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Time Warner hopes to soon return to enjoying the high prices and profits that came with its local monopoly. All it needs is to use pending legislation to stomp out pesky municipal projects.  (Source: Travel Webshots)

Time Warner's payoffs to Republican senators in the form of campaign donations have almost paid off -- a bill passing crippling limitations on municipal internet projects has almost passed.  (Source: North Carolina Congress)

N.C. local governments like Greensboro have passed resolutions condemning the bill, in a last ditch bid to prevent its approval. They are outraged at the measure, which would give the state government a "blank check" to kill voter-approved municipal projects.  (Source: City of Greensboro)
Seven towns pass measures condemning Republican proposal which could rob them of the right to self-governance

We've extensively discussed the controversy and conflict surrounding Bill H.129 [PDF].  In the face of legislation that could cripple their locally funded, voter-approved services, seven towns in North Carolina are striking back, publishing resolutions that condemn the effort.

The towns are urging state Republicans to reconsider the effort they are pushing, which looks to give the State government "blank check" authority to kill decisions made by the local government -- essentially robbing municipalities of their right to self governance.

I. Buying a Bill -- Did Time Warner "Purchase" Legislation?

The local resolutions label the pending legislation a "Time Warner" bill.  Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) enjoys a monopoly on high speed cable internet across much of the state.  So is the company responsible for the bill?

Well, it certainly seems that way.

As early as 2008 towns in North Carolina devised the idea of bucking Time Warner's monopoly by creating local services.  They discussed the idea with residents and received enthusiastic endorsement.  Communities including Wilson, North Carolina (Greenlight, Inc.), Salisbury (Fibrant), Davidson (MI-Connection), and Morganton (CoMPAS Cable TV & Internet) launched projects.  

Getting loans from the private sector and hiring private contractors the cities set out to create viable services, which eschewed the price gouging of local internet, phone, and cable TV providers.  

Time Warner and other local monopolies like landline service provider CenturyLink were bitterly opposed to the plans.  They funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations and lobbying money to try to "convince" politicians that the services should be banned.

Initially their argument was that local governments were too incompetent to implement a cash-flow positive service and that the services would go under, saddling locals with huge debts.  That didn't happen.  The services were incredibly popular and quickly approached a positive cash flow.  Time Warner and others saw their monopoly grip locally dissolving.  

In response Time Warner switched tactics and began to attack the "fairness" of the service.  They argued that was unfair for local citizens to be able to vote to use local taxes or revenue from other services (e.g. water, etc.) to fund the internet project.  They also questioned whether municipalities should be allowed to seek loans from the private sector.

Initially Time Warner and others divided their lobbying efforts between both the Democratic and Republican parties on a state level.  While their supported politicians tried to drum up support for the measure in 2009, but saw the effort stall.

So in 2010 they focused their efforts to almost exclusively lobbying the Republicans.  

The effort paid off.  One of the representatives that Time Warner and its allies (Century Link, AT&T) paid $6,250 to in campaign donations -- Rep. Julia Howard (R-Davie, Iredell) -- proposed H.129.  And it passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives by a healthy margin.

Time Warner, in statements to the media lavished praise on the legislation passed by its fundees.  In a company statement it wrote, "The bill is intended to create a level playing field so, If local governments want to provide commercial retail services in direct competition with private business, they can't use their considerable advantages unfairly."

II. Citizens Fight Back

Even as the Senate equivalent of H.129, Bill 87, sits in the Judiciary Committee 1, the measure is seeing active debate.  An U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner recently condemned the bill and similar propositions in Arizona and South Carolina.

Faced with the possibility of state government choking their services, local municipalities are also fighting back.  Chapel HillGreensboroRaleighMomeyerAshevilleRockingham, and Bladenville have all passed resolutions condemning H.129 and Bill 87.

The proposals argue that the proposition does anything but create a "level" playing field, instead handing Time Warner unique advantages.  Writes the Raleigh town officials:

If enacted the proposed legislation would not have leveled the playing field but instead would have hindered local governments from providing needed communications services, especially advanced high-speed broadband, in underserved areas and imposed burdensome obligations on local governments that private broadband providers would not have to meet.

And Greensboro argues:

North Carolina law has long permitted local governments to engage in public enterprises, and there is no justification for treating communications enterprises differently from other public enterprises that are essential for healthy local economies. Historically it was government that funded much of the current corporate telecommunications infrastructure in the United States and government paid for and developed the Internet on which these providers depend for their profit.

III. What are the Cities so Upset About?

Clearly from the tersely worded rebuttals from local governments, the state legislature's proposals are tremendously unpopular in the communities they would affect.  Some of the resolutions are outright accusative, saying Time Warner essentially created and promoted the bill.

The bill offers several provisions that the local governments find outrageous.  

Most notably it would create a state panel that any municipal project would have to be approved by.  No provisions of oversight or objectivity are mentioned for the panel.  And no specific restrictions or disapproval are mentioned.

