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Comcast Gets Hard Up At FCC Meeting

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the asleep-in-the-seats dept.

The Internet 163

alphadogg notes a story over at portfolio.com claiming, and presenting evidence, that Comcast paid people off the street to take up room at yesterday's FCC hearing in Massachusetts. Comcast acknowledges that it paid people to hold places in line for its employees. But Save The Internet claims that people were bussed in by Comcast and then took up almost all available seats in the meeting room 90 minutes before the meeting opened, blocking scores of interested people from attending. Such tactics are not unheard of in Washington DC, but how appropriate are they in a regional meeting on a college campus?

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Astroturfing? (5, Funny)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565834)

What I want to know is how much one could get per hour as a professional "warm butt"--and what sort of requirements for participation there may or may not be. Are you contractually obligated to applaud, shout, and carry on? Or can you just sit and read a book?

Re:Astroturfing? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565910)

I would love the job, but hate myself.

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565932)

I couldn't imagine anything more than 20-50 dollars...

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566014)

And how long is this meeting? If it's only an hour, then sure, I suppose, if I'm not doing anything else that day--but if this is a multi-hour meeting, I'm going to want more than just a nice lunch out of it.

Re:Astroturfing? (2, Informative)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566084)

I can't find specifics, but from this article [arstechnica.com] I would wager it was probably a whole afternoon. I would of jumped at the chance to be there, and get beer money for later. But I can only imagine what Joe Six-Pack and company thought of the whole event.

Re:Astroturfing? (4, Funny)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566266)

The best method is to get Cisco to bus you in, and then link up to a group IM service so that you can represent all the interested parties who WEREN'T able to get in because of Cisco's seat stuffing :)

Re:Astroturfing? (2, Interesting)

HiThere (15173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566946)

Why did you say Cisco when the summary said Comcast?

It was Comcast that was reported as paying people to stuff the hearing.

P.S.: No, this isn't an ethical approach, whether in Washington DC or elsewhere. But if it isn't illegal, then immoral companies will do it. Especially if they have no rational grounds to forward in favor of the decision that they want to have reached.

Re:Astroturfing? (1, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568218)

I would of jumped


It's "would have jumped"!

Re:Astroturfing? (5, Informative)

vtscott (1089271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566460)

Reminds me of a similar incident with a protest group [wikipedia.org] against walmart.

An article in Las Vegas Weekly reports that as part of its Wake Up Wal-Mart campaign, the UFCW hired some protestors to stand outside a Nevada Wal-Mart and protest against it. According to the article, the UFCW was being hypocritical in several ways. In particular: [1] * The protest workers were not unionized.
* The UFCW paid the protestors less than Wal-Mart paid its employees. The UFCW paid the protestors $6.00 an hour. Meanwhile, the average Nevada Wal-Mart employee was paid $10.17 an hour.
* The protestors did not have health insurance. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart provided its employees with health insurance. For example, the article mentioned a Wal-Mart employee whose husband received a liver transplant, and the $600,000 cost was paid for by their insurance policy.
* The protestors were working outside in the hot sun where the temperature was 104 degrees. One of the protestors ended up suffering from heat stoke. Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart employees were working inside a cool, air conditoined environment.
Those people had to walk around in the hot sun for $6/hour so I doubt comcast had to pay much for warm butts to sit inside and nap.

Disclaimer: I'm all for protesting walmart although I don't think it's right to pay people to do it. And I think what comcast did was much much shadier.

Re:Astroturfing? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566772)

You harbor under the myth that pay is some how tied to physically working hard.

Re:Astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22567756)

We used to get those hired protesters here in Atlanta too, though they represent the "carpenter's union". They would hire up to 50 people to scream and shout until the corporation either ignores them long enough or pays them off to go to the next building.

I wonder if drive-by-paint-balling is just a minor crime?

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567810)

A union was picketing outside of my office building for months because another tenant in the building was using non union workers for their build out. All of the picketers were some ragged looking old bums off the street and paid cash at the role call at the end of the day. Once they got paid, they caught the bus and went home.

