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Amtrak Reform Council

Draft Minutes
December 14, 2001

The Amtrak Reform Council (the Council) held its business meeting at the Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel at 480 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, D.C. on Friday, December 14, 2001. The meeting started at 9:30 a.m. and adjourned at approximately 3:15 p.m.

Council Members present were Gil Carmichael, Nancy Rutledge Connery, James Coston, Wendell Cox, Christopher Gleason, Charles Moneypenny, Mayor John Norquist, and Paul Weyrich. Council members who participated via conference call were Bruce Chapman and S. Lee Kling.

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


Mr. Carmichael called the meeting to order. After a brief statement regarding the proceedings of the Council, Mr. Carmichael asked for a motion to approve the minutes. Ms. Connery moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Cox seconded the motion. Mr. Moneypenny asked to discuss the minutes. Mr. Moneypenny stated that he did not believe that the minutes really captured what was discussed and agreed to at the October meeting in Atlanta. Mr. Moneypenny stated that there was never a motion for a Finding at the October meeting; instead, there was supposed to be a resolution sent out to all the Council members for them to comment on. Mr. Tom Till, Executive Director, stated that all of Mr. Moneypenny's concerns were addressed in the memorandum written by Mr. Kolson. Mr. Moneypenny asked to return to the issue of the resolution and who saw a copy of it at what time. Mr. Cox stated that the Council had convened to discuss the Council's statutory responsibility to put together an action plan for restructuring Amtrak, and that he was concerned about the amount of time being spent quibbling over minutes. Mr. Cox called for the motion to vote on the minutes. Mr. Moneypenny stated that he had no intention of stop talking until the minutes were fully discussed. Mr. Norquist interjected by stating that a motion to cut off debate would take a two-thirds majority. Mr. Carmichael then called for a vote to cut off debate. The motion failed to get a majority.1 The debate continued.

Mr. Moneypenny continued by discussing: a) the process for drafting the Finding resolution, b) who received a copy of the resolution in advance, and c) the failed mail ballot to postpone the November 9th meeting until January 2002. Mr. Coston stated that he believed that the one thing that the Council has a legal obligation to do is to make a Finding, and that on November 9th the Council had backed into it in the worst possible way. He stated that is was his belief that a week before the meeting on November 9th that the meeting would be postponed until January 2002. Mr. Norquist stated that the question before Council was whether to approve the minutes, and that at some point the Council should vote for the minutes and move on. In addition, he stated that he did not believe that there was anything wrong with a six to five vote for a Finding. Mr. Moneypenny stated that Mr. Norquist in the transcript never used the word 'Finding.' Mr. Norquist replied that he was fully aware that he was voting for a Finding, and he did so because he believes that Amtrak's current strategy of delay, deny, and obfuscate was not going to produce the well-capitalized rail passenger network that most Americans want. He asked for a vote on the minutes no matter how imperfect they are. Mr. Carmichael asked for a vote on the minutes. The Minutes were approved by a majority of the Council members present. (Mr. Moneypenny voting against approval; both Mr. Coston and Mr. Kling abstained.)

Mr. Carmichael stated that he had met with the Administration and members of Congress, and they are waiting for the restructuring plan from the Council. Mr. Moneypenny asked Mr. Carmichael why the Administration did not send a representative to the meeting. Mr. Carmichael stated without an official policy from the White House, the Secretary was probably trying to stay neutral. Mr. Norquist stated that he would like the Secretary or a representative from the Administration at the next meeting in January so the Council would understand the position of the Administration. Mr. Kling agreed that the Administration should attend. Mr. Carmichael called for a recess and the Council agreed.


Upon returning from a short recess, Mr. Moneypenny introduced a motion to rescind the Council's Finding. Mr. Coston seconded the motion. Mr. Chapman stated that he would like an up or down vote on the motion right away. Mr. Kling asked what the Amtrak Reform Act states about considering the recommendations from the Inspector General's Office of the Department of Transportation (OIG). Mr. Kenneth Kolson, Legal Counsel for the Amtrak Reform Council, stated that Amtrak Reform Act 2 states that the Council must take into account the OIG's financial assessment of Amtrak; and that prior to the November 9th meeting, the Council staff had met with the OIG staff and found out that the OIG's financial analysis of Amtrak was in accord the Council's staff analysis, and it showed their assessment of September 11 was that although Amtrak might get a sustainable increase in passengers in the Northeast Corridor, that alone was not enough to make them operationally self-sufficient by December 2, 2002. In addition, Mr. Till stated that the Council's staff again conferred with OIG's staff last week to see if there were any factors that would change the Council's conclusion that a Finding is warranted, and there were none. Mr. Moneypenny asked how many Council members had spoke with the OIG Staff, and Mr. Till replied that none had. Mr. Carmichael called for a vote on Mr. Moneypenny's motion. The motion failed to get a majority. Voting in favor of rescinding the Council's Finding were Mr. Coston and Mr. Moneypenny. Opposed to rescinding the Finding were Mr. Carmichael, Mr. Chapman, Ms. Connery, Mr. Cox, Mr. Gleason, Mr. Norquist and Mr. Weyrich.