In short, the measure gives this state panel a blank check to kill voter-approved municipal service projects.

The legislation also includes strict new restrictions on funding.  Under the plan local governments could not use their profits from water or other services to fund expansion of their municipal networks.  

It also makes it difficult for them to obtain loans (even if the project and its funding were voter approved, municipalities would have to hold special elections every time they wanted to take out a loan.

As state and federal governments freely spent and loaned money to telecoms like Time Warner and AT&T to help them expand their networks over the course of the twentieth century, the local governments are upset that they do not have the same privileges.

Likewise, they are upset that the bill forbids them from offering promotional pricing beneath the cost of service.  This is a common practice about telecoms, who later jack up the subscription fees to much higher rates.  It is unclear why the proposition to "level" the field would forbid municipal service from having the same sales rights as a commercial service.

IV. What's Next?

The bill looks likely to be approved by the Senate Judiciary committee.  The committee is led by Sen. Peter S. Brunstetter (R-Winston-Salem), who has worked as a corporate lawyer with the Womble Carlyle investment group.  Mr. Brunstetter seems very supportive of the measure, which is somewhat unsurprising given his background.

About the only real challenge on the committee might come from its Vice Chair, Senator Thom Goolsby (R-New Hanover), a criminal defense and injury attorney who also teaches law, given how the bill seemingly sets up mechanism which could rob municipalities of their self-governance rights.  But given his party's strong support of the measure, it's likely he too will cave and support its passage.

The real battle lies in the state senate.  If the bill can pass the senate, it will be nearly home free.  But Democrats in the senate plan on fighting the measure.

V. A National Precedent

North Carolina is far from the only state whose telecoms enjoy local monopolies or oligarchical controls on high-speed service (in these regions alternatives like tethering or DSL offer dramatically slower speeds).  Telecoms gain much of their revenue from these monopoly regions.  Studies have shown that in regions with only one or two service options, prices unsurprisingly are the highest.

While critics tend to point to a couple of unpopular, unsuccessful, or overpriced municipal offerings there's been far more success stories -- which is the driving force behind the N.C. protest.  

At the end of the day, the beauty of municipal projects is that at any time the citizens can vote the politicians supporting them out of office and install new officials who will scrap the project and sell any infrastructure to recoup loans.  At the end of the day, the projects are entirely dependent on public support.

Given the services' general success and popularity it is likely that telecoms will fight hard in other states to stomp out this growing movement before it spreads further and threatens their bottom line.

The battle in N.C., in this regard, is a precedent setter than may dictate the tone in other states.  At the end of the day the question boils down to:

  1. Should local citizens have the right to self governance?
  2. Should local services enjoy the same privileges as corporate services?
Local citizens in N.C. argue that the answer to both questions is a resounding "yes", but Time Warner and their sponsored Republican legislators argue the answer should be "no".

Comments     Threshold

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By topkill on 4/14/2011 4:57:00 PM , Rating: 5
This is so disgusting and goes against everything the Republican Party is supposed to stand for.

I don't care how much money Time Warner or AT&T throws at this, there is NO EXCUSE for them to take away people's right to self governance!!!

By FITCamaro on 4/15/2011 8:46:50 AM , Rating: 3
You are the one who needs to go do research. Just as much money goes to Democrats from corporations as Republicans. It just matters which corporations.

Obama didn't raise a billion dollars in 08 from individuals.

By Flunk on 4/15/2011 9:07:14 AM , Rating: 3
You make a good point, for once. They should totally outlaw political donations. Each party should get a fixed campaign fund and have to make do with that.

They can get the funds by taxing high earners.

By phantom505 on 4/15/2011 10:46:02 AM , Rating: 2
In 2008 presidential finance, 50% came from individuals under $200. Another ~35% came from people giving $200-2000. McCain and Obama had about equal max contributions, but in Obama's case it was hardly 15% of what he got.

So yeah, it mostly came from individuals. You can't raise that kind of money unless you have a HUGE base.

Tried to post the link to NYTimes but apparently that's spam. It's been known by everyone for years that corporations favor Republicans. The corporate money gap is about 2 or 3 to 1. I've done my research, and have for the last 13 years or so.

So your "good point" is not really all that good. You just happen to post on a site with a lot of Republican and Libertarian cheer leaders. Funny thing is they have not a clue what they are talking about most of the time.

By Nutzo on 4/15/2011 1:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it depends on the corporation.

Small business donate more to Republicans.
Republicans also have a small edge in donations from medium and large bussiness.

Democrats have a large edge in donations from Lawyers, Banks and Wallstreet.

By jlips6 on 4/15/2011 3:09:05 PM , Rating: 1
A source for your claims would be nice. As is this informations sounds terribly suspicious.
nutzo even.

By Dr of crap on 4/15/2011 12:42:24 PM , Rating: 3
Who cares - they both take money - end of story.

