Honor a Vet by Voting

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

With Veteran’s Day coming up, I started thinking about Carl Seiberlich, a retired Admiral who always told me to take the day off.  Years ago, when I went to work with Carl in the Washington D.C. office of American President Lines (APL), while I knew that Carl was in the Navy, he rarely offered any […]

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To Everything There Is A Season

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

Alan Lowenthal started his legislative career in Sacramento about the same time I started in my current position.  Over the years I opposed a number of bills introduced by the Senator.  The running joke in many speeches I’ve given in past years was that his name came up so frequently at my family dinner table […]

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Autism Awareness Month

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

While the Legislature will adopt a resolution announcing April as Autism Awareness Month, as the parent of a young adult with autism,  it will just be another month.  I appreciate the gesture, but the reality is, it will have no impact on my daughter’s life. Being the parent of a child or adult with autism […]

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Sunshine on State Agency Yielding Results

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

We all have done our share of griping about the gridlock and myopia that can grip Sacramento, including myself; so, when the Legislature is actually doing its job well and elevating common sense over politics, we should praise those efforts as well.  So, I want to take the opportunity to say a word or two […]

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Lt. Governor’s Proposal – It’s Time to Move Forward

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

For the past several years, Sacramento
has been focused almost exclusively on the state budget crisis.  Ignored
for the most part has been how to deal with California’s unemployment rate,
currently second highest in the nation.  Except in isolated instances,
policymakers have failed to address the issue of job creation and
expansion.  That’s what makes Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently issued
"Economic Growth and Competitiveness Agenda for California" a sober assessment of the challenges facing
California and worthy of discussion.  

From an international trade
perspective, imports and exports through our ports generate hundreds of
thousands of trade related jobs in California.  International trade is a
critical component of the overall economic health of California.  However, because of California’s inability to build major
infrastructure projects, California’s role as a gateway for trade is
threatened as alternative gateways are being developed throughout North
America.

The Lt. Governor was right when he
stated "Onerous and inconsistent regulations, slow bureaucracies, and
misaligned policies at the federal, state and local levels present real
barriers to the speed and agility needed to compete in the global economy…
California must also bring its cumbersome licensing and regulatory processes
into the 21st century."  

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Neither Fish nor Fowl, but SF Pilot Benefits Abound

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

The San Francisco Bar Pilots
know how to lobby Sacramento, witness AB 907.  As a result this
homogenized monopoly of 55 men and one woman hold exclusive state licenses
which allow them to drive ships in, out and around the San Francisco Bay, and
this license comes with some great benefits.

They have a great pension.  As the only non-public
employees with a publicly mandated defined benefit pension system in California,
they don’t have to contribute a penny towards their own retirement.  This
small perk costs somewhere between $250 million and $650 million, depending on
who you ask.  Either way, pilots are receiving annual retirements of over
$260,000.     

They have great work
schedules
.  In 2010 each
pilot actually piloted about 140 times, that’s a job on average once every 2
and a half days.  And many of those jobs, like the ships moving from sea
to the Port of Oakland are completed in 3 or 4 hours.

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Shiver Me Timbers: Bar Pilots Want Gold-plated Deal

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

If the state gave you a monopoly for a job which paid $400,000 a year for six months of work, were driven to and from jobs in a town car or limo, had all of your business expenses paid for by someone else, and were on your way to earning a public pension of a quarter million dollars per year to which you didn’t contribute a dime of your own money, would you be demanding a raise in this economy? You might if you were a state-licensed Bar Pilot.

Most people never heard of the San Francisco Bar Pilots until the Cosco Busan oil spill, when a ship under the control of a state-mandated pilot hit the Bay Bridge. After the accident in 2007, several changes in the state pilot system were enacted by the Legislature and the State Board of Pilot Commissioners was put under the jurisdiction of the Business, Transportation & Housing Agency (BT & H). Since then, BT & H has made significant improvements in much of the oversight of the state pilot monopoly.

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What Have We Done?

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

Autism Awareness Month is coming to a close. Despite all of the “angels” that are out there in the world who are seeking answers to the why and how of autism or who educate children and adults with autism, I am left with a sense of foreboding. Perhaps it is a reflection of my own mortality viewed through the prism of my daughter who is autistic and who is now a young adult.

My daughter is part of the initial and growing wave of rapidly aging individuals diagnosed with autism. She lives in a state and a society which is completely unprepared, and perhaps incapable, of dealing with her needs. I wake up in the night, wondering what her life will be like when my wife and I are gone. It is at those moments that fear creeps in.

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Here’s Mud In Your Eye

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

"Without the trust of the people, politics degenerates into
mere spectacle and democracy declines, leaving demagoguery and cynicism to fill
the void."  Those words were uttered by
Governor Jerry Brown in his inaugural address on January 3rd.  And while his comments were probably
primarily directed at the legislative process in Sacramento, they would also
have application in Los Angeles, where a career politician is trying to force
her will on the Port of Los Angeles, to the detriment of a project that is
critical to the future success of the Port. 

The issue in Los Angeles involves LA City Councilwoman
Janice Hahn, who is trying to force the Port of Los Angeles to accept a
proposal from Gambol Industries for construction of a ship building and repair
facility at the expense and detriment of existing tenants at the Port.  The controversy centers around the disposal
of dredge material at the site of two former dry dock slips in the location
Gambol wants for its proposed shipyard. 
The disposal site was permitted as part of a previously approved Main
Channel Deepening Project – a US Army Corps of Engineers project (to deepen the
main ship channel to 53 feet) which is nearing its final years of
completion.  The dredging project is
vital to the Port’s ability to handle the latest generation of container ships
and to fend off competition of East and Gulf Coast ports, which will escalate with
the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014. 

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The Long Beach Dash for Cash

John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association

The Port of Long Beach is viewed by the international trade community as one of the better managed ports in the United States. It is blessed with an extremely talented and hard working management team and a harbor commission that takes its role and responsibilities seriously. In addition, under the City Charter, the Port has historically been at an arms length distance from the City, insulating it from the roller coaster of everyday City Hall politics. As a result, the Port of Long Beach has an enviable record of success.

Unfortunately for the Port and the community of Long Beach, all that may change on November 2nd.

With little debate and no analysis, the City Council rushed an amendment to the City Charter onto the November 2nd ballot. “Measure D” will take hundreds of millions of dollars away from the Port and give it to the City. Measure D was crafted by the Long Beach City Council without analysis or review even by their own harbor commissioners and professional port staff – let alone by the general public and other stakeholders. At the same time, the City Council blasted the Long Beach harbor commission for not agreeing to an earlier version of the measure.

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