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 about the opportunity that is afforded the maritime industry as a result of the good work of the Joint Legislative Sunset Review Committee.

The Sunset Review Committee recently looked at the small and obscure state Board of Pilot Commissioners, which is responsible for regulating the monopoly of 56 pilots who are responsible for guiding commercial vessels in and out of the San Francisco Bay.  Over the past year, there’s been lots of sound and fury in the Legislature as a result of the pilots’ request for a raise in pay over and above the current $400,000 each pilot makes for working six months each year.  But, the Sunset Review Committee was able to look past the money politics and actually focus on what’s important in the Bay:  safety, accountability, transparency and efficiency.

Several years ago we were encouraged by the enactment of multiple reforms of the state pilotage system by the Legislature in the wake of the 50,000 gallon oil spill which resulted from a pilot steering the Cosco Busan into the Bay Bridge.  Now, we’re encouraged that the Legislature wants to continue to improve safety on the Bay without waiting first for another accident to impact our sensitive waterways.

So, thanks are due to the Sunset review Committee for looking at this small state agency and for looking for ways to make it more responsive to today’s challenges. We would like all stakeholders to take their cue to start a productive, constructive and earnest dialogue about the Sunset Review Committee’s recommendations and to focus on real safety issues.