“Lafayette lauded for innovation”

Trying to catch up from a conference trip (on which more as soon as I do catch up) I’ve been alerted by my spouse to an article in yesterday’s Advocate that Lafayette’s partisans might enjoy reviewing.

Lafayette was named one of the “Top 10 Great Innovation Markets in the South” by Southern Business and Development magazine.

The fun part as relayed by the Advocate:

“From its world-renowned cuisine and festivals to its state-of-the-art virtual reality center and high-tech infrastructure, Lafayette is founded on creativity and innovation,” the magazine writes.

The magazine points to Lafayette’s multicultural and multi-industrial makeup, along with innovative projects such as the Lafayette Utilities System fiber project, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, and the Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise as key contributors to the ranking.

Lafayette is the only Louisiana city named in the listings, which also include Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Orlando, Fla.; Huntsville, Ala.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Roanoke, Va.; Hampton Roads, Va.; and Savannah, Ga.

The story’s not online as of this recounting but the magazine has had similar kind things to say about Lafayette’s business potential in past years. For your self-indulgent reading pleasure I offer up links to “The 10 Coolest Mid-Markets in the South” circa 2004 and “Ten Places in the South for the Creative Class” from 2007. (The magazine clearly likes decimal systems…)

“AT&T, EBR approve TV deal”

Well, that was fast! The day before yesterday we noted here that AT&T through its astroturf subsidary TV4US had launched the public relations champaign to support its statewide video franchise law. This morning we see the first substantial political move in the upcoming battle. Baton Rouge has cut a deal with AT&T and so is taken off the board in an early first move of the chess pieces.

AT&T, according to the Advocate, has reached a franchise agreement with the East Baton Rouge City-Parish government to provide cable TV (aka “video services”) in the parish. Follows a summary of what seems to be going on with the caveat that all I have to go on is the article…I can’t find the ordinance or contract online as I would be able to in Lafayette—anyone have access?

AT&T will have the right to offer its new “U-verse” services (site, overview) in the parish for 5 percent of revenues to the general fund and .5% of revenues to support public, educational, and governmental channels (PEG channels). Presuming that turns out to be correct (and enforceable) its a good deal on two of the three major issues that any locale should consider: a fair price for the rental of public land and support for local media. Realizing any actual benefit from those two will depend on the third leg: the product being offered to a sizeable number of citizens. AT&T has long made it clear that they do not intend to offer this product to just anyone…instead they want to offer it chiefly to their “high value” customers and less than 5% of their “low-value” purchasers. (Fiber To The Rich, FTTR) If you figure out the implications of what they told investors back when this plan got underway they only intend to offer this product to about half of their current population base. Baton Rouge and other wealthy centers in generally cash-poor Louisiana might get U-Verse in rich neighborhoods but I’d be surprised if it went much into North Baton Rouge and Scotlandville. That might prove a difficult thing for Mayor Kip Holden to explain.

A bit of unease about the part AT&T was unwilling to promise might well, in turn, explain the secrecy with which this deal was constructed and the stealth with which it was executed. Holden received the council’s blessing to negotiate on Wednesday with no (that’s NO) discussion, and was able close and announce the deal on Thursday. The fix was in. (*) What didn’t happen was any public discussion of the pros and cons of the deal offered by AT&T–discussion which might well have lead to uncomfortable demands that the city-parish require AT&T to actually serve the citizens whose property AT&T wants to use. Such a requirement is part of Cox’s deal…but not, I have to strongly suspect, part of the deal with AT&T.

And, speaking of Cox, what about the cable companies? Where do they play in this game? A smart reporter will try and delve into that question. AT&T is using its extraordinary influence in the legislature to push two very bad video bills through the legislature. By comparison the cable companies have relatively little influence. What’s curious is that Lafayette is the state’s largest community to whom these bills will apply. Should Lafayette succeed, as she did two years ago, in getting herself excluded along with other older home rule communities the five largest metro areas of the state comprising the wealthiest 35-40% of the state’s population will have to have local franchises anyway. Since no one (except deliberately naive legislators) actually believes that AT&T is going to provide video in rural regions the question has to be who will really benefit? One devious answer would have to be: the cable companies. They will be able to drop their local franchises with the communities that actually own the land they want to use, pick up a state franchise at a 30% discount in fees and NO local obligation to serve PEG channels. In other states like North Carolina where the phone company waged a bitter war to win the right to a state video franchise they didn’t make use of it and filed few such requests. On the other hand their supposed cable opponents made out like bandits snatching up state franchises which allowed them to drop the more demanding local ones. The end result was no significant new competition, no price drops, and a huge drop in income to local municipalities.

