You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2008.

 

July 30, 2008 
Nation
 
Plan To Unsnarl Chicago Rail Hits Snags In Suburbs 
by David Schaper
 

“Those trains can sit there for hours every day or all weekend long, and finally they’ll move on. And then before long, another one will be sitting there,”
Railroad companies say it takes a freight train about two days to travel from the West Coast to Chicago – but the same train sometimes needs another two days just to get through the city.

In some neighborhoods in and around Chicago, freight train gridlock essentially paralyzes traffic and severs towns. In places like Franklin Park, a suburb just west of Chicago, railroad crossings are often blocked for long periods, sometimes even hours, with trains slowly rolling through or stopped on the rails.

“I tell people going across town to cross the tracks the first chance you get,” Franklin Park Mayor Dan Pritchett said, “because you may not get another chance for a long, long time.”

And if cars cannot get across the tracks for five, 10, 15 minutes or longer, neither can Franklin Park’s emergency vehicles.

“This town is forced to have not one, not two – we have three fire stations in a town of 19,000 because of the trains,” Pritchett said.

 

Read the rest of the story >

Advertisements

Watch the news report >

“… seems to endorse allowing a private company to destroy local communities’ quality of life.”

Motorists to pay freight
Report: Emergency response also at risk
By Richard Wronski | Chicago Tribune reporter
July 26, 2008

A federal report on Friday raised the specter of frustrated motorists facing lengthy delays at 15 rail crossings in a dozen communities, but concluded that passenger service would not be impaired if a railroad that winds through Chicago’s suburbs is sold.

The long-awaited report also identifies 10 communities—among them Barrington, Joliet,Mundelein and Chicago Heights—where a tripling or quadrupling of freight traffic would severely hamper police, fire and emergency medical response.

The report prepared by Surface Transportation Board staff predicted train-versus-vehicle accidents would increase sharply along the century-old railroad—from more than one a year to more than six annually.

Read the rest of the story >

The Bay Commission last night ended up being pretty cordial given the tension left over from the previous meeting. Hats off to District President and 4th District Commissioner Dennis Hunter for setting the tone at the beginning of the meeting, urging respect for different opinions, as well as adherence to the principals of communication, courtesy and common sense.

There were a few moments of tension in the standing-room-only meeting, just to keep things entertaining for folks watching or participating, and juicy news about the status of the Goldman Sachs deal.

As commissioners were invited to make initial comments on the Redwood Marine Terminal business plan, Ronnie Pellegrini and Roy Curless opted to say nothing because they wanted to hear from the public.

 

Read the rest of the story at GreenWheels

The Times-Standard

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District representatives on Thursday reported that negotiations with financial powerhouse Goldman Sachs and Co. over a port and rail marketing arrangement were potentially dead.

”I would say right now that there are huge, huge issues and questions that may be insurmountable,” said district counsel Paul Brisso.

Brisso — who sits on the committee handling the matter along with Commissioner Dennis Hunter, Treasurer Mark Wetzel and Executive Officer David Hull — said it’s highly unlikely a tentative agreement will be produced for the commission to consider.

Goldman Sachs approached the district in May, looking to market the port and the North Coast Railroad to investors. A Goldman Sachs representative said that billions in pension funds around the world were looking for long-term investment, and that infrastructure fit that bill.

Brisso said he was unable to go into detail on the sticking points of the negotiations, citing their confidentiality.

“But the ports hold another, less honorable distinction: They are the biggest polluters in Southern California.”

California ports’ pollution plan proves a big haul
Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:04am EDT
By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES, July 23 (Reuters) – A short drive from the sandy beaches of Malibu rise two sprawling ports, where goods from around the world enter the United States before fanning out by road and rail to stores from coast to coast.

The adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the United States’ biggest, see nearly half of the nation’s container traffic and are key to insuring goods made in China make it to retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

But the ports hold another, less honorable distinction: They are the biggest polluters in Southern California.

Concerns about pollution-linked illnesses in local communities stalled port expansion projects for years before both ports in 2006 agreed to slash pollutants — mainly exhaust from diesel engines — to below 2001 levels in five years.

The ports are requiring cleaner vessel fuels, shoreside electricity so ships will not run their dirty diesel engines at berth, newer truck fleets and cleaner train locomotives. Much of the plan is funded by increased fees for customers.

“We were dead in the water, and we had to stick our neck out to do some things, so we did,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said in a recent interview.

The plan, however, is proving to be easier said than done.

Already, some shippers, truckers and others who don’t want to make changes are choosing other ports, according to Knatz, who said port traffic could drop 10 percent to 15 percent.

Meanwhile, the trucking industry said it plans to sue over what it says is the ports’ plan to micromanage its business, while the railroads say they can’t comply with a 2014 deadline for new locomotives because the technology won’t be available.

Also, retailers are balking at having to pay fees to fund the ports’ clean trucks program while also investing in new trucks, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Read the rest of the story >

“If that sounds like tossing the family furniture in the fireplace to keep the house warm, you’re getting the message.”

 

 

Infrastructure: A Road to Riches?

