A group that suggests voluntary tracking by a corporation is a group working for the corporation! We need consumer/public advocates taking the lead in all this. So, how does building a facility that the WHO considers emitting dangerous levels of pollutants right on the Chesapeake's edge meet the Sustainability Maryland pledge of O'Malley and Rawlings-Blake? Oh, that's right, sustainability is only future campaign headlines. If you tried, the only way to be less sustainable would be to build on Harbor Point. These two corporate pols are on a roll! As a country do we really want larger terminals to handle import/export or do we want domestic consumers with middle-class incomes as the consumers right here in America....producing and consuming? THAT'S THE QUESTION AND ANSWER.
We need to look at CSX and its business practices. I attended a community meeting on public playgrounds built on CSX property. CSX was partnered with Baltimore Development in turning playgrounds into parks so as to dissuade/gentrify communities with lack of access to playgrounds. I also deal with property owned by CSX that has no upkeep..we constantly have to complain for attention. Not so good!
As this article makes clear CSX is not working with the communities; it is developing a plan and O'Malley and Rawlings-Blake is simply pushing what they are told. We need to know as well that CSX is partnered in MARC train.....taxpayer money subsidizing corporate profits. We know for example that tracks from the DC beltway to Baltimore County lack maintenance and fail code causing loss of life and property damage time and again. CSX is waiting for taxpayers to pay for their infrastructure upgrades and could care less about safety they say! Train derailments caused by bad switches and trucks crashing into trains because of unmarked crossings...that is not a good corporate partner!
Why would one make a harbor at the tip of the largest inland bay a huge port in an already stressed Chesapeake Bay? Is that really good public policy? Of course not. It is only happening because the 1% of Maryland see Maryland as a player in the world economy. Empty airport concourses for International flights? So what.....we are going to be a global player if Americans want it or not! AMERICANS DO NOT WANT IT FOR THE RECORD! What we are seeing is a complete disregard for environment and social justice in the name of profit as this article does elude to. People's health will be impacted so the very least we should be hearing of lucrative buyouts of all homes in the area.
Study finds planned CSX transfer station could have negative impact Intermodal project welcomed by some; feared by others
The study's findings will be presented at a Morrell Park Community Association meeting Tuesday night, and Morley said the organization hopes CSX will consider its recommendations as the company moves forward with the project.
Among the recommendations: Establish a plan to deal with the large number of rats expected to be displaced from the Mount Clare yard, limit the hours of operation, and work with local schools and homeowners to mitigate environmental problems, such as increased emissions from trucks.
The group also recommends that CSX voluntarily track air pollutants, warning that the project could increase pollutant levels above those considered dangerous by the World Health Organization.
Tazelaar said project planners are already devising ways to mitigate pollution. Truck companies are being encouraged to upgrade fleets with cleaner vehicles. Electric cranes will be used at the site instead of diesel cranes. The maximum number of truck trips will be restricted, and officials are looking to minimize truck traffic on residential streets, he said.
He said more changes are being considered, including landscaping to provide a buffer from nearby homes, and others are likely to be discussed with more public input.
"We're going to encourage economic development, but we're not going to do it without the public's input or at an extreme cost to the public," he said of the project.
Air quality is particularly worrisome in Morrell Park because residents who live in many of the homes surrounding the intermodal site are already disproportionately unhealthy compared to others in the state and city, with higher death rates from heart disease and chronic lower-respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, bronchitis and asthma, the study found.
The average age of residents is higher than in some city neighborhoods, the study found, making them more susceptible to pollution.
Douglas Sanders, who turns 75 this week, lives on Harman Avenue in a small home that backs up to the train tracks. Inside, his walls are lined with carpet to keep out the noise, but he's used to the clattering of the trains anyway, he said.
"I come from the old school in West Virginia. You really don't care as long as nobody comes on your property," he said of the rail yard behind him.
He shrugged at warnings of potential health impacts, noting he's survived a triple-bypass surgery and several other ailments over the years, including having twice been shot.
His neighbor John Stinchcomb, 72, also said he doesn't mind the noise. He spent 32 years living in a home that backed up to train tracks in Pigtown and has been in his home that backs up to the tracks in Morrell Park for 12, he said.
"It don't bother me," he said. "We kind of like sitting watching" the trains pass by, he said.
