I attended a holiday party today and heard Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles expound on her intention to introduce new legislation concerning broadband deployment in Washington. Kohl-Welles’ bill comes from Progressive States Network. Progressive States Network is financed in part by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and telecom companies. The two are linked: CWA has historically worked to maintain the monopoly status of the telecom oligarchs, and most recently has operated fake grassroots front groups and sock puppet think tanks to help sink genuine progressive legislation that would bring competition to the telecom sector. Although Kohl-Welles attributes her legislation to PSN, her bills do not reflect the values and policies described in the PSN platform.
Kohl-Welles is heavily supported by the telecoms, notably Comcast, Verizon and Qwest, the three companies operating in Washington State. In the last session of the state legislature, Kohl-Welles introduced and passed a telecom-drafted bill that rendered data collected regarding broadband deployment and penetration out-of-bounds to the public. Asked about the bill, Kohl-Welles says that no legislation can be passed without the support of the telecom companies, so there is no point in even trying. See the link above for Art Brodsky’s play-by-play account of the same tactics when used in Maryland.
Kohl-Welles is a fan of the widely discredited Connect Kentucky and Connected Nation programs, crediting them with increasing broadband by 40%! At the National Media Reform Conference in June 208, she made a fool of herself describing the miracles attributable to Connected Nation and its progeny. Unfortunately for her, in the audience was Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge, one of the most important critics of Connected Nation (but not the only one.) Brodsky outed Kohl-Welles, but she continues to peddle telecom propanganda, in return for their lucrative junkets around the US. If you Google ‘Connected Nation’ you will find an entire genre of literature outing this group and their clever tactics.
The Reconstruction government has announced plans to introduce federal legislation that would require truthful, accurate broadband statistical data. Expect to hear Kohl-Welles and others complain about the need for a state level opt-out, so that Connected Nation, CWA, and the telecom oligarchs don’t lose the battles they have already won.