Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT&T Dropped the Ball in Match with the City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT&T Dropped the Ball in Match with the City

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

AT&T Broadband has proved once again that it's not the sharpest quill on the porcupine.

From all outward appearances, the company wants to continue with its lucrative monopoly to provide cable television service to Jacksonville.

Yet, while locked in a fierce battle with the Mayor's Office and the City Council, which wants to extract a pound of flesh for the lousy service AT&T provides, the company decided it would be smart to accuse Mayor John Delaney of wanting to wrest the cable franchise away from AT&T so he can give it to his political cronies.

Dumb.

And don't think for a moment that the accusation was welcomed by the mayor. He fired off a letter to an AT&T lawyer that didn't mince words.

"I must admit that I am appalled by the public and personal attacks by AT&T's Denver spokeswoman," the mayor wrote. "As someone who has spent 21 years in public life, I am used to personal criticism -- it comes with the territory, and I am no longer particularly sensitive to it ...

"But even if the comment that 'the mayor wanted to steer the franchise to friends' was true (and it is absolutely and demonstrably not true, and reckless and malicious to boot), this public relations approach certainly doesn't advance the potential for a settlement one whit."

For the record, political supporters of Delaney have talked about possibly taking over the city's cable television system if AT&T's franchise is revoked, but Delaney made it crystal clear in an interview last week that any interested party would have to go through the bidding process to win the franchise and that the best deal for the city would be the one chosen.

Delaney began that revocation process last week. Among the reasons he cited were poor customer service, misrepresentations by AT&T and the company's less than straight-forward approach with its customers. …

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