Politicians Defer To Time Warner Lobbyists Who Wrote The Bill They're Pushing

from the funny-how-that-works... dept

Following up on the earlier story of Time Warner Cable going the political route to try to block municipal competition in Wilson, North Carolina, Broadband Reports has a story pointing out two interesting side stories:
  1. During hearings about the law to ban such municipal competition, the politicians pushing the bill that would ban municipal competition were asked to clarify, and rather than answer themselves, the politicians "turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf." In other words, they outright admitted they didn't understand their own legislation and that the corporate lawyers from the company that would benefit from the legislation understood it better than they did. It's certainly no surprise that lobbyists write the legislation that politicians pass, but usually they at least try to hide it a little bit. Here they're basically flaunting the fact that Time Warner Cable wrote the bill, and the politicians just shuffled it through the process without understanding it. Isn't it great to be a servant of the people?
  2. Time Warner Cable is complaining about what a huge cost municipal broadband is to the people of Wilson, but leaves out the fact that Time Warner Cable's CEO's compensation from the past two years is greater than it cost the city of Wilson (via a bond measure, so not taxpayer dollars) to fund the deployment of the fiber network. And you have to wonder if Time Warner Cable will end up spending more trying to block this competition than it would have cost to have built out a competitive quality service as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    sycarion, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 9:58am

    Not surprising

    The two representatives represent Wake (Raleigh) and Meckenlenburg (Charlotte), TimeWarner's two biggest markets in NC.

    Deferring the TW lawyer during a hearing? Fail!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Matt, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:23am

    is that even legal?

    I wonder if there are some serious legality questions when it is shown that lobbying is the cause of the bill?

    Might this be a chance to get the noerr-pennington doctrine repealed? We need it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noerr-Pennington_doctrine

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Michael Long, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:24am

    Irrelevant

    "...but leaves out the fact that Time Warner Cable's CEO's compensation from the past two years is greater than it cost the city of Wilson ... to fund the deployment of the fiber network."

    So what? Or to be more specific, what does one have to do with the other? TWC's CEO may or may not be overcompensated, but how is that relevant to practically anything at all?

    Besides, you had to stretch even for that one. Compensation for the past TWO years? How using the last THREE years next time? Or saying his compensation over the last DECADE is greater...

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Bonds are taxes

    Bond measures are taxes. How do you think the Coupon payments are made?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    Nice

    You know, at least when these assholes usually allow the lobbyists to run the system, they don't do it so transparently. This is as if they dropped their pants and shit on my shoes, just to show me they could...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Re: Bonds are taxes

    I dunno... from the customers paying their bills?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Mechwarrior, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Re: Bonds are taxes

    Im not sure that you know how bonds work....

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Matthew, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:53am

    Actually, there really isn't anything particularly frightening about lobbyists drafting legislation. Can that be abused? Certainly. Should we expect our legislators to read and understand legislation drafted by lobbyists? Of course! Nonetheless, the purpose of a lobbying group, whether it's one that we like or one that we do not like, is to influence legislators to pass laws in a certain direction. One way to accomplish that is to shoulder the responsibility of drafting the bill in the first place.

    In this instance, that practice was used dishonestly and the legislators sponsoring the bill were lazy. More upright lobbying firms do, actually, draft plain-language legislation with clear and honest intent.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    Yeah because the customers are going to pay bills for the build out? Or are you saying that the bond holders are not going to want payment until the revenue meets the servicing costs of the Bond, not likely.

    Bond payments are not made at maturity 99.9% of the time. They are paid either quarterly or annually.

    Muni wifi is not a profitable endeavor, most jurisdictions use it as a backbone for their traffic and sell extra capacity to the public.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Portola, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:57am

    I wish there were a website where I could submit all of those involved to some sort of Hall of Shame.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    mATT, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    Really? how about some examples of lobbying firms that got laws passed with clear and honest intent.

    How far back do you want me to dig for the opposite? DMCA? Franchise suits? Lending acts? Copyright? Patent law? Trademark? National speed limits? NHTSA guidelines? ISO/IEC JTC 1?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    Really? I think I do. There is no way a Muni WiFi project will generate enough "revenue" to meet it's obligation in the beginning and probably ever. Hence taxpayers will foot the bill, which I am not opposed to as long as the service is worth the amount I would pay in taxes to support it.

    This type of project is typically set up a special "tax district" allowing the Muni to collect taxes for the service directly. Similar to a water district or a park & rec district.

    But you may be right I may not know what I am talking about.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Matthew, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    I don't have any examples in my back pocket, but I could dig them out over the weekend. (They'd be Minnesota state laws, though, not federal legislation.) In any event, we may also not share equivalent definitions of "clear and honest." I don't mean that it's necessarily good for everybody or fair. By the nature of lobbying, it is going to be biased. Sometimes, however, the bias is undisguised and the purpose is straightforward.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    from Wikipedia, it's an online encyclopedia, with lots of info about lots of stuff, you should check it out sometime...

