'Concerned Citizen' Critic Of Muni Cable System Now Admits He Works For Time Warner Cable

from the well,-look-at-that... dept

The big broadband providers have long been fighting local community/muni broadband efforts, passing laws and making ridiculous claims about those efforts. The real point is that these service providers don’t want competition and want to charge monopoly prices. While I have my concerns about how effectively some community broadband projects can work, the attempts to legally block them go way overboard — especially in North Carolina. Karl Bode now points our attention to the news that one very vocal “concerned citizen” critic of just such a community cable effort in NC has now admitted he works for Time Warner Cable, the monopoly cable provider in the area, though he never disclosed this when criticizing the community effort, and, in fact denied working for the company when asked about it:

Andy Stevens of Troutman has spoken out against the towns? 2007 cable purchase, posted comments on this and other local websites and started an anti-MI-Connection blog. He has described himself as a concerned citizen and an opponent of government ownership of government involvement in telecommunications. When reporters and local officials have questioned him about his employment, he has repeatedly denied working for the company.

But in an email to DavidsonNews.net on Friday, Mr. Stevens acknowledged he works for Time Warner Cable as an installer. His admission followed an encounter with MI-Connection?s general manager, who spotted Mr. Stevens at a local shopping center wearing a Time Warner Cable uniform and driving a Time Warner Cable truck.

Not only that, but it turns out he doesn’t even live in the service area of the community broadband effort. When confronted with all of this Stevens apparently claimed that he “separates” his employment from his criticisms. I guess that must be why he denied working for the company when he did.

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Companies: time warner cable

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Comments on “'Concerned Citizen' Critic Of Muni Cable System Now Admits He Works For Time Warner Cable”

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Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

An installer?

He may have a horse in this race, but it’s a bit on the small side. More of a Shetland pony, really. I could understand his vehement astroturfing if he was a director or CFO or something, but as an installer?

I understand that a competitor would limit the number of places that an installer like Mr. SockPuppet would be able to catch a nap or eat a meal or browse for porn while handling the nearly impossible task of connecting cable A to port B, but it would seem that a concentrated effort like this (including starting up a website) is kind of “working above your pay grade.”

NotMyRealName (profile) says:

Re: An installer?

He likely thought he would have a larger community to hide in, if he got the ball rolling so to speak.

I see it more as a guy worried about keeping his job more than anything else. I mean say they lose significant market share, who is getting laid off? The CFO or director? hah.
His horse is actually bigger than theirs if he takes a long view.

Besides, the costs of starting a website are virtually nil, especially if you already have hosting somewhere for another project. It’s likely cheaper than putting together a halfway decent protest sign.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: taking food out of his kids mouths

> I was at a tradeshow in NYC
> connecting video cables
> . . .
> A union electrician stormed in and screamed
> at me that I was taking food out of his kids mouths.

Gee that sounds awfully familiar. Let me try a few substitutions.

I was at a wedding in NYC
taking photos and licensing them under a Creative Commons license
. . .
A professional photographer stormed in and screamed
at me that I was taking food out of his kids mouths.

Oh, man, that just has such a familiar ring to it. I’d swear I’ve heard it before.

Let me try this one.

I was on my blog in NYC
posting news, factual information, and editorial opinions, free for anyone to read
. . .
A newspaper reporter stormed in and screamed
at me that I was taking food out of his kids mouths.

By George, it’s like deja vu!

I was at a club in NYC
performing music for free to promote myself
. . .
An RIAA executive stormed in and screamed
at me that I was taking food out of his kids mouths.
(and possibly out of the mouths of the kids of the artists he represents, but he wasn’t sure and didn’t care about that.)

Golly, I must be having hearing problems. It’s like I keep hearing the same thing over and over again.

Spaceboy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 taking food out of his kids mouths

Are you trying to be funny by listing potential examples or are you saying I am making my comment up?

At the time I worked for Creative Labs, the tradeshow in particular was Internet World or PC Expo, around 2000 – 2001 or thereabouts. The pod in question had 6 computers inside with monitors on the outside. I was running the cables from the monitors to the PCs and knew which cables went where. None of them were marked. I was halfway through the job when the guy rolled in and started acting crazy and said I was taking food away from him. I had to go back and redo the connections he made because he didn’t know which cables went where. I route my cables and he screwed the job up.

I have also been threatened by union workers in Las Vegas. Comdex, before it crashed, when CRT monitors were still being used. The booth in question was massive, like 100′ X 300′ or something similar. When the crates come in they just get dumped wherever there is space, so we have to haul the stuff through the booth usually. I was carrying a monitor box from one end of the booth to the other and walked past a few union guys setting up a stage, and one of them said “You’re gonna get yourself hurt by carrying those boxes.” Not “you will hurt yourself” or “you will hurt your back”, but “You’re gonna get yourself hurt”. At the time, and probably still true today, any boxes that are moved in these convention centers require 2 people. It doesn’t matter how small the box is.