Re:Astroturfing? (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568100)

Disclaimer: I'm all for protesting walmart although I don't think it's right to pay people to do it.
At first I agreed. But now I don't. And it is because of retaliation.

A wal-mart employee that protests has a fair chance of facing increased scrutiny leading to firing for some sort of jusitifiable, but trivial, violation. When the protests are outsourced to independents, the employees reduce their risk (but increase their costs since they have to pay these people).

Furthermore, despite their rhetoric, unions are about improving the situation of union members, not the population as a whole. So it may seem hypocritical to outsource the protesting, but if the end result is better for union members then so be it.

Re:Astroturfing? (1, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568876)

Why is everybody so much against Wal-Mart? I don't understand it, the employees get average (usually above minimum-wage) pay AND (free) health insurance. Talk to your average waitress, chances are she doesn't get paid anything or way below minimum wage (Perkins Family Restaurants and Applebee's comes to mind) since she earns too much tips (according to suits) and they usually don't get health insurance, they can hardly get their employers insurance to pay up for work related injuries.

Wal-Mart is indeed big (became big, they didn't start out that way) and they take out some local competitors (because they can't (amount of items they carry) or don't want to (lower their profit margins to compete) because of the high prices local competitors have. I've heard complaints that they rise prices when the locals are eliminated but honestly, I hardly see them rising above the prices of any local retail business. Retail businesses have to compete in other areas where Wal-Mart can't compete and that is in personalized customer service and after-sales service. I've seen people do it though, it's not impossible. I've seen a local computer store flourish when Wal-Mart came because the other computer store didn't want to compete in prices (they thought that the market would keep carrying their high prices just because they were good at fixing stuff) and people needed help or upgrades with their Wal-Mart crap or some high-end stuff that Wal-Mart doesn't carry (they don't carry stuff that only some people will want, only retail stores can do that).

Some say they are evil because they don't allow to unionize, but I've seen big companies go under because of the unions and I think it's right for Wal-Mart not to allow the mentality of we-want-more-pay-but-less-work. I've seen a local cable business go under because the workers were doing 1-2 installations per day and then took the van home for the rest of the day and then returned it later. It was proven with GPS tracking systems that workers went to the bar, home or their mistresses yet they couldn't be fired because of the unions.

Currently I work at a place (large, medical and educational) where the cleaners are unionized. My department hasn't been cleaned properly in months and every other week somebody else comes in to do it. The guy that is there now, comes in the middle of the shift in my office without asking and starts eating his breakfast. They are on the clock, in my office, eating without asking and we can't fire them because they are unionized. All of our health insurances raised to keep up with the raising costs (it's a whole whopping $5/month now compared to free before), all of us had to eat it except for the unionized ones who started protesting. They made us (the honest, hardworking people) eat the cost of their (the lazy, unionized people) health insurance and guess what, soon enough it's going to raise again because they don't want to pay for it. One of my colleagues had to go to 'sensitivity training' because she raised her voice (not yelling, I was there) at a unionized laborer who didn't want to go on the roof to check out some filter that was stenching up the area (they kept claiming there was nothing wrong with it). After a long discussion up and down the ladders of higher management, they finally came, checked out the roof and found some stuff rotting in there. The unionized laborer however got to take off a day or two for emotional distress because he got insulted.

That's what unions will do for you. I'm sure they were good back in the day, when a lot of laborers needed good labor laws, but now they are just promoting mediocreness and killing competitiveness of the company that has them.

Re:Astroturfing? (5, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565950)

Are you contractually obligated to applaud, shout, and carry on?

Judging from the photo [portfolio.com] , it's not a very demanding job.

I'm in the neighborhood, and wouldn't have minded getting paid to stop by for a nap, although preferably not on Camo Dude's shoulder. And I'd have happily complained about RCN for free!

I was on campus today (4, Informative)

ystar (898731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567738)

I'm a student at Harvard, and for what it's worth, I can confirm the Widener stretch of Massachusetts Ave was lined with an unusual (and infuriating) number of peter pan buses today (maybe 4-5 buses total). I had assumed it was a group of foreign tourists or a big alumni meeting (two busloads of said travelers are a common sight every month or so) but now that I know the truth, I'm fuming at the ears over this.

