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Dear Santa

By Clifford F. Lynch

DC Velocity, December 2010

Well, this has been another tough year for many of us. Although the National Bureau of Economic Research declared the recession over in June, 2009, there still are 15 million people out of work. There is a feeling that the economy is coming back slowly, but I am sure your toys orders are down again this year. I hope the optimists are correct, but in my opinion, the recovery is a little too slow to do us much good for another year or so.

 As you know, we have a new Congress now, and I hope you can see your way clear to give them stockings full of wisdom and good judgment. Regardless of your political affiliation, I think you will agree that instead of fighting with each other they should be united in trying to find the combination to a speedy recovery. You are a good lobbyist, and lobbying is one thing they all understand.

 Speaking of Congress, you no doubt noted that James Oberstar, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee lost his bid for re-election. Thatís not good. Whatever oneís political persuasions might be, he understood the countryís transportation infrastructure, and had some good, informed ideas. While you are talking to House members, see if you can persuade them to replace him with someone who will put the countryís needs ahead of political infighting. Infrastructure is at the top of our wish list. We desperately need to get in place a national transportation policy and plan, and adhere to it. I know jobs are important; but we need to make transportation decisions based on transportation needs, not job creation.

 As was the case last year when I wrote you there still is lurking in the Senate, a re-regulation bill. Hopefully, this year you can kill it. 1980 was a great year for transportation, and we should not take this backward step. Take a hard look. There probably is something in there about sleigh regulation.

 Please see if you can help with the harbor trucking controversy also, The order to start phasing independent harbor truckers into trucking fleets has been stayed until all appeals have been heard, but the matter is far from over. While clean air is the basic issue, it is not coincidental that independents can be organized by the Teamsters under this scheme. Your mediation skills are needed.

Hours of service for truck drivers are still up in the air, and a ruling from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected any day. I believe you already have a few elves working on this. I hope they wonít let the FMCSA throw the baby out with the bathwater. After all highway fatalities dropped 20 percent in 2009, and fatalities have been the major impetus behind this rule change. Can you imagine what a mess Christmas Eve would be if reindeer could only fly ten hours at a stretch?

 I just wrote about CSA 2010 a couple of months ago, so I wonít belabor that. But while I think this is a fair regulation in general, it still has some kinks in it. We heed to be sure these are all out before the rules are rolled out nationally. Otherwise, the purpose will be defeated. We donít want unsafe operators on the road, but we must be fair about how they and the carriers are evaluated.

 If I am wrong about the economy, and it recovers quickly we may see another driver shortage, and unfair enforcement of CSA 2010 could exacerbate that. Combine that with capacity issues that could occur and we could have another tug of war between carriers and shippers. I think we learned last time this happened that no one wins if either group tries to take advantage of the other, We wil l need your calming influence. If all else fails, cut off the toys.

 By the way, are you wearing red or blue this year?

 Merry Christmas to you, Mrs. Claus, and all the elves.

 

Clifford F. Lynch

 

 

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