Lafayette Utilities System’s ultimately successful bid to create LUS Fiber is used an example of municipalities triumphing over powerful corporate tele-communications companies working through the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Washington lobbying group that has gotten a lot of bad press recently.
In an article headlined “ALEC Wants You To Pay 750 Percent More For High-Speed Internet,” writer Zaid Jilani offers a compelling account of how ALEC, working through elected officials at the state level and backed by a king’s ransom in corporate money lavished on those lawmakers in the form of campaign donations, throws up roadblocks to prevent projects like LUS Fiber from ever getting off the ground:
ALEC also unsuccessfully worked to undercut a public broadband system proposed by the city of Lafayette, Lousiana. ALEC’s Louisiana state chair (a legislator) introduced a bill that would’ve placed onerous restrictions on how the city could use fiber-optic cables to provide cheap broadband. The broadband-undercutting bill “almost word for word, matched a piece of legislation kept in the library of the American Legislative Exchange Council.” The most damaging provisions of the bill were removed before it was passed, and major telecom companies sued to try to stop Lafeyette from building its system anyway. Fortunately, they lost.
The “Louisiana state chair” of ALEC cited in the article was state Rep. Noble Ellington, a Dem-turned-Republican from Winnsboro who was term-limited out of office after last year. This week the current (actually, recently former) state chair of ALEC, state Rep. Greg Cromer, R-Slidell, resigned from the group.
ALEC widened its mission in recent years to promote, among other things, laws purportedly aimed at combatting election fraud — legislation critics argue is really aimed at suppressing voting blocs that typically vote Democratic — as well as so-called “stand your ground” gun laws. The group recently announced it will pull away from such extraneous efforts and focus on “pro-business” legislation after major players like Coke, Pepsi, Kraft Foods and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation withdrew their membership.
Published on the website PublicReport.org, the reporting arm of the nonprofit, nonpartisan United Republic, the article peels away the layers on legislation from ALEC’s bag of bills that, at the behest of major, for-profit telecom companies, is designed to make it practically impossible for municipalities like Lafayette to create their own broadband networks. Essentially, ALEC provides model legislation that state lawmakers then customize to their own states. ALEC’s raison d’etre could be succinctly be characterized as “Just Privatize It Already!”
In a revealing and lengthy article from Bloomberg Businessweek published last December — an article that begins with the sentence, “Joey Durel likes to describe himself as a private-sector guy.” — reporters Brendan Greeley and Alison Fitzgerald chronicle the fight to establish LUS Fiber against the strong resistance of ALEC and its corporate masters.
The Businessweek story, titled “Pssst ... Wanna Buy a Law?” can be read here.
Click here to read the PublicReport story published this week.
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OCT 1 Bobby Jindal is sure doing his best to court the far right; this post on TIME magazine says he'll be over in Oklahoma today to stand beside the billionaires who own Hobby Lobby while they announce a Bible "museum." In Washington D.C. (Wonder if there will be an exhibit on Matthew 19:24?)
OCT 1 Blogger Ian McGibboney is taking a look at the penalty call that is causing a stir. During a Monday NFL game, a player for the Chiefs executed a Muslim prayer gesture following a touchdown. The NFL has announced that the call was wrong, but Ian's not so sure.
OCT 1 Looks like hoards of whining college students and (extremely unflattering) satire can make a difference: The Advocate reports here that lease talks have reopened for Highland Coffees, a coffee shop near the north gates of LSU. Earlier this week, dismay was unleashed when the paper reported that the shop would be closing because its landlord had other plans for the space.
OCT 1 Blogger Mike Deshotels is outlining the flaws he sees in the so-called "Value Added Model" of teacher evaluation. It basically seeks to pay teachers according to how their students do on tests. (Sure hope they don't start using that model for doctors!) He's got a lot of information here, not just about the plan but about the people involved - and their history.
OCT 1 Columnist Jim Beam breaks down the difference between ISIS and ISIL, along with origins of each group and what has been reported about them over the years. It's a good clear primer if you're one of those continually confused by the names being thrown around.
OCT 1 Blogger Tom Aswell brings us up to date on the latest mess surrounding the Office of Group Benefits, which handles health insurance for state employees. It ain't pretty, and it has left Tom pleading for anyone who might be remotely competent in the Division of Administration to get in touch with him.
OCT 1 Look out! Some enterprising individual, who knows how to register a domain, has pulled off a stunning bit of hilarity here. Not long ago, blogger Lamar White Jr. gave us a post on Louisiana Family Forum, and how it is not a charity but is instead a tax shelter for a lobby. If you go to the interwebs and type in "louisianafamilyforum.com" you will find Lamar's story. Heh.
SEP 30 Here's another story that makes Louisiana look backward; blogger Manny Schewitz writes about a church that won't allow AA to use its facilities because those boozers might track in some gay. Every time he sees one of these, as he calls them "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" type of stories, he always starts wishing: "Please don't let it be Louisiana... Please don't let it be Louisiana..."
SEP 30 This post on PoliticusUSA, an extremely liberal blog, takes aim at Bobby Jindal's disingenuous attempts to play both sides against the middle on the evolution/creationism issue. Jindal is "dutifully serving his Koch masters" on the climate change issue as well, blogger Rmuse writes.
SEP 30 Ever wonder what goes on in a football locker room following a game like Sunday's embarrassment? Here's a post on ESPN about the "reality check" the Saints had. Among the comments: "Right now we're not a very good football team."
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