At the conclusion of yesterday’s meeting, Commissioner Adelstein announced the departure of Barry Ohlson. Barry has been Adelstein’s wireless adviser since forever, and Adelstein’s senior legal adviser for sometime. Lord knows he deserves a rest.
Commissioners, of necessity, rely very heavily on their advisers because Commissioners must be generalists. In addition, because the Government in the Sunshine Act prevents the Commissioners from meeting together except at public meetings, a far amount of the drafting and negotiating on FCC decisions happens at the adviser level. Finally, advisers serve an important meeting and screening function for overworked commissioners. A Commissioner must therefore rely on an adviser for a multitude of skills. An adviser must not merely have expertise in the law, policy, economics and engineering of the subject matter, but must have a rare combination of discretion, diplomacy and judgment.
In my opinion, Barry has been one of the best and a fantastic asset to Commissioner Adelstein’s office. I will miss working with Barry on wireless issues, although his successor, Renee Crittendon, has certainly come through her trial by fire in the 700 MHz auction with a fine crown of laurels based on the conditions Adelstein and Copps were able to secure for enforcement of the device open access rule in the C Block.
So good luck to Barry Ohlson, wherever he ultimately lands. Who knows, perhaps someday he will be back on the FCC’s 8th floor, but as a commissioner instead. After all, Kevin Martin got his start at the FCC as adviser to Commissioner Furchgott-Roth. I can hope, anyway.
Stay tuned . . . .