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Editorial: Sen. Mitch Carmichael’s lesson to all – A principled stand

From the Register-Herald of Beckley:

Make no mistake, when a big and powerful corporation doesn’t get its way on public policy matters no matter the venue, it will often resort to petty retribution because, well, it can, proving that the bottom line – heads and tails above all other concerns – drives its corporate mission.

Not all companies – thankfully – are so self absorbed and blind to the greater good, but when Frontier Communications “laid off” an employee who just happened to be president of the West Virginia senate, it showed itself just for what it is – a company far more interested in dollars and its monopoly than in service to the people and the economy of this state.

This is nothing new in the corporate world, but no less odious. We see it in the coalfields when company lawyers argue against and attempt to block or weaken reasonable safety regulations while coal miners show up to work, trusting that the ventilation system is working.

We see it the financial sector when there are risky and profitable investment vehicles to peddle, and politicians rush to bail out banks “too big to fail” when they do, indeed, fail, falling into default and crashing the U.S. economy simultaneously – all at taxpayer expense.

It happens in all industries including telecommunications.

Frontier Communications opposes any legislation in West Virginia that would invite broadband competition because, well, monopolies are nice if you are the company pulling the strings and cashing the checks.

When one of its own employees happened to be a powerful state senator who did not stand with Frontier’s self interests, well, off with his head.

The politician? West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael

His dismissal – and let’s be truthful, here, he was fired – followed his refusal to block a broadband expansion bill.

“The one thing I’m not going to do here as Senate president is advance special interests,” Carmichael told the Charleston Gazette-Mail after news of his firing spread. “It was obvious the (Legislature) wanted that bill, and I wasn’t going to stand in the way of it.”

Carmichael also revealed that the company asked him to sign a “nondisclosure” agreement that would keep him from talking about his ouster. He refused.

Frontier’s response? “Frontier does not comment on personnel matters.”

While we have disagreed with Sen. Carmichael on issues from time to time, we were impressed when he stood up to Frontier.

Fast and reliable broadband service to all corners of West Virginia remains on the state’s wish list, not a thing accomplished.

Extending infrastructure in all forms will open opportunities for business and has the potential to expand the state’s economy.

And, it is reasonable to argue that extending broadband will happen more quickly with competition.

That is not what Frontier wants – and we understand why

Sen. Carmichael saw wave of support for the bill and decided not to interfere with the will of the people.

He proved himself to be a principled politician – and we don’t hear those two words used in tandem near enough.

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