SaveMuniWireles.org, a group opposed to the anti-muni bill in TX, reports that the anti-muni provisions of the legislature’s gift package to SBC (the local baby Bell) has been stripped. But hang on to your seats folks, because it goes to the floor next week and SBC is fighting hard.
So far this year, the anti-muni forces are in full retreat. In the reddest states in the Union, from Indiana to Nebraska to Texas, people are standing up to the power of corporate interests and demanding that local people and local government get to decide what services to offer.
But the year is young and the risk is great. Under the great corporate playbook, now is the time to use the “Secret Speaker Sneak.” Get one of your wholly owned subsidiaries, preferably a powerful one like a House Speaker, to slip in the original language as an amendment while no one is looking.
Which brings us to TX. Despite the fact that SBC reputedly _owns_ the Texas legislature, and that SBC is using all its high-powered lobbyists on this one, the anti-muni language was pulled from Texas House Bill 789 before it got out of the relevant Committee. Now it wasn’t a complete win. The bill still prevents municipalities from offering telecommunications services (the current status quo, passed at SBC’s request in 1997 with little fanfare). But it no longer prevents municipalities from offering “information services” like broadband networks.
But SBC will not simply slink off into the darkness. SBC is fighting hard to get the anti-muni language back in as a floor amendment.
Time for the people of Texas to rise up and remind your legislator who their real boss is. Do you _want_ to wait until SBC or your local cable co “gets around” to offering you service. Is your small town, where it’s expensive for SBC to pull fiber and where they can’t hope to make the kind of money they can in the cities, want to wait five or more years while the information economy passes you by? Do you want to lose businesses and residents to better connected areas, see your kids fall behind the city kids because they don’t have the tools to compete, and see your health care stagnate because you can’t access new technologies? If not, give your state legislator a call and let him or her know how you feel.
Or you can sign this petition circulated by my buddies at Free Press.
You’ll be glad you did.
Stay tuned . . . .
It is heartening indeed to see this trend. By no means do I undestimate the power or slimyness of the corporations. Especially in the Great State of Enron. But here’s to hoping that the retreat turns in to a rout.