Still, other residents, like Weishorn, fear the intermodal facility will make their neighborhood unbearable. She loves her home and how quickly she can zip down Washington Boulevard to her work in Harbor East, she said, but she doesn't feel that her concerns are being addressed.
"While this isn't a palace to some people, it is my palace, and I have a lot of concerns," Weishorn said of her home. "I know this neighborhood isn't, you know, Howard County, with $500,000 houses, but it's a community."
Baltimore has VEOLA ENERGY ........everything you need to privatize all public services!!!!!!
Commenters from Indianapolis......SOUND FAMILIAR?
- OUTRAGEOUS VEOLIA Stephen BolenJuly 13, 2011 8:24 PMHOW CAN THEY POSSIBLY LET THIS INEFFICIENT COMPANY RAISE OUR WATER RATES STILL FURTHER? THAT SHOWS A COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR THE CUSTOMER WHO IS ALREADY HARD PRESSED TO PAY EXISTING VEOLIA RATES. WHERE IS THE MAYOR IS ALL OF THIS?? Reply to CommentFlag Comment
- Be careful what you read Chelsey the MayorOctober 19, 2009 10:35 PMShouldn't the City have found an independent consultant? A consultant that is not attempting to buy the water utility to do the study? What is the saying, The Fox is in the Hen House? Reply to CommentFlag Comment
- Actually WatchdogOctober 18, 2009 11:40 PMIf you look at this, there is no problem on the Veolia side of things. They don't own anything. They operate it. The Department of Waterworks hasn't done anything for seven years. They're the ones who need the rate increase...veolia is paid a flat fee regardless of what happens in the economy.
The bond holders could back the bonds...it just was all tied up in variable rates.
check your facts before you reply next time how 'bout. Reply to CommentFlag Comment
- Who Is Minding The Store Vox PopuliOctober 17, 2009 8:44 PMSo in short, we sold a city owned entity financed by a bad bond deal to a company that can't manage that resource and now they want more money by way of another rate increase. Why wasn't the Veolia contract structured such that the city could take back that asset if Veolia couldn't manage the resource? Why isn't the Bond Bank on the hook for choosing a bond company that can't guarantee the bonds?
Consultant: Indianapolis water utility lax in overseeing Veolia
October 17, 2009 Indiana Business Journal
A consultant’s report filed as part of a water rate case takes the city’s Department of Waterworks to task for lax oversight of the French company that operates the city’s water utility.
The city too often relied on the Department of Waterworks’ board, on consultants and on the private operator, Veolia Water, rather than on the department’s own staff “to ensure safe and efficient operation, maintenance and management” of Indianapolis Water.
That’s one of several critical findings of a consultant hired by the department and filed as part of a 35-percent rate-hike request pending before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
The proposed rate hike, which would fund $111 million in capital improvements, is on top of an 11-percent emergency rate hike the commission approved earlier this year. In the emergency case, ratepayers are being tapped to pay more than $25 million in additional debt-servicing costs stemming from the utility’s inordinate amount of variable-rate bond debt.
While past practices of the Indianapolis Bond Bank drew much of the blame for the bond fiasco, the waterworks department and its board are squarely at issue in the latest rate case.
The department, which owns the city water system and supervises Veolia, filed the critical assessments as it tries to convince skeptical regulators it is working under new leadership to fix a flawed institutional structure.
“The Department understands that the commission is concerned about its supervision of Veolia and its ability to ‘stand up’ on behalf of ratepayers,” wrote Matthew T. Klein, whom the city tapped to take over the Department of Waterworks last March. Klein is the former head of enforcement at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Klein took over from James Steele, a consultant who was interim head of the department following the departure of longtime waterworks head Carlton Curry, in late 2007.
The city under former Mayor Bart Peterson acquired Indianapolis Water from NiSource, the Merrillville-based gas and electric utility, in 2002. Veolia was hired to operate it under a 20-year, $1 billion contract.
Problems from start
“In general, the management structure of the department was not fully developed following the city’s acquisition,” said Alan Ispass, an executive of Englewood, Colo.-based utility consulting firm CH2M Hill, in testimony filed with the IURC.
“Thus, although the department took ownership of the physical waterworks assets, it never developed an internal institutional structure sufficient to maintain direct accountability for the management, financial and technical capacity that is essential for long-term ownership and operation of a utility,” Ispass said.