I'm contacting some friends in the Crimson to see if they plan to cover this in tomorrow's paper.

Re:I was on campus today (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567814)

Sorry, I meant yesterday (obviously). I've been awake for the past 48 hours +/- a nap, working on a pset, if that serves as an excuse.

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566006)

Well sir, thanks for expressing interest in this exciting new career opportunity, but before we go any further, I need to measure your ass.

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566380)

Alot of them sat down and went to sleep [dslreports.com] ...

Re:Astroturfing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566638)

What I want to know is how much one could get per hour as a professional "warm butt"--and what sort of requirements for participation there may or may not be.

Well, I hear Vivid girls are better paid "warm butts" than at most of the other production companies.

Re:Astroturfing? (4, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566750)

What I want to know is how much one could get per hour as a professional "warm butt"--and what sort of requirements for participation there may or may not be. Are you contractually obligated to applaud, shout, and carry on? Or can you just sit and read a book?

What if you speak out against those who pay you? "I'm here because Comcast paid me to be here, however I support net neutrality."

Falcon

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567074)

Apparently, sleeping is fine.

Re:Astroturfing? (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567188)

What I want to know is how much one could get per hour as a professional "warm butt"--and what sort of requirements for participation there may or may not be.

I'd suggest being extremely cautious in answering any such job postings so as to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings about the nature of the job and just what it entails. So to speak.

Fr1ST POST !!!1111one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565836)

Comcast paid me to post this: FRIST PSOT!!!!!11

Re:Fr1ST POST !!!1111one (0, Offtopic)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566074)

Comcast paid me to post this: FRIST PSOT!!!!!11

Hope they didn't pay too much...

Re:Fr1ST POST !!!1111one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566964)

Comcast paid me to post this: FRIST PSOT!!!!!11

Hope they didn't pay too much...

How do you know that the grand parent doesn't work for comcast as his day job, and/or wasn't surfing /. on the clock?

It wasn't all bad (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565854)

It was touching when Bill the Wino, whom Comcast had been promised a fifth of vodka to fill a seat, entered a rare moment of lucidity and shouted, "I will not sell my soul for liquor anymore, net neutrality for all!"

Re:It wasn't all bad (1)

airedalez (743328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566584)

Right after that he was screaming "Don't Tase me Bro!"

Re:It wasn't all bad (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568550)

Wow, an anonymous person just won the Funniest Post of The Year So Far award.

Sounds like our ex-mayor (3, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565858)

One of the last things he did was have a 'community meeting' about property taxes, then let all his people in and fill the room before they opened the doors to the public.

Re:Sounds like our ex-mayor (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565940)

Well, we can only hope that Comcast gets the same outcome as your ex-mayor. :)

Huh huh (0, Offtopic)

BUTT-H34D (840273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565864)

Huh huh. Hard up. Heh heh.

No, no, no (-1, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566052)

Comcast got hard, up at the FCC meeting. Like I got hard, up at your mom's house last night.

Re:No, no, no (0, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566198)

Comcast got hard, up at the FCC meeting. Like I got hard, up at your mom's house last night.

Oh, ok. We were wondering where his Dad was ;)

Re:No, no, no (-1, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566220)

Ouch! Gay joke for teh win!

Re:No, no, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566676)

Should have gone with offtopic, not troll. Cya at meta-mod!

This is why we need socialism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565872)

I have a hairy fajina!

just like OOXML! (4, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565890)

Microsoft has been using the same tactic for the OOXML meetings (remember the incident in Sweden?) I guess manipulating public meetings is the next form of business competition.

Re:just like OOXML! (5, Insightful)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566382)

Is it any surprise? Our political and business leaders have been teaching us more and more all that the path to success is scumbaggery. Lie, chisel, and cheat; and as long as you are powerful enough to get away with it, you will be richly rewarded. Honor, ethics, and good reputation are quaintly outmoded concepts, and those who cling to such silly traditions are in a race to be the last sucker.