By Jerry Knight
Washington Post
Monday, March 20, 2006; D01

If somebody asked if you wanted to buy the Brooklyn Bridge, you’d know it was a con. But how about buying the Indiana Toll Road?

Before you snicker, you should know the Indiana highway was auctioned off last week for $3.8 billion.

For the next 75 years, the more than 150 miles of Interstate 80 will be run by a pair of Spanish and Australian companies that will collect the tolls, operate the pit stops, keep up the highway and try to make a profit.

Cintra SA, the Spanish firm, and Macquarie Infrastructure Group, the Aussies, are teaching Americans the business of investing in roads, bridges, water mains and the like.

You may have heard of Macquarie. Last year it bought a controlling interest in the company that operates the Dulles Greenway for $533 million. A year ago, Macquarie and Cintra took over the Chicago Skyway, adding it to a network of toll roads and bridges around the world. And Macquarie is part of one of the rival groups bidding $1 billion to take over the Dulles Toll Road for 50 years, with the money expected to underwrite Metrorail’s extension to Dulles.

The Australians launched a sister company in the United States in December 2004. Since the $25-a-share initial public offering, Macquarie Infrastructure Co. Trust (MIC on the New York Stock Exchange) has climbed to $34.45. Counting reinvestment of the hefty $2-a-share dividend, investors have made a 45 percent total return since the company went public 15 months ago.

With that kind of money to be made, Americans are lining up to try their luck at Wall Street’s hottest new game — investing in infrastructure.

Washington’s biggest financial firm, the Carlyle Group, just created an eight-member team to get into roads, bridges, etc.

Goldman Sachs & Co., which made $9 million advising Chicago on the Skyway sale and stands to collect about $20 million in fees for putting together the Indiana Toll Road deal, is raising a multibillion-dollar fund to buy infrastructure.

Wall Street is getting into infrastructure because politicians have bailed out on one of the most important issues facing the nation.

Read the rest of the story >

“The aggressive toll hikes embedded in deals all but guarantee pain for lower-income citizens—and enormous profits for the buyers.”

Roads To Riches
BusinessWeek 
By 
Emily Thornton 
Why investors are clamoring to take over America’s highways, bridges, and airports-and why the public should be nervous

Steve Hogan was in a bind. The executive director of Colorado’s Northwest Parkway Public Highway Authority had run up $416 million in debt to build the 10-mile toll road between north Denver and the Boulder Turnpike, and he was starting to worry about the high payments. So he tried to refinance, asking bankers in late 2005 to pitch investors on new, lower-interest-rate bonds. But none of the hundreds of investors canvassed was interested.

Then, one day last spring, Hogan got a letter from Morgan Stanley (MS ) that promised to solve all of his problems. The bank suggested Hogan could lease the road to a private investor and raise enough money to pay off the whole chunk of debt. Now Hogan, after being inundated with proposals, is in hot-and-heavy negotiations with a team of bidders from Portugal and Brazil. “We literally got responses from around the world,” he says.

Read the rest of the story >

“It tells us that we’re competitive with the whole world.”

Cleveland boatbuilder shipping first tug to foreign buyer
cleveland.com 
Posted by 
rmezger July 17, 2008 17:51PM

This 74-foot, steel-hulled tugboat built by Great Lakes Towing Co. soon will be bound for Honduras. The first Cleveland-built tug for export will go into service at the Port of Puerto Cortes. Great Lakes, which operates and repairs tugs, got into the boat- and steel barge-building business only a year and a half ago
.

The first Cleveland-built tugboat ever to be sold abroad will head to Honduras before fall.Great Lakes Towing Co. sold the tugboat, built from steel keel to wheelhouse at the company’s West Side Cleveland lakeshore shipyard, to a customer in Central America. It will go into operation in September.

“We’re especially proud that our buyer for this boat is in Honduras, because we know that this customer could buy a tug from anywhere in the world,” said Ronald Rasmus, the tug company’s president. “It tells us that we’re competitive with the whole world.”

The craft, a harbor tug that will operate in the Port of Puerto Cortes on the north coast of Honduras, gets its power from two 1,400-horsepower diesel engines and, Rasmus said, “is just the right size [74 feet long and 28 feet wide], just the right power, environmentally sound, fuel-efficient and versatile enough to accomplish most tub jobs at the lowest operating cost.”

Rasmus acknowledges that the buyer benefited in part from the lower value of the U.S. dollar, a circumstance that makes American-made products cheaper in many nations than they were in previous year.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Large marine vessels can emit as much pollution as 350,000 current model-year cars in just one hour.”

Port of Stockton Selling Neighbors Down the River

Stocktonstandingup.org

The Port of Stockton (“Port”) has proposed developing a West Complex on Rough and Ready Island that will create a host of unacceptable environmental, public health and safety impacts and is totally incompatible with neighboring residential land uses. The Port has mislead the public, violated the law, and failed to disclose and mitigate all of the consequences of the proposed West Complex development.

The West Complex Development

The West Complex Development Plan (“Project”) calls for eventual development of approximately 1,400 acres of land and using seven formerly dormant berths at Rough & Ready Island. The Project would increase annual port calls from 20 to 150 ships.

