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 30 If you're a Louisiana native of (ahem) a certain age, you might have fond (or fuzzy, as the case may be) memories of a Zebra concert and singing "Who's Behind the Door" until your ears rang. This post on NOLA Defender profiles the leader of that band, Randy Jackson.
OCT 30 The National Journal offers this analysis of Bobby Jindal's willingness to stump in any Senate campaign that's not in Louisiana. Why is that? The Journal asks some GOPers and finds that the answer is one we already know: he's so unpopular here, because he's been so busy running for President, that his support might be "toxic."
OCT 30 If you're not obsessed with the Texas governor's race - what's wrong with you? Here's another installment, from our own IND contributor Lamar White Jr., who explains why Wendy's "infamous" wheelchair ad was a shock to the national media - but not to anyone familiar with Greg Abbott's record.
OCT 30 Blogger Tom Aswell is still all over the OGB mess - and all by himself, apparently. In this post, he's revealing orders from the Jindal administration to destroy records from the state employee health insurance plan. Those orders (he's heard) have angered the Secretary of State and caused an administration lawyer to quit her job. Wow!
OCT 30 Blogger Crazy Crawfish is taking aim at state Superintendent John White again, this time for comments White made recently, claiming that there is no real opposition to Common Core in Louisiana. Crawfish is documenting proof to the contrary here, and lays down the gauntlet to "mainstream news media." (Don't hold your breath on that one, buddy.)
OCT 30 Gambit covers Advocate publisher John Georges' recent visit to Loyola in this post. Georges touches on how things are going in this new gig, what he thinks about the Pic's decision to move printing to Alabama, and how he feels about his political campaigns.
OCT 30 A NOLA lady has alleged she was drugged and raped at a Bywater club that had a clothing-optional policy until recently, and she's now become the victim of a smear campaign, columnist Jarvis DeBerry writes in this post. She chose to reveal her story and her name, and she's being punished for that now, he says.
OCT 30 BESE member Lottie Beebe pens this letter to the editor of the Advocate about the state Department of Education. The DOE isn't exempt from the state public records law, and because of recent lawsuits she tried to require regular reports about how many requests had been made to the department and how many remained unanswered. She wasn't successful.
OCT 29 Manny Schewitz blogs on Forward Progressives about recent Facebook posts from David Vitter, including one that purports to take you to a petition to stop Ebola (say what?) but actually signs you up for his newsletter or campaign email list or some such nonsense. Dave must think we're dummies, Manny says -- and Dave's probably right.
OCT 29 Usually, the copy on Red Shtick is satire. But in this post "from the publisher," we get a pretty astute political analysis of Edwin Edwards' charisma and old-school populist swagger. Edwards isn't concealing billionaire backers, or trying to make his opponent out to be "Satan," the post says. He's just running. Huh; imagine that.
OCT 29 Salon's Elias Isquith writes this fairly hilarious commentary on a National Review post about Bobby Jindal's attempts to "beef up" in preparation for a presidential run. But it's not just funny; Isquith seems to have Bobby's number, commenting on how the Gov "and his team are hopelessly ensconced in the Tea Party bubble."
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