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Old July 21st, 2008, 06:52 PM
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Default Show Congressman Oberstar The Gate!

While a Congressman's re-election should not necessarily hinge on a particular vote, a Congressman, ANY Congressman, should be bounced from office for engaging in what Minnesota's 8th Congressional District Congressman, James Oberstar, has done. To compound matters, he's obviously just flat lied about the issue. Whether or not you agree with alleviating the predicament with which the nation's oldest steamboat, The Delta Queen is confronted, it is still high time one Congressman should not himself decide either this vessel's fate, nor wield such power over any other single issue for that matter. This is regardless of to whatever political party he/she may belong.

If you are not familiar with this issue (I am), I ask that you please read Paul Motter's article. If you happen to live in Minnesota, please get the word out to those who can do something about this pandering piece of flotsam, not to mention a poor excuse for a Congressional Representative of the American people. Throw the bum OUT!
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Old July 21st, 2008, 07:31 PM
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This Fox News Video demonstrates Oberstar's singular efforts to scuttle the Delta Queen, the United States' oldest and last authentic paddle-wheel steamboat in operation. The Congressman, besides looking like a weasal, acts like one, too, when he lies to the national media about why he is ending the Delta Queen's career as a passenger vessel.

http://www.foxnews.com/video/index.h...9d70b0c12f2749

I agree - throw him OUT!
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Old July 21st, 2008, 09:27 PM
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so if a PAC for saving the Delta Queen could funnel more $$$$ then the union, he would have taken a different position?
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Old July 21st, 2008, 11:27 PM
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Venice,

Another way one can easily determine that could be the case is why wouldn't he allow the issue in front of the entire Congress? After all, what does he have to lose? His own party controls the House. In view of just this one piece of incontrivertible evidence, there really could be no other conclusion.

Todd
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 01:12 AM
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Yes, Venice, I dare say that IS the case. But it is hard to say with politicians, I mean after all, how do you qualify to become a congressman? It isn't as if he had to pass a security check or anything.

The SIU is one step from the longshoremen. It could be a matter of whether a PAC came up with more money, or if someone threatened to take away someones cut in a public housing construction contract.

One thing is for sure, this country's maritime unions are no friends of the cruise industry you and I know & love. Ever ask yourself why we don't have a viable American cruise industry, even after all the efforts of NCLA?

It isn't because they couldn't find decent American workers, it is what those workers had to endure once they got their union jobs with NCLA.

I've heard the stories, they are out there if you want to look into it.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 02:04 AM
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 09:03 AM
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So, lemme get this straight. . .

Sometimes it is OK to discuss politics on this board as long as it's an issue that the board's management is flogging. And as long as somebody says the magic words, "I'd feel the same way no matter what the party."

I guess that removes the matter from the political sphere.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 01:48 PM
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I'm neither as educated nor as erudite as you are, AR but I still find it a stretch to consider this topic "political" per se. What I am complaining about is an individual who, (which I have abundantly made clear is my opinion), has flouted his position of public responsibility simply because he believes his opinion is the correct one. This flies even in the face of overwheming support exhibited on behalf of the issue and virtually no public support for the individual making the decision's opinion.

I guess, if one wanted to, classify every topic which may be either questionable or two sided as being "political." I prefer to believe otherwise.

Todd
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 03:01 PM
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Oh, heck, I don't really care whether it's political or not. Fact is, I'd be just as happy to talk politics and religion as anything else. I don't find either of those areas as incendiary as the proprietors around here say they do.

Suffice it to say that in times past, the political line has sometimes been drawn a lot more narrowly. But don't get me wrong. I'd be just as happy to see a big string on the presidential race here, but don't hold your breath.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AR
Oh, heck, I don't really care whether it's political or not. Fact is, I'd be just as happy to talk politics and religion as anything else. I don't find either of those areas as incendiary as the proprietors around here say they do.

Suffice it to say that in times past, the political line has sometimes been drawn a lot more narrowly. But don't get me wrong. I'd be just as happy to see a big string on the presidential race here, but don't hold your breath.


We can't all be as fair as the NY Times, huh?
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 03:34 PM
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AR,

Just to show I'm an even handed "gate keeper," I'm for "showing the gate" to a certain Republican Congressman, but that's due to an issue that has no bearing whatsoever on anything nautical so I shan't even go there.

TDH
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 03:56 PM
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If there is an investigation done there better be REAL evidence of wrong doing because James Oberstar is basically the hero of the 8th Congressional district and the people of the Iron Range won't give a hoot about the Delta Queen in upcoming elections.

Oberstar can easily spin the fact that by not using non-union crew and the fire safety he could no longer vote to keep the boat in the water.

If he was caught in a lie, well you know politicians, they'll spin it some way or another.