The problem is not that people will attempt such venality to get ahead; this has always been the case. The problem is that, increasingly IMHO, the rest of us let them get away with this crap with their reputations intact.

business (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566966)

Honor, ethics, and good reputation are quaintly outmoded concepts, and those who cling to such silly traditions are in a race to be the last sucker.

While a lot of businesses may not operate this way some do, and they are doing well. One of the fastest growing grocery store chains is Whole Foods Market [google.com] which does. Their mission statement, Declaration of Interdependence [wholefoodsmarket.com] goes over what they work on.

I know this is only one example but there are others.

Falcon

They're not unheard of tactics? (1)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565894)

Hmmm... sounds like a bug in the political system. We should fix that.

Re:They're not unheard of tactics? (1)

Jester998 (156179) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567614)

Yeah, too bad the change control process is such a bitch.

Comcast branching out (5, Funny)

Enuratique (993250) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565898)

Looks like the crack R&D team at Comcast has branched out and found a way to manage congestion at FCC filings too.

Re:Comcast branching out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566100)

Denial of Speech attack. Maybe they will set up a Free Speech zone under some manhole cover nearby for the opposition.

Who cares where it is located? (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565914)

Such tactics are not unheard of in Washington DC, but how appropriate are they in a regional meeting on a college campus?

Huh? I am all for thinking that this is dick move but to ask "how appropriate" it is seems a little ridiculous. It's a fucking college campus -- if anything, it shouldn't be permitted in "Washington, DC" (whatever that means) but if someone wants to fill a campus auditorium with highlighter toting narcoleptics, so be it.

All this shows is that Comcast is willing to play dirtier than ever to ensure that their network operates in the manner they deem necessary. Normally I couldn't care less what a private business does with its customers but when they have a permitted monopoly in as many areas as they do, they should be held accountable for the bullshit they have been pulling using pipes that my tax dollars helped fund.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (4, Insightful)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565980)

I'm with you 100%. Comcast should be held accountable for this. If law makers are doing it they need to get booted and brought up on charges as well. This kind of thing just makes me sick.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (4, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566060)

Bring a suit against 'em for 'subverting the democratic process' I suppose. Or something else that sounds suitably treasonous.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566804)

Bring a suit against 'em for 'subverting the democratic process' I suppose. Or something else that sounds suitably treasonous.

Is 'subverting the democratic process' illegal in the US?


A fair response would be to have another hearing with the folks that couldn't get in, and allow Comcast one paralegal in the meeting.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565990)

using pipes that my tax dollars helped fund.

that's "tubes". It's a series of tubes.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566134)

Yeah this is total bull $hit. The higher ups should be held accountable.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (3, Insightful)

proudhawk (124895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566344)

All this shows is that Comcast is willing to play dirtier than ever to ensure that their network operates in the manner they deem necessary. Normally I couldn't care less what a private business does with its customers but when they have a permitted monopoly in as many areas as they do, they should be held accountable for the bullshit they have been pulling using pipes that my tax dollars helped fund.
if you really want to get the attention of comcast (and others), everyone should buy up as much stock as possible in comcast (and others), assign it to a voting block and force them to do the right thing by the power of voting stock. I know it sounds simplistic, but sometimes, its the simple things that get the job done.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (4, Funny)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567058)

Yes, drive their stock up! That'll teach 'em.

Re:Who cares where it is located? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567142)

Are you KIDDING? Comcast is worth $60B. If you somehow managed to find people willing to buy over half of it (at which point it would inevitably be worth over $100B anyway, I'm sure...) Why would they then intentionally try to destroy their investment by working against the company's interest??

If you want to organize the masses and get the attention of Comcast, wouldn't just having people switch to a competing service (satellite TV, DSL Internet, etc) be the sensical way to send a message?

If you don't think so, then I have an amazing plan to destroy all the oil companies involving not buying gas on Tuesdays...

Dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565916)

This has to be illegal, right? Any lawgeeks here who can explain this?

Brought to you by the letters.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22565920)

A, O, and L.

