November 9, 2001
The Amtrak Reform Council (the Council) held its business
meeting at the Marriott Hotel at Metro Center at 775 12th
Street, NW, Washington, D.C. on Friday, November 9, 2001.
The meeting started at 10:28 a.m. and adjourned at approximately
Council Members present were: Gil Carmichael, Chair, Nancy
Rutledge Connery, James Coston, Wendell Cox, Christopher
Gleason, Charles Moneypenny, Paul Weyrich and Mark Yachmetz,
representing the Secretary of Transportation. Council members
who participated via conference call were Bruce Chapman,
S. Lee Kling, and Mayor John Norquist.
Mr. Carmichael chaired the meeting and Deirdre O'Sullivan
served as secretary.
THE MEETING TO ORDER
At 10:00 a.m. at the appointed time for the Meeting to
begin, Mr. Carmichael asked the Council to delay the starting
of the meeting until Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael
Jackson arrived. Mr. Carmichael stated that Deputy Secretary
Jackson was in a meeting at the White House, but would be
arriving soon. After waiting approximately thirty minutes
for the Deputy Secretary, Mr. Carmichael asked Mark Yachmetz
to represent the Secretary of Transportation and serve as
a substitute for Deputy Secretary Jackson. Mark Yachmetz
agreed and Mr. Carmichael called the meeting to order to
ON A RESOLUTION FINDING THAT AMTRAK WOULD NOT ACHIEVE OPERATIONAL
SELF-SUFFICIENCY BY DECEMBER 2, 2002 AS REQUIRED BY THE
AMTRAK REFORM AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 1997
Mr. Carmichael stated that at the October 12th meeting
in Atlanta, GA, Mr. Weyrich introduced a motion to start
the process for making a Finding that Amtrak is not going
to be operationally self-sufficient by December 2002. He
further noted that the motion proposing that a draft of
the Finding resolution be prepared had been approved unanimously
at the October 12th meeting. He also stated that the resolution
was prepared by the Council staff and distributed to several
Council members who had indicated their interest at the
October 12th meeting (Mr. Carmichael, Mr. Weyrich, Mr. Norquist,
and Mr. Kling). In addition, the Council staff met with
the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of
Transportation (OIG) to ensure that the Council's Findings
on Amtrak's financial condition were consistent with the
Findings of the OIG. The OIG stated in that meeting that
they were planning to release their report on Amtrak's financials
on November 16th.
Mr. Carmichael then noted that Deputy Secretary Jackson
had contacted him prior to the November 9th meeting, and
asked him to delay the vote on the Finding due to the current
crisis in air security. Mr. Carmichael then stated that
he had polled the Council members prior to the meeting by
ballot and that there was not a majority of the Council
that would support a delay in the vote until early January
Mr. Carmichael stated that there was one issue on the agenda
for the meeting, and that was to vote on whether the Council
should make a Finding that Amtrak was not going to achieve
operational self-sufficiency by December 2, 2002. He then
reiterated that he is still in favor of postponing the making
of the Finding until January. He also stated that the Council
members had the resolution before them and should consider
Mr. Moneypenny asked when the resolution was sent to the
Council. Mr. Kolson answered that the specific text of the
resolution was given to some of the Council members that
day. Mr. Moneypenny stated that for the Council to vote
on whether Amtrak survives or not based on a document that
was given to the Council that morning was ludicrous. Mr.
Kolson noted that the only new material in the finding resolution
is related to the OIG's assessment as presented to the Council
staff. Mr. Gleason stated that the Council was not voting
on a particular document but what the Council has come to
understand are Amtrak's problems.
Mr. Kling stated that he would like to delay the vote for
several reasons including: the Administration asked the
Council to, members of Congress have asked the Council to,
and the report on Amtrak's financials from the OIG's office
has not yet been released. Mr. Weyrich stated that the Deputy
Secretary Jackson has asked the Council to delay the Finding
and that it was not accurate to say that this was the position
of the Administration. Mr. Yachmetz stated that Mr. Mitch
Daniels, Director of the Office of Management and Budget,
had spoken to Deputy Secretary Jackson and agreed that the
decision to support or oppose the Finding Resolution should
be made by the Secretary. Mr. Chapman stated that he had
also spoken to Mr. Daniels and that the Administration was
not taking a position on this because it would not be appropriate
to advise the Council, an independent commission, on how
to vote. He continued by stating that the law states that
as soon as the Council knows that Amtrak is not going to
achieve operational self-sufficiency, that the Council is
supposed to inform the President and Congress, and under
this obligation the Finding should have been made a long
time ago. Mr. Kling stated that due to the events of September
11th, priorities have changed, and he would personally like
to see the OIG's report before making any decisions. Mr.
Chapman stated that he appreciated Mr. Kling's position
but that Amtrak's situation in a few months could be more
dire, and that the best hope for preserving and improving
the rail passenger system would be to declare that the emperor
has no clothes, and start devising a plan to restructure
Mr. Moneypenny stated that at the last meeting on October
12th, Mr. Weyrich had discussed the fact that Senator Hollings
had introduced legislation that would take away from the
Council the power to make a Finding as one of the reasons
that the Council should make the Finding before that power
was taken away. Mr. Weyrich replied that Senator Hollings
is also planning to move forward to remove the self-sufficiency
requirement, and that there is no merit in the arguments
Mr. Coston stated that the Council should delay making
a Finding because: the OIG's report had not been released,
Amtrak's FY2001 financial statement had not been released,
and none of the results of the analysis of the McKinsey
and Company's consultants had been released. He further
stated that the Council should not make a decision without
being fully informed. In addition, he stated that it was
disingenuous to task Amtrak with the responsibility of operating
at a self-sufficiency level as identified by law when Congress
continues to put money into the airline industry. He also
added that nothing would be lost in waiting to make a more
informed decision in January.
