics beat. 😉 )

So it is a real comfort to see that some of the large regional/national media like the Chicago Tribune are beginning to carry stories that dig below the explanations that corporations like BellSouth and Cox offer the public. They still offer the “official” explanation but at least they do the work of going out and asking real questions of the opposition.

The official line is a suspiciously pious: the Bells only want to facilitate competition, they say. (We’ll let pass for the moment any long dissertation on how hypocritical it is for the phone companies to claim to be for competition after pressuring these same state legislatures to simply outlaw any form of municipal competition.) It would help if they didn’t have to negotiate with all those little bitty towns and cities and counties across the country. It would just be easier. They could provide competition more quickly. And that, the implication is, is all.

Of course, that’s not all; nor is it particularly true. Or it is so partial a truth as to constitute a sin of omission. What is much closer to a full story is that the phone companies are aghast at the lengths cable companies have to go to please the owners of public rights of way. The phone companies don’t have to deal with all that. As a matter of national policy, when we decided universal phone service was a priority we pretty much exempted phone companies from franchise negotiations. They’re not used to worrying about anything smaller than state levels of government—the level at which price and service regulation takes place. That orientation to the state level of power is part of the real story. The truth is that they are good at getting what they want at the state level. And they want things that no local municipality will ever, ever give them. They want to offer their best services to the richest neighborhoods. And make big money. And use that money to go to the next most lucrative neighborhoods. Their cable-based competition gets forced into the least lucrative neighborhoods — neighborhoods they have to service because they are contractually obligated by their local franchise agreements to do so. It’s an obvious business strategy. (And one I wrote about back in December in the context of FCC regulations.) But it’s not one that local politicians have allowed to cable companies and it’s not one that they will allow to the phone companies if they have anything to say about it. Durel, for instance, would never survive granting BellSouth a franchise agreement that licensed wonderful new services in River Ranch but allowed northside neighborhoods to languish until Atlanta decided it was time.

Here’s how it looks to municipalities and local people:

“Municipalities are interested in the fees that franchises bring as well as requirements that carriers supply public access channels.

But the biggest concern is that without franchises, telecom carriers will not offer network upgrades in the poorer parts of cities and towns.

‘A primary goal for local franchise agreements is negotiating full coverage for municipal areas,’ said Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, policy affairs director of the National League of Cities. ‘We’re very concerned about cherry-picking by the telcos.’

The Chicago-based Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide has criticized SBC’s upgrade plans, saying they shortchange poorer neighborhoods.

‘We’re very much in support of municipal franchises,’ said the Rev. James L. Demus III, the group’s leader. ‘They’re needed to level the playing field.”

It going to be a bloody fight at every level. But it’s not about offering a little fair competition a bit more quickly. It’s all about securing a special advantage over your competition. That is the monopolist way. What they say is not what they mean. Pretty much always. And reporters are starting to notice.

Lea’s pies at Mello Joy

You can now get Lea’s pie, by the pie or the slice, at any Mello Joy in Lafayette. Lea’s Lunchroom is in LeCompte, a little town south of Alexandria. It’s a real lunchroom and you get real lunchroom food. Lea’s is famed for its ham sandwiches, for instance, as well as its pies.

But the pies are what I recall from childhood road trips. The promise of a stop at Lea’s—if we were “good”—could keep the back seat quiet for maybe 45 miles. And the pies were the point of the stop.

My mother was the family pie-maker but even she admired Lea’s pies. Seeing Lea’s pies in the pastry case at the Mello Joy downtown was a real treat. Memory is hazy, I admit, but I fancy that they are just the way they were when I was a kid. I seem to recall those lemon pies that really had some sour to them and were covered with a meringue that oozed little drips of moisturer eked out the favorite’s spot over the coconut creme pie with the mound of meringue so high that a young boy had trouble getting a complete bite in his mouth.

They’re still like that–lunchroom pies. A little fancy, but in the 50’s mode of fancy, nothing like what you might see now. The cherry pie that I succumbed to the other day had an opaque, clearly flour-based binder in the juice-based filling and a hefty crust to go with the sweet and tart cherry filling. None of that strangely clear, brilliantly colored, tasteless, red gelatin that seems to afflict most cherry pies these days.

Anyway, it’s worth the trip and the $3.50 a slice to go to Mello Joy when you want to check your email and meet folks these days.

These ruminations are inspired the Advertiser story covering the culinary event; it is a good story and worth the click.

(What does this have to do with fiber? Uh…I think cherries have some of that soluble fiber stuff you find in oatmeal. Maybe. I could check.)

The Blue Moon Steps Up

An announcement of a new weekly grassroots fiber-related event made the press yesterday in the tail end of the Advocate’s coverage of the Acadiana Home Builders endorsement. It’s “Fiber Jam,” a special edition substitution for the Blue Moon Saloon’s well-established Cajun Jam. It will be held every Wednesday night from 8-11 starting on June the eighth. The event has been put together by Joe Castille representing Lafayette Yes!

Here’s what the Blue Moon has to say:

‘With Fiber Jam! we continue showing respect for our musical past, while showcasing our vision for Lafayette’s future,’ said Blue Moon owner Mark Falgout in a release from Lafayette Yes!.

Besides music, Fiber Jam! will feature several pro-fiber groups on hand to answer questions, and pass out handouts and T-shirts.

In addition, on June 15 and 29 and July 6 and 13, LUS Director Terry Huval will be the featured musician at Fiber Jam!”

It should be a great event, laid back and a lot of fun. Mark your calendars now.

“AHBA backs ‘yes’ vote for July election to fund LUS to build fiber-optics network”

The Advocate carried the story of the Acadiana Home Builders Association (AHBA) endorsement of LUS’ fiber to the home project yesterday. This endorsement, by yet another conservative-leaning (like the local Republicans) and business-centric (like the Chamber of Commerce) solidifies the across the board support of the fiber-optic project. Their rationale is straightforward and makes a lot of sense:

Such a network would have the potential to attract new businesses and jobs — which will help keep up demand for new housing, Keller said.

In addition, home builders are interested in the prospect of pre-wiring homes into the fiber-optics network to attract customers, Keller said.

Increasingly, buyers are looking for homes equipped with the latest technology that will allow them to have a home office or run a home-based business, Keller said.

It is just such small, entrepreneurial business run out the home that may well prove the most valuable economic driver of the project.

We reported on the press release and announcement in the post “Standing Up—Acadian Home Builders Association.”

“Fiber-optic issue just warming up”

Kevin Blanchard publishes one of his analysis pieces in today’s Advocate. It is a “state of the battle” report that takes a snapshoot of the current, amazingly quiet, battleground. You come away from the article with the impression that the pro fiber sorts are working on grassroots elections tactics–with town hall meetings, the fiber film festival, and the new Blue Moon Fiber Jam receiving attention while the incumbents, aside from a notable misstep in regards to the push poll, are feeding higher on the food chain. Lawsuits, the Broome/Cox bill in the state legislature, and the upcoming Public Service Commission hearings are all highlighted as incumbent opposition tactics.

We do already see a soft sell campaign on Cox’s cable channels (it’s not running those smiling ads elsewhere in Louisiana) and it is impossible for this observer to believe that Cox won’t use its ownership of the city’s major media channel to flood the airways at virtually no cost to themselves prior to the election. Suggestively, hurricane season opened on July 1st and I can’t help but believe that we won’t get a major storm here. The shape of this battlefield is surely about to change.

Kevin Blanchard’s story is a thoughtful and knowledgeable walk through the present state of things. Go take a look.