That's right, most of the Sr. Mgmt has been imported from AOL. And if you think of how successful they've been over there, you can imagine just how good a job they are going to do at Comcast.

Buying free speech (2, Insightful)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565928)

It wasn't as much for blocking competition from other companies but from blocking the public from speaking out. There's gotta be some law against this kind of thing...
Oh wait...

What does this say (2, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565948)

... about the people who accepted money to "attend" a meeting they knew nothing about? Pretty shitty ethics on both sides of this transaction.

Re:What does this say (4, Insightful)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565984)

Hahah what planet are you from? I don't know many people that *wouldn't* accept a few bucks for sitting in a court room while they listen to their ipod or txt their friends, let alone people that might be down on their luck.

... about the people who accepted money to "attend" a meeting they knew nothing about? Pretty shitty ethics on both sides of this transaction.

Re:What does this say (1)

vajaradakini (1209944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566038)

Especially if one is paid in advance... I would personally just take the money and duck out 5 mins into the meeting for a bathroom break and not come back.

Re:What does this say (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566580)

That's a sort of "Robin Hood" approach... and a can't decide whether I like it or disagree with it :/. On the one hand, it defeats the jerks at Comcast who were trying to pack the house with a non-involved audience. On the other hand, if they were to get people to commit to stay for a certain period of time and they left early (while keeping the money), that would be unethical. Hrm...

Re:What does this say (1, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566398)

Sorry, I care about the ethical implications of things people want to pay me to do. You could just as easily say "what person in their right mind *wouldn't* accept a few bucks for selling crack to high schoolers, let along people that might be down on their luck..."

Please note that I'm not implying that selling crack should be illegal (actually, I think it along with other drugs should be legalized), only that I consider it an unethical way of earning income.

The fact that a lot of people are willing to do anything for a buck is likely a true one, but it doesn't excuse the lack of ethics on these peoples' part. Note that I'm actually taking the optimistic view that they were aware of the implications of their actions; the truth may in fact be that they're too dense to realize it and have shown us a keen demonstration of the age-old saying that democracy is a system of government under which the people get no better than they deserve.

Wow. I'll stop with the run-on sentences now. Sorry about that.

Re:What does this say (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567346)

You compare sitting in a do-nothing meeting to selling crack, and you clarify that you're not implying crack should be illegal(which you never implied). I really don't think I'm going to listen to you about ethics my man. No offense.

Desperation (4, Interesting)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22565968)

It almost seems like a move of desperation, I can't imagine why they would be that desperate though. Granted public opinion seems to be against what they are doing, but when has public opinion ever generated decent regulation from the FCC.

Re:Desperation (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566720)

why take chances on that being same now? stack it with ppl that will back your ppl and not what anyone else says.

Re:Desperation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566740)

It does seem kind of pointless. They're already having the meeting in Massachusetts, a state that hasn't had a tech industry for a good 15 years now. It's already across the country from the biggest proponents of net neutrality (like, say, Google).

Apparently Comcast is really desperate. They're doing everything they possibly can to stack the deck in their favor. I really don't understand why.

Why in Massachusetts? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566062)

I have to ask, why was this meeting held in Massachusetts in the first place? Why not in Washington DC, where there are more likely to be interested parties? Why not in California, where interested tech companies could make it?

Why in Massachusetts? Is the FCC purposely trying to make sure that the tech companies effected by a lack of net neutrality couldn't make the meeting?

Seriously, this seems like a move designed to try and prevent companies like Google, Yahoo!, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo - all companies that have a vested interested in offering online services - can't participate without sending someone on a cross-country trip.

But the cable companies in the area doubtlessly could send local people.

Why Massachusetts? Why not a state with a tech industry? I guess the cable companies really are desperate to stack the deck in their favor.

Re:Why in Massachusetts? (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566336)

Doesn't Massachusetts have some sort of a technology institute? Wouldn't the intellectuals at such an institute be excellent people to have weigh in on such a debate?

Also, I don't know about Y!, but Google, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all have branch offices in that area.

