Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

It's still difficult to pass net neutrality protections, and it looks like it might be getting harder because state level officials aren't able to withstand pressure from corporate lobbies.  The telecoms have a powerful and effective strategy - use their allies in the CBC and New Dems to stop net neutrality protections on the Federal level, while passing video franchising rights in the states so they don't need Federal permission to expand their business.  We stopped them in Pennsylvania, but they have the upper hand in a fight in Michigan where a bill is being debated.

The cable bill received lopsided 80-21 approval in the House on Nov. 14. Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said he wants the chamber to begin debating it Dec. 7. Legislative approval would send the bill to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's desk.

Granholm's re-election campaign received a lift from Google's July announcement to expand in Ann Arbor. At the same time, the cable bill is backed by Democratic constituencies like the Communications Workers of America, which represents thousands of AT&T workers in Michigan. CWA Vice President Larry Handley said Tuesday that Google and other opponents were trying to "hijack a pro-consumer, pro-labor bill."

Liz Boyd, Granholm's spokeswoman, declined to enter the fray Tuesday saying only that the governor wouldn't support a bill that "in any way is going to disadvantage consumers."

Local officials Tuesday continued to press their concerns that the legislation rips up franchise agreements between local governments and cable operators. The House-passed bill instead establishes a franchise system administered at the state level by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

AT&T is seeking statewide franchising as a faster means of marketing a bundled package of services its cable competitors already offer -- cable TV, high-speed Internet broadband and phone service.

There are other severe problems with the bill, of course, including redlining and loss of local control.

Opponents say statewide franchising would allow telecom providers to pick and choose delivery areas, avoiding low-income urban neighborhoods, for example. Proponents argue that a cable provider would have to serve at least 50 percent of the state's households within five years of receiving a franchise.

Mark Monk, operations manager for the Community Access Center in Kalamazoo, said the bill throws into doubt long-standing local services provided through cable infrastructure. He said local governments would lose franchise revenue as well as access to channels that broadcast high school sports and city council meetings.

I'm told that there may have been a deal cut with AT&T and Comcast to push this bill through.  The stakes on this one are huge; if we can't get the telecom and cable companies to negotiate on a Federal level, we can't pass net neutrality provisions and the internet will really be crippled.  And since Granholm has promised not to sign any bill that would disadvantage consumers, she shouldn't sign this bill.

Moveon set up a special link for us.  Please use this link and call Governor Granholm and ask her to veto the "Michigan Video Franchising Bill" (HB 6456) unless it includes net neutrality protections.  If you live in Michigan, please call your state Senator and ask him/her to ensure that any cable bill has net neutrality provisions in it.

This is a slow, steady process.  If we can beat them in the states, we can force them to come back to the Federal level and deal with the Congress we just elected.  Everyone knows the stakes here, this is just raw pressure from the telcos being put on lawmakers.

Tags: Jennifer Granholm, Michigan (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

Michagin bloggers do not seem involved.

by Alice Marshall 2006-12-11 10:13AM | 0 recs
I think it will take...

...direct comparisons with states with Anti-Net Neutrality and states with Pro-Net Neutrality before you get a real Net Neutrality wave building.

by MNPundit 2006-12-11 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

First, Granholm is a DLCer.  Second, Michigan's economy is soooooo in the tubes there is no way she can veto this bill and not support the jobs.  ATT will create 2,000 jobs in MI from this.  The lowest, entry level one will be 10+ hr. plus medical, dental and vision.  Just how is she suppose to say no?  Maybe if someone had paid any attention to the economic mess the "Big Dog" created in MI with his NAFTA/SHAFTA, she could afford to say no.  As it is, this is about saving peoples' homes and feeding their kids.  I'm for Granholm on this one as much as I hate the idea of losing net neutrality in MI.  Everyone was in an uproar about Katrina and what it did to families.  Well, MI isn't in much better shape and no one gives a damn.   There you go.  That simple.

by dkmich 2006-12-11 11:18AM | 0 recs
Google?

It's good to see Google is throwing their weight around on this. They just brought a couple thousand good jobs into the state - they're the innovators and the future, not the dinosaur telecoms. If Granholm has any sense, she'll double down on Google and tell AT&T to pound salt.

by fwiffo 2006-12-11 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

WTF.

I read MyDD religiously.  I consider it to be one of the best sources of political information for progressive activists, and the philosophy and approach of this site played a very key role in my own development as a blogger.

That's why it really bothers me to see this kind of unsubstantiated attack coming from here about Granholm.  To refer to the article and imply that she is "Selling Out the Internet" is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.

First, we don't know what Granholm is going to do with this bill yet -- to my knowledge, she hasn't given any indication as to whether she is going to sign it into law in its current form or seek changes after Google raised its concerns.  When her spokesperson says that they don't want to "disadvantage consumers," they could be referring to some of the other drawbacks to the bill (such as the loss of revenue to local government).  By saying that she is "selling out," you're insinuating that she wholeheartedly supports the bill and is opposed to net neutrality, which is clearly not the case.