The consulting firm said the department, with seven full-time employees at last count, lacked staff to adequately monitor the utility’s financial performance or to adequately review Veolia’s capital requests, which often approach $100 million a year.
“Staffing levels are also too low to provide adequate monitoring of short- and long-term financial performance, compliance with debt covenants and rate adequacy.”
The consulting firm called it “incumbent on the department to provide an increased level of scrutiny and professional judgment as to the extent and magnitude of the capital program,” balanced with the department’s available funding and water service needs.
Responsibilities of department staff regarding matters related to Veolia are often ambiguous and ill-defined, said CH2M, adding that contract-administration recommendations made by staff “repeatedly have been overturned” in Veolia’s favor by the department’s seven-member volunteer board.
As for the city’s management agreement with Veolia, CH2M Hill found the department was allowed to award capital projects exclusively to Veolia. An amendment to the agreement in 2007 does not guarantee or assure Veolia will win projects, yet “it has been selected for almost all capital projects to date.”
It suggested the department could seek additional cost savings by broadening contract opportunities.
“Ultimately the current absence of competitive bids creates a lack of transparency and clarity in the capital project process … Greater control over the capital project process may allow the department to develop creative shared cost-savings measures to provide a mutual benefit for all parties,” the report said.
Changes under way
While airing its dirty laundry to the commission, the water department outlined steps it’s taken in recent months to correct the department’s problems. The chairman of the waterworks board, Marvin Scott, noted in testimony with the IURC that the department has sought to limit capital projects, paring Veolia’s recommended $640 million, five-year capital plan to $214 million for only “highest priority” projects over three years.
Scott and Klein said the department also plans to address other issues raised by the consultant, included hiring additional staff, such as a professional engineer and a hydrogeologist.
“I do not believe the department currently possesses the correct number and type of staff to support its obligations under the management agreement,” Klein told the commission.
After joining the department, Klein terminated an administrative assistant, a contract analyst and the chief financial officer. He replaced the CFO with Ronald J. Miller, an accountant who will be pressed to conduct more thorough long-term financial planning and performance benchmarking.
In 2005, the department, in trying to free up $45 million in additional money for capital projects, converted fixed-rate bonds to variable-rate debt with abandon. Eventually, about 60 percent of its $845 million in outstanding debt was in variable-rate instruments. Bond swaps intended to mitigate the risk of interest-rate variations failed to backstop the risk as financial firms involved in the deals failed or saw credit ratings plunge.
Klein told the commission the department has now converted all its variable-rate debt to fixed, and was considering legal action against unnamed defendants involved in its past bond financing.
“The department has taken significant steps to improve upon the management of the system and to be the active and interested owner of the system that the commission expects it to be,” Klein said.
“I guess given the close oversight that the commission continues to exercise since the emergency rate case … they don’t want to dig the hole any deeper,” said Bette J. Dodd, a Lewis & Kappes attorney representing industrial water customers.
But the department’s very existence could be in question under scenarios Mayor Greg Ballard is considering for the utility. This summer, he solicited proposals from companies interested in operating waterworks. One included an offer from Indianapolis natural gas utility Citizens Energy Group to acquire Indianapolis Water for up to $1.6 billion.•
I speak with all of Maryland's MTA workers telling them to protest now and stand up to politicians like O'Malley and all of Maryland's neo-liberals who are privatizing all that is public. This article along with that in San Francisco shows what they will do once established. As with the CSX expansion that disregards public interest.....all of these partnerships lead to impoverishment, fraud, and corruption!
Flash forward to 2013 and Arizona Public Transit workers are back on the picket line because they are being impoverished just as VEOLA is doing in Maryland. Making a corporation more profitable by killing wages and benefits and lowering consumer access and quality is what is happening with these deals. As we saw above with CSX handling train service......all of public transportation is being privatized and as with electricity----Exelon----we will see rate increases up to what market will bear as they say!
Phoenix Transit Workers Protest as Veolia Brings in "Strike Busters"
By Monica Alonzo Tue., Aug. 10 2010 at 2:37 PM Valley Fever...Arizona
Veolia Transportation officials and representatives of the three local transit unions continue to negotiate labor contracts and have managed to avoid a bus strike in Phoenix.