No big deal, they did it before (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566140)

Just look at who is running the FCC these days. Comcast, Time-Warner, the telcos, have all paid 'campaign contributions' to pack the FCC with anti-consumer/anti-competition appointees. I'm sure that they also sleep through meetings since all they need to do is get their orders from industry and pass it on to staff for implementation. The only decision making is when the telcos and cable operators disagree on who gets to screw consumers harder.

Commonplace in Washington (5, Informative)

KookyMan (850095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566214)

For those who aren't aware, its common practice for Lobbyists to pay professional "line waiters" in Washington D.C.

Since lines form hours ahead of time for meetings and other public discussions, its a waste of time to force the lobbyist themselves to be waiting in line for 2-3 hours, so they pay someone to hold a place. I believe it was the Colbert Report that actually did a piece on this within the last couple of months. I think there was possibly some legislation being floated that would make some judgments on this practice.

Re:Commonplace in Washington (3, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566268)

Seems to me that if it's your job to go to a meeting that you should sit your own rear end in line.

Besides, the more you have these lobbyists tied up waiting, the less you have them actually lobbying--so perhaps the congresscritters might have to listen to their constituents for once, if only out of sheer boredom.

Re:Commonplace in Washington (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566728)

Yep. It's called "No Savies"

Ask any 1st grader.

This should not be allowed at all. You can have the person behind you save your seat, briefly. But if you are gone longer then 10 minutes, or the doors open while you are away. Too Bad, So sad.

"no Swappies", or "Cutsies" either.

Re:Commonplace in Washington (4, Funny)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567020)

Yes, but you make the erroneous assumption that D.C. lobbyists are as mature as 1st graders...

Re:Commonplace in Washington (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566434)

Daily Show.

A rep is trying to make it illegal. If a lobbyist wants to get in, they have to wait inline, not pay someone else. Sounds good to me.

Re:Commonplace in Washington (5, Informative)

bandini (984310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567914)

I was a bike messenger in DC for several years, and did a number of line standings. Messengers are often hired for this purpose, being familiar with the Hill offices, and being still more familiar with working as dispensable help for some of the worst people in the world.
I never liked doing line standings, though they usually paid well (relative to my average income back then); besides being deadly boring, there was always a sort of bitter ethical aftertaste, it's true. I think the last one I did was for one of the asbestos hearings; I'll never forget seeing the looks on the faces of what appeared to be genuine concerned citizens, showing up at what they thought was an early hour only to find themselves effectively locked out of the room by a ragged bunch of guys in rain jackets and shoes that close with velcro - who were only proxies for three-piece suits and wing tips, but whatever.
The deal (for whoever's interested in these things) is you show up at one of the Senate or House office buildings at some crazy hour, usually well before dawn or even a day or two ahead of time, and wait. The building isn't open yet, so you have to wait outside, and then march in to the hallway near the assigned hearing room, trying to preserve the order of the line as it was. Sometimes the hearing room is a ways from the open entrance; guys want to move up in line or at least not lose too many places, everybody starts walking faster and the line will break into a sprint. Kind of fun to run across the floor of the Hart building at 5am, bike cleats ringing on marble, but as things are generally a lot more locked down on the Hill these days I doubt if this happens much anymore.
So one problem, for the waiter, is that while this is basically an accepted practice the Capitol Hill police don't really fully condone it, either. I'm guessing that there's no clear regulations, let alone laws, covering these things, but once you're inside the cops will threaten to kick you out if you try to sit down, or leave a bag or other placeholder in line while you use the bathroom. If they catch you holding someone else's place in line (besides the one person who's paying you to be there, natch) they'll wait for the other guy to come back and throw you both out. Their right to do any of these things is pretty vaguely defined, but good luck trying to lodge a complaint.
Of course for important hearings where people are waiting for many hours beforehand, some bending of these rules has to happen, and so it does, but you have to defer to the cops by not doing it in front of their faces. They in turn give a little leeway; right up until an hour or so before the hearing, they only walk down the line once in 20-30 minutes, then as the time approaches they come by more and more often. By the time the lawyers and lobbyists show up it's a reasonably orderly scene. You're not really supposed to just have a sign out, airport-limo style, because somehow that is considered too blatant. So there's this funny school-dance thing that happens where a bunch of suits are walking up and down the line, looking for their guy or guys, both sides murmuring the names of various client firms. Once you find each other you switch out, and the cop who was diligently making sure you didn't hold your buddy's place for five minutes while he went to take a piss will stand there and watch and not say a damn thing.

