April 04, 2008
AT&T pushes back on West U school-zone cellphone ban

The West University Place no cellphones in school zones ordinance has attracted some organized opposition.

AT&T is reaching out and touching the West U City Council over its vote to prohibit cell phones in the city's only school zone.

The telecommunications company has organized a campaign to oppose the ban by distributing "talking points" and "sample letters" for community leaders and residents to send to Mayor Bob Kelly and the City Council.

Well, good luck with that. I've got a sneaking suspicion that this measure is pretty popular in the community, so what they may wind up with is more of an Astroturf effort than a grassroots one.

AT&T materials aimed at reversing the ordinance characterized Walker's position as "wishy-washy."

"I think I was very clear in my comments to council," Walker said. He noted that 1,034 children attend West U Elementary School, saying: "I am very surprised that a corporate giant like AT&T would take a position that does not support the safety of our children."


AT&T spokesman Kerry Hibbs said the company is concerned about the safety of children.

But Hibbs said AT&T is oppposed to the West U ordinance because it outlaws hands-free attachments.

"We think a total ban including hands-free goes too far," Hibbs said. "There are a lot of ordinances like this starting to spring up. The point is, we would prefer that there be a statewide law that would be consistent, rather than a patchwork of different city ordinances."

Asked whether AT&T would oppose such a state law, Hibbs said, "Well, yes."

"There are a lot of things that distract drivers besides cell phones," Hibbs said.

You know, AT&T might have gotten some sympathy from me up till that remark about preferring a consistent statewide ordinance that they'd oppose anyway. I admire the candor, almost as much as I admire Anne Marie Kilday for asking the question, but a little consistency would be nice, too. Besides, the hands-free distinction is illusory, at least as far as safety goes. I don't object to leaving it out of ordinances on the grounds that it's too intrusive to enforce, but as it doesn't make a difference in performance, it's not something I'm going to quibble about.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 04, 2008 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I believed that they are concerned about safety. if kids get run over, they won't grow up and buy mobile phones.

Posted by: John on April 4, 2008 11:28 AM

No doubt AT & T is pushing back.

When in Cincinnati I was an aide to councilmember and a close-up witness to efforts by the Cincinnati City Council to regulate so-called credit counseling services. For this issue we were offered a campaign donation in exchange for letting the issue drop.

When a loud noise ordinance was proposed about thumping car stereos in residential areas, we got lawsuit threats from stereo makers. When we sought to regulate alcohol permits in the city, thousands of dollars from alcohol distributors were given to our opponent in a state senate race we lost.

And with the threats and the bribes always came the BS noise for public consumption about "middle ground" and "consumer choice" and all sorts of slippery slope arguments about how regulation would lead to some terrible and/or absurd outcome.

AT & T merits no sympathy from you nor even the thought of any sympathy. They want no middle ground. They don't care about any safety for children. They don't care that local laws don't jive with state laws. They just want no regulation at all.

Posted by: Neil Aquino on April 4, 2008 12:06 PM
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