President Barack Obama now has two seats to fill on the Federal Communications Commission – one Democrat and one Republican – and the Senate has not yet acted on the nomination of Julius Genachowski (D) to become Chairman. Obama himself is responsible for the latest vacancy – he’s nominated Democrat Jonathan Adelstein to take a post at the Agriculture Department to oversee rural broadband development.
Adelstein’s nomination was included in a group announcement issued Friday by the White House. As Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Adelstein will oversee handing out about $2.5 billion in grants and loans to build-out high-speed Internet services in rural areas.
From the official announcement:
“Jonathan S. Adelstein, Nominee for Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture
Jonathan S. Adelstein is currently a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, where he has served since 2002, and was confirmed to a second term in 2004, where he led efforts to improve rural telecommunications and broadband. Previously, he served for fifteen years as a staff member in the US Senate, including his final seven years with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), advising him on telecommunications, financial services, housing, transportation and other key issues. Prior to that, he served as Professional Staff Member to Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman David Pryor (D-AR), including an assignment as a special liaison to Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and earlier as a Legislative Assistant to Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (D-MI). Before his service in the Senate, he was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of History, Harvard University, while studying at the Kennedy School of Government, and a Teaching Assistant in the Department of History, Stanford University, and as a Communications Consultant to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He received an M.A. in History and a B.A. with Distinction in Political Science from Stanford University. Born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota, he and his wife, Karen, have two children, Adam and Lexi.”
Should Adelstein be confirmed to his new post before Genachowski, the FCC will be left with only two sitting Commissioners, Acting Chairman Michael Copps (D) and Commissioner Robert McDowell (R).
RBR/TVBR observation: While we didn’t always agree with Commissioner Adelstein, we appreciated his passion for the issues before the FCC and his interest in promoting localism – local musicians, in particular. Of course, he is a musician himself, as we learned with his harmonica solo at an NAB Radio Show. We also appreciated the fact that Adelstein understood that the FCC was bound by the laws passed by Congress and court precedents, so he was not one to shoot from the hip. Others should follow his example.