Two years ago, the Port promised to prepare an environmental impact report (“EIR”) to fully analyze, disclose, and mitigate the Project’s potential environmental impacts before commencing the Project, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). In plain violation of CEQA, the Port began leasing warehouse space, conducting sleep-disrupting shipping activities from berths 18, 19 and 20, and laying tracks for an intermodal rail road almost immediately after promising to study the effects of those very same activities. None of these activities have been analyzed in an EIR.

Quality of Life

Shipping activities at Rough & Ready Island occur only 400 feet from recreational facilities and approximately 600 feet from residences across the deep water ship channel. The harmful impacts from the proposed development will be felt by residents of Atherton Cove, Atherton Island, Boggs Tract, Brookside, and Riviera Cliffs. The development would make the Port “noisier, brighter and dirtier. The earth will vibrate. Dust and fumes will fill the air.” Navigating The Future, The Stockton Record, at E-1 (Jan. 15, 2004).

The Port’s premature and illegal implementation of the Project has already caused noise and vibration that rattles homes and wakes neighboring residents throughout the night. The noise impacts will only grow more intense and affect more communities with full development of Rough & Ready Island.

The Project would add stadium-style lights creating daylight in neighbors’ bedrooms as they try to sleep.

The Project would add 54,023 vehicle trips and 8,850 truck trips to Stockton area roadways every day. This will create serious traffic congestion along Charter Way, Eighth Street, Fresno Avenue and other key routes.

Read the rest of this entry »

“The North Coast Railroad Authority has been engaged in an epic courtroom battle with the City of Novato over whether NCRA is obligated to produce an environmental impact report on work to rehabilitate the rail line.”

More on NCRA lawsuit
Willits News 

By Mike A’Dair/TWN Staff Writer

Since last September, the North Coast Railroad Authority has been engaged in an epic courtroom battle with the City of Novato over whether NCRA is obligated to produce an environmental impact report on work to rehabilitate the rail line.

The agency also is challenging the legality of a September 28, 2007, lawsuit filed by Novato against NCRA.

According to NCRA, the lawsuit was filed more than 35 days after the rail authority had approved the project. Although the rail line has stated the project was approved by the NCRA board of directors on August 16, 2006, and by the California Transportation Commission in March 2007, when $1.5 million was released to the NCRA to begin repairs on the rail line, Marin County Superior Court Judge James Ritchie has ruled board approval does not constitute final approval of the project.

Instead, Ritchie ruled a project is approved by an administrative body when that body has negotiated and signed a contract for the work to be done. Under that interpretation, Novato’s September 28, 2007, lawsuit did not exceed the statute of limitations.

Read the rest of this entry »

 “We will continue to turn out in record numbers until we make standard a new precedent that puts people before freight” 

Barrington, IL (June 30, 2008)
Barrington Communities Against CN Rail Congestion Coalition 

More than 500 residents from along the 198 mile EJ&E rallied Sunday afternoon with local officials and called on Congress to oppose the proposed acquisition of the EJ&E by CN and pass federal legislation that protect communities and their interests.

Members from the Barrington Communities Against CN Rail Congestion and TRAC (The Regional Answer to Canadian National), two groups of Mayors representing dozens of communities, kicked off the first of several planned rallies to address CN’s proposed acquisition of the EJ&E. Participants included elected leaders from throughout the Chicagoland area including State Representative Mike Fortner (95th District), Barrington Mayor Karen Darch, Lake Zurich Mayor John Tolomei, West Chicago Mayor Michael Kwasman, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, Deer Park Mayor Scott Gifford, Tower Lakes President Kathleen Leitner, Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson, Cuba Township Supervisor Dave Nelson, Lake County Board Member Steve Mansour, and several Village Trustees from impacted communities. Hundreds of people stood in the rain at Barrington Memorial Park with yard signs expressing their opposition to CN with such sentiment as “”We the People Have Rights and Right of Way Too!”

 

 

“We will continue to turn out in record numbers until we make standard a new precedent that puts people before freight,” said Darch. “The time has come for Congress to act and represent the interests of American citizens in 21st century communities.”

“We need to take a fresh look at the relationship between railroads and communities,” added Weisner. “This is no longer the wide open west, so our concerns need to be dealt with appropriately and not ignored.”

The two coalitions have been petitioning Congress to intervene and fully assess the safety and environmental implications to local communities that will result if the Surface Transportation Board (STB) approves the deal. Senators Barack Obama, Dick Durbin and Congresswoman Melissa Bean have openly opposed CN’s planned purchase of the EJ&E as proposed.

Mayor Kwasman added, “We are tired of asking. It’s time to demand that our U.S. Congress take action, and take action now.”

“Congress needs to make railroads pay the freight for the benefits they get to offset the negative impacts they create,” said Mayor Tolomei.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Economic reality suggests it is time to cut our losses on the idea of competing for the West Coast container trade and recognize that the railroad cannot be cost-effectively restored as part of a container shipping related enterprise.”

