In a phone conversation with me on Monday, in addition to saying that Bill has it right, Senator David Goodman offered his take on SB117.
“The saving grace is that we have a tradition of home rule. I didnt know it was as strong as it was until I got involved and saw how other states do it in the country. We’re one of the strongest in the country [even though] it’s a relative statement. Still, we’re very strong.
“But for Ohio, its being eroded. Because I have a local, city background and believe that the best government is the one closest to you, I’m one of the most ardent local rule supporters. Which causes me some trouble.
As for SB117, “people won’t notice [the differences or changes brought on by the bill]. They might see a potential benefit, due to additional opportunities to have service from AT&T in this realm, but they’d have it anyway. This is AT&T’s way to circumvent what the cable companies had to follow all these years. The ease of entry argument will be made, as will freemarket competition and that some local communties will overstep and do more than just negotiate a fair access fee and, instead, try to generate revenue without taxes.
In defense of the cable companies going along with the bill, Goodman said, “Cable has seen themsleves as victorious every where else, and so they had to negotiate the best possible arrangement.”
“I will be the lone voice opposing it, but I might get some traction because I believe that the best government is the one closest to you and knows best. The local constituents have the right to vote people out of office if they dont like how the local government has handled something.”
Goodman went on to discuss his background in this particular area of governance, related to the Telcos.
“When I was a city councilman, I was 30-40 years younger than everyone on council. At the time, this was being rolled out of the federal government and we had to have an ability to negotiate with the local franchises. I spent a lot of time on the Bexley Technology Commission and with a lot of people in putting together the Bexley Tech Plan. It involved putting computers on desks, putting up a website, [and other activities], but we also were making sure that we complied with federal law, so that we had a set negotiating platform to deal on an equal basis with any cable provider that wanted a franchice in Bexley.
“One of the major issues we went through at council was, Do we want to make this a minimal cost to local provideers, do we want to use it to absorb the cost of laying what we have to for infrastructure, or do we want to use it to generate revenue for the city?
“When you negotiate with these folks, you can get local access for the schools and make sure you have unviversal coverage.”
And, although SB117 won’t prohibit the cable companies from such provision, he said, “The cable companies can opt out of the service provision and AT&T doesnt have to talk to a local municipality ever.”
“The rural areas wlll be screwed because they’ll get sold on the idea that this is a free market.”
Goodman expects the bill to go through.
In closing, Goodman reflected, “You want to get the largest potential investment in infrastruture that you can possibly get. AT&T is going to make a lot of promises and lay a lot of wire and make us continue to be competitive with the rest of the country. On the macro level, the more competitors there are, the greater opportunity to have the infrastructure. This is how the bill will most likely sold.”
Have at it.
And thank you to State Senator Goodman for spending the time on the phone with me. I’m only sorry that I have such a novice understanding of the issue, because I’m sure Bill could have grilled you a lot more. 🙂