I have a very low opinion of the Capitol Hill police, for reasons only tangentially related to the above, so excuse me if that colors my description; I'm just describing the phenomenon from the underling's perspective for anyone who cares to know about it.

Gets hard up? (1, Flamebait)

sunahama (1127065) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566250)

I guess it's better than them getting a hard on.

Viagra (-1, Offtopic)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566264)

So why is Viagra one of the tag's?

Re:Viagra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22566544)

Yeah, clearly cialis [wikipedia.org] is much better than viagra. Tag article with "cialis"!

Getting paid to sleep through an FCC hearing... (4, Interesting)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566276)

It's Comcastic!

Frankly, someone should open an investigation as to how many hundreds or thousands of $$$$ of cash were paid. I'll bet Comcast doesn't have 1099s for the people they paid, which they probably illegally did with CASH...

Re:Getting paid to sleep through an FCC hearing... (1)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566994)

Remember the lobbyist that Comcast really pays well so they can get Congress to pass laws to allow them to do this to us.

Re:Getting paid to sleep through an FCC hearing... (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567092)

IIRC, a 1099 is only required if the total amount is >$600 by Dec 31.

Using petty cash for this type of thing is interesting though. Although it's barely a rounding error in a company of their size, even a $2 pack of Bics from Staples produces a receipt. Can't imagine there's any paper trail in a scheme like this.

Re:Getting paid to sleep through an FCC hearing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22568834)

But, the line waiters don't make their own hours. They are plainly employees, not independent contractors, and should get W-2s, with all the trimmings. FICA, FUTA, and income tax withholdings are all being conveniently ignored, and the IRS could impose SEVERE penalties for that.

Bribery is illegal... Comcast should be penalized. (1, Interesting)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566300)

Nuff said.

Re:Bribery is illegal... Comcast should be penaliz (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566354)

Who got bribed? Are you replying to the right article?

Re:Bribery is illegal... Comcast should be penaliz (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22570066)

Comcast paid people off the street to fill up the hearing.

Re:Bribery is illegal... Comcast should be penaliz (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 6 years ago | (#22570180)

True, but bribes? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Comcast should lose for that (2, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566350)

Comcast should be censured for it's behaviour but it's Amerika, if you've got money, it doesn't matter what you do. That's what's really wrong with America too.

Comcast (4, Funny)

Funnydaddy (1246842) | more than 6 years ago | (#22566458)

With the rising unemployment in the US, Comcast could come to the rescue! Why don't they employ all the unemployed to 'reserve' spaces for their employees? What did they really hope to achieve with this blatant show of trickery?

I was in line (5, Informative)

GabrielF (636907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567316)

My colleague and I run free wireless networks in housing projects. We both schlepped to attend this event and we were both turned away by Harvard cops because there was no room. It really drives me crazy that people whose livelihood is effected by net neutrality couldn't get in because comcast paid to pack the room.

The event was run by the Berkman Center and even people who identified themselves as working for Berkman were turned away. Even a reporter who just wanted to stand in the back and take photos was hassled by the cops - I didn't stay long enough to see if they let him in. There were a lot of people who arrived around the time I did (fifteen minutes early) and insisted that someone was holding their seat, so maybe there is some truth to the part about the people holding seats for Comcast employees - but - the Harvard cops wouldn't let these people by unless they called the person holding the seat and that person came out, so unless Comcast provided their employees with the cell numbers of the seat fillers they wouldn't have gotten in anyway.

I'm so mad about this that I want to tell everyone I know to cancel their comcast service, but because of the telecom duopoly most of the people I know who have comcast would probably have to pay a lot more to switch.

