“Group intervenes in LUS suit”

The Advertiser this morning runs more complete coverage of they story they published to their website yesterday.

The bottom line is that the Louisiana Municipal Association (LMA) believes that the series of Third Circuit ruling that have blocked the deployment of Lafayette’s fiber-optic network are not only wrong but dangerous to every other city in the state:

But LUS and LMA disagree, saying the ruling could negatively affect the ability of government entities to issue bonds in this post-hurricane time when publicly funded improvement projects are crucial.

“I think this is one case where it is obvious (that the court erred),” said Tom Ed McHugh, executive director of LMA. “If pledging money comes into question, the ability to do bond issues at the municipal level comes into question.”

The attempt to make Lafayette’s bonds risky and expensive by tweaking the meaning of the word “pledge” to disadvantage Lafayette inevitably effects all Louisiana bonding entities.

LUS Director Terry Huval said the Third Circuit ruling may affect local governments’ abilities to even issue bonds.

“The bond holders and bond rating agencies may look at Louisiana municipal bonds as riskier as a result of this decision,” Huval said.

It’s worth noting that it is not just municipalities and parishes which would be effected. The state itself issues bonds as a standard measure. You have to wonder what the state thinks about paying more for its bonding authority, especially in this post-storm milieu. Surely they aren’t so subservient to corporate interests that they’d fail to oppose something so clearly opposed to the interests of the people of this state. Surely.

It’s worth repeating that both the Lafayette appeal and the LMA friend of the court brief attack the previous 3rd Circuit ruling as much as the current one. This lawsuit has, in effect, reopened the door on opposing the “compromise” that lead to the current bond ordinance. Rolling back that legal basis for that compromise could benefit the city…Naquin and the incumbents may well lose advantages they’d thought they gained.

The incumbent providers in Lafayette are building themselves an deep hole. If the ugly opposition to Lafayette building an advanced network that the incumbents refused to build themselves wasn’t enough to convince voters–and consumers–that BellSouth and Cox didn’t play fair then perhaps the nastiness over New Orleans post-Katrina wifi system would. Or if the blatant attempt to steamroller the state with a Video Francise law that would have originally deprived (mostly small) localities of franchise fees wasn’t enough to convince you that they had a complete disregard for anyone’s interest other than their own well maybe making the French channel inaccessible in one of the few strongholds of French in this country and pulling the Weather Channel during hurricane season would.

If none of that convinced you that the incumbents are NOT good corporate citizens then maybe tinkering with the bonding authority of the state and every city in it in order to try and gain an unfair advantage over a single small city will.

This whole thing has gotten ludicrous and people’s anger is both justified and palpable.

Update 11:00: If you’d like to get a look at the document filed by the LMA it can be found on the web at the inestimitable Jim Baller’s site. The local authors speak surprisingly clearly and the resulting article is quite readable if a slow slog for the unititiated. There’s even a little history lesson the evolution of the code, the economy, and their interaction! (This is the second time recently I’ve found legal documents on this arcane topic readable. If this keeps up I may have to change my opinion of lawyerly writting.)

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