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May 13, 1998

Separate Statement of Commissioner Gloria Tristani

Re: Common Carrier Bureau Seeks Comment on Proposed Revision of 1998 Collection Amounts for Schools and Libraries and Rural Health Care Universal Service Support Mechanisms, Public Notice

This Public Notice seeks comment on some of the proposals described in last week's Report to Congress. It can be therefore be deduced that the Commission has not yet reached a decision on those issues on which it seeks comment. A statement accompanying last week's Report to Congress seemed to imply that a majority of commissioners has already settled on a particular funding level for the School and Library Program. As should be clear from the caption of this Public Notice, however, final action has not been taken. Any contrary implication would be inaccurate and detrimental to the Commission's decision-making process.

A statement last week also alleged that secret deals are being made between regulators and carriers regarding universal service programs. As put forth, those allegations could be read to mean that I have been party to such an arrangement. This implication is regrettable and undermines my ability to work with my colleagues at the Commission in a respectful and collegial manner.

I would also note my disagreement with the suggestion that a majority of commissioners is attempting to force carriers to conceal universal service charges on their telephone bills. I read the relevant paragraph of the Report to Congress as indicating our insistence on truthful, as opposed to deceptive or inaccurate, descriptions of telephone-related charges. We might as well pack our bags and go home if we are unwilling to safeguard consumers' welfare in this way.

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