Misinformation Alert: Mail Piece

Fiber Supporters,

A misleading mail piece has gone out to Lafayette residents. The text below which is in bold refers to charges in the 4- page mailer. The design of the piece is meant to elicit Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt…Large, screaming headlines dominate the piece. (The headline on the front page is literally being screamed by a young boy.) The flyer hopes to gain some credibility by quoting newspapers but, unfortunately for the author’s arguments, the sort of selective quotation you find there only serves to put the reader on notice that the argument being made cannot be supported any other way.

This is a return to the sorts of deliberately misleading tactics that we saw in the two push polls and in the so-called academic broadband forum. It is an attempt to manipulate the people of Lafayette.

Please take a moment to read this note. Talk to your friends, neighbors, and family about the real explanations of the points raised. Don’t be fooled and don’t let your people be fooled either.

Page 1:
Marietta sold at a loss:
The Marietta system has nothing in common with LUS’ plan. It was a speculative wholesale system that marketed bandwidth to large companies far beyond the boundaries of the city by taking advantage of peculiar Georgia laws. Even so it was breaking even when it was sold to fulfill a campaign promise. The new owner retained the whole staff and continues to pursue the original business model.

It has nothing to do with Lafayette’s Fiber to the Home business plan. BellSouth, Cox, and Fiber 411 know this. And until this flyer hit the 411 guys had quit trying to use it; it made them far too easy targets. But when there’s no time to point out how foolish this is the temptation was too great…

Bristol-losses and rate hikes
This part of the flyer is an ugly attempt to lie to people by selectively quoting the local Bristol newspaper. Here is the context for the part of the paragraph that the flyer reproduces. The part the opponents of Lafayette’s plan have chosen to pull out of context is marked in red. Read the red parts first and then read the full paragraph. This is simply and plainly dishonest; it distorts the plain meaning of the paragraph:

A year after it became one of the few public utilities in the country offering full telecommunications services, Bristol Virginia Utilities is beating its business plan and reaching its goals more quickly than expected. Still, BVU experienced unexpectedly heavy losses in 2003 because of legal and regulatory obstacles and raised its cable rates by as much as 15 percent. Competitors continue to complain about the public utility’s unfair advantages over private enterprise; a battle over the legality of BVU’s telephone service drags on. But customers are signing up – and staying with the service – in unexpected numbers, Chief Executive Officer Wes Rosenbalm said. BVU is one of growing number of public utility providers around the country using public money to get into the traditionally private-sector telecom business. It traditionally had provided electric, water and wastewater services. BVU now offers a suite of services including cable, phone and Internet access under the title BVU OptiNet.

Notice please, that the article mentions losses ONLY in the context of celebrating the fact that those losses were not enough to keep the utility from reaching its goals only a year later.

Page 2:
Fiber has been a failure….
Cut through the hysterical tone of this paragraph and notice that all they really mention is Marietta, and Bristol. –The examples of failure which, as we saw when we went over page one were either not failures or had nothing to do with Lafayette.

Extra Taxes and Extra Debt….higher rates
As the incumbent providers and Fiber 411 well know BellSouth’s law, passed last summer, forbids “cross subsidization”—meaning that it is against the law to use money from rate hikes in the rest of the utilities to support the telecom side. BellSouth, of all “people” should know that. They drafted the law. As to taxes: are NO taxes involved with this project. It is all to be paid for from revenue that people willingly offer to purchase services they find valuable. New taxes MUST be voted on by the people of the parish before they can be levied. This is pure fear-mongering.

Private Companies offer the same service:
This untrue. “Other” companies will not offer Fiber to the Home and have firmly and repeatedly said so. Fiber to the home is not the same thing as fiber to the curb. Fiber to the Curb is BellSouth marketing-speak for the more accurate term “fiber to the node.” In fiber to the home the fiber goes to the home. Period. BellSouth’s fiber to the curb plan takes fiber to within 500 feet of the home…1 and 2/3 football fields. I suggest you go out of the front door of your home and mentally count all the homes that are within 1 and 2/3rds football fields. That is how many people you would have to share the bandwidth of a single strand of fiber with. It just isn’t the same as having your own. And no one should try to tell you so.

Page 3

Marietta again. Repetition doesn’t make it any truer. See the response to page one.

Bristol again. Repetition doesn’t make it any truer. See the response to page one.

I don’t have the facts to hand about Ashland. Sorry. I’ll dig around. Maybe Ashland is in trouble….but I’d want to look it up myself before I accepted that as true based on the quality of the “research” shown in this flyer.

Page 4
Don’t Let Lafayette be the Next National Headline.
That’s the entire text of the page in large, bold, type. Lafayette Coming Together suggests just the opposite: Vote Yes, For Fiber, and Lafayette will make national headlines for having stood up to the incumbents and for having decided to invest in ourselves and our city’s future…

PS: if this sort of stuff offends you; please consider joining our volunteer effort to get out the vote as a way of counteracting it.

To Phone Bank Friday and Saturday:

To work on getting out the vote on Saturday:
(put a note in the comments box that you’d like to do election day work)

3 thoughts on “Misinformation Alert: Mail Piece”

  1. Fiberistas,

    I highly recommend the page at Tricity broadband that Peter Collins posted the link to. It takes care of almost all the sily objections as to municipal failures that the folks continue to obtusely repeat.