"Here's some money - now vote for what I wnat or you won't get anymore!"

That is NOT how to run a govt!!!!!

By sabbede on 4/17/2011 2:10:58 AM , Rating: 2
Damn right! Unless its a representative government, in which case that's exactly how to run it.

Vote for what I want, or I won't vote for you, help you run/pay for a campaign, put up a sign in my yard, get the support of my party, say nice things about you to my friends...

Is it wrong to support candidates who agree with you? If there is a particular issue you feel strongly about, is it wrong to work to have your view represented in your government?

There is a difference between an individual or group of individuals (like a corporation or union) donating time/votes/finding to a representative who agrees with them on the issue(s) and votes as they would themselves, and outright bribing a rep who would otherwise vote differently.

This is not to say that the election finance system couldn't do without some retooling; rather that Republicans are generally more likely to prefer the private sector over the public - usually under the assumption that the private sector is more efficient and less deleterious to personal liberty. That this case is an exception might just mean that they're oblivious, not corrupt or evil.
If they intentionally turn a blind eye to this because they are being paid to do so, then they can be tarred and feathered or simply exiled.
I will presume them innocent until proven otherwise.

By TechIsGr8 on 4/18/2011 12:06:10 PM , Rating: 1
And you left out the rest of the story, that the reason all the new Republican governors are trying to kill unions is because of the point you mentioned, that they are the remaining 3 sources of funding in the top 10, which support democratic causes. It's disgusting and shameless what has become of the GOP since Eisenhower.

By fteoath64 on 4/15/2011 2:36:35 AM , Rating: 2
You should know by now that Dems and Reps are the same breed, just ask Jesse Ventura. The only honest governor the US ever had bar none.
Fight for your rights and restraint big corporations that are trying to strangle the average tax payer.

By Sazabi19 on 4/15/2011 10:27:13 AM , Rating: 2
Very true, they are not voting for the people or even on a party-basis, they are voting on this because they are getting some kind of kick-back, either money or incentives. This is exactly the kind of trash that we need to weed out of our government. If we can ever weed these people out at every level we may see a change in our countrys future... for the better; So far this is looking like a pretty grim future for us.

By DoeBoy on 4/14/2011 5:13:33 PM , Rating: 2
The federal government might have unlimited funds but local governments do not at all. Chapel Hill got rid of all the downtown festivals as a result of not having the money for it. This is liberal hippy land and for something like that to happen means there is a limit. Plus the people have a choice as to whether it needs to stay going or is a bottomless pit and can vote the right person in. Much easier in local politics.

By jackstar7 on 4/14/2011 5:21:23 PM , Rating: 4
When was the last time the Federal government raised taxes?

By rivercat on 4/14/2011 6:53:31 PM , Rating: 4
These days, most levels of government are adding fees, rather than taxes. Taxes have become a dirty word. Sooner or later the people will wake up and realize that a fee is the same as a tax.

By lolmuly on 4/14/2011 9:35:22 PM , Rating: 5
not continuing a sale isn't the same as jacking up the price.

By lolmuly on 4/15/2011 12:23:22 AM , Rating: 5
The intellectual prowess of the statement is hardly the point. Not passing a bill to continue with a lowered rate isn't the same as passing a bill to raise the rate. Simply put, taxes aren't being raised if they are returning to what is considered to be the normal rate.

My opinion of taxes is another matter, but really who are you to grill me on the maturity of my position? It doesn't seem you are capable of retorting to such a simple quip without relying on aspersion.

By AfroVader on 4/15/2011 12:14:04 PM , Rating: 5
And neither does you shilling for the Republican party like they are above reproach. This is exactly what happens when you have old white men trying to regulate a technology they have NO IDEA about.

And meanwhile, wunderkinds like Reclaimer justify the Republican meddling like it's something good for the country. It's laughable. Here's a little tip, there, Reclaimer: You are defending a multi-billion dollar company who couldn't give less than a squirt of monkey piss about you and your rights as a consumer. They just want to charge as much money as they can for a little service as they can provide.

And you, most brilliant of them all, defend that act. If I were on a more flame-worthy forum, I'd probably tell you to kill yourself. As it stands, just STFU. Your almighty Repubs will be the downfall of this country.

You'll probably defend that too.

By sabbede on 4/17/2011 2:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
No, having only one or the other party would be the downfall. Well, I suppose that technically it would spiral out of control due to positive feedback as opposed to actually going down.

When one goes too far out on either side, it becomes difficult to see that the opposition plays an equally vital role in stabilizing the system.

Then again the fact that you do not realize this also plays a major role in the system; so by all means, spout your vitriol, express your rage, and by no means should you recognize that you are exactly as blind, foolish and dangerous as those whom you oppose. Otherwise you might collapse the waveform and doom us all.

(Don't go too far with it either. If you lose your temper and get violent it gets even worse. We're walking a fine line here. Don't blow it.)

