At least once a week in my 48 months of public service, I was told by someone that the purpose of the Commission was to create a "level playing field." No one meant it. The proponents of this view wanted someone else to be burred under their "level" field. And I never believed our job was "leveling." Should a jury declare a defendant neither guilty nor innocent, but only express a neutral view?
Longmont Astroturf Opposition Gone in Puff of Smoke
Any hint that the Comcast-funded effort in Longmont to oppose authorizing the City to provide broadband services was anything but an astroturf campaign of lies has evaporated in the wake of its overwhelming defeat.
If there had been a shred of local legitimacy among the "Look Before We Leap" group that was run by Denver-based strategists, it probably would have kept its website up for longer than a few days after the election. If I were them, I would want to keep a record for the future.
But they don't. Because they were just a bunch of paid public relations people working a job. They didn't oppose Longmont's initiative, they didn't know anything about it. They were collecting a paycheck. And this is what they left behind:
The Times-Call has a hopeful reflection about the broadband battle (somewhat classier than the hilarious Neener Neener Neener poke at Comcast).
This time, lobbyists for the telecommunications industry spent even more than they did last time -- about $300,000 -- in trying to convince residents that the city having control over its own property was somehow "risky." Obviously, the lobbyists, including the euphemistically monikered Americans for Prosperity, were only concerned about the welfare of Longmont residents and the health of the local economy. They spent so much money to show just how concerned they were.
But the majority of the voters weren't buying what they were selling. People had the audacity to think for themselves and make up their own minds.
Personally, I would thank the anti-2A folks for pouring so much money into the local economy, except most of its spending was elsewhere. They did pop for a few ads in this newspaper, though, so for that they have my gratitude.
The author, Tony Kindelspire, goes on to note just how amazing it was to see everyone unified on an issue.
Many people who you would typically expect to find defending corporate rights above all else, and criticizing the inefficiency of government, were quite vocal in support of 2A.
As they should have been. Ask a local businessperson how Longmont having its own electric utility is working out for them. We have some of the cheapest rates in the country.
It takes leadership to stand up against big business lobbyists to act on behalf of what you think is right, not what's going to raise you the most amount of campaign cash the next time around. How very, very refreshing it was to see, and I hope it's a lesson that spreads far and wide.
I hate quoting so liberally from an article, but I want to make sure these important words are remembered. I hope the City takes seriously its responsibility to continue involving the public in important decisions about the digital future as it moves forward with the freedom to invest in infrastructure that every community should have regardless of how much money incumbent lobbyists pour into legislatures around the nation.
And I cannot help but remind my readers that this referendum would have failed by Minnesota standards, which requires a 65% supermajority. That is an incredibly tough ask when a major player like Comcast can get 40% of the population to vote for its position by spending a mere $300,000 while having zero support in the community.