Eric Mansfield Folded on Fayetteville and Sold Out to Time Warner Cable

Backstory

As some of you might know I was a lobbyist for SEATOA (Southeastern Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors) who fought against Time Warner Cable and the rest of the telecom companies here in NC. We fought to preserve the right of municipalities to deploy their own networks to provide services being denied to them, their residents and businesses. While we had some victories in Wilson, Salisbury and Davidson, we ultimately lost this fight to a billion dollar industry. Cities that had plans and were not grandfathered into the bill were left out to dry and put at a competitive disadvantage. Cities that had already started to make investments or had made them in full already were stonewalled and forced to lose their investment. Fayetteville is one such city.

Fayetteville, after a long public approval process, invested in deploying 240 miles of fiber optic cable to bring 21st century broadband internet to areas of its city that were not being served by Time Warner Cable. Some of the representatives for Fayetteville did stand up after we informed them of the consequences of this bill passing for their city.

On March 28th, 2011 Representative Parfitt (D-Cumberland) from Fayetteville explained how Time Warner Cable served only one side of a main street running through the city and had refused to serve the other for many years. She noted that the city would lose the ability to make sure her city was properly served if the bill passed. This was the bills 2nd reading in the House. Here is a link to Parfitt's statement on the House floor, as well as some others.

One month later, on April 28th during a Senate Floor debate Sen. Eric Mansfield (D-Cumberland) tried to get Fayetteville grandfathered in to the bill by offering an amendment. Sen. Meredith(R-Cumberland) then repeated Representative Parfitt’s story about TWC not providing service to Fayetteville on one side of Main Street. A lot of debate on H129 gets heated on the floor. Senate Rules Committee Chair Sen. Tom Apodaca stepped in to kill the debate and Mansfield’s amendment to grandfather Fayetteville.

The Amendment and the Fold

Apodaca (who is a powerful Republican from Henderson, NC) submitted an amendment to ensure that there is no porn on city owned telecommunications systems. He went on to accuse Sen. Mansfield of letting his children watch porn on cable TV. As you could imagine, all hell broke loose on the Senate floor until Sen. Nesbitt called for an emergency recess.

The recess lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. When they came back in, Apodaca apologized to Mansfield for his out of line remark about his children. They both then tabled their amendments. Mansfield was trying to save a huge investment that was already deployed and installed- Apodaca was trying to kill it. Apodaca wins and Fayetteville became the only city with such an investment that did not get grandfathered in and will remain dark because of Mansfield's fold.

Here are links to both Apodaca's and Mansfield's tabled amendments.

The Questions

What happened in the closed door meetings during that recess? Why would Mansfield fold on his constituents? Is this leadership from Mansfield? What was the bait that Apodaca dangled in front of Mansfield?

My Conclusion

Sen. Wesley Meredith told my organization months later that he suffered from fighting his party on this issue. Apodaca is the Chair of the Rules Committee. He decides what bills see the floor and what bills die in his committee. Sen. Mansfield did not seem to have too much of an issue getting his bills moved forward after that. One might draw the conclusion that that was the bait.

Mansfield might say he was a freshman Senator with no power, but Senator Buck Newton(R-Wilson) fought successfully for his constituents as a freshman against his own party. Mansfield might say that it is give and take in the Senate, but he gave the future of Fayetteville and its people for what? I would like to stop the excuses before they surface. Sen. Mansfield represented the people of Fayetteville (he didn’t run for re-election); he should have fought tooth and nail for his constituents. He started off on the right note, but that note got real flat real quick.

Mansfield is now running to be the Democratic State Party Chair, leader of our party. With Art Pope’s regime in power, what would happen in the face of the coming adversity? If Mansfield folded on his constituents, do you really think he would stand up to Art Pope for the Democratic Party? I don’t. I need a leader who will lead in the right direction, a different direction then the one the Democratic Party has taken under David Young and David Parker. I want to get back to fighting for what we believe in, winning elections and turning this state blue again. I do not see Eric Mansfield as that leader.

