FairPoint Reaches Agreement with Staff of the New Hampshire Public Utilities CommissionCHARLOTTE, NC (PRNewswire-FirstCall) — FairPoint Communications, Inc. today (January 24, 2008) announced an agreement has been reached between FairPoint, Verizon and the staff of the Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding FairPoint’s proposed acquisition of Verizon’s wireline operations in New Hampshire. The settlement agreement in New Hampshire is consistent with material terms of the amended stipulation agreement with the Maine PUC and the settlement agreement with the Vermont Department of Public Service and contains other terms and conditions specific to New Hampshire. In the agreement, FairPoint, Verizon, and the staff of the PUC recommend the New Hampshire PUC approve the settlement agreement.FairPoint’s acquisition of Verizon’s wireline operations in New Hampshire is part of a larger, previously announced transaction in which FairPoint would also acquire Verizon’s wireline operations in Maine and Vermont. The license transfers in connection with the transaction have been approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the transaction has been approved by the Maine PUC, subject to receipt of a written order from the Maine PUC. The Public Service Board in Vermont has yet to rule on the settlement agreement entered into by FairPoint, Verizon and the Vermont Department of Public Service.”We are pleased at the thoughtful approach by the staff of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and believe this agreement appropriately addresses important public interest issues in the state. We look forward to serving the people of New Hampshire,” said Gene Johnson, chairman and CEO of FairPoint.In addition to the key financial conditions in the amended stipulation in Maine and the key conditions in the settlement agreement with the Vermont Department of Public Service, FairPoint committed to additional conditions in New Hampshire which address capital expenditures, network and service quality improvement plans, broadband expansion and assurances of financial viability that will benefit the state.Vermont reaches tentative deal with FairPoint to buy VerizonlandlinesIn early January, the Vermont Department of Public Service reached agreement with FairPoint Communications on its $2.7 billion deal to buy Verizon Communications 1.6 million landlines in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.The new deal, as in New Hampshire, mimics the plan approved in Maine last week, which includes a steep reduction in FairPoint’s shareholder dividend (35 percent, resulting in a $50 million per year savings) and what is a de facto reduction in the price of the sale by $235.5 million. The financial moves were considered important in ensuring that FairPoint would be financially able to consumate the deal and live up to other provisions in the agreement, including extension of DSL service and other service and reliability guarantees. FairPoint had reported that to make the deal it would have to borrow $2.5 billion.The deal also includes penalties up to $12.5 million if goals are not met. The Vermont agreement states that FairPoint must invest at least $40 million each year for the first three years and starting in 2009 spend at least $35 million to reduce debt.The entire deal still needs final approval by the Vermont Public Service Board, and by the regulatory body in New Hampshire.The Vermont Public Service Board previously rejected, on December 21, 2007,the application of FairPoint Communications to buy Verizon’s Vermontlandlines. The docket was not closed, however, allowing FairPoint to rework the deal. The PSB said the deal requires the company to carry toomuch debt to be financially sound.FairPoint has also agreed to make broadband Internet access available to all of its customers in at least half its exchanges by 2010.Even if FairPoint ultimately gains approval, discrepancies in thefinal rulings among the three states would have to be dealt with byeach state’s regulatory board.By the middle of December, anyway, it seemed like thedisagreements and conflict over the decision to approve FairPointCommunications $2.7 billion dollar acquisition were finally coming toan end, after the Maine Office of the Public Advocate and the stateadvocate staff at the Public Utility Commission finally agreed toconditions of the settlement on December 12. The agreement comesafter months of opposition from Consumer Advocates and labor unions that stalled thestate’s PUC decision to accept or reject the sale.In December, consumer advocates in Maine and New Hampshirereleased reports urging their state Public Utilities Commissions toreject Verizon’s sale. FairPoint, a North Carolina phone companythat is one-sixth the size of Verizon. Buying Verizon’s northern New England phone lines would make it the eighthlargest communications company in the nation. The settlement, whichwould affect virtually every person with a phone in New Hampshire,Maine and Vermont, needs final approval from all three states utilityregulators before it takes effect.Vermont has focused mainly on how the settlement will affectconsumer-related issues, such as the extension of DSL service areasand reliability. Staff from boards in Maine and New Hampshire,however, initially released reports urging their state’s PUC to full-out reject theproposal. Advocates said they are against the merger because theyfear that FairPoint is not financially capable of making infrastructureimprovements and service commitments without hiking rates, cuttingemployees, or going out of business altogether.”FairPoint and Verizonhave not met their burden of showing that the transaction is in thepublic interest,” explained Meredith A. Hatfield, a consumer advocatefrom New Hampshire. The Maine Public Utilities