Remember Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, the fictional, interminable legal case that was the basis of the seemingly never-ending Charles Dickens novel “Bleak House” that many a middle-schooler was forced to trudge through during English class?
A similar situation is playing out between the Arlington government and Comcast, although both sides seem to be taking their very lengthy negotiations toward a new cable-service contract in stride.
Arlington County Board members on Nov. 12 are expected to extend – for yet another full year – the negotiating period to come up with a new contract.
For Comcast customers, however, the practical effect of the delay is probably zero or close to it.
Lengthy delays in cable contracts are nothing new in Arlington, but this one does seem to be stretching things. Comcast officials in early 2019 informed county officials that it wanted to extend the operating certificate, but things had not progressed significantly in the ensuing year, and then COVID hit.
In late 2021, County Board members agreed to extend the existing contract for a year, and the latest renewal will keep it in place to Dec. 9, 2023.
Arlington also has inked cable-operating agreements with Verizon and RCN, although the latter never started service.
For those of a literary bent who won’t consider this brief complete until the “Bleak House” reference is brought full circle, Dickens based his Jarndyce v. Jarndyce case (which has come to stand as shorthand for legal cases that continue on long after they have any relevance) on a number of courtroom fights, including the real-world English case of Jennens v. Jennens, a court fight over an deceased man’s wealth that ran from 1798 until it finally ended in 1915 – yes, 117 years later – by which point legal fees had exhausted all the funds in the estate.