Did Comcast Ghostwrite Politicians’ Letters of Support?

A report at The Verge’s website today suggests Comcast has been ghostwriting letters of support that politicians have filed to back the company’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

On August 21st, 2014, Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, Georgia, sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission expressing emphatic support for Comcast’s controversial effort to merge with Time Warner Cable. Not only did the mayor’s letter express personal excitement for the gargantuan deal — which critics say will create a monopoly that will harm millions of consumers — but it also claimed that the entire town of Roswell adored Comcast. “When Comcast makes a promise to act, it is comforting to know that they will always follow through,” Wood’s letter explained. “This is the type of attitude that makes Roswell proud to be involved with such a company,” the letter asserts, “our residents are happy with the services it has provided and continues to provide each day.”

Yet Wood’s letter made one key omission: Neither Wood nor anyone representing Roswell’s residents wrote his letter to the FCC. Instead, a vice president of external affairs at Comcast authored the missive word for word in Mayor Wood’s voice. According to email correspondence obtained through a public records request, the Republican mayor’s office apparently added one sign-off sentence and his signature to the corporate PR document, then sent it to federal regulators on the official letterhead of Roswell, Georgia.

The report goes on to cite a number of instances where officials — including then-Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett — submitted letters of support for the merger, letters that barely differed in wording from information provided by Comcast.
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Three Reasons Chris Christie Is the Wrong Man to Fix Atlantic City

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Atlantic City N.J., on Thursday, May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks in Atlantic City N.J., on Thursday, May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Here’s what stinks about New Jersey’s takeover of Atlantic City’s finances: Chris Christie hasn’t exactly proven himself extra-insightful about how to arrest the city’s decline.

Christie has doubled-down and then doubled-down again on projects and ideas that were clearly dubious, all in an attempt to extend Atlantic City’s shelf-life as a gambling mecca — and yet in the end he decided it was the city’s leaders who couldn’t be trusted with its financial future.

“I can’t wait any longer,” the governor said in announcing the takeover. “We need to take more aggressive action.”

Granted, there’s a lot of short-sightedness and blame to assign all around when we talk of Atlantic City’s stumbles. But Christie’s aggressive actions have been, taken as a whole, aggressively wrong.

Here are three reasons Chris Christie is the wrong man to fix Atlantic City:

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Christie Edges Closer to 2016 Race

Chris Christie

Chris Christie has started his own political action committee, the latest — perhaps best — signal that he’s preparing to run for president in 2016.

“The launch of the PAC, called Leadership Matters for America, is the clearest sign yet that Mr. Christie is running,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “It allows Mr. Christie to assemble a team of about a dozen staffers and fundraisers who could support a potential run for president, as well as to raise money that can be used to contribute to like-minded political candidates.”
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Big Snow Arrives Today

Looks like you’ll finally get a chance to put Philly Mag’s Ultimate Guide to Sledding in Philadelphia to the test. Snow is expected to arrive in the city today — and depending on which forecast you believe, we could be in store for quite a lot of it.

“A ‘potentially historic’ storm could dump 2 to 3 feet of snow from northern New Jersey to southern Maine starting Monday, crippling a region that has largely been spared so far this winter, the National Weather Service said,” AP reports. “Boston is expected to get 18 to 24 inches of snow, with up to 3 feet west of the city, and Philadelphia could see 14 to 18 inches, the weather service said.”

That’s why — as we told you last night — Philly’s public and parochial schools are closing at noon today.

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Weather Watch: Philly Schools Close Early Monday

With a big snowstorm bearing down on the region, Philly school officials said tonight that classes will be dismissed at noon Monday across the district. The city’s Catholic schools are also reportedly dismissing at noon.

“Very hazardous conditions are expected from Monday afternoon through mid day Tuesday!” the National Weather Service at Mount Holly reports. “The combination of windy conditions (wind gusts up to 50 mph) and the snow will result in blizzard conditions in northeast New Jersey. For the rest of the region, some blowing snow is possible.”
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Baby Hospitalized After Ferret Attack

A one-month-old girl received severe facial injuries after she was attacked by the family’s pet ferrets in Darby Borough, officials say.

“Sources say the child was placed in her car seat and then left on the floor. The mother of the child then went upstairs in her home,” 6ABC reports. “During the time the mother was away, three ferrets escaped their cloth-like cage and then chewed on the girl’s face.”

The parents responded when they heard the child screaming, reports say. Officials indicated the attack may be representative of deeper problems.
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Cohen: Net Neutrality Could Scuttle Time Warner Merger

Comcast is the focus of a big Page One story today in the Wall Street Journal, focusing on the company’s power in Washington, net neutrality, and the proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. It mostly covered well-worn ground, but we learned a few things, too. Three things that we learned:

President Obama’s favored net neutrality rules could scuttle the merger. The FCC is expected to vote in February whether or not to regulate Internet providers like a utility, as the president supports but Comcast opposes. If the FCC proceeds, Comcast Vice President David Cohen said Comcast will  “see what the order is and to then make a judgment about whether it is sufficiently bad for the broadband business that it would cause us not to go through with the transaction, or whether we’d go through with the transaction and simply have to be more conservative in our investment plans.”
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Wawa’s New App Offers Free Drinks, Food

unnamedNow Wawa is working its magic on your smartphone.

The beloved convenience store chain this week unveiled the Wawa app. And while it’s handy — you’ll be able to use the app as a “gift card” that can be used to make purchases at the store — it’s also, literally, rewarding: Use it often enough, and you’ll be treated to free food and drinks.

There’s now a payoff to being a Wawa fanatic. But you’ve got to spend at least $50 before you accumulate rewards.

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Council Members Back Testing “Revolt”

There’s a “revolt” against standardized testing under way in Philly, and some members of the City Council are backing it.

Seventeen percent of students at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences have opted out of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and other standardized tests, City Paper reports. Council members María Quiñones-Sánchez, Mark Squilla and Jannie Blackwell have now backed those efforts.

“Until we put some limits on this obsession with testing students, we will see protests like that at Feltonville,” Quiñones-Sánchez said in a statement backing the protests. “We stand with families who are making the choice they believe is best for their children.”

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