Published on Save Access (

MA: Overall Strategy

By saveaccess
Created 03/10/2007 - 11:45am

from: People First [1]

Overall Strategy

Verizon has introduced a bill into the Massachusetts State Legislature which is a disaster in more ways than one could even count, and they are putting a full-court lobbying and media press on to pass it, with extraordinary local and national dollars behind it. We need to kill this bill, but it’s going to take a seriously organized effort to win.

I created this blog not necessarily to be the solution to this organizing challenge, although people are welcome to use it as such, but to call attention to the fact that for all the very talented and well-intentioned people who are working to kill this bill in their own way, we are dangerously disorganized. And this is not simply the rant of someone predisposed to organizational tidiness and efficiency; it is a call to arms about the fact that Massachusetts towns and Massachusetts citizens are literally under attack by a corporation whose only concern is its own profitability, and this corporation has marshalled its troops and has begun firing its cannons at us, and at the moment, all we have is a relatively small and dispersed group of 21st century patriots firing their pistols in all sorts of directions hoping to land a hit here and there. This is a formula for failure, and we’re not just failing for ourselves here, we’re failing for everyone in Massachusetts who stands to lose if this bill passes. So it’s time to put our heads together and come up with a winning strategy.

Such a strategy would address the fact that no one of us has the time or energy or knowledge or connections to do everything that needs to be done, but every one of us can do a little bit, and would do a little bit, if we only knew what that was and how it connected to what other people were doing. And all those little bits, if well organized, could actually win the day. And even if we don’t knock Verizon’s state franchising plan totally out of the box for good, taking the steps to be organized now gives us the connections and infrastructure to be more effective with the next battle. Otherwise, we will simply have to start a square one again the next time, while Verizon will be about 10 steps and 100 guns ahead of us.

So, what would a comprehensive strategy entail? You don’t have to look too far, but swallow your pride for a moment and take a close look at Verizon, because they could teach us a thing or two about comprehensive strategy.

* Messaging. Talking points for our perspectives.
* Information and Data Collection. Has cable competition actually led to lower prices as Verizon alleges? Have rates declined in communities now served by Verizon? [And, by the way, the only evidence ever cited for Verizon’s position is the one FCC report, but has anyone actually seen this report. Can we get a copy? Is it credible? And how does its findings square with the experience with the growing number of Mass. communities served by two or more wireline broadband companie?
* Lobbying. How do we get to every legislator and the Governor?
* Media Coverage to counter’s Verizon’s full-court media press. (Don’t believe me that they are bringing national resources to bear on this fight? Just look at this March 7th article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette written by a DC lobbyist for the trade group/think tank ALEC. Who’s ALEC? Just ask: SourceWatch or ALECWatch.)
* Public Education. Using our own media, our own convening authority, to reach the public directly. (What are we up against? Ever heard of “astroturf” organizations? Me, neither. They’re fake substitutes for real “grassroots” organizations, funded by corporations but made to appear that they advance public, not private, interests. Verizon’s got one for this Massachusetts bill. I think it’s pretty hot! I think I’d like to contribute money to it. Look at that, I can! But it makes me wonder? Where the *??!!+ is the real grassroots website? Where is our website on the bill? Where can people opposed to the bill go to get timely information, find out what’s going on, and how they can get involved? )
* Fundraising.
* Internal Coordination and Communication.
* Identifying and Building Coalitions.

Perhaps you can suggest other components to this overall strategy, too! Perhaps (we can only hope!), people are working on these right now. But if they are, I wish they would start communicating what they are doing with the rest of us, and starting working in a coordinated effort that multiplies our chances for success.

I’ve created categories for each of these different components, and populated them with some initial comments, as you’ll see in the right column. If you have any information about anything going on in any of these areas, PLEASE post them here. If you are not yet registered to post to this weblog, please contact me and I’ll set you up.

Also, I would like to organize a meeting or conference call of anyone who wants to work this Verizon bill issue, and do so as soon as possible. Please contact me if you would like to participate. Thanks!

John Donovan

Source URL: