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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« Don Imus and Tommy Thompson - Revisited | Main | Tammy Baldwin Joins Judiciary Committee and Stays on Commerce and Energy As Well: A Huge Jump in Influence »

April 23, 2007

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Alex Pope

Hey Barry, when are you going to disclose to your readers that you are a consultant to municipalities on cable franchises and with this bill, you "other work" (when the taxpayers aren't paying your UW salary) is all going away? Shouldn't all your criticism be viewed through a filter of who is paying you? You aren't exactly a disinterested party yourself.

Barry Orton

I never claimed disinterest. Anyone with the Google could find out that I've been representing municipal cable franchise authorities and protecting the interests of subscribers and the public for over 25 years. On this bill, I've been working with the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, and the Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels. I never work for cable companies or phone companies. Anything I post, or testify to, or say in the media should be viewed in that light.

John Foust

Alex Pope - Orton's bias is hidden in plain sight. Maybe you can redirect your energy to Astroturf groups like TV4US, and ask them to explain in detail who created and funded their "grass-roots, non-profit" organization, and how they managed to afford all those television ads, print ads and postcards. Do you think it was from donations from all those people who were told they'd save $90 a year on their $1200 a year cable bill?

If I was part of the administration of any Wisconsin city, I'd be most concerned about the loss of local oversight of the public right-of-way. The bill eliminates City Hall's control over what equipment goes where. Would you like a closet-sized AT&T fiber box on the street in front of your house?

There's also potential financial liabilities associated with the way the bill nullifies existing franchise contracts. In my pop. 7,500 city of Jefferson, Charter loaned the city $30,000 to launch our PEG channels. It's being slowly repaid by subscribers. Does the City become liable for the debt if the franchise is nullified?

Alex Pope

That's my problem - I googled him and just saw that he represents municipalities after reading comments in the paper and on this site for months that only list him as a college prof. Every time TV4US is written about, they are listed as a AT&T funded organization. I know who is paying them, hell, AT&T is even listed on their national website. Until now, I didn't know Barry was getting paid too. Transparency should be transparency for all sides.

Barry Orton

Alex,

If you didn't know I was a municipal consultant, you might be the only one. Nearly every time I'm identified in the press it's as a veteran municipal consultant on cable television as well as a UW professor. My bio is on my website, and the site has numerous references to my role as a consultant to local telecommunications regulators. The major portion of my career has been doing this work. What's the mystery?

Publius

Barry - why not just disclose it right off the bat? The onus is on us to discern your biases, especially when you opine as frequently as you do?

Madison Realist

Prof. Orton's concern for customers is ironic given that both his full-time job at UW and his many consulting gigs are all paid for by the Wisconsin taxpayers.

So in essence, the taxpayers are paying Barry Orton to lobby for policies that will cause them to pay more for video services that have no local competition.

Anything to keep those consulting checks coming the professor's way, I guess.

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