Got Frat-boys? (1)

Amilianna (1015267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22567416)

Honestly, I understand the point but I think it is silly. How acceptable is it for Comcast to pay people to take up seats? About as acceptable as you to ask your 50 frat buddies to show up and do the same thing. If the meeting is open to anyone who gets there and gets a seat, then anyone is freely able to coerce their friends to come as well - or the stranger on the street. If you want a meeting that is only open to the people you want to be there, then find a way to make it a closed session. I'm sure that you would have a decent time if you mentioned this particular instance as a fear for future meetings.

Re:Got Frat-boys? (2, Insightful)

GabrielF (636907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568158)

If the frat boys are showing up because they have an agenda or they are generally interested in a topic than thats fine. I wouldn't even have minded if Comcast employees had shown up en masse, but paying people who are going to sleep through the event is despicable since it prevents members of the public who have a legitimate interest in participating in government from attending.

Re:Got Frat-boys? (1)

Amilianna (1015267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22570348)

Despicable? Yes. Generally, anything you do to try to circumvent the system is despicable. But plenty of people (even average, everyday, regular people and not just big evil corporations) do things every day to circumvent things they find inconvenient or to try to tip the scales their way. I'm just pointing out that this wasn't that different. The trick is for you to circumvent better than they do, if you care about stopping them in any form. The author made Comcast sound like some big horrible devil for doing this immoral action, but realistically they are just everyday-evil, especially since this could have been easily dealt with by having a closed session or by other people showing up even earlier than the paid butts. And, from the article, it sounded like the people who were there didn't stay for the meeting, they were just place-holders for the employees, but that could just be a spin that Comcast put out to make themselves seem less evil.

Comcast got a WHAT?!?! (1)

JoeDuncan (874519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568140)

Am I the only one that read this as:

"Comcast Gets Hard On At FCC Meeting"?

before doing a double take...

Having worked for Comcast tech support... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22568272)

I can tell you that Comcast are cocksuckers, starting with CEO Briana Roberts and working down through all the layers of manglers.

Someone has to say it... (2, Funny)

merc (115854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568294)

I for one welcome our conference-room-encroaching net-neutrality-astroturfing chair-sleeping overlords.

Just a good thing Ballmer wasn't there, they wouldn't have been any chairs for THEM to sit on!

The Problem is a Lack of Ethics and Honesty (3, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568296)

Ethics are a lost cause. Ethics and being unethical used to be a serious issue. Honesty and Ethics used to be the characteristic of a great person. These days, no one expects ethics, no one even values ethics. When the majority of people act ethically and honestly, there is negative feedback to unethical behavior. When the majority of people don't care about ethics, unethical behavior is the norm.

So much of a free society depends on ethics and the deal of ethics will be the death of freedom.

Re:The Problem is a Lack of Ethics and Honesty (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22568980)

A free society doesn't depend on ethics, it depends on incentives and disincentives for certain behaviors. Predation is punished to preserve freedom.

In any case, as an amoral, agnostic nihilist, I just wanted to chime in and confirm your suspicions.

This IS the FCC, after all (3, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22568394)

Do it again, but

(1) provide broad- and net-cast of the proceedings, and

(2) provide for text and voice reception to the panel for questions from the audience, local and remote, and

(3) provide a moderator whose job it is to see that the relevant questions are answered, or else specifically and overtly note that the relevant questions were non-answered with misdirection through irrelevant and worthless answers.

Announce that this is how it's going to run, and I'll give 10 to 1 that Comcast will refuse to participate. Announce that independent testing has confirmed they've lied about their "packet shaping" blockage of P2P traffic, and I'll raise it to 100 to 1.

Any day now one or another of these traffic blocking ISPs is going to blame participation in the goobermint's wire tapping program for the "unavoidable periodic slowdowns of certain types of traffic due to redirection of 'traffic of interest'" for analysis by the spooks. It's a lie that they all know will be recognized a such, but will be allowed to slip by the sheeple since it's for catching the terrorists who might want to blow up the Grand Canyon or some such.

NSA:
War Is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
We're Running a Little Behind

New Technology (4, Funny)

zieroh (307208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22569810)

This is all part of Comcast's new Public Hearing Shaping technology.
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