Tales of the Sausage Factory

Deja Vu All Over Again in Pennsylvania.

Some of you may remember Pennsylvania as the state where the battle to save muni broadband began when, around Thanksgiving 2004, the PA Legislature passed a law preventing local government from“competing with the private sector” by prohibiting state or local government from offering broadband services unless the local government solicited service from the private sector and got turned down. While that sucked from the perspective of the citizens of PA, it did help kick off the massive fight that blocked anti-muni broadband legislation in other states, such as Indiana and Texas.

Now, those whacky worshipers of the Gods of the Marketplace in the PA Legislature are at it again! As reported by Craig Settles, the Hon. Patrick Browne (R-Senate District 16), Chairman of the PA Senate Finance Committee, and several lesser acolytes of the Absolutist Free Market Faith have introduced SB 530. This bill would prevent the State of PA or any local government therein from taking any stimulus money for purposes that would “compete with the private sector.” Indeed, if I read it correctly, it would prevent PA or local government from ever engaging in any activity that “competes with the private sector” unless it was (a) related to higher education, (b) maintaining public parks, (c) “necessary services” defined as “those services that are critical for human safety and health, including fire departments, emergency services and medical services;” and (d) any current activity, but that activity may not be expanded.

More below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Did the Bells Rip Off America? and Is There An Alternative?

I want to put two pieces side by side here: Bruce Kushnik’s magnum opus The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal, accusing the Bell Companies of ripping off the U.S. public to the
and Bob McChesnney’s and John Podesta’s visionary Let There Be Wi-Fi talking about the power of unlicensed spectrum as a broadband solution.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Here They Come Again! Anti-Muni Bill in Indiana.

Nothing like a fresh new year! State legislators return to their respective capitals to once again do the work of the people. Or, in the case of Indiana State Senator Brandt Hershman, the work of AT&T (formerly SBC). The eager Mr. Hershman has already introduced a bill, SB 245, that deregulates the phone industry, eliminates local franchising, etc., etc.

And tucked away on page 97 of this 107 page bill is an anti-muni broadband provision remarkably similar to one that went down in flames last year.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Muni Momentum Swings Toward the Telcos, But The Game is Far From Over

After a number of victories, the momentum has recently turned to the Telco side of the muni fight.
On the plus side, we have not yet lost anything definitively. There is still time for citizens in these states to make this an issue. But I’m having the feeling I usually reserve for the Boston Red Sox in August.

Well, let’s see if we can’t make this our 2004 World Series. Anybody in these states interested in trying to fight these bills, let me know and I will try to put you in touch with folks on the ground there.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Tales of the Sausage Factory: A Win In Indiana!

Sorry I’m behind, but there is a _lot_ going on. First, the good news: as reported Muniwireless and elsewhere, the Indiana anti-muni bill has gone down in flaming defeat!

Score one for the good guys and reinvigorate my faith in democracy. For more, see below . . .

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