Mr. Carmichael asked Mr. Till to describe the Nine Options for restructuring rail passenger service that the Council had already received. Mr. Moneypenny asked Mr. Till to identify which Council members proposed which options. Mr. Till replied that some of them represent the general views of one or more Council members, but a lot of them are representations along a spectrum. Mr. Kling stated that he was contacted by Mr. Till, and he expressed his opinion on all of the options, and that he was a part of the process. Mr. Chapman stated that he would like to congratulate the staff for putting together the options and he would like the cull or combine the options down to two or three clear choices. Mr. Till then asked Mr. Michael Mates, Senior Financial Analyst, and Ms. Mary Phillips, Transportation Analyst, to describe the nine options 3. During the description of the nine options, the Council members made several comments. Mr. Gleason stated that he believed that the Council should work to establish the mechanism for restructuring the rail passenger system and allow Congress to decide how to fund it. Mr. Kling agreed with Mr. Gleason, and stated that the Council could submit options on how to fund it but not 'solid recommendations'. Mr. Chapman asked the Council staff to focus on intermodalism when drawing up plans for restructuring. Both Mr. Kling and Ms. Connery agreed with Mr. Chapman. Mr. Moneypenny focused on labor-related issues such as the need for Amtrak employees to maintain their collective bargaining agreements should other companies take over Amtrak service. There was discussion on whether there should be a transition period until private companies could bid to operate rail service, and how long that transition period should be. After discussing and describing the nine options, Mr. Carmichael asked for a lunch break and for the Council members to continue the discussion after lunch. The Council recessed for lunch at approximately 1:20 p.m.

After the lunch recess, the discussion continued. Mr. Norquist introduced a proposal that would advocate recommending to Congress that airport funding be made eligible to add rail lines to airports and create real intermodal air/rail hubs, and asked the staff to look into the issue. Mr. Carmichael then asked Mr. Till to comment on the discussion so far. Mr. Till stated that there appeared to be a majority consensus on the basic business model: a separate government oversight agency, a separate public entity to control the Northeast Corridor infrastructure; and a separate operating company to run all the train operations. He continued by stating the real issue comes down to what to do with the operating company: whether it should be a national company, or a regional company, or corridor-based companies; and how to deal with the long-haul (or overnight) trains. He stated that the Council staff would reduce the options down to three, and that he would like the Council's informal input on which options they would prefer. Mr. Gleason stated that he would like the staff to include parallels from successful models in other countries. In addition, Mr. Gleason stated regional corridors were the direction the Council should be headed, and for the long-haul trains that a transparent system be put in place in which each train is subsidized initially, and then there can be public debate on individual routes that connect to the regional corridors.

Mr. Moneypenny stated that he did not have enough time to review all of the proposals so he would like the record not to reflect that he was in favor of any of the proposals, if he did not object. Mr. Weyrich stated that the real problem with Amtrak is not the unions. He stated that he would support the idea that existing agreements with labor should be honored with a new entity, but that the real problem is the current bloated management structure. Mr. Gleason asked for a definition of competition for rail. Mr. Till explained that competition would be allowing private companies to bid for the right to operate over a certain route or set of routes for a certain period of time, and after that initial service period is over, reopening the bidding process to allow other companies to bid to operate the service.

Mr. Moneypenny stated that, by his count, a majority of the Council have spoken in favor of allowing labor to keep existing collective bargaining agreements, and he wanted to know if there was anyone who feels differently on the subject who has not spoken. Ms. Connery stated that she has spoken to various companies worldwide, and there seems to be a general understanding out there that attempting to break up unions will not work either politically or practically. Mr. Till noted that the issue arises as to when the normal bargaining process of the Railway Labor Act would come into play. Mr. Moneypenny noted that under the Railway Labor Act, the old contract would continue until the new one is negotiated. Mr. Cox noted that he would like to change his previous position and that he did not agree with Mr. Moneypenny's position. Mr. Carmichael asked if there was any additional business of the Council. There being none, he opened the floor for public comments.


After public comments, Mr. Carmichael asked if there was any additional business or objections to adjourning. Hearing none, Mr. Carmichael then asked for a motion to adjourn. Mr. Norquist moved to adjourn and was seconded by Ms. Connery. The vote to adjourn was unanimous. The Council adjourned at approximately 3:15 p.m.

1) Those who voted against cutting off debate were Mr. Coston, Mr. Gleason, Mr. Moneypenny, and Mr. Norquist, and those in favor of cutting off debate were Mr. Cox and Ms. Connery. Mr. Weyrich declined to vote.

2) The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-134)

3) The nine options are currently available on the Council's website,

Last updated January 17, 2001

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