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Council Minutes

May 17, 1999

(Approved at the Business Meeting of June 29, 1999,
with the addition of Wendell Cox to the List of those attending)

The Amtrak Reform Council (ARC or Council) held its business meeting at the Department of Transportation, Nassif Building, at 400 Seventh Street, S.W. in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 17, 1999.

Council Members present: Gil Carmichael; Wendell Cox; S. Lee Kling; Associate Administrator for Railroad Development, James T. McQueen for the Secretary of Transportation, Rodney E. Slater; Paul M. Weyrich; and Joseph Vranich. Christopher Gleason participated via conference call.

Gil Carmichael chaired the meeting and Deirdre O'Sullivan served as secretary.

I. Opening Remarks Given by Chairman Gil Carmichael & Approval of the Minutes

Mr. Carmichael, Chairman welcomed the Council members and the audience to the meeting. The minutes for the April 26th business meeting were presented to the Council for Approval by Mr. Carmichael. The minutes were amended by changing the wording in the first sentence from "first business meeting" to "first regional meeting" and the title for Ms. Molitoris was changed from "Federal Rail Administrator" to "Federal Railroad Administrator." The minutes with approved amendments were approved unanimously by the Council present.

II. Discussion of Budget Request Sent to Congress

The representative of Council Member Clarence Monin, Mr. Charles Moneypenney, brought up the point that during the March 15th meeting when the Budget Request was discussed by the Council that he believed no vote was recorded on that action. He further added that the Budget Request sent to Congressman Wolf on March 26th stated that "the Council reviewed and approved this vote"1 but no vote was taken, and that there was never a discussion of a specific amount. He also stated that the last word on the subject was that two budgets would be prepared: one with consultants and one without and that was the end of the discussion.

Mr. Carmichael added that there were no objections from the Council at that time and Mr. Moneypenney replied that there was no budget to object to. Mr. Carmichael let Mr. Thomas A. Till, Executive Director respond.
Mr. Till stated that he wanted to address this point because it pertains to the credibility of the Council. He also stated this issue was not included in the April 26th minutes because it was brought up after the business meeting had concluded. He further added that the Minutes from the March 15th business meeting had been approved without objection on April 26th and they indicated that the Council had approved the process in which the staff would prepare a Budget Request in excess of $750,000 and that the Chairman would review the request on behalf of the Council and forward it to Congress because of the time constraint that the Council was working under. Furthermore, he added that it was his understanding and that of Mr. Carmichael at the end of the March 15th meeting that they had the authority from the Council to proceed on that plan. Also, he stated it was understood that the Administration did not give its approval nor did the Labor representative but there was a quorum effective at the time and the letter to Congressman Wolf stated that the Council had approved the budget and indeed it had.

Mr. Cox and Mr. Kling stated that in the future passing a motion as important as the annual budget should be done more carefully and with the full understanding of all of those present and that the Council should learn from this and move on. Mr. Carmichael agreed and he further added that he knew where the Administration and Mr. Monin were on this issue, and that he believed that he had the authority to submit the Budget Request and he had done so.

Mr. Weyrich stated that he took exception to the remarks regarding the "veil of secrecy" in Mr. Monin's letter to Congress." Mr. Carmichael asked Mr. Moneypenney if he had anything further to add. Mr. Moneypenney stated that there was nothing more to say on the issue. Mr. Carmichael stated that each individual had stated their opinion on the subject and the general opinion is "let's go forward." He then ended the discussion by asking if anyone else had an opinion. With no reply from the Council, he ended the discussion.

Later in the meeting, Mr. McQueen asked what the procedure was in determining the answers to Senator Shelby's questions about the budget. Mr. Till replied that the answers were written by the Council's staff and submitted to the Council for comments. He also added that nine Council members had no comment and the comments from Labor and the Administration were reflected in the cover letter to Senator Shelby.

