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For the blue ribbon panel tasked to study the state of electronic commerce and when and how it should be taxed, the departure of James Barksdale must have been welcome. It’s not that the chief executive wonk at Netscape isn’t a nice fella — it’s just that with him gone the group will actually get to meet. A coalition of local governments had sued, claiming that the group’s membership was top-heavy with digerati robber barons who would not fairly consider the potential havoc that a tax-free Internet could wreak on local communities. With Barksdale replaced by Delna Jones, county commissioner of Washington County, Ore., the lawsuit has been dropped. Now they can get down to some serious quibbling on the shape of the table.

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