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Amtrak Reform Council

Minutes
January 24, 2000

The Amtrak Reform Council (the Council) held its business meeting at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill at 400 New Jersey Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 24, 2000.† The Meeting started at 9:00 a.m. and adjourned at 10:45 a.m. and the meeting was followed by a Press Conference regarding the Councilís first Annual Report.

Council Members present: Gil Carmichael, Chair; Paul Weyrich, Vice-chair; Wendell Cox; S. Lee Kling; Jolene Molitoris, Federal Railroad Administrator; Clarence Monin.† Participating via conference call:† Joseph Vranich.

Mr. Carmichael chaired the meeting and Deirdre OíSullivan served as secretary.

I. Opening Remarks by Gil Carmichael

Mr. Carmichael called the meeting to order and announced that the Council had indeed released its first Annual Report and had done so on time.† He also stated that, while the Council made every effort to achieve a consensus, three Council members had decided to vote against the report: Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris, Mr. Clarence Monin, and Mr. Don Sweitzer.† Mr. Carmichael then asked the Council members to discuss their opinions on the Annual Report

II. Discussion of the Annual Report

Ms. Molitoris stated that she believed the Council members were not given enough time to discuss or digest what she termed a ďstaff-drivenĒ report.† Also, she stated that Amtrak should have been given more time to review and respond to the report than they were given.† In addition, she stated that the Administration did not concur with the Reportís definition of operational self-sufficiency.† Mr. Carmichael then stated that Amtrak was given time to review the report and that the staff had met with senior Amtrak officials on three separate occasions and that he had discussed the matter of the reportís definition of self-sufficiency at length with two members of the Amtrak Board:† Governor Tommy Thompson (R-WI) and Mayor John Robert Smith of Meridian, Mississippi.† After that conversation, he then asked the Councilís legal counsel, Ken Kolson, to review Amtrakís legal opinion of operational self-sufficiency and write for the Council a detailed legal opinion outlining the Councilís approach to the definition of operational self-sufficiency, based on the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act.† Mr. Carmichael then stated that upon receiving Mr. Kolsonís opinion, he informed Amtrak that he could not change the Reportís operational self-sufficiency definition but he would allow Amtrak to publish its response to the report directly following the Executive Summary.† He continued by saying that this report was not the final word on the subject and that he expected Congressional Hearings to occur in the spring covering this subject and other issues outlined in the report.

Mr Weyrich then stated that he believed that the Council was an independent body and not a subsidiary of either the Federal Railroad Administration or Amtrak.† He also stated that he has always been a supporter of Amtrak and he wanted Amtrak to succeed.† Also, he stated that he was offended when he was accused of being anti-Labor and that it was not true that he is looking to dismantle Amtrak.†

Mr. Tom Till, Executive Director, then discussed an administrative note stating that both Mr. Lee Kling and Mr. Don Sweitzer had submitted letters commenting on the report.† The letters arrived after the report was sent out for its initial printing, but they would be included in the next printing.† This concluded the discussion on the Annual Report

III. Election of the Councilís Officers

Mr. Lee Kling nominated Mr. Carmichael as Chairman and Mr. Weyrich as Vice-Chairman.† He thanked them for serving in this capacity and hoped they would continue to do so.† He was seconded by Ms. Molitors and Mr. Vranich.† The vote was unanimous and both Mr. Carmichael and Mr. Weyrich accepted the positions.

IV. Motion to Ask Congress to Delay Amtrakís Deadline to the End of FY2003

Mr. Weyrich asked that the Council discuss on his proposal, to ask Congress to delay Amtrakís deadline to the end of FY2003.† (Mr. Weyrich first introduced this proposal at the last business meeting on October 14, 1999;† at that meeting, the motion was tabled until a later date.)† Mr. Weyrich stated that in order for the Council to fully assess Amtrak that it would need to wait until all 20 trainsets were in place and operating for a full year on the Northeast Corridor before it could make prudent decisions about Amtrakís future.† Mr. Vranich stated that he was not in favor of this proposal because by his calculations Acela was already five years behind schedule and there was no guarantee that, given another year, Amtrak could make it work.† Mr. Cox and Mr. Kling both stated that they believed that more information regarding the Acela delay was needed before they were prepared to vote on the motion.† Mr. Vranich then made a motion to defer this proposal until more information was available regarding the Acela delay and this motion was seconded by Mr. Cox.† The Council voted unanimously to postpone the motion.† Mr. Weyrich then agreed to withdraw the motion until the next meeting.

This was the last action item for the Council.†

V. The Councilís Meeting Schedule

The Council discussed the proposed dates for the next three Council meetings and it was decided that the Council staff should send out new proposed meeting dates.† Mr. Cox then stated that the Council should not conduct more Outreach Hearings because they crowded out discussion of issues.† Mr. Till stated that the Council only had three more Outreach Hearings scheduled: for the mountain states, for California, and for the non-Northeast Corridor routes in New England.† Ms. Molitoris then stated that she would like more Labor involvement in these meetings and more time spent on substantive issues.† Mr. Weyrich stated that the Council had asked Labor to participate in these meetings, but the Council had been turned down continually.† The Council agreed to have longer business meetings in order to devote additional time to the discussion of substantive issues.

VI. Adjourment

Following the discussion on the Council meetings, the Council asked for public comment.† The Council then adjourned at 10:45 a.m.† Following the business meeting, the Council held a Press Conference regarding the Annual Report.




The ARC is an independent federal commission established under the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-134).