commission echoedthese sentiments in a report they released in November.”Theproposed transaction subjects both ratepayers and shareholders tosubstantial risks and harms that are not outweighed by any of thepotential benefits of the transaction.”FairPoint has 975 employees in contrast to Verizon’s3,000. FairPoint’s 2006 revenues were at $270 million while Verizon’swere $88 billion. The acquisition would force FairPoint into a $30million dollar a year debt agreement to repay their $2 billion dollardebt. Critics believe these numbers indicate that the settlement willgive FairPoint a financial burden they can’t handle.Despite their outright refusal of the merger, the reports did listterms and conditions for the acquisition if it were approved. Reportsreleased from the Maine Public Utilities Commission ordered that threemain conditions be met for their approval. First, FairPoint must submitto the PUC a plan to deal with expected loss of workers. As part of thedeal, Verizon was also recommended to cut its $2.7 billion dollar pricetag by $600 million. If they do not follow this suggestion, the companymust set aside significant funds for infrastructure upgrades withinFairPoint. As of the December 12 agreement, The company was alsorequired to make minimum capital investments of $47 million in Maineover the next three years, and will reduce dividend levels by 35percent. PUC staff in New Hampshire were not as flexible. They listedeleven conditions in their report that need to be met by bothcompanies for the acquisition to be approved. One of their conditionsalso addressed the issue of Verizon’s price tag, and the debt it willcause FairPoint. The report specifically suggested that Verizon cutFairPoint’s acquisition cost by $200 million with no cost to thecompany. To further address its $30 million dollar debt issue, FairPointwas also urged to cut its dividends by 20 percent. The commission alsowants to have say in fixing the companies transition serviceagreement, or TSA. The briefing says that the price of the TSA exceedsthe costs of services, which gives Verizon and unnecessarily largeprofit. The report suggested that FairPoint have a third party monitorto judge the company’s cutover readiness criteria-or the time whenFairPoint could fully separate from all Verizon systems.
BATESVILLE, Ind. — Monday (3/20) is the first day of spring, and Dairy Queen wants to help you celebrate it with Free Cone Day.Monday at participating restaurants, each customer can get a free cone in honor of Children’s Hospitals Week and the first day of spring.Dairy Queen says this is the third year for free cones, and they hope to encourage customers donate to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Jenny Chung | Daily TrojanYour vote, your voice · USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics and 10 other organizations set up booths next to Tommy Trojan on Tuesday and offered students the forms they needed to register to vote in California.As many as 500 students are now eligible to vote in the November general election, thanks to the efforts of 11 campus organizations that participated in USC’s National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday.The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, USC Undergraduate Student Government, USC Political Student Assembly, USC College Republicans, USC College Democrats and other USC student organizations held the registration drive to help USC students complete their voter registration in Los Angeles County.Voter turnout among millennials has reached an all-time low in past elections and is the lowest it has been in 40 years. As of 2014, an estimated 69.2 million millennials — adults between the ages of 18 and 35 — were voting-age, yet only 42 percent of millennials were registered to vote, according to the Campus Vote Project.Meghan Ginley, the community engagement director for the Unruh Institute, hopes that college students will voice their opinion and vote in November.“Millennials could have a huge impact on this election if we get them out to vote,” Ginley said. “Something I have noticed working with students is that a lot of millennials are either very engaged or the complete opposite and very apathetic. So what we want to do is help the people who are apathetic find something that they are passionate about and are interested in getting engaged with.”It’s a demographic that both candidates are having to work hard to convince. According to polls, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have trouble appealing to young voters. Donte Miller, the external affairs director for Graduate Student Government, said that this could account for low voter turnout among millennials.“It’s a mixture of both the climate and people not liking either candidate,” Miller said. “It’s a mixture of apathy and unwillingness to just vote, the belief that it doesn’t matter if we vote. But it matters.”Many millennial voters were in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke about student debt and providing resources to college students.Pew Research Center findings show that millennials not only have more debt than any other generation in U.S. history, but also face higher unemployment than the past two generations.“I think it’s important that people exercise their right to know what is going on,” Miller said. “It’s important that students get out in their community and are aware of what is going on so they can.”Jonathan Zhang, a senior majoring in architecture and a member of USC College Democrats, stressed it would be too detrimental to the nation not to cast a vote.“I’m voting because I think the stakes are extremely high in this election, and it does seem like it doesn’t matter,” Zhang said. “But you have to do your part and you have to realize that you’re one of many people.”