I have lots more tradeshow/union dirt than that.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 taking food out of his kids mouths

It sounded to me like he was suggesting that the union worker in your story, and many other professionals in other industries, read from the same “talking points” memo about how to scare people into paying them for their work…

More like he was calling out that union worker’s complaint as Bullspit, and not your story.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Not sure what to say

I started off reading this article thinking it was just another little mikee slant, and in some ways it was until the last paragraph.

First off it doesn’t matter who you work for, you have a right to speak out against anything you feel is wrong in your community. And his defense for not telling who he worked for should have been simply “Why does it matter, I am a part of the community and this is what I believe, and my employer has no relevance.”

But then for that to be valid the moron needed to be a part of the community that he was trying to change…. But then honestly considering his actions he may soon find himself a member of a new community, one of unemployed individuals.

If his actions were not sanctioned by Time Warner then they have no other recourse than to at least discipline him, if not fire him. If his actions WERE sanctioned by them, then I am sure that right about now they are negotiating a severance package that includes a pretty strict non disclosure clause.
I think personally I would be concerned about having broadband control in the hands of any government agency though. In fact I would go so far as to say that I would be concerned about ANY form of communications being in control of a Government Agency.

Every day we see the 4th Amendment made less and less relevant by the rulings of the judges who are supposed to be the final stance in the protection of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But at least with control communications mediums in the hands of Corporate America or in the hands of a private citizen there is a chance (however small) that we might find out about violations of our rights. With control of the communications in the Governments hands they are essentially free to do anything they want with the infrastructure that they own.

Not saying that ALL government employees are corrupt, but all it would take is a few individuals in the right places that were corrupt to take serious advantage of government controlled communications infrastructures. And the sad part it wouldn’t even need to be high level polititians in the case of an internet infrastructure, especially at a community level.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not sure what to say

AT&T already let the NSA sift through all traffic passing through their nation wide connections. So your worried about little brother watching you when big brother has already been watching you for years now.

If you are concerned about anyone looking at or examining the data moving through your internet connection, get a vpn, problem solved.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Not sure what to say

> But at least with control communications mediums in the
> hands of Corporate America or in the hands of a private
> citizen there is a chance (however small) that we might
> find out about violations of our rights.

This is crazy. Private citizens or companies have no requirement to hand over information. Governments MUST. This is the main reason I argue that some things must be kept in government hands (like healthcare), because it is the only way to find corruption and do something about it. But, of course, I’m from Canada.

teka r (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hey, sure!
Lets see, lemme just check my local availability..

Oh wait, TWC is the only service that realistically covers this area.

I know! I will use cellular or satellite internet!

Phew, for a second i was worried that TimeWarner had some kind of monopoly on reasonable service, but as long as i can get these other wonderful services for mere pennies a bit i can see that competition in the market is strong and good for the consumer.

In other words, the “just stop using them” suggestion does not help when there is only one (sometimes two, alike in evil) provider. This is why all of these companies fight so hard for monopoly/duopoly situations.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it’s funny to hear people who have never worked in a particular industry try to pick apart the motives of someone who does. I worked in the say tv industry as an installer for several years. Job availability in that field is about as close to zero sum as you can get. When people from our company were laid off because of decreasing demand, 4 of the 5 went to work for the competition. When another competitor fired a few people, we were hiring and they came to us. Having worked for the government in the past, as well, I was praying for muni wifi in my area. I would have jumped ship to a government job in a second. Now that I don’t work in that field, I have to say that I disagree with the idea of muni wifi. I think it’s the wrong solution to the problem of lack of competition. I think that anything that can be handled by private companies, should be. The government is just far too wasteful. It may SEEM like you’re getting service cheaper (or free) but I guarantee you that in the end you are paying a lot more for the service through increased taxes. The real solution would be to open up the entire industry to real competition. Without competition the industry has no reason to innovate. Look at how long the telecommunications industry sat on DSL technology. They had it for years, but didn’t choose to implement it until after the cable companies started to offer high speed internet. Imagine the innovations we would have if we actually had real competition in the space.

Matthew A. Sawtell (profile) says:

Hm... DIY Astroturfing?

Rule of Thumb when it comes to Astroturfing – when even the most “professional outfits” manage to screw it up (i.e. the latest P/R gaffe by Facebook with Google), there is a very good chance that going DIY is going to be much, much worse. For those of a certain age, the words of “As always, should you or any of your team be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions” should be coming to mind after reading this article.

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