Time to weigh in on the bay’s future

Patrick Higgins/My Word/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 07/15/2008 10:23:46 AM PDT

 

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation Commission, to which I was elected last year, will soon make critical decisions that will either bind us to a 10 to 50 year commitment to large scale industrial Port of Humboldt Bay development or choose another course. Concerned citizens need to weigh in before the end of August regarding the proposal to develop a container-shipping terminal in Samoa.

The commission will make two decisions soon and public comment is invited for each: 1) consideration of adoption of the Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan, and 2) whether to sign a contract with Goldman Sachs to be our sales representative to auction port assets. The latter agreement would entail an even closer relationship between the harbor district and the North Coast Railroad Authority, which also would have to agree to a long-term lease of railroad assets.

On June 26, the consulting firm TranSystems presented the Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan to a packed house at the Wharfinger Building. Their report does not show tangible prospects for profitable operation, yet they recommend that the district take on $32-$38 million in bond debt to build a multi-purpose terminal anyway. Positive cash flow in the report is based such unlikely prospects as dozens of cruise ships a year coming into Humboldt Bay, when only two have come in the last five years. Shipping tariffs and dockage fees associated with large-scale terminal development are similarly fabricated. How bonds would be secured will be discussed during our July 24 meeting.

The business plan also recommends that the district attract capital for container port infrastructure by becoming a port landlord, which is the framework that would allow Goldman Sachs to auction our assets in combination with those of the railroad.

The commission on May 22 authorized district staff and counsel to begin negotiations with Goldman Sachs to act as our sales agent to find port investors. The decision to bind the harbor district to an agreement will likely be considered in August. In order for Goldman Sachs to auction off use of the Redwood Dock and NCRA assets, full environmental review of Humboldt Bay and rail corridor impacts must be completed and developments approved by government agencies. I will likely recommend that we hold off on any formal agreement until the environmental analysis has been completed.

I recently voted against passing the district’s 2008-09 budget because we will incur a loss of nearly $600,000 due to investments in port development that have not brought economic return. The business plan does not provide any substantive evidence that we will generate significant revenue from shipping in the next five years, and I am concerned that the harbor district may become insolvent. Our cash reserves are down to a 10-year low of $3.4 million and we have been in the red annually since deepening the mouth of the Humboldt Bay in 2000. Economic reality suggests it is time to cut our losses on the idea of competing for the West Coast container trade and recognize that the railroad cannot be cost-effectively restored as part of a container shipping related enterprise.

At the June 26 meeting, at least 100 new people came and respectfully addressed our commission regarding reservations about container ships, the railroad and Goldman Sachs. My hope is that hundreds more will attend future meetings so my fellow commissioners understand the depth and breadth of public sentiment on the proposals under consideration and how many of their neighbors perceive their economic viability. Commission meetings are normally held at Woodley Island Marina on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month (July 24, August 14 and 24).

The comment period on the business plan has been extended to August 30 and both the Arcata and Eureka City Councils will have agenda items concerning the plan during the month of August. The business plan can be viewed on-line at http://www.humboldtbay.org and written comments via email can be directed to dhull@portofhumboldtbay.org. You can contact me at phiggins@humboldt1.com.  

Patrick Higgins is a Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District commissioner.

“It has been estimated that 24% of the solid waste generated by vessels worldwide (by weight) comes from cruise ships. Most cruise ship garbage is treated on board (incinerated, pulped, or ground) for discharge overboard.”

Cruise Ship Pollution: Background,
Laws and Regulations, and Key Issues

CRS Report for Congress

With large cruise ships carrying several thousand passengers, the amount of waste generated in a day can be massive. For a large cruise ship, about 8 tons of solid waste are generated during a one-week cruise. It has been estimated that 24% of the solid waste generated by vessels worldwide (by weight) comes from cruise ships. Most cruise ship garbage is treated on board (incinerated, pulped, or ground) for discharge overboard. When garbage must be off-loaded (for example, because glass and aluminum cannot be incinerated), cruise ships can put a strain on port reception facilities, which are rarely adequate to the task of serving a large passenger vessel (especially at non-North American ports).

On a ship, oil often leaks from engine and machinery spaces or from engine maintenance activities and mixes with water in the bilge, the lowest part of the hull of the ship. Oil, gasoline, and byproducts from the biological breakdown of petroleum products can harm fish and wildlife and pose threats to human health if ingested. Oil in even minute concentrations can kill fish or have various sub-lethal chronic effects. Bilge water also may contain solid wastes and pollutants containing high amounts of oxygen-demanding material, oil and other chemicals. A typical large cruise ship will generate an average of 8 metric tons of oily bilge water for each 24 hours of operation. To maintain ship stability and eliminate potentially hazardous conditions from oil vapors in these areas, the bilge spaces need to be flushed and periodically pumped dry. However, before a bilge can be cleared out and the water discharged, the oil that has been accumulated needs to be extracted from the bilge water, after which the extracted oil can be reused, incinerated, and/or offloaded in port. If a separator, which is normally used to extract the oil, is faulty or is deliberately bypassed, untreated oily bilge water could be discharged directly into the ocean, where it can damage marine life. A number of cruise lines have been charged with environmental violations related to this issue in recent years.