The broadband story is only one instance for Mansfield’s lack of moxie, but a personal one I wanted to share with you. The future of the Democratic Party can go two ways. I simply want to get back to fighting, back to winning and back to producing results; something Mansfield knows nothing about.

Comments

Eric Mansfield is an accommodationist

Why didn't Senator Mansfield fight for his constituents?

Why did Senator Eric Mansfield kowtow to the Republicans?

Is Senator Mansfield an accomodationist?

Hard to take

Just to say it, anonymous comments are always welcome at BlueNC, especially when they add to the overall discussion. Attack comments like this, on the other hand, tend to backfire.

____________________________________

“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

RE: Hard to take

I agree with James. If you are going to attack someone attach your name for credibility.

Jay Ovittore

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Hard to fake

The funny thing is, I could tell from these few pompous words who the anonymous author is. I find it hilarious that someone with a voluminous resume who self-identifies as a political savant resorts to petty sockpuppetry.

Perspective on your take of HB 129

Dear Mr. Ovittore,

Thanks for bringing this fight we had on the Senate floor to light. If I may, I would like to clarify a few of your comments in your post. Sen. Meredith and I worked exceptionally hard to make this a bipartisan fight. Sen Meredith pulled the freshman republicans together and I pulled all the Democrats together to vote for Fayetteville being carved out. We had enough votes to do it. I ran the amendment because Sen Meredith was worried about retribution from the leaders of his caucus. I spoke on the floor so that all of the debate would be centered between Sen Apodaca and myself.

My argument was very simple, how could the Republicans who say that they don't like the Feds telling them what to do, now turn around and give Fayetteville a mandate especially when they have such a great buildout that they have funded. The argument resonated and we had enough votes to pass. Sen Apodaca then pulled a political maneuver that we as freshman did not anticipate. If you look at his bill, it has a handwritten word "SUBSTITUTE." This made his bill a substitute amendment. Under the rules of the Senate, once a substitute motion is made, it now takes over the original amendment. Meaning that if the substitute amendment is voted YES, the original amendment is automatically killed. If the substitute amendment is voted no, then the original amendment is voted on again. If the substitute amendment is tabled, the original amendment is automatically tabled.

The reason Sen Apodaca made the amendment to limit porn, because he knew everyone would vote to limit porn, thus effectively killing my amendment. I called it what it was a political maneuver and it conceded that our argument was right. The debate angered Sen Apodaca so much that he made the 'if Sen Mansfield allows his family to watch porn...." Thats when Sen Nesbitt called for a recess and we went to our separate caucus. Dems went to Dem caucus and Reps went to Rep caucus. Sen Apodaca and I never talked. We, the Dems, were angered by the political maneuvering, I was personally angry because of his statement. Why would I then go and cut a deal with him, if anything I was more embolden to fight. The problem was that Sen Apodaca, the Rules Chairman, had rigged the rules so it favored the Republican leadership. Once they returned, he tabled his motion, because he polled the Republican caucus and they were going to vote with me. Once he tabled his substitute amendment it automatically tabled my motion with no recourse. I asked Sen Nesbitt and our caucus attorney who both said that under the Senate Rules it could not be undone, and in fact when we were in power we did the same thing to them. The Republicans did this same maneuver every time they felt they might lose a close vote.

While your interpretation looks good on your blog with your accusations and inferences of wrong doing, the reason why we lost was because of a procedural maneuver not because some deal was cut.

You are certainly free to call Sen Nesbitt, our caucus leader, Sen Josh Stein our Whip or Sen Doug Berger or any other Dem senator who was present that night.

I find it particularly interesting that you would question my moxie when I have had to fight for everything I have. I fought out of an impoverished single parent home in south Georgia, fought to pay for undergrad (with the help of ROTC scholarship which didn't pay for room, board, or food) , I fought to pay for medical school, and I fought on foreign soil with the 82nd Airborne for my country. If any one knows about fighting and speaking truth to power, I assure you I do.

Respectfully,

Eric

Appreciate Your Response

Mr. Mansfield,

Sorry it took so long to get to this, but I am coming off a 14 hour day at work.

