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LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Oct 22nd, 2004 at 1:19pm
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Quinn backs towns' broadband plan
Comcast, SBC's ads are assailed

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/west/chi-0410220386oct22,1,2366072.stor...

By Denise Linke
Special to the Tribune
Published October 22, 2004

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn voiced strong support Thursday for Fiber for Our Future and its controversial Nov. 2 referendum proposal for a non-profit, municipally run broadband telecommunications network for Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles.

"I believe in referendums," Quinn said. "Too often people in Springfield are not fond of referendums. They want to control everything down at the state Capitol. It's important we allow the option for voters in municipalities to look at alternatives for Internet access."

Quinn, who spearheaded the drive to form the Citizens Utility Board in the early 1980s, charged phone giant SBC and cable TV provider Comcast with misleading voters through anti-referendum newspaper ads and direct mailings that, he said, make unproven assertions that the Tri-Cities could divert tax revenue to the proposed broadband network. The referendum question specifically forbids using tax money to finance construction or operation of the network, said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns.

Comcast spokesman Bill Page countered that opposition to the proposed broadband network is local, not just imported by regional utility companies.

"You're making us sound like invaders. We're not --we're here already," he said. "The proof is that 65 percent of citizens here voted against this plan last year."

Page also argued that government agencies should not compete with private businesses to provide services to residents. Quinn countered that about 100 Illinois municipalities--including the Tri-Cities and Naperville--have provided electricity to their residents as a public utility since the 1890s, usually for about 30 percent less cost than private utilities such as Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power.

Fiber for Our Future Chairwoman Annie Collins called SBC's and Comcast's claims that passing the referendum proposal would put tax money at risk "absurd." She said the ballot questions authorize the City Councils to set up a non-profit broadband network using cash from private investors but does not commit them to going through with the plan if it proves economically unsound.

"SBC and Comcast are making assertions that the taxpayers would be affected, but they won't say how," she said. "If the cities can't get enough private investors to fund this, it just won't happen. If the network is built and fails, the investors will take the hit."

The grass-roots organization eliminated tax support for the proposed network from the referendum questions after learning through surveys that residents cited the potential tax liability as their main reason for voting it down in April 2003.

Fiber for Our Future's main purpose in bringing a public broadband network is not to compete with Comcast or SBC, Collins said, but to encourage business development and provide public services such as videoconferencing between doctors and patients and expanded Internet access for local schools. "Fiber optic broadband is the 21st Century railroad," she said.


Copyright 2004, Chicago Tribune

  
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Re: LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Reply #1 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 1:21pm
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Oh look, it's official.

"Comcast spokesman Bill Page"

Where do I know that name from?

Oh, yeah, now remember.  From here http://www.tricitybroadband.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl/YaBB.pl?board=news_coverage...

  
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Re: LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Reply #2 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 1:27pm
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Quinn backs broadband bid

By Garrett Ordower Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004

http://www.dailyherald.com/kane/main_story.asp?intID=38282104

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn has played David to a seemingly unbeatable Goliath before. Twenty years ago, he ran the drive to establish the Citizens Utility Board.

At the time, he said, the way Illinois Bell and others responded to the idea of a citizens group to help residents with their utility problems, "you would have thought we were proposing putting sewage in the drinking water."

While standing on the steps of the old Kane County Courthouse in Geneva Thursday afternoon, Quinn said he saw a similar reaction on the part of telecom giants Comcast and SBC to the current campaign for municipal broadband in the Tri-Cities.

As evidence, he held up a photocopy of one of the direct-mail pieces from SBC and said the companies were going to spend a lot of money to squash the referendum.

"This is a footprint, and that's what these two companies are worried about," Quinn said.

He also pointed to lobbying efforts across the country aimed at prohibiting municipalities from offering high-speed Internet, cable TV and phone service.

"The people who ought to decide the future are the people who live in the community," Quinn said.

Telecom companies have said one of the main reasons towns shouldn't offer the same services they do is that it makes them the regulators, landlords and competitors of the private companies.

The direct-mail piece suggests the referendum question puts taxpayer money at risk, even though in St. Charles and Batavia, the question prohibits the use of tax-backed financing, and in Geneva, the ordinance backing the question does.

Comcast and SBC officials have suggested the cities will waiver in their commitment to use private financiers to assume the risk for the project.

"We're not going to do it; it's just not going to happen," said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, who stood alongside Quinn and Fiber For Our Future organizer Annie Collins during the appearance.