But more than two-dozen union workers who drive, fuel, clean, and repair Phoenix city buses protested, with bright-colored signs in hand, this morning in front of the Hyatt Place in Tempe, where they discovered that Veolia execs already are stashing replacement workers in anticipation of a possible bus strike.
Billy Wingfield, a Veolia operation manager from Boise, Idaho, arrived in Tempe just last night.
Billy Wingfield (left) watches protesters alongside ATU President Bob Bean, after the two shared perspectives on labor negotiations."We're not here to replace them. We're here to help out, to do whatever is necessary to service the customer," Wingfield told New Times while he stood outside of the Hyatt Place, watching the transit workers march up and down the sidewalk. Other out-of-town workers watched from the hotel's balcony.
"I think this is just part of the process. The company has to prepare for the worst -- but hope for the best," Wingfield said.
Union reps aren't happy because, in the midst of "good faith" negotiations, Veolia executives placed ads in the Arizona Republic seeking temporary bus drivers and have flown in about 200 replacement drivers and supervisors, like Wingfield, from all over the country.
Veolia officials said in a statement they are "committed to resolving the remaining issues with its unions," but have to be prepared in case an agreement is not reached. They said it was "a preventative measure only, focused on avoiding a total lack of transit service in the event of a work stoppage by the unions."
Labor contracts expired on June 30, but the Teamsters (employees who fuel and clean buses) and Operating Engineers (mechanics) agreed to extend their existing contracts until August 15. The Amalgamated Transit Union (bus drivers) extended its contract through September 30.
A joint statement released by all three labor unions stated that they all "plan to continue bargaining and have no plans to strike in the near future. If there is a strike, it is due to the bad faith bargaining on behalf of Veolia."
"We're out here because of the passengers, our customers" said Sebastian Aldama, a 20-year Veolia employee and ATU member. "A majority of the people who use our buses are people in need. They depend on us. We want the public to know we're not interested in a strike. We're interested in continuing negotiations."
Workers are concerned because, while they have granted Veolia two contract extensions, Veolia has not yet decided whether it will grant an extension now requested by the Teamsters, says Jerry Ienuso, a Teamsters negotiator.
And if one unions strikes, they are all expected to walk. Talks with the Teamsters are expected to resume on Saturday.
Union officials might have some cause for concern, especially since Veolia officials were able to sucker Phoenix into waiving a $50,000-a-day fine that their company otherwise would have been required to pay if workers went on strike.
It's not a typo. Written into the five-year city-bus contract that started on July 1 was a steep $25,000-a-day fine for each bus facility (and Veolia operates two in Phoenix) that the company had to pay Phoenix to make up for the reduced levels of bus service.
Why would Phoenix give Veolia a pass on those sanctions meant to be an incentive for the company to avoid a strike and maintain bus service at full capacity?
Well, when Phoenix refused to ante up the money that Veolia wanted for expenses linked their old city-bus contract, company officials told the city that they would walk away from the new contract. Giving Veolia a pass on strike-related fines during initial negotiations was one of several concessions that Phoenix had to make in order to get the new contract signed.
Bob Bean, president of the ATU, predicts that Veolia is going to hand the Teamsters a final "take it or leave it" offer and not grant the extension. He believes that Veolia would rather have workers go on strike now and wait them out -- when it won't cost them potentially millions in fines -- instead of down the road when fines are back in place and workers have some leverage.
- November 21, 2009
- CHRISTOPHER CONKEY Wall Street Journal
The deal, announced Friday, is essentially a 50-year lease between the Maryland Port Administration and Ports America Group, a company owned by Highstar Capital, a New York private-equity fund. In exchange for the right to operate Baltimore's cargo-container terminal for 50 years, Ports America will make an upfront payment of $100 million and a series of infrastructure improvements at the port. Chief among them: deepening the water at the cargo terminal to 50 feet from its current depth of 45 feet.
The improvements will enable Baltimore to compete for the supersize cargo vessels that are expected to start passing through the Panama Canal after its expansion is complete in 2014 or so. The vessels are capable of carrying twice as many 40-foot containers as the cargo vessels that typically call on East and Gulf Coast ports.
Other ports are considering similar expansions and hunting for the capital to get them done. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is examining a number of proposals to fix its biggest impediment to serving bigger cargo ships: a bridge that isn't high enough for the vessels to fit under.
