Commissioner Clyburn's Remarks on Commissioner Copps' Farewell
Statement of Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn
Tuesday, December 13, 2011Re:
The final FCC Open Meeting for Commissioner Michael Copps
When I arrived at the Commission two and a half years ago, I suddenly made a lot of
“new friends”. Wonderful people, all of them, but there was one who especially stood out.
Michael Copps has been a prominent presence in Washington for some time, but his connection
to and love for a particular state in the union got my attention on day one, and that blending of
DC savvy and southern graces has had a profound effect on me ever since. He’s part professor,
part watchful critic, part sage, but is all friend, all mentor, and all public servant.
He came to the Commission in the Spring of 2001, and after September of that year, it
was clear that our nation’s telecommunications networks needed to undergo major changes in
response to major threats. Our first responders needed better interoperability, and Michael Copps
fought – and continues to fight – for them.
He was integral to the DTV transition, and his guiding hand assisted in conducting a
massive shift with regard to one of the scariest places imaginable – the space between people and
their television sets. When I was nominated to be a Commissioner, one of the first things I did
was try to find out more about Acting Chairman Copps, and although his three most important
priorities at the time were “DTV, DTV and DTV,” he helped to navigate that shift and so much
As we heard at the last Commission meeting, he initiated a rulemaking proceeding to
spur the deployment of new wireless medical services that could bring great breakthroughs to the
more than 50 million Americans who are suffering from paralysis. He also issued the Rural
Broadband Report and initiated the National Broadband Plan proceeding.
Commissioner Copps has consistently provides a voice to the voiceless, and I have been
fortunate enough to see this advocacy in person. Just two weeks ago in Atlanta, at our final road
forum together, I watched him bring a crowd to its feet after a passionate speech about the public
interest obligations owed to all Americans, and how the FCC is their protector. In every speech
he gives, to use a sports analogy, Michael Copps leaves it all on the field. He speaks from his
heart, but more significantly, he speaks to the hearts and minds of the American consumer. He is
uncompromising in that regard, as are all true champions.
His dedication to this agency and its work is unquestionable. He arrives before the
rooster crows. He has accomplished more each day before most of us have finished our first cup
of coffee. He also attends more meetings in one day than most people attend in a week. In fact,
he even attends Joint Board meetings and once was willing to travel to another city and preside
over the Joint Boards when I wasn’t available. I had Angie check our attendance records on the
Joint Boards, and he shows up each and every time—no matter the agenda – and wows us with
his intimate knowledge on telecom policy and his personal experience on adopting new
technologies, such as moving from telegraph messages to party lines to cell phones. He’s recently
integrated into his comments his up-to-date Twitter account, which includes his personal
encounters with airline attendants who insist that he turn off all of his electronic gadgets before
take off. Oh, that wasn’t you? That’s right – it was an actor, not a rock star.
I will dearly miss that great smile, effortless charm, and gentlemanly demeanor which
you consistently display during battles, victories and even during disappointments. You have
been a tremendous source of encouragement and comfort to me, and it is hard to imagine how it
will be without you here, sitting next to me, lending quiet support and inspiration. But as I have
heard you say more than once, you are leaving this post, but not this space, and for that and so
much more, I am eternally grateful. We love you Michael Copps. Well done, my friend, well
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