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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

1/28/10

SWEETHEART DEAL FOR TELECOMS PENDING IN AUGUSTA

This is a good example of the sort of corrupt legislation we can expect in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on campaign financing.

Maine Public Broadcasting - A bill crafted to protect private sector interests in the expansion of broadband service attracted an afternoon's worth of attention today at the State House, where supporters and opponents of the legislation squared off on what some critics were referring to as a FairPoint bill. FairPoint Communications supports the measure, which would prohibit state agencies from providing telecommunications services to other state agencies or their tenants.

State Rep. Stacey Fitts, a Pittsfield Republican, insists that his bill is simply an attempt to level the playfield for telecommunications in Maine. . .

In a hearing before the Legislature's Utilities and Energy Committee, Fitts made it clear he was uncomfortable with the University of Maine's telecommunications network that connects the university with the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. Fitts says the proposed legislation would preserve that link, but would prohibit any further expansion by the university -- something that the lawmaker says would obstruct efforts of companies like FairPoint to expand high-speed Internet service to rural Maine. . .

"We believe that this legislation actually creates a clear directive to the state entities, and essentially what's being asked in this bill is that state funds not be used to inhibit private investment in broadband infrastructure," says Beth Ossler of the Telephone Association of Maine.

Ossler says telecommunications providers have to be assured that they won't have to compete with a large state entity like the University of Maine System.

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