  
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Re: LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Reply #3 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 1:30pm
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http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/city/a22broadbnd.htm

Quinn endorses Tri-Cities broadband referendum


By Jan Ramming
SPECIAL TO THE BEACON NEWS


GENEVA Saying he wanted to ensure a "fair fight," Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn came to Geneva Thursday to announce his support for the citizens group Fiber For Our Future and the Tri-Cities broadband referendum on the ballots in Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles on Nov. 2.

The referendum asks voters to approve a new municipally owned and operated utility that would offer telephone, television and super high-speed Internet services. The offerings would be competitively priced and optional residents and businesses could continue to use services from other providers.

Quinn spearheaded the drive more than 20 years ago to create the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), a nonprofit organization representing the interests of residential utility customers.

Thursday, he denounced SBC and its predecessor, Illinois Bell, for their opposition then and now to a united citizens effort.

"SBC and some of these big telecommunications companies around the country are going around and trying to get states to pass laws, believe it or not, that would prevent municipalities from even exploring the idea of having a public utility to deal with one of the most important things in our life today: Internet access," Quinn said.

"It's important in Illinois that we allow the option for the voters in municipalities to take a look at a different way of providing high-speed Internet access that is affordable with good service," he said. "The people in Batavia and St. Charles signed petitions, so they want this issue to go to the voters."

Quinn warned voters about expensive direct mail and other advertisements by SBC telling them not to vote for the referendums. Those ads, he said, are paid for with their customer's dollars and don't tell the whole story.

He compared Fiber For Our Future's battle against SBC to the biblical story of David and Goliath.

"The citizens are going against these big Goliaths with all the money, and the Goliaths are going to tell us their way," he said. "Remember who won? We believe in competition in America. If big companies can define the 21st century and say it's only their way, we could end up really getting socked as consumers."

"Instead, trust local officials, trust people who are from the community, trust people who really want to have the kind of wide open competition that our country believes in," he said.

Annie Collins, chairwoman of Fiber For Our Future, said that she went door to door to ask voters why they rejected the first broadband referendum in April 2003. She said she found that voters didn't want to finance the start-up and operation of the utility, and therefore, this year's referendum prohibits the use of tax-backed financing for the project.

Should the referendums be approved by voters, the cities will seek private investors for funding.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns added his support for the referendums.

"If private investors don't step forward and aren't interested in the products that we can offer, it won't be built," he said. "All we are looking for is the authority to proceed."

SBC representative David Strahl was present and declined to comment.



10/22/04
  
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Re: LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Reply #4 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 3:47pm
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Quote:
Quinn backs towns' broadband plan
Comcast, SBC's ads are assailed

Comcast spokesman Bill Page countered that opposition to the proposed broadband network is local, not just imported by regional utility companies.

"You're making us sound like invaders. We're not --we're here already," he said. "The proof is that 65 percent of citizens here voted against this plan last year."

Page also argued that government agencies should not compete with private businesses to provide services to residents. Quinn countered that about 100 Illinois municipalities--including the Tri-Cities and Naperville--have provided electricity to their residents as a public utility since the 1890s, usually for about 30 percent less cost than private utilities such as Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power.



Since when did Bill Page become a spokesman for Comcast?  Does Comcast really believe that Bill Page has creditablity in the Tri-Cities?  Is that the only person sent by Comcast?  I thought Mr. Page wrote for the Kane County Chronicle? 


Also, David Strahl of SBC had no comment? 

Thank you to Pat Quinn!  and

To Annie - Bravo!  You Go Girl!
8)
  
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Re: LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Reply #5 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 6:01pm
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Bill Page has been a spokesman for Comcast for almost two years now.  They only now made it official.  I wonder if he knows how to spell the word "ETHICS"?
  
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Re: LT. GOV. PAT QUINN ENDORSEMENT OF MUNICIPAL BB
Reply #6 - Oct 22nd, 2004 at 8:26pm
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Dave - I'm sure Bill cut the E pages out of his dictionary (a pageless Page?). The Chronicle has always given the muni broadband issue an extremely fair treatment and I don't encourage any actions against them, but the citizens of the TriCities (and especially St Charles - the hypocrit's stomping ground) should seriously consider ostricizing Mr Page and sending him back under the rock from whence he crawled. Trash us and do the Comcast schtick probono, Bill - or surrender your acid-dipped pen at the Chronicle. You've now demonstrated that any position you adopt or cause you support should be suspected of granting you financial gain in the present or future. Now if we could only determine if Patty Thayer of St Charles Scarecrow festival is on the payroll as well...
  
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