As a lobbyist, I fully understand the Senate rules, as I was fighting this issue for 5 long years until this bill finally passed in 2011. I would appreciate a less condescending response as I am not a child. The fact remains that Fayetteville has 240 miles of dark fiber that would have created jobs and built your community economically, including connecting the soldiers on Ft Bragg. Just to give an idea of what 240 miles is, you could run a straight line of fiber from Fayetteville to Asheville and have about 25 miles to play with.

I am sorry you obviously took this as a personal attack, but if you take it personal you shouldn't be in politics. If I wanted to get personal, I would have brought up the donation from AT&T(who pushed this bill with TWC) on 11/30/10. If bringing forward facts on this bill as I outlined in my piece drew this response, how are you going to deal with Art Pope's machine of lies and deceit?

I'll give you your moxie with fighting from nothing, but when you were fighting for something; I didn't see it. I want a leader who will bring people like me back into this party, not push me further away. I just don't see you as that leader, but that's my opinion. So I implore you to be candid and forthcoming.

Wilson was grandfathered. Salisbury was grandfathered. MI-Connection in Davidson was grandfathered. Even little Laurinburg was grandfathered. In the end, the question still remains(especially if you had the votes), why is Fayetteville the only city with this kind of taxpayer investment in the ground not grandfathered?

Jay

Jay Ovittore

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Holy smokes, he sold out his

Holy smokes, he sold out his constituency for that huge AT&T donation of..... wait for it....$250..hahahhahahaha

Appreciate your Response

Mr. Ovittore,

I did not take this as a personal attack. I wrote a pragmatic account because the Senate rules are quirky and although I was sure you may have understood them as a lobbyist, I was writing to the larger audience who may not know the Senate Rules. Further it was never my intent to be condescending, as you well know as a former candidate that in email and texts you have no ability for inflection so tone and tenor of conversation can be misconstrued.

The reason why Wilson, Salisbury, and Davidson were grandfathered is because their cities actually own their network. As you know, the city of Fayetteville does not own the fiber. PWC which owns the fiber is county owned. For us to get the carve out, we also had to change the charter to allow PWC to expand its authority beyond water and electricity. This would allow PWC to directly compete against TWC. We don't have a ATT broadband network.

I have been an advocate for PWC developing and expanding their network. About 5 years ago, I approached PWC about developing a public private partnership to provide broadband to impoverished areas of our city inexpensively. I believe that there is an existing digital divide especially among impoverished. Since PWC had 240 miles of fiber (80% still dark) it would allow them to use it to back haul data. Since they own the electrical grid, I thought that a great idea would be to use broadband over powerline(BPL) and then back haul with the 240 mile fiber loop. This would allow for the older homes and city housing to get broadband in homes that were not developed for broadband infrastructure. It would also give them the ability to read power meters from their base stations instead of using meter readers. We looked at doing WIreless broadband with 2.4 and 4.8 Hz wireless backhaul, but we have too many pine trees so it wasnt viable.

I enjoy brisk policy discussions and never attempt to make things personal. Despite our differences we have one common problem which is the Republican Party.

Eric

RE:

Eric,

Thanks for your response and clarification of tone. I do know how it was as a candidate. I am sure we can chat offline on our differences at a later time.

Jay

Jay Ovittore

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.” Thomas Jefferson

Thanks for the explanation

And just a note for future reference (to all lawmakers & staff), we really could have used that feedback back when the bill was being acted upon. We were following the issue fairly closely, and it seemed as if most of the action was happening behind the scenes.

We don't like behind the scenes very much here, as you have probably figured out by now.

I agree

SCHARRISON,

I agree with you, in general I probably did a very poor job of informing every one of the stuff that goes on in the General Assembly. I probably relied too much on the news to report on what we were doing. In this particular case our own paper, Fayetteville Observer, did an extremely poor job and did not cover the story. Certainly a missed opportunity to show the extreme measures some will take to get legislation passed. This is a great suggestion.

E