Secondly, you can bet that the net neutrality issue will be pushed next legislative session regardless of what happens with this bill.  The Google announcement was one of the major turning points of the campaign (I was there), and she is likely well aware of the critical role that Google played in her re-election.  Right now (in the lame duck session), we have Republican majorities in both the MI House and MI Senate that want to concede as little territory to her as possible.  Ken Sikkema (the current Senate Majority Leader) is on the record opposing net neutrality, and I'm almost positive that Craig DeRoche (current speaker) is opposed to it as well.  Now that we have taken back the House and made substantial gains in the State Senate, its going to be a lot easier to deal with issues like net neutrality next term.  Sikkema is term-limited (I don't know Bishop's position on the issue) and the new House Speaker has a good relationship with the Governor, so we have a much better chance of getting this through.  Offhand, the Chair of the Michigan Republican Party is on the record as supportive of net neutrality.

For the record, I support net neutrality and would like to see it adopted here in MI as soon as possible.  If we were able to tie it to this bill, I'd be thrilled.  Given the current political environment (everything is about jobs), it is simply not realistic to block this bill because net neutrality has suddenly become an issue.  The bill does have several other drawbacks unrelated to net neutrality that need to be addressed, but that's another debate entirely.

You do not have the unanimous support of the Michigan netroots on this.  There are a lot of progressive bloggers here in Michigan who support net neutrality but don't think that this bill is the place or way to do it.  Matt of Michigan Liberal is probably the most widely read progressive blogger that talks state politics -- he thinks that net neutrality should be a should be dealt with separately from this bill.  Also worth reading is InterrupT's thoughts on HB 6456 from the day the article you refer to was released.

Its also worth noting that while a lot of people perceive Granholm to be a "DLC" or "establishment" type, she understands the potential of the netroots and is more supportive of us than any of the rest of the party establishment here in Michigan.  She reads us every day, reaches out to us personally, and supports our work while understanding that we aren't under her control and are going to be critical of her from time to time.

When the time comes, I look forward to fighting for net neutrality in Michigan.  I just don't think that this is the way to do it.

by whogotthegravy 2006-12-11 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

I read MyDD religiously.  I consider it to be one of the best sources of political information for progressive activists, and the philosophy and approach of this site played a very key role in my own development as a blogger.

Thank you.

That's why it really bothers me to see this kind of unsubstantiated attack coming from here about Granholm.  To refer to the article and imply that she is "Selling Out the Internet" is ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.

I actually have sources which are telling me she understands the full implications of this bill in terms of the internet, so I'm not attacking her.  Nor did I say that she is selling out the internet - I put a question mark there for good reason.

First, we don't know what Granholm is going to do with this bill yet -- to my knowledge, she hasn't given any indication as to whether she is going to sign it into law in its current form or seek changes after Google raised its concerns.

Again, I've heard that a deal was cut with AT&T.

When her spokesperson says that they don't want to "disadvantage consumers," they could be referring to some of the other drawbacks to the bill (such as the loss of revenue to local government).  By saying that she is "selling out," you're insinuating that she wholeheartedly supports the bill and is opposed to net neutrality, which is clearly not the case.

No, what I'm implying is that IF she signs this piece of legislation she is knowingly and explicitly lowering the leverage we have in protecting the internet.

Secondly, you can bet that the net neutrality issue will be pushed next legislative session regardless of what happens with this bill.

No, it won't.  The telecom and cable companies are very powerful and the only reason that we even have a chance on net neutrality is because they need franchising rights.  If they can get those through the states the fight is over, period.  

The Google announcement was one of the major turning points of the campaign (I was there), and she is likely well aware of the critical role that Google played in her re-election.  Right now (in the lame duck session), we have Republican majorities in both the MI House and MI Senate that want to concede as little territory to her as possible.  Ken Sikkema (the current Senate Majority Leader) is on the record opposing net neutrality, and I'm almost positive that Craig DeRoche (current speaker) is opposed to it as well.  Now that we have taken back the House and made substantial gains in the State Senate, its going to be a lot easier to deal with issues like net neutrality next term.  Sikkema is term-limited (I don't know Bishop's position on the issue) and the new House Speaker has a good relationship with the Governor, so we have a much better chance of getting this through.  Offhand, the Chair of the Michigan Republican Party is on the record as supportive of net neutrality.

Ah, I see the confusion.  Once Michigan passes this bill, the opportunity to deal with net neutrality on a state level is gone, and our leverage on the Federal level is severely reduced.

For the record, I support net neutrality and would like to see it adopted here in MI as soon as possible.  If we were able to tie it to this bill, I'd be thrilled.  Given the current political environment (everything is about jobs), it is simply not realistic to block this bill because net neutrality has suddenly become an issue.  The bill does have several other drawbacks unrelated to net neutrality that need to be addressed, but that's another debate entirely.