Cruise ships, large tankers, and bulk cargo carriers use a tremendous amount of ballast water to stabilize the vessel during transport. Ballast water is often taken on in the coastal waters in one region after ships discharge wastewater or unload cargo, and discharged at the next port of call, wherever more cargo is loaded, which reduces the need for compensating ballast. Ballast water discharge typically contains a variety of biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria.

Continue reading >

MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 10, 2008

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Updated Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan Review Period Extended

Contact: David Hull  707 443-0801

Due to the community interest in the Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan, the Board of Commissioners of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District has extended the public comment period from July 26, 2008 to August 28, 2008.  The Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan has been available for review since June 13, 2008 on the District’s website at  HYPERLINK “http://www.humboldtbay.org” http://www.humboldtbay.org. Written Comments are due to the District office at 601 Startare Drive Eureka, CA  95501 no later than 9:00 PM August 28, 2008.   

On February 28, 2008, the District’s Board of Commissioners heard an updated presentation of the Redwood Marine Terminal Feasibility Study by representatives of TranSystems, the consulting firm retained to produce the feasibility study and business plan.  Written and oral comments on the draft Feasibility Study were taken by the Board of Commissioners at three Board meetings and over a 50-day comment period.  At the February 28 meeting, TranSystems presented their updated report providing additional information based upon the comments received.  At the conclusion of the presentation, the Board took action to receive and file the feasibility study and authorized TranSystems to proceed with preparation of a business plan for the Redwood Marine Terminal Development Option B.  Representatives of TranSystems made a presentation on the Draft Redwood Marine Terminal Business Plan at the District’s June 26, 2008 Board Meeting. 

The Redwood Marine Terminal Feasibility Study and Business Plan is a continuance of the District’s efforts to revitalize and diversify the maritime uses of the harbor portion of Humboldt Bay in an effort to create jobs, provide funding for the District’s recreation and conservation needs and stimulate the local economy.  The first step in this process was the completion of the Harbor Deepening Project in 2000 that allowed Humboldt Bay to be competitive in Pacific Rim maritime shipping.  Building on the deepening project, the Harbor Revitalization Plan was completed in 2003 and concluded that, although there were challenges, the Port of Humboldt Bay was viable for a variety of maritime uses.  As a result, the District obtained the Redwood Marine Terminal between 2004-2006.  

The District retained TranSystems in 2007 with funding from Humboldt County’s Headwaters Fund to conduct a site assessment, market evaluation, develop development options and business plan for the Redwood Marine Terminal property.  These reports and the recommendations are available on the District’s website.

“The harbor revitalization plan identified many possible marketing opportunities and scenarios. The concept of Humboldt Bay becoming a container port was identified as a “weak competitive position,” “unattractive,” and of the “lowest priority,” even if rail service to this region were to be restored.”

Grand Jury Report #2007-CD-01 Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District

Executive Summary:

In 1970 California State Legislature drafted legislation to create Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District for the regulation and economic development of Humboldt Bay. In their wisdom and foresight, they included promotion and protection of recreation and conservation as statutory requirements of the District’s functions. The reasoning was to preserve the rural uniqueness of Humboldt Bay, its tidelands and estuaries, while promoting economic development of the harbor. This legislation created a check-valve to keep heavy commercial marine shipping/harbor development from dominating or diminishing conservation and recreational activities in Humboldt Bay, as it did in the Ports of Oakland and Long Beach.

In 1973 the voters of Humboldt County ratified the founding act. The District is a countywide public agency with specific boundaries of jurisdiction, governed by a board of five elected commissioners. The Harbor District receives statutory authority from the California Harbors & Navigation Code, Appendix 2, which is the District’s enabling legislation (charter). The District has the additional right to pass ordinances and enforce regulations within its boundaries. The agency is funded by a combination of property taxes, grants, permit fees, tideland leases, enterprise funds (rents, leases, etc.), and harbor tariffs. The mission of the Harbor District is “to serve all the people of Humboldt County by promoting harbor use, enhancing recreational opportunities, and protecting bay and tidal environments.” An informative District overview can be found on the District’s website http://www.humboldtbay.org.

Who Shall Respond:

Pursuant to California Penal Code Sections 933 and 955.05, responses to the Findings and Recommendations of the Grand Jury Report #2007-CD-01 shall be as follows:

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District shall respond to findings and recommendations 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Report:

In August, 2006, a staff member from the Harbor District gave a district overview presentation to the members of the Grand Jury. The District’s mission, functions, and jurisdictional authority were outlined. Additionally, the Grand Jury received information regarding an upcoming maintenance-dredging project around the bay. This project was scheduled to begin in November, 2006, and expected to be completed by late March, 2007. The project is a cost-share with the City of Eureka.

There was testimony the maintenance-dredging project was delayed one year when Humboldt Baykeeper brought environmental concerns to the attention of the California Coastal Commission; it should be noted the District’s share of cost for the dredging project is $2,060,110. The delay added more than $440,000 to the District’s costs, a sum that could have been used for other District-funded projects.

