Maine Regulators to Re-consider Terms over Fairpoint’s Acquisition of Verizon

first_imgMAINE REGULATORS TO RE-CONSIDER TERMS OVER FAIRPOINT’S ACQUISITION OF VERIZON(January 16, 2008) — The Maine Public Advocate is suggesting that the states regulators revisit the conditions they approved earlier this month for Fairpoints acquisition of Verizon. The readjustment was suggested after The Vermont Public Service Department agreed on a deal with Fairpoint that differed from terms made between the company and Maine.The Vermont Public Service Department, which represents consumers, reached an agreement with the phone companies on January 8. That agreement is now before the Vermont Public Service Board, which acts as the states regulatory body and has the final say in the decision.Vermonts pending terms and conditions involve a performance enhancement plan that requires Fairpoint to put $12.5 million aside annually for improvements and advancements in service quality if certain standards are not met. Maines deal with the company requires Verizon to provide Fairpoint with more than $235 million for debt reduction. Maines public advocate is worried that certain conditions being debated in the Vermont deal would mean that some of that money will be used for other purposes. Maines public advocate is concerned that conditions of the Vermont deal will threaten Fairpoints financial viability.This backwards step in the drawn out struggle over the approval of Fairpoint’s acquisition of Verizon comes after the Federal Communications Commission January 9 approval of the transfer of Verizon’s landline business in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to FairPoint Communications, Inc (NYSE: FRP).The FCC commissioners voted 3-2, with both Democrats voting against, to approve the assignment of authorizations and licenses associated with the proposed acquisition by FairPoint of Verizons wireline operations in Northern New England.The FCC order concludes, “We find that no significant public interest harms are likely to result from the merger, and that public interest benefits are likely to occur.”In dissenting, Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein wrote, in part: “I am particularly concerned about these issues because Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire have an exceptionally high percentage of rural residents. Consumers in these rural areas, despite the efforts of state and local governments, face some of the lowest levels of broadband penetration in the country. A rural-focused company may provide real benefits for the consumers in this region, but more careful attention to the benefits proffered seems warranted here, particularly given the size and scale of the transaction. Like a python swallowing an elephant, the acquiring company here will be taking the reins of an entity that is approximately six times larger than its current size.”Yet, inexplicably, there are no special measures in this Order to address the concerns about broadband deployment, wholesale service, or service quality for customers in these three states. The Order itself does not wrestle in any serious way with the ultimate question for consumers, as posed by the consumer commenters, of what level of service these new customers will be receiving and at what price. Instead, this Order takes at face value assertion after assertion without engaging in meaningful analysis. I might have been persuaded that, with the proper analysis and conditions, this merger could serve the public interest. Sadly, neither is offered in this Order.”Commenting on the FCC’s approval, Gene Johnson, chairman and CEO of FairPoint, said, “In providing the approval for the necessary license transfers related to this merger, the FCC has recognized this transaction is in the best interest of consumers and businesses. As we continue to make progress toward closing this transaction, we look forward to serving our new customers in northern New England and offering enhanced communications products and services.”The Order can be found at:http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-226A1.doc(link is external)last_img read more

Indian-Origin Catholic Priest Arrested in U.S. On Charges of Child Sexual Abuse

first_imgAn Indian-origin catholic priest has been arrested in Rapid City, South Dakota, and charged with two counts of making sexual contact with a child aged under 16 years.The local police arrested Fr. John Praveen on Oct. 2 following a joint investigation conducted by the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s office. The investigation started on Sept. 30 after the minor approached the police, alleging two separate cases of sexual contact with the priest. Praveen hails from Telangana and had been deputed to preach at a Rapid City diocese in South Dakota state, the police said in a statement.Praveen, 38, was produced before a magistrate judge via video conferencing the day after his arrest, where the judge kept his bond at $100,000. The preliminary hearing into the case is scheduled for Oct. 18, reported Capital Journal.Praveen served with the Sanjeev Sadana Society (Holy Spirit Fathers) in Telangana before being transferred to the United States, according to the Indian Express.“On October 2nd, local law enforcement arrested 38-year-old John Praveen (AKA John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati) for two counts of Sexual Contact with a Child Under 16, a class 3 felony which carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine on each count,” the Rapid City Police said in a statement. “The investigation began on Sept.30, when a juvenile victim came forward to report the incidents. The investigation revealed that Praveen made sexual contact with the child on two separate occasions.”Terming the case as high priority, the police are asking people to share any information that they may have against Praveen to help them with further investigations.Praveen came to the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City in November 2017 on a temporary basis for 10 years, the Capital Journal said. At first, he was assigned originally to All Saints Church in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, and at the time of his arrest, he was serving as the parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City.“The Diocese of Rapid City became aware of allegations that a priest from India had sexual contact with a child under 16 years of age. Fr. John Praveen Itukulapati, a member of the Holy Spirit Fathers of India, has been serving in the diocese since November 2017,” the Journal reported, citing a statement issued by the Cathedral.“The diocese learned of this allegation from the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office on Monday evening. The Diocese of Rapid City is fully cooperating with law enforcement in this ongoing investigation. Fr. Praveen has been arrested and will make his first court appearance tomorrow. Bishop Robert Gruss has also removed him from all ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City,” the statement added.Bishop Gruss told the publication that the diocese conducted a background verification on Praveen but did not go into the details as the check did not indicate behavior that would cause any worries.“There is nothing in his background to suggest such behavior. His religious superiors in India verified that he was a priest in good standing,” Gruss was quoted as saying in the report. Related Itemschild abusesouth dakotaUnited Stateslast_img read more