Somebody in North Carolina got taken…..and the grifters are on the prowl here

(*)Revealing tidbit: The wikipedia section on U-Verse vailability was updated to include Baton Rouge on the 25th, two days before Baton Rouge supposedly concluded the deal and one day before the city-parish council approved negotiations. Not surprisingly, the prescient anonymous editor who added Baton Rouge to the list of cities was operating from a “BellSouth” (now AT&T) URL. The fix was in….

TV4US Astroturf Org Active in Louisiana

Well, we knew it was coming. The legislature is coming back in session and the latest push to take take local municipal property rights and hand them over to AT&T is back.

In the grand tradition of misleading advertising this is euphemistically called “statewide video franchising reform” and it is, of course, nothing of the sort. The good thing about this year’s version, otherwise the same as last year’s, is that 1) we’ve seen it before and 2) we can now show how the phone companies have failed to provide the promised benefits after they pushed through similar laws in other states. This being Louisiana, and the governor being who he is, we can’t expect mere rationality to put the quietus to this. But this time those legislators that decide to be tools of outside corporate interests will have little room to pretend to be merely encouraging “competition.” Such laws have not resulted in price reductions (in fact prices have risen) or much new service.

TV4US, an astroturf organization funded in part by AT&T kicked off the campaign yesterday with a press release critiquing the cable companies price rises over the last 8 years and attacking Kathleen Blanco’s veto of the earlier version of statewide franchising back in 06. Regardless of how you feel about the cablecos (cough, cough) this attack on them is pretty dishonest…the release trumpets price increases going back to 2000 and then (presto chango) implies that the big jumps they list are somehow caused by the governor’s veto…in 06. They don’t use the 06 to 08 figures because, in fact, the price rises since the veto are quite modest. But that doesn’t stop astroturf organizations from trying to confuse the issue.

TV4US claims to be a “grassroots” organization but it is nowhere composed of locals. Instead it is a national lobbying group specializing in pretending to be local when, in fact, it is a small national lobbying group funded by the corporate interests it serves which springs up “local” organizations wherever AT&T wants a law passed. (The phone number listed in the press release is located in lobbyist central: Washington, DC.) Hence: artificial grass: astroturf. TV4US runs large scale advertising campaigns and engages in push polling (something we here in Lafayette are familiar with). They are actually pretty sloppy about all this. In Michigan they tried to present a petition was riddled with people who objected to being so listed–including members of the legislature who actually were in opposition. The new “Lousiana” website is a great example: it is supposed to be a local website but is actually a carbon copy of Florida’s website (which in turn is clearly a simplified clone of the national one). The copying is painfully obvious. When you get to the back pages like the “independent voices” section (gag) the logo is Florida’s and the content in the “take action” section is about Florida. The contempt for Louisiana is pretty stunning. We’re so dumb that we’re going to believe this is an honest grassroots organization? A better fake would at least show some respect.

That doesn’t mean that our legislature won’t be happy to pretend to fall for it and to use the cover that faux “grassroots” support supplies one of the state’s largest campaign funders. But what is disappointing is that the media is likely to simply repeat and amplify the misleading nonsense that TV4US puts out there. In fact, that has already started. This morning’s Advocate has a front page story on the “news” that broke a month ago: Cox is going to raise rates “$3 dollars or more.” If you travel to the end of the story what you find is that what happened to make that newsworthy just now was that “nonprofit” TV4US issued a “statement” criticizing cable companies and Blanco yesterday—a statement no doubt timed to coincide with two sets of bills: those first bills hitting consumers and several bills hitting the legislative docket. (See, HB1009, SB422, and HB869) This story was planted. The reporter would have been wise to dig into the background of TV4US—a simple google would get him all the background he needed to treat the story with appropriate caution.

Look for more of the same as the battle is engaged. The last time through it took some time—too much time—for the municipalities and the rural police jurors to wake up to threat. The reportorial crews were also slow to react though toward the end a savvy reporter seemed finally to grasp what was going on.

We’re in for another fight. Look for Tom Ed McHugh of the municipal association and the posse from the police juries to ride again….

Is EATEL stealing Durel’s Idea?

