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Letters to the Editor

Verizon monopoly? Time to bring competition

| Monday, Feb. 11, 2002

Dear Editors:

I am writing to call your attention to a recent decision by the New York Public Service Commission that has important implications for Pennsylvania consumers and our Commonwealth's high-tech future. The decision has garnered widespread national attention, and rightly so.

A huge win for consumers as well as Verizon competitors, the decision requires Verizon to dramatically reduce its wholesale prices - the fees competitors pay Verizon to lease loops, switches and other parts of Verizon's monopoly network. Verizon is required by federal law to lease these facilities at reasonable rates in exchange for the right to enter the long distance market. (Verizon is already in New York's long distance market.)

With the dramatic wholesale price reductions New York has ordered, Verizon competitors who have been unable to turn a profit in New York's local phone market by leasing Verizon facilities - and who have considered exiting the market - now have an economic incentive to stay and compete with Verizon.

This means consumers will continue to have choices when it comes to local phone service, with the lower prices and better service that competition brings. And Verizon competitors can continue to grow, create jobs, and eventually build their own communications infrastructure.

Consumers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania deserve no less, and it will take a tough-minded Public Utility Commission to make it happen. Since Verizon was granted permission to compete in Pennsylvania's long distance market, Verizon has proposed MORE THAN DOUBLING some of its lease prices - this in response to the Pennsylvania PUC's decision to reconsider Verizon's wholesale prices. Verizon's outrageous push to raise its wholesale prices here flies in the face of the PUC's clear intention to lower those prices.

More than that, it is a blatant attempt by Verizon to thwart local phone competition in Pennsylvania while it expands its monopoly into the long distance market here.

Pennsylvania can no longer afford the status quo when it comes to Verizon's wholesale prices. Consumers and small businesses want the benefits of choice in the local phone market here, and Pennsylvania needs the high-tech jobs and infrastructure that vibrant, irreversible local phone competition promises. We can't afford to see more Verizon competitors declaring bankruptcy, eliminating jobs, and exiting the market, leaving consumers vulnerable to the Verizon monopoly.

Pennsylvanians for Local Competition urges the Pennsylvania PUC to follow New York's lead. It's time to stop the re-monopolization of Pennsylvania's phone market, and bring genuine, irreversible competition to the local phone market.

J. William Lincoln,
spokesman,
Pennsylvanians for Local Competition,
New Stanton

Stuck in the 'Twilight Zone'

Dear Editor:

Can anyone tell me how I ended up in the "Twilight Zone?" This world, that I am in now, surely can't be the real world I was in immediately after Sept. 11. Back then, everyone was full of love, compassion and patriotism. Since that time, much has changed.

The Red Cross had to be taken to task for trying to use the World Trade Center contributions for purposes other than they were intended.

The American flag is starting to disappear from view.

Congress saw fit to help the airlines and then give themselves raises before going on a break for the holidays. Everyone should be able to enjoy the holidays, but how can the people who were laid off or had their unemployment benefits run out enjoy them?

Now, Congress is back in session and arguing over the budget. Did they worry about the budget when they raised their salaries• No!

Pennsylvania lawmakers saw fit to financially help themselves and the schoolteachers.

Fayette County commissioners felt the need to give burglars help in determining which homes would be most profitable to break into by listing them on the Internet.

Human Rights Groups are more concerned about the rights and welfare of the terrorists than the victims. They forget these people have one goal left and that is to kill Americans and others. I have faith in our government and its treatment of these murderers. They are receiving better treatment than any of us would if we were their prisoners. While stationed with the Air Force in Germany, I met many Germans who had been POWs during World War II in America. They didn't want to go home because of the good treatment they received in America.

The old saying, "You can't get blood from a turnip," doesn't seem to faze our lawmakers or school boards. They not only receive raises when contracts are signed, but feel the need to give themselves more raises during the life of their contracts. I say, "You can't get tax dollars from unemployed people."

Be real! How many of this county's taxpayers have health care coverage, big homes, new cars and can go on vacations?

When I went to school, we had one principal and one assistance principal for each school. Why so many now?

When I lived in Virginia, the school system was just another city department. Their budget had to be approved by the city council. The city council determines salaries and other expenses for the school system, not the school board.

The terrorists must assuredly will not break our American spirit, but our lawmakers and educators, with their greed, will.

How can anyone be so asinine and brazen to use tax money for their own financial benefit, when so many of their fellow citizens are victims of job cuts and without health care. Health insurance is another joke. More on this at another time.

Just because someone running for office says hello and shakes your hand before the election, don't think they will remember you or your needs after they are elected.

We have many abuses in this country: child, spousal, drug, etc. The abuse of the unemployed, the taxpayer and the needy, ranks high on the list.

Think about this when you vote!

Tim Schomer,
Connellsville

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