If you get a minute this morning, be sure to check out the outstanding letter to the editor that appears in Raleigh’s News & Observer from former North Carolina state lawmaker, Bill Faison. In it, Faison, shreds the lame, lobbyist-inspired excuses proffered by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (pictured at left) for his kowtowing to powerful cable companies while serving as Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives.
At issue is the question of municipal broadband of the kind the city of Wilson developed and that telecom companies (with Tillis’ help) put the kibosh on. Here’s Faison:
“In a recent letter, Sen. Thom Tillis takes credit for protecting taxpayers when he should take the blame for their high internet and cable bills. In 2011 with Tillis’ help, New York companies shut down North Carolina cities’ efforts to provide high-speed internet to residents. Everyone knows that the information highway is the future….
When Wilson sought better high-speed internet for its residents, the “telecommunications company” with a territorial franchise to serve Wilson said “no….”
It introduced legislation to block residents from using their municipal governments to provide high-speed internet services. It even tried to hide its power grab by misnaming its bill. It was called the ‘Level Playing Field’ bill. The bill was carefully crafted to keep towns and cities out of the high-speed internet business. It created a completely unleveled playing field in favor of the near monopolistic telecommunication companies.
Many of us in the legislature joined forces with then-Speaker Joe Hackney to protect residents of cities and towns across this state and allow them the freedom to use their local municipal governments to provide much needed high-speed internet service. We were able to block the wealthy New York companies from taking away North Carolina residents’ rights through 2010.
When the Republicans gained control of the House and chose Tillis as speaker in 2011, the floodgates were opened to big, out-of-state businesses to take away our residents’ rights under the false flag of protecting taxpayer rights.
One of the first pieces of anti-resident, pro-big business legislation to run through the House was the bill that Tillis now touts as being a taxpayer bill. It was not. It was a power and money grab by wealthy out-of-state companies to disadvantage North Carolina residents – nothing more. The residents lost.
The FCC recognized the power grab and the unfair disadvantage to regular folks. The FCC blocked the big companies for a while. Big business took the FCC to court and won. The people lost.
Tillis’ Aug. 19 letter should have been captioned, ‘Another major loss for taxpayers.'”