State Senator Joey Pendleton lashed out at Hopkinsville City Officials at a 1pm news conference today which was held at the James E. Bruce Convention Center. Pendleton is very upset over the manner in which AT&T has been treated regarding their effort & investment to provide a new Internet Protocol TV service to Hopkinsville.
Senator Pendleton told me that he felt the City of Hopkinsville was running away one of the best corporate sponsors the city had. The issue is this- should AT&T be subject to to local franchise requirements and regulations by the Hopkinsville Cable Oversight Authority? Local providers such as New Wave & Mediacom have cable franchise agreements and are bound by local regulations & oversight.
In a statement issued by Hopkinsville Mayor Dan Kemp, he states that AT&T has stated that they will not apply for a franchise and nor do they wish to submit to being regulated by the local Cable Oversight Authority like other providers. AT&T contends that they are not subject to the same rules and regulations as other cable providers. AT&T maintains that they can provide Internet protocol video services under its telephone franchise granted by the Kentucky legislature.
Well, I have talked to Senator Pendleton, Mayor Kemp, and a good number of other folks so now I'm going to take some liberties and call it- like I see it.
-Senator Pendleton feels strongly that the City of Hopkinsville is acting contrary to legislative intent and I believe by his comments takes it personally. Pendleton stated in his press release,
" I worked hard to help pass a broadband bill that has resulted in new investment and the expansion of high-speed Internet access across my district. I believe wholeheartedly that our collective success is tied to having access to leading edge technologies that can keep us connected."
"After all the time I have spent working to encourage investment and the expansion of high speed Internet access, I am perplexed by the actions of Mayor Kemp and the Hopkinsville City Council. Especially during this down economy, we should all be working together to bring new capital to our communities and we certainly should not be filing lawsuits that tell leading technology companies that their investment and innovation aren't welcome here."
So who is right and who is wrong? The City of Hopkinsville has filed suit in Christian Circuit Court asking the Court to clarify the law on the question of whether providers of Internet protocol video services are subject to local franchise requirements and regulations. The Kentucky League of Cities is helping the City of Hopkinsville with the financial aspects of the law suit.
-Some Council folks think AT&T are just taking advantage of a loop hole so as to have an unfair advantage. Some told me that advantage or not, we should be thankful that AT&T is willing to invest in the community and the technology which will provide a benefit to the area.
-Many are upset over waisting money on a lawsuit even though the Kentucky League of Cities is bearing much of the cost. This was probably under estimated by Mayor Kemp regarding the degree of contempt harbored by many citizens regarding the financial mess at KLC and KACo.
-I raised the question of why the City just did not request an Attorney Generals Opinion but was told that Attorney General Jack Conway has a big conflict since his Father-in-Law is an AT&T Executive. Between the Attorney Generals relatives and his millions in natural gas stock it would seem that Jack would be better suited as a lobbyist as opposed to a AG or Senator?
-In fairness to Mayor Kemp, who is mild mannered and a process thinker, his comments seemed to me that he was in favor of AT&T positions but at the same time could not ignore the legitimate concerns that some had regarding the legal question that had been raised. Kemp was a successful attorney before running for Mayor. Kemp said," I'm trying to help resolve this, I am for choice and competition."
For me, I guess I share Senator Pendleton's frustration!! In a bad economy, and an economy that is not getting any better in Rural Kentucky, why in the world are we picking a fight with someone who wants to invest in our community. Yea, we might all feel different in a better economy but beggars can't be choosers. Is AT&T pulling a fast one? Who knows. Is New Wave and Mediacom going to get screwed some where down the line? Probably. Is Mayor Kemp spending too much time trying to be fair and provide process to all as opposed to just being a good politician for a change? Probably. Did City Council pass the buck as opposed to just making a decision? Probably
So, what do we know for sure? I think we can safely say that Senator Pendleton ain't happy. The good Senator is becoming more like Jim Bruce everyday-"Busting heads and watch um scatter". It would probably serve a number of local politicians well to stay out of his way for a while. As for me I don't watch much TV or cable anyway. Support your library-it's free.