On PointVincent Carroll, editor of the editorial pages, writes his On Point column most weekdays. He is also an author and freelance writer. Reach Vincent Carroll at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com.
Carroll: Council knows best
“We know what’s best for our communities.”
— Broomfield Councilwoman Lori Cox
Here’s a thought Cox might want to chew on: Maybe the residents in her community actually know what’s best for themselves. Maybe they are capable of deciding whether they want to buy TV service from Qwest without her guidance.
But no, Cox and her fellow council members know best. They know that Broomfield residents should be denied the choice of Qwest’s TV and what its assistant vice president for Colorado calls “turbo broadband speeds.” As a Rocky article last week explained, “councilors said Qwest hadn’t done enough to bring DSL high-speed Internet into their community, and there were questions about the readiness of the TV technology.”
That last concern is particularly odd. Aren’t Broomfield residents clever enough to spurn a technology if it isn’t ready for prime time? If Qwest wants to invest millions upgrading its system for a video technology few will buy, why should Broomfield care? It’s not as if the city will be on the hook for any losses.
In dragging its feet on Qwest’s request for a municipal TV franchise, Broomfield and other Colorado cities are denying citizens greater choice while suppressing competition that will restrain prices and boost market penetration.
More market penetration would equal more franchise revenue for those cities, by the way.
In remarking that “We know what’s best for our communities,” Cox was reportedly referring to Qwest’s attempt to persuade the legislature to authorize a statewide video franchise for any willing provider. Such a law would of course pre-empt the ability of the Broomfield council to suppress commerce — in the eyes of local officials, a precious right that must be defended at all costs.
In fact, the idea of a local monopoly franchise for cable has always been questionable. In the 21st century, however, it’s utterly indefensible — as the Colorado Democratic Leadership Council explained in a recent online article. Under the headline “Getting Colorado More Bandwidth,” the DLC said, “What once may have been a ‘natural’ monopoly has turned into an unnecessarily government-protected one. Requiring service providers to go through the time-consuming process of getting franchise agreements, community-by-community, results in something much different than a dynamic and competitive marketplace.
“Promoting more competition will benefit consumers of cable, the Internet and telephone services.”
Why can’t local politicians see that? Because they are consumed with preserving historic control. Such a blinkered perspective ensures that in this case, they don’t know best.
Paradigm of remorse
For a model of how to admit a mistake and move on, Conifer High School set some sort of standard last week. Rather than attack critics of this year’s yearbook, which contained several pages dedicated to student drinking and drug use, officials took a deep breath and . . . blamed themselves.
“I apologize to the students, staff and community of Conifer High School for my poor judgment while advising this year’s yearbook staff,” wrote Amy McTague, the yearbook adviser, in a letter to Conifer parents. While she meant well, McTague said, intent “is irrelevant at this point .. . some elements are completely inappropriate.”
The Conifer principal was equally direct. “I cannot defend the use of certain pictures and quotes” in the yearbook, Pat Termin told parents in a single-page letter that apologized without attempting to shift blame.
You might think the Conifer principal and yearbook adviser had little choice but to express regret, but you’d be wrong. Some public schools boldly circle the wagons when someone complains about outrageous behavior.
One day after Conifer school leaders wrote their letters, officials in the Boulder Valley School District actually refused to denounce a panel discussion at Boulder High School last month that condoned teen sex and drug use.
“Overall, the panel was appropriate for presentation to high school students,” contended Superintendent George Garcia, while admitting two sentences later that its content was in “direct contradiction with district health and conduct standards.”
Vincent Carroll is editor of the editorial pages. Reach him at carrollv@RockyMountain
Can the councilwoman say "Comcast kickback?"Posted by Its justme on May 30, 2007 10:18 AM
McTague and the yearbook staff have nothing to apologize for. A yearbook should memorialize what the school experience was really like, warts and all, not sanitize it for gutless milksops like Vincent Carroll.
Those who need help denying reality can have their pages glued together or covered with a Photoshop montage of kids hanging out at the old malt shop. Those with intestinal fortitude are advised to cut out the hypocritical tripe being spouted by Carroll in his ever-flaccid style and stick them between the pages for future entertainment. After all, you can't really properly appreciate a yearbook until you crack it a decade or two later and laugh at how you used to be.Posted by FYK on May 30, 2007 10:47 AM
FYK is, obviously, a "progressive" thinker way ahead of us milksop and hidebound traditionalists. The kind of person that may have graduated from ... well from Boulder.Posted by CC on May 30, 2007 02:37 PM
Local city council members are so mis-labeled. Some funny page editor uses the term "politician" and most assume, "high roller influence peddler waiting for the next lobbyist to line their pockets." Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, Cox IS a Broomfield resedent (life long) selected by her freinds and neighbors in her ward in a local election to REPRESENT their interests. Most suburban council members serve part time for less than $100 per week. If anyone is serving the interests of a big corporation located in downtown Denver, maybe it's a news editor working in downtown Denver. It wouldn't make sense for Qwest to attack a local council member. It would look bad. But if they could get a newspaper guy to do it for them then maybe even if they had a bad proposal and weren't willing to play by the same rules as Comcast, they could still look good.Posted by Dave on May 31, 2007 03:38 PM