Mr. Cox called for a vote and Mr. Chapman seconded the
motion. Mr. Carmichael then asked to allow Mr. Yachmetz
to make a statement first. Mr. Cox agreed.
Mr. Yachmetz stated that he would like to apologize for
the Deputy Secretary being unable to make an appearance.
The Deputy Secretary was currently at the White House dealing
with the airline security crisis. He then reiterated that
Mr. Daniels told Deputy Secretary Jackson that the responsibility
for making a decision about whether the Council should make
a Finding belonged to Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta,
therefore the position of the Secretary was that the Council
should not make a Finding at this time. Currently the Administration
was working on a comprehensive rail passenger policy that
may be part of the President's budget that will be sent
to Congress in February 2002. The Administration does not
believe that it is necessary to make a Finding and have
Amtrak trying to come up with a liquidation plan when all
of these issues can be addressed in process of Amtrak's
reauthorization which must be done in Congress next year.
Mr. Chapman reiterated his conversation with Mr. Daniels.
Mr. Carmichael stated that there was a motion to make a
Finding and it had been seconded and he called for a roll
call vote. The Council members voted as follows:
Mr. Cox: "Aye"
Mr. Coston: "No"
Mr. Weyrich: "Aye"
Mr. Yachmetz: "No" in the name of Secretary Mineta
Mr. Gleason: "Aye"
Ms. Connery: "Aye"
Mr. Moneypenny: "No"
Mr. Chapman: "Aye"
Mr. Kling: "No"
Mr. Carmichael: "No"
Mr. Norquist: [Mr. Norquist had gotten off the conference
Mr. Cox stated that the record should be held open until
the end of the meeting to allow Mr. Norquist the opportunity
to express his decision.
Mr. Till stated that the vote was five in favor and five
against. Mr. Moneypenny stated that unless Mr. Norquist
gets back on the line the Council will not know whether
or not there will be a Finding. Mr. Cox stated that if the
vote remained a tie then the Finding motion would fail.
Following Mr. Cox's statements, there was a general discussion
regarding how long to hold open the record. Then Mr. Carmichael
called for a recess to see if Mr. Norquist could be found
so he could vote and, and with no objections, the meeting
The meeting resumed when Mr. Norquist returned to the conference
call. Mr. Norquist asked to have the resolution read to
him. Mr. Till read the document. Then Mr. Norquist asked
to have the roll call of the votes read to him. Mr. Till
complied. Then Mr. Norquist asked Mr. Coston how he had
voted. Mr. Coston stated that he voted no because he believes
that the Council could make a more informed decision in
January; taking into account all the details that needs
to go into the refinancing, reauthorization and restructuring
of Amtrak. He continued by stating that the Council had
not seen the OIG's report, the report from McKinsey and
Co., and Amtrak's FY2001 financial statements. Mr. Norquist
then asked Mr. Yachmetz if he was representing the President
or the DOT. Mr. Yachmetz stated that Mr. Daniels had told
Deputy Secretary Jackson that it was to be the decision
of the Transportation Secretary as how to vote on the issue
of a Finding and the Transportation Secretary would like
to delay the vote until January.
Mr. Weyrich stated that the OIG's report was not going
to reveal any new information that would substantially change
the debate. In addition, he stated that if the Council votes
to make the Finding that nothing is going to change: no
trains are going to stop, and no employees will be laid
off. Also, he stated that he was concerned about a bill
introduced by Senator Hollings that would deny the Council
the opportunity to make a Finding and that those in favor
of delaying are really wanting the ability of ARC to make
a Finding to be vitiated. Therefore, if the Council is in
favor of making a Finding, then they should vote for it
now, and if they don't want to make a Finding, then they
should vote no and that would be the ultimate outcome.
Mr. Norquist stated that Amtrak as it is currently structured
cannot produce the needed additional revenue, and the infrastructure
just cannot hold on without substantial capital. In addition,
he stated that he is not dissuaded by the reasons for delay
and that Congress will probably deliberate on the issue
for a year before they actually do anything. Mr. Norquist
stated that he voted "Aye" in favor of the Finding.
Mr. Carmichael stated that the "Ayes" have it
and the motion is carried. Mr. Chapman asked for a motion
that the Council staff start preparing an options plan to
be circulated as early as next month to be approved by the
Council to be submitted to the Congress in accordance to
the law, and further, to work with the officials of the
DOT in preparation of the plan. The motion was seconded
by Mr. Weyrich. (Below is the vote on the motion.)
Mr. Cox: "Aye"
Mr. Coston: "Abstain
Mr. Weyrich: "Aye"
Mr. Yachmetz: "Abstain" in the name of Secretary
Mr. Gleason: "Aye"
Ms. Connery: "Aye"
Mr. Moneypenny: "No"
Mr. Chapman: "Aye"
Mr. Kling: "Abstain"
Mr. Carmichael: "Aye"
Mr. Norquist: "Aye"
Mr. Till stated that there was one "no" vote,
three "abstain" votes, and seven "ayes"
and asked if this correctly expressed the views of the Council.
(There were no objections.)
There was a general discussion about whether the meeting
should continue or adjourn. Mr. Chapman introduced a motion
to adjourn. Mr. Carmichael stated that the Council staff
should start working on the report and the Council should
have a good basic report by the end of December. Mr. Weyrich
then seconded Mr. Chapman's motion to adjourn, unless there
was some business for the Council members that had not yet
been heard. Mr. Carmichael asked if there was any additional
business or objections to adjourning. Hearing none, Mr.
Carmichael then asked for a vote on adjournment. The vote
to adjourn was unanimous. The Council adjourned at approximately
updated January 02, 2001