EATEL is making waves by taking out full page ads in the Lafayette Advertiser advocating that the citizens of Acadiana take an offer that Cox would rather offer only to EATEL’s customers. There was another full page ad in Wednesday’s Advertiser and, according to the Independent, radio spots should start soon.

It’s a daring idea to spend your own money to promote your opponent’s good deals.

But maybe not entirely original: the idea was first floated right here in Lafayette by our own Mayor Durel just before the fiber referendum:

Durel commented on the possibility that Cox Communications and BellSouth could cut rates by as much as $30 to keep customers.

“If they lower their rates that much, I’ll take a full ad out in Baton Rouge and say, ‘You, too, can have these rates,'” Durel said. “I’ve talked to people around town, and if they can lower your rates by $30, what do you think they’ve been doing to you for 15 or 20 years?” (emphasis mine)

Indeed, that bears thinking about: either Cox can afford to take a 50% cut on its regular price and still turn a profit (in which case why are they charging you so outrageously now and pretending your price increases are all the fault of channel costs?) OR they are offering the promotion at below cost in order to drive EATEL out of the business (which would be a classic case of predatory pricing). You takes your pick. Neither says anything good about Cox. The Mayor had a real point back in ’05. Take a look for yourself, the story can be scrounged up via the wayback machine. There’s even a nostalgic BellSouth ad preserved on the page. The story brings back memories of the time and the fiery character of the Mayor.

Lagniappe Durel Nostalgia:

These “scare tactics,” such as negative advertising, false information and promotion of current technology, are geared to create doubt, he said.

“They are desperately trying to defend a horse-and-buggy technology in a supersonic age,”

“It’s a dream come true. I could hope for nothing more. It’s a dream come true if there’s a price war. Our citizens win.”

Those were the days….

Media Roundup of Phase 1 News

All the local media has at least a blip on yesterday’s announcement of the construction schedule of our new fiber to the home project.

If you want to run down the list here are the links: Advertiser, Advocate, KLFY, KATC. There is a lot of overlap.

If you have time for only one you should spend it on the Advocate’s coverage (and that’s not because yours truly is briefly qouted.) The article spends less time on describing the boundaries—which is better dealt with via a map anyway—and more on the why of the build schedule and immediate plans for other elements of the startup like the storefront and headend construction. There’s also a brief bit about expansion:

There are no plans to extend LUS service outside the city limits — as LUS is owned by city residents — but that doesn’t mean LUS Fiber service couldn’t one day extend into the parish or the smaller municipalities, Durel said.

Outside areas could annex into the city, or they could raise the revenue necessary to provide the infrastructure LUS would need to provide service, Durel said.

Several reporters talked to Durel about this issue and he was pretty expansive…I’d stay tuned. Lots of people in the parish want this and it’s only now sinking in that this is a city build.

The Advertiser’s full article adds some man-on-the-streeet remarks from residents that are pretty typical, I think. But more interesting is the discussion in the comments section of yesterday’s brief online blurb following the press conference. As much as the omnipresent reflexively resentful naysayers irritate me I have to say that I was proud of the level of understanding of a pretty technical issue that the pro-fiber crowd showed in forum often noted for its ugliness, and uninformed “opinionating.” I don’t think you’d see that level of technical and economic sophistication in many places—or here before the fiber fight. Politics can be educative. It was also interesting to note the folks from outside the area that are following this issue closely enough to find the story before it is actually published in the paper. Nevada and Germany are on the list….and surely many more who are also watching attentively.

LUS Groundbreaking in the Media

The media covered yesterday’s groundbreaking in force. The Advocate, the Advertiser, and KLFY all have online stories you can check into.

The Advocate’s story is the most extensive. In addition to covering the statements by public officials it also explored recently let contracts:

Chain Electric out of Hattiesburg, Miss., has been awarded the approximate $11 million contract to install underground lines — in areas where utility lines are already buried.

Where utility lines are already on poles, the lines will be run by an Indiana company, ElectriCom Inc., as part of a $4 million contract.

But the reporter tripped up a bit when trying to summarize the recent contracts as Blanchard acknowledged when I dropped him a quick question. But the Advocate quickly corrected it online. I’ve edited this post to account for that, striking the parts that no longer apply. The following bit that appeared in printed edition isn’t correct:

LUS Fiber’s Mona Simon said only one of those contracts — the underground line contract — came in under budget. The same goes for the head-end building construction, as well as the large contract with Alcatel-Lucent, which is providing all the large electronics including the boxes that will be at customers’ homes and businesses.