By knutjb on 4/14/2011 10:46:04 PM , Rating: 4
When I paid my cell phone bill, cable bill,... Read the fine print.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/14/2011 10:56:48 PM , Rating: 2
LOL I would like to see him ask a smoker that. Or hell, anyone who buys gas.

By lolmuly on 4/15/2011 12:32:16 AM , Rating: 1
Pretty sure that the excise taxes on Gas, Cigarettes, Cell Phones, and Cable are called taxes.

Haven't seen anything that says Federal Fee anywhere before, only federal tax.

By knutjb on 4/15/2011 1:01:56 AM , Rating: 2
Check your bills more carefully there are federally mandated FEES.

You use your phone there are access fees under different names. Fees are there you just haven't looked. Some are state, local, and Federal. Do you really think all fees will tell you where they come from?

But hey if you enjoy their hands in your pocket that's your thing, I don't.

By dsx724 on 4/15/2011 2:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
You obviously don't understand point of government, public good, and taxes. You should just move to a hole and live by yourself.

By Sazabi19 on 4/15/2011 11:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
That may be nice to live in a hole... but the taxes on them are outragous :P

By callmeroy on 4/15/2011 10:32:39 AM , Rating: 2
You don't look too hard then...

Even with just skimming over my cable or cell phone bill I clearly and easily see federal fees each month. (and I have 20/200 vision in one of my eyes and can see that stuff easily).

And what's with the semantics -- you that hard up to try and prove some ridiculous point? Taxes//fees...if they are still going to government coffers what's the difference? Cigarettes, btw, are taxed federally AND at the state level. I believe the same is true of Gas -- federal and state taxes, which is one of the main reasons gas is cheaper in some states than others -- less taxes.

By lolmuly on 4/15/2011 1:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
When was the last time the Federal government raised taxes?

These days, most levels of government are adding fees, rather than taxes.

when was the last time the federal government charged you a fee?

My point is simply that I have not really seen any fees on the bills you are talking about.... 911 fee maybe? But I'm sure that fee was put into effect years and years ago... so I'd like some examples of the federal government charging you new fees.

I've seen state governments do it plenty, charging new fees on everything they can. What I have not seen is the federal government doing that, but that isn't to say that such fees have not been created. I just haven't seen them.

By Iaiken on 4/14/2011 6:20:13 PM , Rating: 2
I live up here, I know what I'm talking about.

This is a false claim of expertise. Simply living in the area hardly makes you an expert on all of he goings on there in.

Did you know they put up a new shell station two blocks down from me? I didn't until just the other day when I drove by it.

What's more, this is a discussion regarding MUNICIPAL government and not STATE government and not FEDERAL government. Local governments have power and if the local people want to vote in their own health care system for land owners in the taxation area then what the f*** do you care?

By DoeBoy on 4/14/2011 9:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
The state can't print money like the federal reserve does and buys treasuries with it. So while they are in debt they have to put themselves on the correct path because they do not have a central bank to bail them out. Your point is totally moot. Who doesn't borrow money? Everybody I know has borrowed money for a house, or a car, etc. so I guess everybody is like the federal government now huh? They spent all the money they didn't have and now are paying for it which the feds do not have to do at all.. they just print more dollars.

By DoeBoy on 4/14/2011 10:31:16 PM , Rating: 2
You really need to point me towards what criteria Time Warner actually has to meet that the city would not have to either? I wasn't aware of a bunch of standards they have to meet in order to provide the service of high speed internet. The point is that in the middle of nowhere that only has dialup which still exists in a lot of places in NC it would allow the local municipality to pickup where private business won't ever dare go. For years about 500yrds from WCU across the Tuckaseegee river the cable company wouldn't run any wire or do anything to provide service even though there were tons of college students needing access and willing to pay for it? Thats a great case for a local government to step in where others will not go.

By Solandri on 4/15/2011 3:59:09 AM , Rating: 2
That doesn't really contradict those for municipal wifi though.

Either your and Time Warner's argument is legit, and the government should not interfere with private enterprise. That means no municipal wifi, BUT it also means no locally granted monopolies for Time Warner.

Or Time Warner's argument is bunk, and the government can grant local monopolies, and also build municipal wifi.

The way Time Warner is trying to maneuver this situation is so they can have their cake and eat it too - they want the local monopoly, but they don't want municipal wifi. That doesn't work - they're contradicting their own argument. They can't have it both ways; pick one or the other.

By knutjb on 4/15/2011 11:06:06 AM , Rating: 2
My point is that if the counter productive monopolistic laws were repealed there would be no demand for municipalities to function outside their immediate responsibilities.

This argument is a non-issue on its own. Repeal the old law and open up competition to all. Prices will fall. For those who think government can fix everything, wake up. Government created this problem and is adding more crap on top in a vain attempt to make a bad law work. No matter what they add it still smells bad.

