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
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.
THE MEETING TO ORDER AND APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES
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.
OF MR. MONEYPENNY'S MOTION THAT THE COUNCIL RESCIND THE
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.
OF THE NINE OPTIONS FOR RESTRUCTURING RAIL PASSENGER SERVICE
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, www.amtrakreformcouncil.gov/pressroom.html.
updated January 17, 2001