III. Executive Direstor's Report Given by Tom Till

A. Future Meetings and Work Programs

The discussion of future meetings focused on three major issues: one, does the schedule square with the budget; two, when will the staff prepare a work program and list of expected products that squares with the Council's statutory mandate; and three, will having all of these regional meeting leave enough time for the Council to focus on the Annual Report to Congress due in January 2000. Mr. Till stated that the budget will support all of the meetings and that the work program would be sent to the Council soon. In the end it was the consensus of the Council to have the Charlotte Outreach and Business Meeting on June 29th, the Seattle Business Meeting on August 31st, a proposed Chicago Outreach and Business Meeting on October 13th & 14th, and a proposed early December Business Meeting in Washington. The schedule for the committee sessions would be decided upon later. The subject of the Dallas meeting was brought up by Mr. Till who said that the timing for that meeting would depend on word from Senator Hutchison's office as to whether or not she could participate. It was also the consensus of the Council to postpone the Burlington, VT trip and the Dallas trip, unless the Senator decided otherwise regarding the Dallas meeting.

B. Staffing

Mr. Carmichael asked about the additional staffers that are not yet hired including the financial analyst and rail expert. Mr. McQueen stated that Mr. Till had requested another senior level employee, that request was working its way through the system, and that it was not a two or three week process. Mr. Carmichael asked Mr. McQueen to do whatever was necessary to expedite the matter.

IV. Committee Appointments

Gil Carmichael stated that the Council had established four Committees to better evaluate information. These include Productivity, Organization and Management, Financial Analysis, and Rail Passenger Network. Mr. Carmichael stated that he had asked the individual Council members to advise him what committees they would like to be on and those who had not replied he would assign to committees. In response to a statement from Mr. Moneypenney that Labor reserved the right to show up at any [Committee] meeting, Mr. Carmichael stated that "All committee meetings in a corporate board you're invited to. We're going to work like a corporate board and you can sit in on every one of them. There's no problem." Mr. Gleason then asked if he could change his request to Rail Passenger Network and Mr. Carmichael agreed.

V. Conflict of Interest

Tom Till stated that before the meeting he had received a request from Mr. Monin that the Conflict of Interest discussion be postponed because Mr. Monin would not be able to attend this meeting. Mr. Till further added that he told Mr. Monin that he would forward his request to the rest of the Council. Mr. Carmichael asked Mr. Moneypenney if he had any comments. Mr. Moneypenney stated that there is a developing situation in Boston where one of Mr. Carmichael's companies was in negotiations with Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to take over work currently being done by Amtrak whose employees are represented by Mr. Moneypenney's union.

Mr. Carmichael explained that MBTA was required by law to open the bidding process for specific work being currently done by Amtrak. He further added that four companies had put in bids at MBTA including Mr. Carmichael's company and Amtrak and three of the bidders had bid about $90 million less than Amtrak.

At this point in the discussion, Mr. Weyrich moved that the Council postpone the discussion and that motion was seconded by Mr. Cox. Mr. Vranich asked that the Yeas and Nays be counted. Mr. Carmichael, Mr. Gleason, Mr. Kling, Mr. McQueen, Mr. Weyrich, and Mr. Vranich all voted in the affirmative.

Mr. Kolson explained after the vote that the Conflict of Interest policy focuses on the voting procedures on matters where Conflict of Interest is determined. He also stated that this was the same policy followed by Lockheed Martin and Amtrak and that he had discussed this issue with the Ethics Counsel at DOT and the Counsel at FRA and both agreed that this was a fair procedure.

VI. Other Business

Mr. McQueen asked that in developing the Work Plan the Council staff should work with Amtrak employees and Amtrak. Mr. Vranich stated that he took exception to that remark because that meant the Council has not been including them all along. Mr. Carmichael asked for any other comments and there was none.

VII. Motion to End the Business Meeting

Mr. Carmichael moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Cox seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously to adjourn.

1 The letter to Congressman Wolf dated March 26th stated that "…Council's staff has proposed, and the Council has approved, a request for $1,300,000 for FY2000."

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