by Don Washington on 2011/06/02
A few days ago Comcast and the City of Chicago entered into a public-private partnership to bridge the digital divide. This plan is aimed at helping the nearly 40 percent of all Chicagoans with little or no access to the Internet and most of all the 330,000 needy students. It sounds like a multi-national corporation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are giving out kittens and free ice cream to people that can’t give them anything. This didn’t sound like something Comcast-NBC or Mayor Emanuel had in them. This sounded like the Grinch’s heart breaking the frame or Benjamin Netanyahu not kicking random Palestinians in the face when no one was looking… it sounded wrong… so what is going on?
As always everything starts with relationships. Every since Mayor Emanuel was Congressman Emanuel Comcast has been a supporter of his. David Cohen, the Comcast CEO was one of his many corporate visitors at the Whitehouse http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2010/10/01/which-wall-street-officials-had-rahm-emanuels-ear/. This love fest has had real impacts on our world. It is said that the “politically savvy”, (Why does that phrase always translate into toady for power or power weasel or morally flexible?) Rahm Emanuel encouraged the watering down if not eliminating Net Neutrality. This may sound like boring public policy gobbley-gook, it’s not. Without Net Neutrality you get a tiered internet where people with money get faster, more dependable service and even they only get the services their provider deigns to give them. In the world Mayor Emanuel is fighting for then and right now for $8.95 a month these folks won’t be able to download a jpeg unless they have twenty minutes to kill in a few years. http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/12/21/net-neutrality-passes-and-nobody-is-happy-with-it/ & http://www.savetheinternet.com/net-neutrality-101
Then he supported Comcast gobbling up NBC a move that will someday have unpleasant consequences for all of us. I say this because media mergers and deregulation have already given us a History Channel with programs featuring Larry the Cable Guy, Nostradamus and two and three hour specials on the existence of Hell, Angels and Prison lock down. I’m not the only one who was freaked out to angry that this media giant got even bigger http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-silver/comcastrophy-comcastnbc-m_b_810380.html I’m just trying to put this act of charity into context. Mayor Emanuel has spent his entire political life helping his friends get more powerful in return you can expect them to do him some solids and sometimes those will benefit the city in very small ways but trust me… when they want to expand their control they will point to “Internet Essentials,” a first-in-the-nation program designed to provide high-speed Internet services for the families of Chicago Public School students who qualify for free school lunches” as an example of how they are not Lucifer while asking for the metaphorical hearts of our first born children.
There are two things we should be on the look out here in regards to how the City that Works; works now. One, Comcast is about to have to renegotiate the deal it has to fund CAN TV our cable access affiliate. Will the Mayor be all fist in the face with them to keep them doing this civic good deed or not? Two, the Mayor has a lot of odious corporate friends. What sort of deals will they be cutting? Here’s short list of whom to expect to wander in bearing gifts and making off with something more substantial than China. Mayor Daley’s friends were thugs and occasionally thieves. These people are more like old-time colonizers. They’ve come to remake the landscape, control the people and settle in as rulers. You can jail thieves; colonialists are a wholly different level of power as they will use the carrot and the stick to remain in control. The Comcast-NBC deal is a carrot and the schools bill a stick.
Roger C. Altman: founder and chairman of Evercore Partners
Gerard J. Arpey and William K. Ris: CEO and senior vice president of government affairs for AMR Corp, the parent company of American Airlines
Brian T. Moynihan: Bank of America CEO
Jamie Dimon: JPMorgan CEO
Rupert Murdoch: News Corp. chairman and CEO (News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal)
John T. Chambers: Cisco chairman and CEO
Marc Lasry: co-founder and CEO, Avenue Capital
John W. Rowe: Exelon Corp. chairman and CEO
Mortimer Zuckerman: chairman and CEO of Boston Properties Inc., owner of the New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report
Steven A. Ballmer: Microsoft CEO
Andrew N. Liveris, Dow Chemical chairman and CEO
Sam Zell: Chicago real estate investor and chairman of Tribune Co.
Daniel S. Loeb: founder of hedge fund Third Point
Ken Mehlman: former campaign manager for George W. Bush; current head of global public affairs for KKR