The Grand Jury reviewed the Harbor District in 1983, 1989, and 1996 with results of their investigation published in Final Reports. In the course of the 2006-2007 Grand Jury inquiry of the District, the Grand Jury attended a District board meeting; reviewed meeting minutes; visited some of the District’s facilities; and interviewed District staff and several citizens. Additionally the Grand Jury interviewed a retired Bar Pilot who had worked Humboldt Bay for many years. The Grand Jury reviewed the District’s budget, studied audited financial statements, and reviewed other supporting documentation. The Port of Humboldt Bay Revitalization Plan and the Humboldt Bay Management Plan were also reviewed. The Grand Jury observes that a considerable amount of time and money have been spent on these plans. The Grand Jury commends the Harbor District for its effort in producing the Humboldt Bay Management Plan. The Port of Humboldt Bay Harbor Revitalization Plan was co-funded by the Harbor District, the City of Eureka, and Humboldt County in an effort to identify ways to infuse new economic development in and around Humboldt Bay. This plan, developed with the premise of Humboldt Bay becoming a deep-water port, was drafted by PB Ports & Marine Inc, a private consulting firm, and released in February, 2003, without soliciting public input or review. Subsequently, the Institute for Study of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ISADR) contacted the Harbor District to present its concept of a “visioning” process to include public input. A visioning forum was held in April, 2004, which did allow for public input.

The harbor revitalization plan identified many possible marketing opportunities and scenarios. The concept of Humboldt Bay becoming a container port was identified as a “weak competitive position,” “unattractive,” and of the “lowest priority,” even if rail service to this region were to be restored. Read the rest of this entry »

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 7, 2008

Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Requests Applications for Humboldt Bay Management Plan Advisory Committee

Contact:  Adam Wagschal 707 443-0801

David Hull  707 443-0801

The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (District) is pleased to announce that it has started the recruitment process to form the Humboldt Bay Management Plan Advisory Committee and is accepting applications from individuals interested in serving on that Committee.  Application forms can be obtained from the District office at 601 Startare Drive, Woodley Island, Eureka, CA  95501 or by printing them out from the District’s website  HYPERLINK “http://www.humboldtbay.orgwww.humboldtbay.org.  Completed applications must be received by the District by 4:00 PM August 15, 2008.

As adopted by the District, the Humboldt Bay Management Plan (HBMP) envisioned that there would be the creation of a Humboldt Bay Management Plan Advisory Committee (HBMPAC) that would work with the District’s Director of Conservation Division to prioritize the more than 100 policies adopted in the HBMP and bring policy implementation recommendations to the Board.  The ideal HBMPAC members will have appropriate knowledge necessary to appropriately represent their membership category, work well as a team with others and be able to participate fully throughout their term by attending potentially at least 1 meeting per month.  It was also envisioned that as the HBMPAC required additional input, technical information or research to develop these implementation recommendations, subcommittees could be formed to provide advice or information on the particular subject.  The subcommittees would then sunset after their task was completed.

On March 27, 2008, the District Board of Commissioners approved a structure for the HBMPAC.  On June 2, 2008, the District’s Director of Conservation, Adam Wagschal, began his employment at the District and is tasked with oversight of the HBMPAC.

Humboldt Bay Management Plan Advisory Committee (HBMPAC):  

Membership:  The HBMPAC shall consist of one member of each of the following categories:  Agency land managers including one representative each from the City of Arcata; the City of Eureka, County of Humboldt; Bureau of Land Management; CA Department of Fish and Game; Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge; Wiyot Tribe; and Stakeholder representatives including one representative each representing sport fishing; paddlers; waterfowl hunters; tourism; commercial fishing; recreational boaters; mariculture; water quality; commercial shipping; transportation; habitat restoration; and education.  

Membership Appointments: Each member of the District’s Board of Commissioners shall rank the names of qualified individuals submitting applications.  These rankings will be delivered to the District Chief Executive Officer.  The rankings from all Commissioners will be tallied by the Board President, Vice-President and CEO and developed into a slate of proposed HBMPAC members.  This slate of proposed members will then be presented to the Board of Commissioners for consideration of committee appointments at a regular District Board meeting.  

Terms of members:  Initially, for the first committee appointments, the agency land managers will be appointed to four-year terms and the Stakeholder representatives to two-year terms.  At the end of these first terms, the terms of all appointments will be four years.  

Limitations on HBMPAC:  The HBMPAC is established in an advisory capacity to the Board of Commissioners, serves at the pleasure of the Board of Commissioners and cannot incur any expenses in the performance of their duties without written consent of the Board of Commissioners.  

Committee Staffing/Oversight: the Director of Conservation Division will staff the HBMPAC.  CEO and District Planner will provide additional committee oversight.  Two Board members will be appointed annually by the Board President to represent the Commission on the Committee.   