I find it ironic that both Time Warner and the municipality are behaving monopolistic. The municipality expects to replace TW as the service provider still leaving little choice for the consumer. Both trapped themselves in a box of bad ideas and bad laws.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/15/2011 11:37:24 AM , Rating: 2
I find it ironic that both Time Warner and the municipality are behaving monopolistic. The municipality expects to replace TW as the service provider still leaving little choice for the consumer. Both trapped themselves in a box of bad ideas and bad laws.

THANK YOU!!! Jesus I was staring to think I was completely alone on seeing the real issue here.

By Uncle on 4/16/2011 1:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
You make an interesting observation that goes with the theory of the Corporatization of America. Its happened, Time Warner is being treated like its another form of government except so far it has more power and the people haven't realized how they have been sucked in to the web, and if the people allow this to happen, you can kiss your liberties and freedoms of choice goodbye, You people are the testing ground of how far up the rear you will be reamed by the Corporations. You people could also be setting some form of precedences that Time Warner will use in other towns. This should not even be happening. If it is then whats next, Ma Pa Hardware Store can tell the city council to take a hike if they don't like something and go to the state level for backing. What a can of worms.
"Right to bear arms" was put in the Constitution so the people could fight a corrupt or tyrannical government, not to fight each other. So when are the American people going to realize the power the Constitution gave them. Only a corrupt politician would convince you not to do and use the Constitution for what it was designed for. Wake up America and smell the coffee before its to late. In the Great US of A you would not be breaking the law because the Constitution gives you the right to get rid of a corrupt or tyrannical government.

By drando on 4/15/2011 12:57:10 AM , Rating: 1
I know what I'm talking about


By formulav8 on 4/14/2011 5:15:46 PM , Rating: 5
Should not the citizens determine whats right/wrong in their own town?

And Time Warner is not a citizen. They are a publicly trades corp who's purpose is to their stock holders. They care nothing for the citizens whose town they reside in.

By formulav8 on 4/14/2011 5:25:39 PM , Rating: 5

There's nothing Dem/Rep about it. Outright selfishness and greediness.

By dsx724 on 4/15/2011 2:00:33 AM , Rating: 2
You are arguing against fundamental Republican principles.

By jackstar7 on 4/14/2011 5:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
It is wrong to smear a whole group based on the actions of just a few.

Let's give the other local Republicans of that area a chance to decry and vote down the legislation.

And then let's watch who smears all Democrats/liberals over whatever random issue comes next... I'm certain it won't be you, sir.

By mcnabney on 4/14/2011 5:25:31 PM , Rating: 2

They had their chance to provide good service and quality support and failed miserably. This is why monopolies suck. Massive earnings and huge executive bonuses aren't deserved when the company is clearly not earning the money. That is why internet connectivity should be like a utility. A connect fee plus usage - just like natural gas, water, or electricity. However that model allows the community to set the price that the business can charge. Since that can't happen the only option is to create a public option. So suck it.

By Iaiken on 4/14/2011 6:07:33 PM , Rating: 5
I live up here and everyone I know is happy with Time Warner. And if they are not, they can/have AT&T to switch to.

And that puts you in a position to speak for the other 9 million people in North Carolina? Seriously?

Are you saying that the 4 million people with access to only one provider have no right to vote to create own improved municipal networks? Are you saying that the 1 million people in towns with no broadband access at all have no choice but to wait until a local ISP finally feels they can be exploited for a profit?

Do you even see what is wrong with what you are saying or are you simply too stupid?

By rdawise on 4/14/2011 9:56:50 PM , Rating: 3
Municipal monopolies is what caused this mess in the first place. Why can't any provider come in and offer services and compete?

They can come in and compete! That would be great..only in the case of Wilson, NC TWC refused to provide service and that's what prompted the Municipal service.

So they create a municipal provider, and then grant that provider the municipal monopoly and muscle out Time Warner or whoever. Ok, now tell me, how is that any better for the communities?

Ho do you muscle out someone who refuses to come?

By C'DaleRider on 4/14/2011 6:23:49 PM , Rating: 3
The chance Time-Warner had was providing service to everyone, which typically is not what happens. Live too far out of town, no service. "Too expensive" TW bleats.

Yet, the municipality manages to run service out to those that are never going to be served by TW, turn a profit in a few years, and give better prices.

And the voters vote this in.....but TW cries about that, too. TW wants to completely dominate and override what the voters want.....and I always thought the Republicans were all for doing what the voters wanted. But I guess the Repubs are simply so pro-business and anti-consumer that what is happening in NC isn't too surprising.

Imagine a town managing to install telco service, provide wider coverage, and manage it better than a private company. Who'd have thought?

