Old 26th April 2006, 21:08   #1
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Lafayette/Bellsouth comes to agreement

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BellSouth to drop suit against LUS

Lafayette set to pull several legislative proposals

By KEVIN BLANCHARD
Acadiana bureau
Published: Apr 26, 2006


LAFAYETTE — BellSouth and cable industry officials have agreed to drop their lawsuit opposing Lafayette Utilities System’s proposed telecommunications bonds in exchange for Lafayette pulling several legislative proposals pending at the state Capitol, City-Parish President Joey Durel said Tuesday.

The tit-for-tat agreement comes only days after BellSouth and the Louisiana Cable and Telecommunications Association filed suit in state district court asking a judge to block LUS’ planned $125 million bond issue.

BellSouth and Lafayette officials negotiated throughout the weekend trying to avoid the lawsuit. The negotiations started, Durel said, when he ran into some BellSouth officials last week in Baton Rouge.

BellSouth proceeded to file its suit late Sunday night by fax — just ahead of the deadline for filing an objection to the bond issue. But discussions continued Monday and the two parties eventually reached an agreement, Durel said.

“We were able to work this out,” Durel said. “We’re happy with the results.”

LUS still faces a second lawsuit filed Friday by two Lafayette residents, Elizabeth Naquin and Matthew Eastin, who are represented by a Plaquemine law firm that specializes in class actions.

Director Terry Huval said LUS was concerned about defending a suit brought by telecommunications companies with “well-financed legal teams.”

The deal reached is in the best interests of Lafayette, if only because “it’s easier to hit one ball coming at you instead of two,” Huval said.

BellSouth’s and Louisiana Cable and Telecommunications Association’s suit alleged LUS was not following a state law passed in 2004 to protect private telecommunications businesses from unfair government competition — called the Local Government Fair Competition Act.

Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, and Rep. Joel Robideaux, I-Lafayette, have filed a package of bills in the current session that would either amend or outright repeal the Fair Competition Act.

A successful repeal of the Fair Competition Act would mean LUS would have many fewer restrictions on the way it could provide phone, cable and high-speed Internet services.

City-Parish Attorney Patrick Ottinger said that Lafayette officials will request Michot and Robideaux to pull their bills in exchange for BellSouth dropping its suit.

Lafayette will ask that one bill remain as a vehicle to amend the Fair Competition Act to guard against “frivolous lawsuits,” Ottinger said.

Durel said that BellSouth has agreed in principle to such an amendment.

“That way we can go forward without a bunch of lawsuits,” Durel said. “We want to compete and we’re willing to compete.”

BellSouth’s attorney, Gary Russo, could not be reached late Tuesday afternoon — after word of the deal emerged — because he was in meetings.

Sunday was the last day to challenge LUS’ proposed bond ordinance — BellSouth and the cable association filed their suits Sunday by fax to the Lafayette Parish clerk of court.

State bond law says that after the deadline for suits challenging bond issuance has passed, no court is allowed to take up a later challenge on the issue.

The Naquin-Eastin suit will be heard under an expedited process that applies to bond issues. The last time LUS was sued over its proposed bond ordinance — a suit won by BellSouth in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal — it took about two months from the date of filing until the appeal was decided.

The Naquin-Eastin plaintiffs also sued LUS over its previous attempt at a bond ordinance, but their suit was eventually dismissed by the 3rd Circuit.

The Naquin-Eastin plaintiffs have sued LUS in the past alleging the publicly owned utility was over-charging for electricity — that suit was dismissed in state district court.

The Naquin-Eastin plaintiffs followed that dismissal by bringing an overcharge appeal to the Lafayette Public Utilities Authority.

Part of the Naquin-Eastin plaintiff’s suit on the bond ordinance alleges that LUS should not be allowed to pledge extra resources of the overall utilities system to back the communications bonds because those extra resources would be awarded as a refund to customers should their appeal to the LPUA be successful.

Ottinger has written the Naquin-Eastin plaintiffs saying the LPUA will not be able to hear their complaint until the body — which is made up of five councilmen whose districts are mostly within the city — can formulate rules for handling such complaints.
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http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/2694436.html
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Bellsouth could have avoided this completely and did what LUS asked them to do. LUS was going to get its FIOS network one way or another.

Edit: Original title is off. Lafayette still wins but instead lets Bellsouth compete with city services.

Last edited by Omega X; 26th April 2006 at 21:41.
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Old 28th April 2006, 21:51   #2
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why'd you post this?

yea...I said it.

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Old 28th April 2006, 22:12   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Bojanglez
why'd you post this?
I have a question, Mr. Bojanglez. Why'd you post THIS?
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Old 28th April 2006, 23:43   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Phyltre
I have a question, Mr. Bojanglez. Why'd you post THIS?
Nice one Phyltre.

yea...I said it.

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Old 1st May 2006, 15:55   #5
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Mr. Bojanglez: I do not think "yea" means what you think it means. Perhaps the word you are looking for is "yeah".

Incidentally, sounds like things are going great for Lafayette.

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Old 2nd May 2006, 17:25   #6
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Really why you post this?
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Old 2nd May 2006, 19:34   #7
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Read Thread: http://forums.winamp.com/showthread....hreadid=242709

Then come back and read the article at the top.
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