In fact, you need to invert that meaning: only the underground line contract came in over budget.

The story has been corrected online–the portion struck above portion now reads:

LUS Fiber’s Mona Simon said only one of those contracts — the underground line contract — came in over budget.

That’s not entirely surprising since digging up yards carries a lot of unknown risks–nobody can “look” at the job and see what it really entails. I’d bid high on any job of which I wasn’t confident.

If you’re curious as to how LUS will pick the first area to be served (and who isn’t?) you should check out the story:

LUS is picking the initial areas on using three sets of criteria, Huval said.

The first is which areas could provide the most potential customers at the lowest cost.

The second is which areas have a good mixture of residential and commercial — though with an emphasis on residential, as those customers are more likely to sign up in larger numbers.

The third is an area with a mixture of overhead and underground utility lines — again, with an emphasis on overhead lines because running fiber on poles is faster than having to bury them.

The idea of picking a diverse area is to get early experience and feedback in all aspects of the roll-out, Huval said.

That would describe almost any area of the city….though I’m personally hoping that it best describes the residential areas right around downtown. 😉

The Advertiser’s story is much briefer and focused more exclusively on the event and quotable quotes from the participants.

Huval said the service will have a long-lasting impact for residents and businesses.

“The real purpose is to provide a super broadband highway,” Huval said. “We’re going to be primed for new technology.”

City-Parish President Joey Durel said the service is going to “be something much greater than we ever dreamed.”

“We have underpromised, and we’re going to overdeliver,” Durel said. “A lot of things had to come together, but it’s here and it’s going to happen and we’re going to knock your socks off.”

There’s a picture of of Huval with Mike Stagg, Keith Thibodeaux, John St. Julien, and Gobb Williams in the background. (I’m still looking for that pic with with Gobb Williams and Durel both holding golden shovels, digging them into the council carpet, and grinning like mad.)

KLFY has only the briefest of stories, but if you own a windows machine you can probably view the video. (I’m weary of complaining…but will note that the mac market share has hit 8%, and the percentage of internet users on that platform is higher yet… Maybe the Advertiser will publish one of its nifty multimedia stories that are easily the best edited, and most accessible, net video in Lafayette.)

“Winning LUS bids set to be revealed”

Lafayette Utilities System will announce on Tuesday the apparent low bidder on two contracts to run fiber-optic lines in front of each home and business in the city.

…There are actually two construction contracts, one to run fiber-optic lines over existing utility poles, the other contract to bury lines where no poles exist.

That’s the latest construction news on Lafayette’s fiber network as pulled from the Advocate’s story.

The article also reviews the head-end contract (this version comes in under-budget) and the Alcatel-Lucent electronics contract. The fiber itself, according to the Advocate, will be bid out separately next week.

The main import of all this is not so much the particular contracts, their terms, or who wins them. Our interest lies in the progress they represent: The project is moving forward. The day when the first truck rolls begin is nigh. Presuming the schedule continues to hold we should have a nice New Years present early in January.

Lafayette is getting its fiber.

“Laptops key in students’ learning”

Mike forwards the URL to an Advocate story that adds some meat to yesterday’s excursion out to the intersection of Educational Theory, Ubiquitous Computing, and Interface Design. The article, Laptops key in students’ learning, looks at the “Turn on to Learning” program that has seeded laptops in 54 school districts.

Louisiana’s laptop initiative, “Turn on to Learning, Critical Learning Tools for the 21st Century,” was funded by a $5 million legislative appropriation and has put an Apple MacBook computer into the hands of more than 3,500 sixth-graders and 150 teachers across the state.

One of the more interesting things about the program is that it isn’t focused solely on laptops; it also included digital tools that offer a more robust way to interact with the world using the computer:

Each classroom also gets supporting equipment and software valued at almost $3,000, including a storage-battery charging cabinet, wireless access station, printer, data projector, an external hard drive, digital camera and a digital microscope.

The wireless access station, coupled with the built-in WiFi N that built into macbooks emulates the connectivity that the OPLC laptops discussed in yesterday’s post offer. (The macs could even more closely emulate that model by flicking a switch in its WiFi preferences that would make each laptop to also function as an access point the way OLPC computers do by default. The kids could then remain connected to each other via an ad hoc network while doing fieldwork at a museum, for instance.)

