The Duluth News Tribune published the latest installment of the Lake County Fiber project today. To catch you up on the saga, allegations were made that someone in Lake County heard from someone at the USDA that they might not have to repay the $56 million loan for fiber deployment. This came up twice in a recent House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.
Here’s the latest take from Russ Conrow, former Lake County attorney…
Minnesota Cable Communications Association Executive Director Michael Martin, in a June 5 commentary in the News Tribune (“Taxpayers are on a $56 million hook for the Lake County fiber project”), cited “allegations that a high-ranking Rural Utilities Service official told unidentified Lake County representatives that the federal government would not seek repayment of the loan in the event of a default of the system.” These “allegations” started with Mediacom. In February 2011 Mediacom filed a complaint in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector general. The USDA reported to a congressional hearing that the inspector general investigated and found the “allegations” and other complaints of Mediacom unsupported by facts. At that same hearing, the “allegations” also came up in a direct question through the influence of the cable association. The “allegations” were denied by the Rural Utilities Service, as Martin described in his commentary.
Now the same old “allegations” by Mediacom are published locally. Repetition does not improve their validity. I was at the meeting where Mediacom claims the statements were made. They are simply not true. No Lake County representative said a high-ranking Rural Utilities Service official told Lake County the federal government would not seek repayment of the loan.