By Skywalker123 on 4/15/2011 12:19:08 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not happy with twc and at&t is not an option

By omnicronx on 4/14/2011 5:52:57 PM , Rating: 3
Basically it's one or two Republicans involved in this, not the entire party as Mick is trying to make it seem.
What are you talking about? In the latest 2 readings every single Republican voted for the bill! Where as around 65% of Democrats voted against. Many bills are spearheaded by a few individuals and end up being supported by the entire party, so I don't see the relevancy here.
What Mick left out, conveniently, is that Time Warner is a business faced with having to compete with a Government ran and funded local provider. Unlike something Government ran, Time Warner actually has to turn a profit and they can't simply hit up the taxpayer for nearly unlimited funds like the Government ran provider would.
What do you think government infrastructure handouts are? How is that not simply hitting up the taxpayer? You are making it out as though the state telco industry is true lessez-fair when that is clearly not the case.

By ClownPuncher on 4/14/2011 6:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
Why would you let Democrats (or Republicans for that matter) run what I thought was a typically conservative state?

By damonlynch on 4/14/2011 7:31:30 PM , Rating: 3
Whatever. Same old DT. There's clearly way too much partisanship and silly teenage anti-business vitriol on this site to rationally debate any issue.

Reclaimer77 calling for rational, non-partisan debate? This is the same person who makes out that he or she knows more about science than NASA scientists. The pot calls the kettle black.

By rdawise on 4/14/2011 10:05:44 PM , Rating: 2
Whatever. Same old DT. There's clearly way too much partisanship and silly teenage anti-business vitriol on this site to rationally debate any issue.

Agreed, but then you hypocritically say:

NC Democrats have run this state into the ground. After decades of Democrat only control, the Republicans haven't even been in power for a year yet. And already here comes Mick with the MSNBC style Republican bashing, on an issue that's STILL being debated by the way.

Because that's not partisan? You sir are the definition of a hypocrite...

By DigitalFreak on 4/14/2011 7:55:36 PM , Rating: 3
You do realize that your stupidity is why you're constantly voted down to -1, right?

By Skywalker123 on 4/15/2011 12:21:24 AM , Rating: 2
No, he's too stupid.

By rdawise on 4/14/2011 9:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
Basically it's one or two Republicans involved in this, not the entire party as Mick is trying to make it seem.

Didn't happen to do any research before talking again did you?

That's the last House vote on the Bill. See any Republican vote no?

Anyways, this isn't just partisan BS (as there were some Dems that voted for this as well) the is Corporate BS.

By RjBass on 4/15/2011 9:27:51 AM , Rating: 2
Time Warner has to compete against LinkCity (North Kansas City government provided fiber to door internet), and AT&T in N. Kansas City and they are still doing ok. Sure they lost business, but plenty of people went back to TW when TW offered better pricing.

That's why TW sought this bill. They don't want to have to lower their prices to compete. Their service sucks anyways so it's no wonder these local people want something better.

By formulav8 on 4/14/2011 5:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
She's not even hiding it. She was outright bought by TWC to do what she is currently doing.

By name99 on 4/14/2011 5:15:49 PM , Rating: 3
Good god you Republican supporters are stupid.
100+ years of evidence that the ONLY thing the Republican party stands for is the "right" of big business to screw over everyone else, and still you believe all their crap about "people's right to self governance".

You really are Charlie Brown and the football.

By DigitalFreak on 4/14/2011 7:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not "supporting" what's going on with this article, just putting in a more reasonable and less biased frame of mind.

*cough* bullshit *cough*

By rdawise on 4/14/2011 9:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
*cough* bullshit *cough*

This is so funny because it's true....

By adiposity on 4/14/2011 6:03:53 PM , Rating: 5
Unfortunately, it is not the Republican part. It is any govt. official willing to take big donations from corporations. There are definitely a few more Democrats doing the song and dance of standing up for the consumer, but in the end the majority of both parties is bought and paid for, just like we have in this case.

By adiposity on 4/14/2011 6:04:08 PM , Rating: 2
err, "party".

By Nightraptor on 4/14/2011 11:18:05 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree. At its best the Republican Party stands for a limited Federal Government whereby the State and Local governments retain as much power as is reasonable. In this case I see this law as going against that ideal. There is no reason for the Federal Government to stick it's nose in this matter. It is perfectly acceptable if the individual State's decide that this is not a good idea, but there is no need or reason for a national mandate on this issue. That being said State Governments should take a lesson in economics, realize that ISP's are a natural monopoly, and see municipal networks as a legitimate form of regulation.

By Dr of crap on 4/15/2011 12:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe you people are going to argue what each political party stands for - WHO CARES!

ALL politicans are corrupt, and take lobbing money. Their main job is to get elected and KEEP thier office.

The fact that you think anything different can happen by electing the right person to the office is crazy, making you crazy.

At best the govt should set laws and fund the public services to give it's people what they need, to have - wait for it - life, liberty and the persuit of happiness!

Nowhere in our founding fathers setup does it say take brides for votes, lie as much as you can, and don't listen to your voters!