The projector makes it easy to cast a screen image big enough and bright enough to be used as a common teaching tool; the equivalent of the blackboard. Providing such analogs to established practice are essential to the benefits of teacher’s existing teaching skills. Good for Apple and the Lousisiana program.

The camera and microscope are nice additions and its easy to see how a sixth graders could use them. (In the realm of capturing images, each macbook has its own built-in video camera, low res admittedly, but more than adequate for the sorts of video-enabled interaction that I dreamed about in yesterday’s post. I once helped work a fun project in a community center in Delaware that used cheap digital cameras to help tie school learning to the life kids live at home. Some amazing stuff is possible using such tools.

The West Feliciana tech director mentions the differences that such technology can make in the way we teach children. Changing the assumptions that drive educational practice has proven hard; technology’s greatest gift may not be anything intrinsic to the technology but that it provides the excuse to begin teaching the way that we have known we should for more than a century.

“This whole process is going to change the way we go about educating children,” West Feliciana Parish school technology Director Jerome Matherne said.

“Under the one-to-one concept, the teacher will no longer be the ‘sage on the stage,’ dispensing information. The teacher will be more of a facilitator because students now will have access to the information themselves,” Matherne said.

“You may have heard the saying, ‘We’re drowning in information, but starving for knowledge.’ That’s going to be the (teacher’s) challenge,” he said.

It’s all very interesting and Lafayette’s participation in such program still seems to me like one of the more obvious ways to leverage the integrated fiber/wifi network that we are currently building. We’d be smart to encourage the kids to learn how to use our shiny new network fully. They’ll figure it out a lot faster than us old fogeys (by which I mean — roll eyes — the over 12 set). Once they get it, they can teach us.

It’s an interesting world we live in.

Dreams Realized

Lafayette’s Fiber Faithful will recall that during the referendum fight the slogan of the pro-fiber citizens group Lafayette Coming Together was : “For our Future, For Our Children” Artwork, bumper stickers (at left), guerrilla video, yard signs, and billboards all bore one or another versions of this sentiment.

The most effective argument for building our own network turned out to be the most basic: family. People want their children and grandchildren to be able to remain in Acadiana and not to be forced to move away from hearth and home in order to get a decent job in a field they love. That, simple civic pride, and a streak of contrariness moved more votes than any combination of rationalistic economic, business, or technological arguments—however valid those might have been.

It appears that the hope is being realized.

Saturday’s Advocate ran an interesting article in the right hand column of the Acadiana section. “Unemployment rate hits bottom” the lead-in paragraph tells the basic story:

Lafayette Parish’s unemployment rate in October dropped to the lowest level since at least 1990, continuing what’s been a historic, almost two-year trend.

Given that those encouraging two years have been posted following the regional devastations of Rita and Katrina which left Lafayette the only untouched metropolis south of I-10 I’m not yet ready to call them historic. But it is undeniably good news.

But what might interest the folks interested in seeing our children able to stay here after school is:

City-Parish President Joey Durel said Lafayette’s position as a technology leader in the state is helping show the rest of the country that Lafayette is “forward-thinking” and a “very progressive community.”

… as the economy is expanding, especially in technology-related fields, there is growing anecdotal evidence that young people who left Lafayette or the state for work are now coming back home, Stanley said.

“That’s almost a dream come true for this administration,” Stanley said. “It’s a real exciting time.”

Indeed, it is almost a dream come true—and not only for this administration but for the vast majority of the city who expressed their support of that dream on July 16th, 2005.

Operational note:

Readers who conscientiously click through to the Advocate article will notice that it does not link to the Advocate site, a result they will surely have grown used to. Instead they end up at NewsBank open url that has the archived story. The Advocate site is not carrying the story online and, as far as I can tell, a new site redesign incorporates a policy of not carrying all the stories published (and making it impossible to easily tell which were published today). I consider this bad policy, bad design, and ultimately bad business. A newspaper’s strong suit is its role as the provider of comprehensive, daily, local, news. It is, ultimately, all they have to sell. Compromising this by making their web offering 1) incomplete, and 2) confusing as to what is current minimizes their few natural advantages.