    A general obligation bond is a common type of municipal bond in the United States that is secured by a state or local government's pledge to use legally available resources, including tax revenues, to repay bond holders. Most general obligation pledges at the local government level include a pledge to levy a property tax to meet debt service requirements, in which case holders of general obligation bonds have a right to compel the borrowing government to levy that tax to satisfy the local government's obligation.

     

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  15.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:17am

    Re:

    Should we expect our legislators to read and understand legislation drafted by lobbyists? Of course!

    Which seems to be the objection here. Regardless of whether you're for or against the measure, you'd expect the people introducing the legislation to have a grasp on it.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Grae, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    What the eff are you talking about?

    How can you possibly claim to know what you're talking about when it's painfully obvious you can't read or at least have the attention span of a squirrel? This ENTIRE EFFORT is about municipal fiber optic to the home, NOT municipal wireless internet(muni wifi).

    From http://www.greenlightnc.com/about/ (The municipal ISP at the heart of this article, in case you weren't aware.)
    Greenlight is North Carolina’s only all fiber optic network. It provides faster Internet access, as well as superior TV images and dependable phone service.
    (Emphasis mine.)

    A fiber optic network will definitely make a profit. Considering reports of people who are willing to move/have moved to get within the areas serviced by fiber optic ISPs I can't see how it couldn't make a profit.

    Please, please: read, think about, then read again before splattering such ignorance on the web.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    SwimSC, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:37am

    Got $100

    Bet it passes....any takers?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    David, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    As told by bias party

    "The lawmakers turned to a Time Warner staff member and an attorney who represents the industry to speak on their behalf"


    The source of this quote is the City of Wilson's CIO. This is a little like hearing a soccer player saying "the line judge didn't like us". They may be a little bias.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    Your logic is flawed.

    By your logic, the rates I pay for my water should cover the bond issued by the water district, yet I still pay $1300 a year in property taxes to the Water District on top of my $100 a month water bill to the Water District. Shouldn't my water rates make the district profitable? Now piss of.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    By the way, I was talking about bonds, the "utility" is irrelevant, asshat.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Apr 24th, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    yet I still pay $1300 a year in property taxes to the Water District on top of my $100 a month water bill to the Water District. Shouldn't my water rates make the district profitable?

    $209 per month for water? do you live on the moon?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

    This story seems a little absurd to me. They approached TW and Embarq about upgrading their infrastructure and both companies refused stating that it was far too expensive for them to do so. This is why Wilson installed their own infrastructure. The service is not setup to profit, it's set up as a utility for the community. They get far superior service and a HUGE cost savings. You should check out the pie chart floating around somewhere that lists what service are available from the huge telcos vs. Greenlight. TWC's biggest defense is "they have a right to make money" which they could do and be competitive but they wouldn't make as MUCH money as they are now.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Bob, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Why we need term limits

    This lobbyist writing of legislation is what has been wrong with Washington DC for the last 50 years.
    This does not surprise me and should not surprise anyone that pays attention to what goes on inside the beltway.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Baloney Joe, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    Sorry, I misspoke, my bill comes every 2 months, so my monthly is only around $50, $75 in the summer thanks to my HOA and a green grass requirement.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    If I were a Time Warner customer, I'd cancel my account over this. I haven't seen this much bullshit since my last visit to my cousin's farm.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 24th, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Said it before

    Isn't it great to be a servant of the people?
    Said it before and I will say it again, we really do have the best government that money can buy.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Apr 24th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    There is no way a Muni WiFi project will generate enough "revenue" to meet it's obligation in the beginning and probably ever.

    That's true of muni-WiFi. But this is muni-fiber, which has been quite profitable for many cities.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    ToySouljah, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Said it before

    lmao...I tell everyone that all the time :)

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Dan, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 7:02pm

    This is a perfect example of why we need to nationalize broadband infrastructure and lease bandwidth to ISP's based on a nonnegotiable, published price schedule. In short equal access to all comers, big and small.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    bikey (profile), Apr 27th, 2009 @ 2:20am

    understanding legislation

    Did they understand TRIPS (written by the pharma industry among others)? Did they understand the Patriot Act (silly question, I know, since they didn't claim to have read it as there wasn't time) (written by the torture industry?). They don't write legislation anymore, they sell the right to others to write it. Get over it. It's the American way.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    bikey, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 2:22am

    Re: Re: legislation

    shame. that's cute.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Pixelpusher220, Apr 27th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Transcripts?

    First off, it might help to point out this is not the US House but the NC State House of Reps.


    Secondly, can someone point to a transcript of these proceedings because one legislator is disputing the 'spin' by the blogger reporting the story. Would be nice to see the actual discussion that happened.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Christopher Mitchell, May 5th, 2009 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Bonds are taxes

    @Baloney Joe - they didn't use GO Bonds - try looking up revenue bonds. Oh, also, you have been wrong about nearly everything you wrote on this post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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