The Big Talk takes a look at Century Link, the hunt for Brian Laundrie and the Supreme Court is back in session

CHAMBERSBURG – Every weekday morning on First News, the local – live morning radio information show with Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen features the big talk topics and opinion from local Attorney Clint Barkdoll.

On October 4, the Big Talk discussed the mess for Century Link customers, the latest possible sighting of Brian Laundrie and the cases the Supreme Court may take on during this session.

What will happen with the Century Link sale?

Century Link, which is the legacy internet and phone carrier for this area, announced in August that they are selling all of their Pennsylvania assets. They’re being purchased by a group called Apollo, a venture capitalist company that comes in and buys these types of businesses.

If you’re a Century Link customer, keep an ear to the ground on this one.

Barkdoll pointed out, “What I think’s even more interesting, we know Hurricane Ida a couple weeks ago, major problems locally with phone outages. Some places didn’t have long-distance services for days. They’re internet was down. Last week there was another internet outage. Now you see some Pennsylvania officials, including Senator Judy Ward, they’re calling on the Pennsylvania Utility Commission to investigate what’s going on with Century Link. Why are these outages? There have actually been some public safety issues. One town, their 911 services were down for a prolonged period of time. They’re also asking the PUC, let’s really scrutinize this proposed sale to Apollo. What is this going to mean for consumers? All of this, of course, will be subject to approval by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission. I think this is going to impact a lot of people locally. I think you’re going to hear a lot more about it, particularly when the PUC starts holding hearings about this proposed buy out.”

Ryan asked, “Is the underlying thought let’s get out of here, our structures are not as sound as they used to be, let’s get out while the getting’s good?”

Barkdoll suggested, “That’s I think part of I’m sure the strategic ploy or play behind Century Link corporate but we know, historically, a lot of times when these assets are shed and particularly if it’s a venture capital or investment company that buys them, the question is will the new buyer be willing to invest in upgrades of this infrastructure? Are they going to put in fiber optic cables and are they going to maintain all of these old copper lines? And that’s a real concern because we know historically when things like this have happened, the new buyer just lets it continue to deteriorate and I’m sure the PUC is going to want to look into that.”

Could Brian Laundrie be headed our way on the Appalachian Trail?

Ever since news broke of the missing woman Gabby Petito’s body being found in the Midwest, all eyes turned to her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.

Laundrie returned home to Florida, went camping, and is now in the wind.

New information has come out from Tennessee where a hiker on the Appalachian Trail said he’s 100 percent sure he ran into Laundrie.

Barkdoll said, “When you look at what the witness said, this person, the one he says is Brian Laundry, seemed kind of confused and deranged, was asking for directions on how can he get to California on a back road?”

The witness told him Route 40 would take him all the way there, but Laundry said he needed to take back roads and allegedly also said he needed to find his girlfriend because she needs some help.

Barkdoll said, “If this witness account is credible and it certainly sounds like this witness is a credible person, it certainly is narrowing the focus and the range of where this guy might be. He does have skills camping. He knows how to live outdoors, but again, how long can someone legitimately do this? It looks like they’ve really narrowed the geographic area on where he might be based on where this witness spotted him along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.”

Jansen said, “This is a 53-year-old Florida engineer and he said Dog the Bounty Hunter’s daughter sent him an audio file of Brian Laundry’s voice. He said it matches exactly the young man’s voice, the man he talked to.”

There’s reporting that when Laundry initially returned from out west to his family home in Florida, they all went camping.

Barkdoll said, “Is there some suggestion that someone could have got him – remember the Appalachian Trial goes the whole way into Georgia – did someone get him to the head of that trail in Georgia and has he been just slowly working his way up the trail this last week or two while everyone had been searching for him in the swamps and the everglade areas of Florida?”

Jansen pointed out, “To me that always sounded like a red herring. I mean the fact that the parents are like oh yeah, right, your son that may have been involved with something bad, who has reported mental issues. I mean that’s been part of the story all along and you’re just going to let him go off to the Everglades National Park in the middle of this whole situation and not be worried or suspicious he might hurt himself? And you don’t report him missing for days? I mean this always seemed like a red herring where they did help him to get on some other pathway away and I don’t know how that that wasn’t just the first thing that officials, maybe they did, said was the case. The fact that he was in that Everglades National Park to me seemed ridiculous.”

Barkdoll agreed, “It really did seem like a smoke screen and it might have worked in as much that they probably unfortunately bought him several days where the trail was cold on him and in the meantime it sounds like he could have been working his way up the Appalachian Trail from Georgia and now he’s already into North Carolina.”

The Supreme Court is back in session with a heavy caseload

Today is day one for the Supreme Court. They are back at it and will hear cases including abortion rights and gun rights. The court will be in session until the end of next June, but decisions could be issued during the winter. 

Barkdoll said, “You’re going to see a lot of coverage on these cases as they’re argued, but listeners should remember once they’re argued, it still could take months until they issue their decisions.”

Could the COVID mask mandates be on the docket?

Barkdoll said, “It is not. They’ve had opportunities to take COVID and mask cases and they have punted. On every one of them, they have allowed the lower court decisions to stand and again, thus far, every federal court decision one these questions have ruled in favor of vaccine mandates, mask mandates. We still know there are a lot of cases out there pending, but so far, Supreme Court has been very hands-off with it.”

Jansen said she heard a case being made from teachers in New York about religion exemptions. She said, “The schools there are demanding you have to have some letter from an official religion to support your objection. According to the constitution, you can’t make demands about an official religion. That’s supposed to be off limits constitutionally. This can be your own personal religious belief and it should be respected.”

Barkdoll said, “That case in New York is controversial because all teachers and staff there, they are mandated to get the vaccine and what the law on that says is what you just alluded to. It simply says you must show that you have a quote unquote sincerely held religious belief and the school district is saying that’s fine if you have a sincerely held religious belief, but it needs to go beyond you just telling us that. It’s questionable whether that in and of itself is legal for the school to require, but you’re seeing I think over the weekend there is a group of teachers that came out citing some specific reasons why they are against taking the vaccine for religious reasons.”

The district responded by asking if they have ever had previous vaccines for, say polio, chicken pox and the like. If so, is that undermining their claim now that this one is because of a sincerely held religious belief?

Barkdoll said, “I think you may see those questions still go into court.”