Ability to Form Special Topic Subcommittees:  The HBMPAC may request permission from the Board of Commissioners to form, amend or disband any technical, scientific or other subcommittees as necessary to assist the HBMPAC in their work.   Read the rest of this entry »

“It does seem odd that they are effectively teeing up assets for their corporate clients to buy,” he says. “In most situations, that wouldn’t be deemed ethical.” John Foote, the Kennedy School fellow, also suggests that Goldman Sachs has “some decisions to make. People don’t want them playing on both sides of the fence.”

“THE ROAD IS ONE SUCCESSION OF DUST, RUTS, PITS, AND HOLES.”So wrote Dwight D. Eisenhower, then a young lieutenant colonel, in November 1919, after heading out on a cross-country trip with a convoy of Army vehicles in order to test the viability of the nation’s highways in case of a military emergency. To this description of one major road across the west, Eisenhower added reports of impassable mud, unstable sand, and wooden bridges that cracked beneath the weight of the trucks. In Illinois, the convoy “started on dirt roads, and practically no more pavement was encountered until reaching California.”

It took 62 days for the trucks to make the trip from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, and another 37 years for Ike to complete a quest, inspired by this youthful journey and by his World War II observations of Germany’s autobahns, to build a national road system for the United States. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which called for the federal and state governments to build 41,000 miles of high-quality roads across the nation, over rivers and gorges, swamps and deserts, over and through vast mountain ranges, in what would later be called the “greatest public works project in human history.” So vital to the public interest did Eisenhower, an old-style fiscal conservative, consider the interstate highway system, he even authorized the federal government to assume 90 percent of the massive cost.

Fifty years to the day after Ike put his pen to the Highway Act, another Republican signed off on another historic highway project. On June 29, 2006, Mitch Daniels, the former Bush administration official turned governor of Indiana, was greeted with a round of applause as he stepped into a conference room packed with reporters and state lawmakers. The last of eight wire transfers had landed in the state’s account, making it official: Indiana had received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) of Australia, and in exchange the state would hand over operation of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years. The arrangement would yield hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the consortium, which also received immunity from most local and state taxes in its contract with Indiana. And, of course, the consortium would collect all the tolls, which it was allowed to raise to levels far beyond what Hoosiers had been used to. By one calculation, the Toll Road would generate more than $11 billion over the 75-year life of the contract, a nice return on MIG-Cintra’s $3.8 billion investment.

Read the rest of the story >

Port should sack Goldman Sachs

Times-Standard My Word
Saturday, May 5, 2008

In the Saturday, May 24 edition story “Goldman Sachs to pitch port-rail,” the claim was made by Goldman Sachs’ VP Jeffrey Holt that “improvements to the port and rail assets will potentially bring thousands of jobs to the region.” The key word is “potentially.”

The dollar has lost 40 percent of its value since 2000 and it’s projected to go even lower. The purchasing power of every dollar you hold will buy less and less as the wave of inflation rolls over the globe for the next several years, an inflation caused by the now-18 percent annualized increase in the money supply created by the Federal Reserve.

Goldman Sachs is one of the large New York firms that accesses this newly created money before inflation sets in, and they deal in trillions of it. By the time regular folks like us get any money, if we ever do, we’re dealing with double-digit energy, health and food costs.

Dumping this paper in exchange for Humboldt Bay’s physical infrastructure is a good trade for GS and their investors, but one has only to look at what GS has done with other small town infrastructures to see Humboldt’s future

Take Montana Power and Light, a small power company in Montana that gave its residents some of the lowest electric bills in the lower 48, and its shareholders regular dividends, but was then “advised” by GS. Montana Power and Light ended up with their assets divided, sold off, and the company left bankrupt from insurmountable debt. Apparently, Goldman Sachs advised both the “investors” and the power company, but the investors were on the winning end. GS often has a conflict of interest as it holds stakes in many of the companies it’s “advising.”

Consider the continuing mortgage securities debacle that left most on Wall Street heavily leveraged with huge losses. Not so for Goldman Sachs. As they sold risky mortgage-backed securities to their clients on the one side, GS heavily shorted the same market on the other side, using their own money, eventually posting record gains for their own shareholders in 2007.

While foreclosures abound all across this country, GS executives, as a reward for their acumen, get some of the highest bonuses on Wall Street.

Further, GS has been implicated in IPO stock fraud, naked short selling, and gold price suppression in order to mask the real inflation rate calculated by independent researchers as over 11 percent, even as official statistics claim a 4 percent annualized increase in consumer prices.

Goldman Sachs is the largest investment bank in the world and an acting arm of the U.S. Treasury, whose former members and CEOs have many seats in the federal government with the revolving door always spinning. The current and former treasury secretaries Rubin and Paulson, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton, current head of the World Bank Robert Zolick, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, to name a few, are all former executives of Goldman Sachs. If you like recent economic policy and think this country is doing well, then you’ll love what Goldman Sachs has to offer.

There is no need for a large port operation in Eureka. If there is any congestion in West Coast ports today, there will not be tomorrow. Shipping a container from China to the United States has climbed from $3,000 to $9,000 and as costs for any kind of shipping continue to rise, the global economy will be looking a lot more local. A burgeoning recession in the United States means we will need to have local resources consumed locally, including products from California’s Central Valley.