On the other hand it is great that the State Library and the local libraries have cooperated to make a stable, comprehensive archive of the state’s dailies available to the public. It makes sense, of course, since there is little that they are uniquely situated to do that would more directly address what has to be the central reason for having public libraries: providing for an informed citizenry. If you’ve got a Library card from a Louisiana public library you can use to gain access to these files. (And if you don’t have a card you should. So saith the son of a librarian. 🙂 )

Appalling: Jindal Picks BellSouth Lobbyist

Here’s an appalling bit of news: Governor-elect Bobby Jindal has chosen Tommy Williams, a recently retired BellSouth lobbyist, to be his top legislative lobbyist.


Jindal–who ran emphasizing an ethics platform—is putting a lobbyist in as his legislative director. And not just any lobbyist: The former chief lobbyist of the most legislatively powerful corporation in the state. That’s gotta be a funny man to put in charge of what Jindal has said was his first priority in the legislature: Ethics reform. My guess is that no legislator will misunderstand the obvious meaning: Ethics reform is not aimed at stopping corporations from buying our legislature. Since that is the most serious form of corruption in this state ethics reform a la Jindal must be about something else. Appointing a major lobbyist to this position is hugely symbolic: it is akin to putting the fox in charge of hen house. No doubt the Louisiana legislature breathed a collective sigh of relief. They’ve seen this game played out before. Lots of rhetoric but with the “right” people in charge nobody really has to worry.

An AP wire brief reports on Wednesday’s announcement. The bare bones report out of Baton Rouge is simple and does no more than highlight his former position. We here in Lafayette, however, have a rich history to draw on with Tommy Williams and his family.

Tommy Williams, seasoned readers may recall, is the father of the BellSouth legacy that ran BS’ operations in Lafayette during the fiber fight. John Williams was a loyal son of the company who toed the company line on both how unnecessary fiber was and on how “someday real soon” BellSouth was going to run fiber. (Contradictions never faze such folks.) Williams was the man in charge when Fiber 411’s anti-fiber petition went out on company trucks. And he was the fellow who backed down when employee resistance and popular resentment made it clear that was a bad move. He was the fella whose designed-to mislead remarks about “functional equivalence” inspired the “Slick Sam Spade” video. He had to crawfish about his company’s lying about their role in the season’s ugliest moment: the push poll that ignited a firestorm of derision.

A paragon of ethics. But the senior Williams, Tommy Williams, was the guy who carried on the battle against Lafayette at the state level with an even more impressive lack of character. Tommy was prime mover in pushing through the (Un)Fair Competition Act–the law that tried to outlaw the project, did provide avenues for delaying it for years, and which remains a knife pointed at its heart. Tommy followed up on the legislative and legal tactics by taking the battle to the Public Service Commission (PSC) and trying to convince it to institute all sorts of anti-Lafayette rules. He mostly failed but having failed he persisted in trying to at least delay the bond issue. BellSouth’s lawsuits failed–but added to the delay. That didn’t work either but it wasn’t for lack of trying. We will probably never know who funded the Naquin lawsuits that were the last to stretch out the delay—but we do know they used material from BellSouth lawsuits that weren’t yet publicly available.

Tommy Williams (with his son) has been a consistent and relentless foe of Lafayette’s aspirations. Williams balked at nothing to oppose what the people of Lafayette voted for. He was in the line of command on all the questionable tactics and had a visible hand in much of it. None of it was ethical unless you subscribe to the anything-goes-for-a-bit-of-profit school of ethics. I, and I think most Lousiana’s subscribe to that older standard that has to do with honor and character. An honorable man doesn’t do dishonorable things at anyone’s bidding.

This is the man who will be in charge of shepherding our new governor’s ethics package through the legislature. I’d watch closely.

Terry Huval of LUS, qouted in a recent IND blog item is more forgiving than I can convince myself to be. He says:

“Unless we see something otherwise,” Huval continues, “I’m going to trust that Tommy’s going to follow what the governor wants to do, and my hopes are that the governor wants to do the right things.”

That’s trusting that the man is the sort that can put aside a lifetime of carrying water for his bosses and invests a lot of hope in the idea that he is only a loyal agent of his new master. I’m afraid I can’t be so trusting. In my experience people who’ve spent most of their lives justifying something are committed to it—especially if they were required to convince others of the righteousness of that position. But even if you trust that Tommy Williams can be honestly bought he’s still got a lifetime of habits in thinking about a set of issues that matter very much to Lafayette.

Who is talking to Jindal? Who in Lafayette has a pipeline to the new governor that can act as a counter-balance to the natural inclinations the man he is relying on to pass every other element of his agenda?

I hope someone is thinking about it and developing that pipeline.

It’s not a pretty sight.