Port officials in Charleston, S.C., are studying plans to increase the depth of its water, which fluctuates by six feet along with tides. The port is also moving to develop its Navy Base Terminal, which would boost container capacity by 50% when finished.
Officials in Savannah, Ga., are improving rail connections, purchasing new gantries and upgrading technology in an effort to more than triple the number of containers the port can process. The port will find out within the next year or so whether it can proceed with a channel-deepening project that would enable it to handle the larger vessels.
"The canal expansion is clearly going to be a game-changer in international trade," said Curtis Foltz, chief operating officer at the Georgia Ports Authority.
The port in the best position east of the Panama Canal may be in Norfolk, Va. The water is already 50 feet deep there, and the port has joined with freight rail company Norfolk Southern Corp. and others on the Heartland Corridor, a rail connection to the Midwest that can accommodate trains double-stacked with 40-foot cargo containers.
"We do know [traffic] is going to go up" after the canal is widened, "and we're definitely going to be ready for it," said Joe Harris, a spokesman for the Virginia Ports Authority.
Private infrastructure groups are looking for opportunities at a time when many state and local governments are strapped for cash. Florida recently signed a deal with a private consortium to build and operate a tunnel at the Port of Miami. Earlier this year, the Port of Oakland agreed to turn over some of its terminals to Ports America, which has gradually established a presence at virtually every major port in the country.
"Difficult economic times also open the door for new business opportunities," said Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, referring to Baltimore's deal with Ports America. Maryland officials said the deal could ultimately bring 5,700 jobs to the state, which plans to spend the $100 million upfront payment on road, bridge and tunnel upgrades.
In a statement, Christopher Lee, president of Ports America Chesapeake and managing partner of Highstar Capital said the company is looking forward to implementing "the critical infrastructure required to maintain the Port of Baltimore's competitiveness and importance to the Maryland economy."
Another promise of lots of jobs and the first thing we hear is automation of the port will kill lots of jobs! Think this isn't going to happen in Maryland! LIPSTICK ON A PIG!
Longshoremen's union rallies against plans to automate Jersey City-Bayonne port
Print By Steve Strunsky/The Star-Ledger
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on January 09, 2012 at 3:00 AM
Some 27,000 longshoremen worked the region's docks before the use of bus-sized, steel containers revolutionized the shipping trade in the mid-1960s.
The number of local longshoreman since has dwindled to about 3,500.
Now, shipping's latest technological revolution is coming to the region. Global Container Terminals plans to create the region's first automated port at its Jersey City-Bayonne location on the Port Jersey peninsula. It is part of a $312 million expansion that Global agreed to under a June 2010 deal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
And, it's not going over well with the International Longshoremen's Association, the union that represents Global and other dockworkers.
About 150 members from ILA locals rallied Friday outside Global’s Jersey City offices to protest what they feel is a serious threat to their job security.
“We want to let everyone know that we’re here to protect our jobs and our members,” said Stephen Knott, general vice president of the ILA.
“We helped build these companies. We went along with containerization. Now that they want automation, we want to make sure that we’re as much a part of it as possible and that any new jobs created are ILA jobs. That’s very, very important to us.”
The term “automated-port” is somewhat a misnomer in that all ship-to-shore cranes are still operated by a person, said Joe Harris, a spokesman for the Virginia Port Authority. It runs the nation’s only automated port, a facility built by the Maersk shipping line that opened in Portsmouth in 2007.
The automated portion involves a separate crane that transfers containers, though even a significant portion of that is controlled by a person from a remote location, Harris said.
The combination of automated and manual crane operation results in a faster transfer, Harris said. For example, the Portsmouth terminal operates at a rate of 45 container-moves per hour, compared with a nationwide average of 35 to 38 moves.
“It’s a highly efficient terminal,” Harris said.
Industry officials said the Jersey City terminal would be similarly automated.
But automation is anathema to the ILA, and it was not mentioned when the expansion was announced 18 months ago.
In the announcement, the Port Authority said it would purchase Global’s 98-acre site and lease it back to Global, which is based in Vancouver, Canada. The Port Authority also said it would provide up to $150 million in financing.
Global declined to comment at the time. And Friday, James Devine, the executive in charge of the company’s Jersey City facility, did not return a call seeking comment.