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Insider Info - The Stories Behind the Stories

Apr 20, 2007

Verizon absent from Web site

The coalition that was created last month to push a bill that would make it easy for telecom companies to get TV cable franchises here calls itself Massachusetts Consumers for Technology and Cable Choice.

But the group's Web site,, doesn't mention that its primary founder isn't really a consumer at all. The group was launched by Verizon - the same New York-based company that is steadily expanding its TV service in many states, including Massachusetts.

Verizon is frustrated that it needs town-by-town approval to get cable licenses here, a process that can take a year or longer.

Verizon representatives have been up front when asked about the company's role in Consumers for Tech Choice. Other business groups also played a part in its inception. But it seems a bit strange that the main player in the organization isn't clearly mentioned on the Web site.

Jack Yunits, the Brockton-based government relations consultant who acts as the group's spokesman, says the omission of Verizon's name was an accident. He says he'll try to get the name up on the site as soon as possible.

"If they're not up there, they should have been," Yunits says of Verizon. "I don't know why they're not. ... They've never tried to hide it as far as I can tell."

If the strategy sounds familiar, it's because it is. In 2005, the state's rival auto insurers funded two "grassroots coalitions" - one to lobby for insurance reform and one that lobbied against it. At least the insurers' names made the two coalitions' Web sites.

marathon runners have spring in step

Yes, a Kenyan won the men's race in the Boston Marathon again. But a little-known Texas company also walked away a winner from Monday's race.

Spira Footwear sparked controversy when several top runners wore Spira shoes that had springs in their soles. Spira has sued the sport's two rule-making authorities for not approving Spira shoes for competition, and used its suit to spark widespread media attention.

Two runners wearing the shoes led the men's race for a time, but eventually they fell back. The top finisher with a Spira pair, Oleg Strijakov of Russia, won the men's 40-and-over competition in just under 2:29.

"This has been the most active week for Spira footwear in the history of the company," says Spira CEO Andy Krafsur.

Sonic's hopping, but not here just yet

It's hard to miss commercials for Sonic Drive-In on cable TV these days, although the Oklahoma City-based chain has no restaurants in New England.

But Sonic, which specializes in burgers and shakes and a throwback carhop format, is getting closer. The company is proposing a restaurant in Greenwich Township, N.J. Currently its northernmost restaurant is in Ephrata, Pa.

"You say, 'Sonic,' they say, 'When?'" a representative for the developer told the local planning board. "They catch on real quick."

For those who are a bit slower to catch on, the developer described Sonic's format as "McDonald's meets Dairy Queen." However, it appears New Englanders will have to wait a bit for a local franchise.

New ad Highlights bargain bragging

Got a good deal? Spread the word. A Caravan Opinion Research survey says 15 percent of women like to brag about snagging a bargain purchase, versus just 2 percent who talk about their extravagant buys. TJX Cos., the Framingham-discount retailer, and its T.J. Maxx chain have launched a new ad campaign promoting the phenomenon, which it calls a "Maxx Moment." As a certain T.J. Maxx rival has noted for some time now: "Don't you just love a bargain?"


(c) 2007 Patriot Ledger, The; Quincy, Mass.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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