By JMC2000 on 4/15/2011 7:01:17 AM , Rating: 2
I fully support local municipalities funding, billing and providing such a service if it can be done at zero cost to the tax payer (after a short term infrastructure cost)...or even if it actually brings in revenue, BUT, it must remain cheaper than what a private company can provide it for. In other words, if it is cheaper, I don't care if it is a public service.

(edited for grammar and spelling)

But, isn't this the main problem that TWC & others have with the municipal services?

The problem is the laws that were passed that are used to limit competition, when they were meant to foster competition, but limit confusion. Then, you have companies like TWC, Charter, Cox and Comcast that complain about the 'expense' of providing service to an entire city if they can't get some kind of 'exclusivity contract' otherwise known as a legal monopoly.

I support the communities in NC that want to provide their own network connection (they still have to pay someone for backbone usage). I wish the people here in Mobile, AL would go for something like that, because I'm tired of Comcast's molasses-slow upgrades and ever increasing fees, and At&t's reluctance to expand U-Verse.

By Quadrillity on 4/15/2011 7:51:33 AM , Rating: 2
I live very close to Wilson NC. The residents there raised the money to lay the fiber and build the equipment. The infrastructure is maintained by the monthly fees. You can get 10 down, 10 up, + IP phone service (free local and long distance), + 100+ cable channels ... all for $99 mo with no stings attached and WITHOUT A CAP!

Time warner has no right to introduce legislation that will block the people of the town of Wilson from doing whats in their best interest. What's next? Coke coming in a passing legislation that doesn't allow the town to build water towers because they can compete with the price of city water? The whole town WILLINGLY funded this project, and it's what they want.

This is yet another example of the government putting their nose where it doesn't belong and telling us that "they know what's best for us".

By bodar on 4/15/2011 11:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
What's next? Coke coming in a passing legislation that doesn't allow the town to build water towers because they can compete with the price of city water?

Of course not, they'll just buy the FDA and convince everyone that water is bad for you because it comes from the toilet.

By Iaiken on 4/15/2011 10:22:59 AM , Rating: 2
Thus a government run service sounds more like a socialist/communist agenda

And nothing frightens the Republiclans and Neoconservatives more than the idea of grass roots socialism growing up around things that people consider essential services.

Personally, I believe that only certain items are of absolutely too great an importance to the public interest to be left exclusively in the hands of private companies. To me this list of items is limited to electricity, education, water/sewage, roads and telecom/internet.

Sometimes these are subcontracted out effectively, but in many cases, the fact that these companies need to turn a profit does more harm to the public than good. This is not to say that private systems cannot co-exist with the public ones, but only where there is excess demand that can be filled for the premiums of the value-added service that private companies charge.

The problem I personally have with telecoms is that they are also media providers and thus automatically are in conflict of interest and a position to violate public trust via anti-competitive behavior. I've seen this happen first hand at Rogers Cable in Canada. When Netflix announced entry to the market, Rogers announced an decrease in bandwidth caps and an increase in the cost overages.

To make matters more absurd, Rogers has given their own data services an uncompetitive advantage by making it so that they don't count towards your bandwidth cap. If you stay within Rogers walled garden and watch their video-on-demand services, you don't need to worry about overages. This was born from conflict of interests, meets all definitions as an anti-competitive disincentive and thus is an illegal act. Rogers (or any other joint internet/media provider) should be punished to the fullest extent of the law and have those interests separated into two companies.

By phantom505 on 4/15/2011 12:55:20 AM , Rating: 2
Lol you're dumb. Republicans would pass *anything* that could get them corporate dollars. Have you EVER bothered to look at campaign finance?

Oh and don't worry, thanks to the Corporate Supreme Court it's only going to get worse. Now corporations are "people" despite the fact that is nowhere in any law, anywhere, but somehow the Court managed to put it in there somehow.

THAT'S activist courts, not the ones Republicans cry about.

By Flunk on 4/15/2011 8:57:40 AM , Rating: 2
Actually it doesn't surprise me one bit, supporting the interests of big corporations to the detriment of individuals is one of the main tenants of the modern Republican party. See the Bush tax cuts as an example. The entire principle of "trickle down economics" has been thoroughly disproven and yet they still use it as an excuse to fleece the poorest people in the Country.

Honestly, Republicans are supposed to be against big government but it seems that in recent years everything they have done has increased government overhead.

By PaterPelligrino on 4/17/2011 7:00:36 AM , Rating: 4
On the other hand, why should a company/corporation, which is just a group of individuals out to enrich themselves, always be thought to practice better ethics than government? History has taught that companies must be regulated to prevent them harming others in the pursuit of profit. Is anyone really so naive to believe that companies/private utilities would voluntarily pay good money to clean up their toxic discharges if not forced to do so by the government? Remember Love Canal, acid rain, paper companies pumping mercury into rivers? Enron, Goldman Sachs, the list of corporate misbehavior is endless. It has always struck me as odd that law-and-order conservatives are always so righteously eager to punish individual behavior, but are so willing to allow companies to do whatever they please. You want to know what a society is like where the rich/companies do what they want, just read Dickens, because 19th century England was a libertarian's paradise.

