Kevin Blanchard has a commentary piece in the Advocate this morning, trying and mostly failing to make sense of the mess of lawsuits filed against Lafayette.
There are probably 3 or 4 points to be made: 1) itsa mess. 2) it’s nothing new, 3) a nice chunk of the delay is due to Judge Rubin, 4) it’s costing us money.
There are some nice highpoints:
If the latest slew of legal filings surrounding Lafayette Utilities System’s funding of its planned communications business seems confusing, that’s because it is — sometimes even to lawyers handling the matters.
Rubin’s sending the case to the authority was not something either party in the case had asked for and appeared to take each side by surprise.
The plaintiffs’ appealed the authority’s ruling to a separate judge. Another judge is hearing an appeal of the plaintiffs’ complaint that LUS overcharges for electricity.
The 3rd Circuit will decide an appeal from the same plaintiffs on a mostly procedural matter decided by yet another 15th Judicial District judge.
Lafayette’s attorneys have argued this mish-mash of filings and judges and appeals is exactly what the Legislature was trying to avoid when it enacted the bond validation statutes.
It’s getting to be a tired story. Folks are frustrated and vaugely angry.
The proper target of their anger is BellSouth and Cox. If the two corporations would back off and acknowledge the outcome of a referendum they demanded this could all be over. –No one is deceived by the “front” lawsuits that don’t bear their names. (Except, possibly, LCG.) The history of the lawsuits and they way they were completely dependent on incumbent filings initially makes that plain.
Attempting to thwart the express will of the people ought to be enough to excite citizens to anger. If that’s not enough the fact that these delays are intended to cost the community money is a legitimate part of the story. As the story correctly notes this is costing us money in legal fees and in (and this is the main point) interest rates that have risen in the neighborhood of two points since the legal obstructionism took hold. Put that on 125 million over 25 years and you are talking, oh…really a lot of money.
Blanchard notes at the end of the story that Lafayette’s legal fees will eventually be paid by the citizens…sure. But he fails to note that the incumbents costs will be borne by the ratepayers as well. That’s what makes this more obscene (were that possible): we’ll be billed by these guys to cover their expenses incurred to raise our rates and frustrate or democratically expressed will. Geez. There oughta be a law.