It’s hard to know where to start.
Neal Breakfield, unrepentant sock puppet extraordinaire, is back at it again with a guest editorial in the Advertiser. Talk about misplaced loyalties. Even as BellSouth prepares to sell out to AT&T to create America’s largest phone monopoly, Breakfield continues to act in ways that benefit the telecom incumbents and damage the interests of a project the local community has overwhelmingly approved.
While Breakfield neglects to mention his long-standing opposition to Lafayette’s project, readers should be reminded that Breakfield was one of the very few voices to be raised against the project locally. He vociferously opposed the idea with various rationales and ran a distasteful site called fiber 411 on which posters regularly trash-talked the project and the character and motives of local citizens from behind its wall of anonymity.
But the best place to start is with Breakfield’s charge that Lafayette somehow considers itself “above the law” for pursuing repeal of a law that has repeatedly been used to thwart the will of the voters. It’s hard to understand where Neal finds the gall to claim that Lafayette considers itself above the law. Talk about hypocritical. Beyond running fiber 411 and appearing at press conferences Neal’s main claim to fame was to file a dubious, “unsworn” complaint against Mayor Durel which, apparently, was found to be without merit since the time has elapsed when a verdict to the contrary would have been announced. In the normal course of events a finding against a person like Mr. Durel would be the first the public would have heard of the matter since it is against the law to discuss unsworn complaints publicly–precisely to prevent folks from using the ethics commission to publicize and give weight to what is essentially rumor-mongering. But Neal’s unsworn complaint was announced on the editorial pages of the Times of Acadiana. Neither he nor his partner in unethically discussing a charge he wasn’t willing to swear to (Eric Benjamin) has found it convenient to apologize for illegally publicizing a complaint that turned out to be baseless. This makes his strange plaint about others believing that they are “above the law” more than a little hypocritical.
This guest editorial represents a return to the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) strategy so long pursued by the incumbents. Powerful, dominant, corporations have long used such tactics to smear their upstart competition. Issues are raised that are, generally, either untrue or irrelevant but which always raise doubt about the character or the competence of their opposition. The point is not to lay out a good or even defensible line of reasoning in opposition to what a corporation dislikes. The purpose is simply to raise a long series of scary “possibilities” that surround the opposition’s product with so many ugly suppositions that people come away with the impression that something must be wrong.
In the odd, mirror world that Neal occupies trying to repeal a law is the same as being “above the law.” It’s not–it is obviously the opposite of that. Neal has no objection to the endless lawsuits and obstructionism at the Public Service Commission that has served to delay a project Lafayette voted to approve. His emphasis is entirely on the successes that the incumbents have enjoyed with this strategy. He ignores the fact that the ordinance we all voted on and approved is the same one which BellSouth finally found a court to take it side on–after the author, Cox, the city, the public service commission (who filed a brief in support) and various legislators have all indicated that they think BellSouth is betraying deals made in conference and misinterpreting the law. He rhetorically asks whether we voted on that ordinance. We did! Explicitly. On July 16th
Breakfield ignores the fact that the co-sponsor of the Local Government Fair Competition Act is now spearheading the effort for repeal in the Senate just as he ignores the fact that the people did in fact vote on the ordinance BellSouth sued us over. He’s not eager to ask why the Acadiana delegation has lined up for repeal. He doesn’t ask why Cox refused to join BellSouth’s suit over this ordinance.
Breakfield wants to pretend that the city joining all these folks in thinking BellSouth wrong and defending itself in court when sued by its potential competition was to engage in “blatantly illegal” behavior. Wildest nonsense. Defending yourself in court is the opposite of “illegal” behavior just as seeking repeal of an unjust law exhibits the opposite of considering yourself “above the law.”
At some point you would think that having been repudiated at the polls would end this type of self-indulgent foolishness. Or that a decent regard for the judgment of the community would induce a little more care in attacking its interests. Apparently not. The community has ignored this sort of nonsense from Neal before and I’ve little doubt that it will be ignored once again.