Getting back to the issue at hand - the Republicans have no problem with letting local government manage its own affairs, as long as that doesn't threaten the profits of big business and the rich whose well-being has always constituted the Repubs primary concern.

Are the Dems, also guilty of this - of course; but if you want to be governed by politicians who as a matter of principle subordinate all public interests to those of the wealthy, elect Republicans.

Voting Repub because you're unhappy with the Dems, is like taking your banking business to Mafioso loan sharks because you think your local bank is charging you too much to process checks. Going with the lesser of two evils might upset your sensibilities - and the poisonous Repubs are far more evil than the Dems - but welcome to the real world.

Fight fire with fire
By JediJeb on 4/15/2011 12:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe what these municipalities should do if this passes is enact a very high tax on TW to do business in their area. If it is declared that local governments should not tax people to provide internet service but instead should only be providing things like water and sewer, they why not just enact a tax on cable internet that would pay for the local water and sewer to lift the tax burden from the local people for those services as well? What's good for the goose is good for the gander as the older people would say. If these companies are going to make life hard on the local governments then it is only right local governments have the same rights to return the favor.

RE: Fight fire with fire
By NaughtyGeek on 4/15/2011 2:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds good in theory but you know who will inevitably pay the price for such action, the consumer. This would just add more fees to the already overpriced services these municipalities are trying to replace.

RE: Fight fire with fire
By JediJeb on 4/15/2011 3:26:27 PM , Rating: 2
True, but if I were living there I would feel better knowing that TW did not get away with their tricks even if I had to suffer a little. The whole reason companies like this can get away with doing this type of thing is the people too often just whine a little about the higher price then roll over and take it just so they can have the things they want even if they have to waste money.

It lends credence to the saying " If you won't stand for something, you will fall for anything"

By jensend on 4/14/2011 7:15:45 PM , Rating: 5
My city was one of the first to decide to do fiber to the home as a municipal service. However, idiotic politicians, who saw this as an "encroachment upon private enterprise", forced the city to make private ISP competitors the ones "providing service" on the city's newly installed infrastructure- draining revenue away from the municipal service for no real benefit to the end users. The result was that the project bled money until they sold it for pennies on the dollar to a two-bit company which can't handle it very well. Thanks, libertarians!

I strongly believe in limited government- at the federal level. Federal powers need to be strictly limited, but municipalities should have room for self-determination, and often in deciding what kind of community you want to be local government will need to take an active role.

hypocritical system shows its real face
By MechanicalTechie on 4/14/2011 9:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
Well well well, the US government supporting a monopoly over the right the of its citizens to self govern. So remind me.. America the land of the free... only if you have money and power. Face facts your country is corrupt, maybe not so much as others... but never the less money still by influence at the top. I hope this highlights why most of the world see's America as hypocritical, sorry but we do and with this sort of evidence how can you not see it. I pray that this bill gets rejected. GOOD LUCK!!

By cjohnson2136 on 4/15/2011 3:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
US government supporting a monopoly over the right the of its citizens to self govern

"NC government supporting a monopoly over the right the of its citizens to self govern"

There I corrected you. This has to do with state government vs local government not federal gov't read the article.

Lies and deceit
By baba264 on 4/15/2011 8:10:13 AM , Rating: 3
Corporations own American politics. It really is a sad state of affair.

The one good thing about this is that it reveals all the republican talk about a free market and a free economy as the bunch of lies it really is.

Obviously, as soon as the free market doesn't end up supporting their corporate masters they're not so much for it at all.

They'll support whatever system will more easly ensure the continuing domination of a few large corporations.

I live right beside Chapel Hill
By DoeBoy on 4/14/2011 4:50:43 PM , Rating: 2
Whats amazing is that there are still vast areas that aren't getting quality high-speed services and most of them are in the country. If Time Warner and ATT had their way these areas would never be developed because they don't provide the type of moneys that areas like Raleigh, Chapel Hill, etc. have as a result of larger populations. This is where municipality provided inet could be extremely beneficial. I went to college in a town west of Asheville and it was the worst experience I have ever had with a cable provider that would do nothing to improve services. Competition provides us all with better services and cheaper prices.. good for you locals! Don't let the man take it from you!

Citizens vs. Corporate Citizens
By tech329 on 4/14/2011 9:27:57 PM , Rating: 2
We're going to find out who are going to be the winners in the fight between citizens and corporate citizens. We'll also find out where our two major political parties stand on this issue. So far, in this case, that looks clear. I doubt this argument is over though. We've been at this since day one and it only seems to have intensified. For many people this is about money but in time it'll likely be recognized as carrying a lot more meaning than that. What makes this so difficult is we allow people to express an awful lot of variation on the truth. Carrying on a dialog with a bunch of liars is never fun.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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