It's actually not a separate debate, though the issues are separate.  This bill will not create jobs, but it could severely limit long-term growth for Michigan and the US.

You do not have the unanimous support of the Michigan netroots on this.  There are a lot of progressive bloggers here in Michigan who support net neutrality but don't think that this bill is the place or way to do it.  Matt of Michigan Liberal is probably the most widely read progressive blogger that talks state politics -- he thinks that net neutrality should be a should be dealt with separately from this bill.  Also worth reading is InterrupT's thoughts on HB 6456 from the day the article you refer to was released.

Thanks for the links.

Its also worth noting that while a lot of people perceive Granholm to be a "DLC" or "establishment" type, she understands the potential of the netroots and is more supportive of us than any of the rest of the party establishment here in Michigan.  She reads us every day, reaches out to us personally, and supports our work while understanding that we aren't under her control and are going to be critical of her from time to time.

When the time comes, I look forward to fighting for net neutrality in Michigan.  I just don't think that this is the way to do it.

This is the battlefield that exists.  There isn't another fight, this is it.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-11 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

I see -- so the argument is that once they get franchising rights, they will no longer have an incentive to "trade" anything for net neutrality.

Just based on what I've seen in Lansing, the telecom/cable companies have a lot of influence over the legislative process.

My apologies if my language was a little vehement.  The "selling out" title seemed kind of provocative, and I replied without thinking first.

I'm going to talk to people and mull this over.  Thanks for all the info, and the kind response!

by whogotthegravy 2006-12-11 01:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

I appreciate your comment.  I haven't been over to the Michigan blogs and that was my fault.  This is a very confusing situation, and I'm trying to get more information.

by Matt Stoller 2006-12-11 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

"I haven't been over to the Michigan blogs and that was my fault.  "

That would've been a nice thing to do, before jumping on a Governor we all worked very hard to re-elect.  

by Christine 2006-12-12 01:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

It's nice to see a lot of fuss being made over net neutrality.  But as far as this bill is concerned, it is being blown way out of proportion.  One of the things to remember in regards to this bill is that it is not the actual franchising agreement, and any franchising contract that is signed will have to be renewed.  Now I doubt that there will be a net neutrality clause added to the franchising contract, but it is possible.  Also, regardless of whether or not net neutrality is in this bill or any franchising contract, if congress decided to pass a bill stating that all data sent and received over the internet must be treated as equals the Telecoms would have to comply.  We can't stop fighting for this issue if the bill is passed without net neutrality.  The important thing is to remember is net neutrality is much bigger than just this bill, and much bigger than just Michigan.

by InterrupT 2006-12-11 02:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

"Nor did I say that she is selling out the internet - I put a question mark there for good reason."

"Matt Stoller a pedophile?"  

by Christine 2006-12-12 01:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

I'm a very low-tech guy, so maybe this is a naive question, but--   Can the telecoms like AT + T and Verizon and others be by-passed altogether by using satellite connections?  Is there a possibility of an Internet network that is much more satellite-dependent than what we have now?

by global yokel 2006-12-11 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

The biggest threat to a neutral Internet is those who control the backbones, (the trunks of the Internet) the switches, (the machine that tells data where to go) and routers (less complicated switch) the data go through.  No matter which provider you get your connection to the Internet from, data still has to travel from point A to point B  and it will go past some point in the chain where the Telecom companies could be able to enact a two tiered system.

Let's look at it this way, you are on your way to work and are late so you try to get there as fast as you can; you decide to take the expressway.  You drive as fast as you can to the expressway but once you get there, traffic is slowed because of an accident.  Finally you make it to your exit and get off the expressway and drive as fast as you can to work.  Even though you drove as fast as you could to the expressway and after you got off the expressway, it still took longer to get to work than if the expressway wasn't slowed down.  Same thing with the Internet.  The data you call up on your computer could be coming from a computer that has a super fast connection, but then it hits a switch the Telecoms have set up to slow traffic from sites that hasn't paid them for a fast connection.  Even if the last leg your data travels is as fast as it could be, it still wouldn't reach your computer as fast as it would have if the Telecoms hadn't set up that switch that slowed certain traffic.  Really with all our fancy technology, the Internet still is built on top of and out of, the telephone system no matter which provider you get it from.

If you got your internet through a different provider it wouldn't really get around this issue since all these networks are connected together.  I think that it would however send a message to the telecom providers that the public does not want to pay for a service that slows down 90% of the Internet.

Stated a differnt way:
http://www.michiganliberal.com/showDiary .do?diaryId=7641

by InterrupT 2006-12-11 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Governor Granholm Selling Out the Internet?

Matt,

I am glad you brought this up.  It needed broader discussion.  I still stand by by post above.  In fact, I can't believe she actually let Bill Clinton into MI.  Hopefully, Google can influence her.  I don't know.  I do know that all those jobs at ATT are a huge deal for her and our state.  

by dkmich 2006-12-12 12:01AM | 0 recs

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