A better option for the bay would be a major hub for the Sail Transport Network, a group of sailors currently setting up a network of transportation and freight all without diesel, using sailing ships. And eventually, we will want the benefits of a passenger rail running the length of the coast from Seattle to San Diego. Difficult propositions for sure, but much better than giving away Humboldt Bay to a hungry global giant.

Ruby Carter is a Eureka resident. Opinions expressed in My Word pieces do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of the Times- Standard. MY WORD Ruby Carter

“We already found out, before a single train rolled down the track, how much economic harm this can cause,”

Suburban rally seeks to derail train plan
Financial harm to towns cited as protesters target proposed rail acquisition

By Robert Channick | Special to the Chicago Tribune
10:56 PM CDT, June 29, 2008

Arguments against Canadian National Railway’s proposed acquisition of a little-used freight line took a sharp turn Sunday at a Barrington rally from concerns over the quality of life to the grim economic realities in affected communities.

In Lake Zurich, a developer pulled the plug on a proposed $22 million, 120-unit senior living project because of its nearness to the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Co. tracks. Pathway Senior Living, a Des Plaines company with 10 Chicago-area senior complexes, cited the increase in rail traffic as “incompatible with a residential use.”

Village officials estimated a loss of $825,000 in annual revenue.

“We already found out, before a single train rolled down the track, how much economic harm this can cause,” said Village President John Tolomei.

The rally in Barrington was held at Memorial Park, just blocks from a planned 29,000-square-foot retail redevelopment at Hough and Main Streets.

Village President Karen Darch acknowledged a growing anxiety over fallout from the freight line, which traverses five at-grade crossings in town.

“The business community is paying attention to this, obviously, and it’s factoring into their decisions to do business in our communities,” Darch said.

“If ever there were a case where the impact is great enough to have a turndown, this one is it,” she said.

The proposed $300 million purchase of the EJ&E would allow Canadian National to use an outlying 198-mile loop to skirt rail congestion in Chicago.

Traffic on the route is expected to quadruple, running more than 20 freight trains per day through Barrington and other suburbs along the line.

The proposal is undergoing an impact review by the Federal Surface Transportation Board.

There are about 100 grade crossings from Joliet to Waukegan, giving rise to other concerns such as traffic, safety and convenience.

Jenny Brauch, 37, a Barrington resident who walked to the rally with her husband and their infant son, said the increased rail traffic would devastate the village’s commercial district.

“People wouldn’t come to Barrington to shop anymore,” she said. “It’s hard enough on a Saturday or Sunday to get into town with traffic the way it is now.”

To mitigate the impact on the suburbs, Canadian National has set aside a pool of $40 million, from which it would contribute 5 percent to the construction of separated grade crossings, railroad spokesman Jim Kvedaras said Sunday. At the rally attended by several hundred people, officials said that money won’t begin to make a dent.

Results from the impact study are expected by the end of the summer, with a final transportation board ruling as early as December, Darch said.

Officials vowed that Sunday’s demonstration would not be the last.

“In the coming weeks, there will be rally after rally along this line,” said Mayor Tom Weisner of Aurora. “All of us need to keep the pressure on” the transportation board.

 

A powerhouse of the ports

For SSA Marine, high cargo volume means success. Global terminal operator SSA Marine focuses on moving lots of cargo from many shippers. It will bring a different business model to the Port of Tacoma.

KELLY KEARSLEY; The News Tribune
Published: September 16th, 2007 01:00 AM

Seattle-based SSA Marine, working with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, plans to build a multimillion-dollar container terminal on Tacoma’s Tideflats. Scheduled to open in 2012, SSA’s terminal will likely look like other terminals at the port: stories-high cranes unloading large rectangular boxes off ships, stacks of containers lining the asphalt.

But the company brings a business model not yet seen in the Port of Tacoma.

The company depends on high volume – moving as many containers through its terminal as possible to generate lower costs for its customers. To do that, SSA Marine brings container ships from many shipping lines through its dock instead of designating one carrier for the terminal, as has been the tradition in Tacoma.

“This is not rocket science,” said Bob Watters, SSA Marine’s vice president of business development. “It’s a concept used everywhere in the world, except on the West Coast of the United States.”

Watters says SSA Marine’s operations maximize the use of the terminal land. But industry experts note that the company’s success depends on its ability to attract enough customers and cargo to its facility.

Here’s a look at the company, which is setting itself up to be a powerhouse in Tacoma’s expanding port.

HOW IT WORKS

SSA Marine’s parent company, Carrix, has 125 operations around the world, including container terminals, rail terminals and rail yards. The 58-year-old company handled 22 million TEUs (20-foot-equivalent-unit containers) last year – roughly 10 times the containers that came through either the Port of Seattle or the Port of Tacoma.

The company started managing terminals in Seattle and began marketing its abilities to manage terminals elsewhere only in the last decade. Carrix was family-owned until this past month, when it sold a 49 percent stake to investment firm Goldman Sachs.

 

Before you read further consider these facts and follow the links:


Read the rest of the story >