I am not a big fan of Oberstar because of his transportation record but I can't vote him out. Perhaps an email to a local TV reporter might help.........

Take care,
Mike
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 04:29 PM
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Mike,

I fully understand where you're coming from.

My kick is not by the way he would personally vote and not with Oberstar personally, but rather with the fact that he will arbitrarily, merely by virtue of his position, preclude the entire Congress from voting (and a Congress of whose majority party he is a member, no less) on the issue. I strongly believe that regardless of the issue, regardless of the party affiliation, to indulge in such tactics (and I know any number of Congressmen have) is reprehensible inasmuch as it controverts, what is often, the overwhelming wishes of the the majority of the people whether or not they're from the Minnesota 8th Congressional District.

Todd
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 06:35 PM
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Strom Thurmond did it for years

I think CM should form a PAC and when issues come up with our elected representatives surrounding our beloved cruising...we should work thru our PAC for the desired results

when the issue is cruise related, CM always rised about the political agenda
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: Show Congressman Oberstar The Gate!

Have you considered writing President Bush and urging him to issue an executive order rescinding enforcement of the treaty affecting the Delta Queen (Convention for Safety of Life at Sea)?

If the treaty itself is so flawed that a passenger ship deserves shielding from it, then scrapping the treaty makes more sense than granting individual exemptions -- a process prone to political influence by its nature.

Cheers, Aidan
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 08:35 PM
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Aidan..it is against CM rules to post a perfectly logical answer to any of our threads :: ::
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 12:35 PM
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Just to put CM policy into perspective, the one we don't enjoy is when more posts in a thread are about CM policy rather than what the original post was about.

I don't know anything about Oberstar except his position on Delta Queen. Therefore I don't care which party he is from. I do think it ridiculous for the head of a committee not to allow a bill on the floor just because he personally opposes it. If this country wanted dictators we'd have a monarchy.

The exemption Delta Queen gets is not from SOLAS, it is from an earlier bill which I believe is just "Safety at Sea" which was passed in the 60s.

here is an article about it from the Ship's historian...

Mary Sward Charlton
steamboatmary - at - gmail.com
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Dear Mr. Matties,

My sister, Ellen Sward, forwarded to me her correspondence with you regarding the Delta Queen Steamboat. I am the historian aboard the vessel, and I would like to answer any of your concerns, so that you and Representative Boyda have a better understanding of the issues.

The Delta Queen must have an exemption from the Safety at Sea Act in order to operate past this November. This law was passed in 1966 to protect passengers in ocean waters, but the language of the law inadvertently caught the Delta Queen. For 40 years, Congress has passed this exemption—almost always close to unanimously. Representative Oberstar himself voted for it last year. Since then, the boat was bought by a company that does not employ a union crew. Please look up the top contributors to Mr. Oberstar’s 2006 campaign, and you might see why his vote has changed.

The Delta Queen is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on our inland waterways. She is the only remaining example of a time when our rivers were our superhighways; when these vessels settled the West. For that reason, she has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and this year she has been nominated for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of the 11 Most Endangered Places in America.

The steamboat is one of the most significant inventions in the history of the world, and it is an American invention. Before the power of steam was harnessed to transportation, the fastest that people could travel was the speed of a galloping horse—and for only as long as the horse could sustain that speed. The arrival of the steamboat meant that not only could people and goods travel faster, but so could knowledge and information.

As for your safety concerns, I sleep below the waterline on the boat, and I assure you, I feel safe. Every room on the vessel is equipped with heat and smoke detectors, as well as a modern sprinkler system. Almost every room has a door directly out to the deck, and for those few that do not, it is at most a 20 to 30 foot walk to the outside deck. Fire extinguishers are very visible, and every passenger and crewmember undergoes a fire and boat drill at the beginning of each cruise. In addition, we have modern fire suppression systems on board in critical areas. Our fire fighting team drills constantly.

Please remember, we cruise only America’s rivers, and are never more than a minute or two from land. Steamboats were built to land just about anywhere along the rivers. They are uniquely designed for this. Many times, if the fog is too thick, we do as steamboats have always done: We “choke a stump” (tie off on any nearby accommodating tree along a bank) until the fog lifts. We can get someone off in a medical emergency anywhere there is a nearby road for an ambulance. Try doing that in the middle of the ocean or thousands of feet in the air. Our safety record is enviable—you can check it yourself online—and compare our “grand old lady” with many newer boats!

Mr. Oberstar is right—the Delta Queen can run overnight with fewer than 50 passengers, or as a day excursion boat with more. What he is not telling you is this: it takes about 100 overnight passengers to break even. It is not financially feasible to run as he suggests. Furthermore, why is it that he is not concerned about the safety of 49 passengers staying overnight? Either the boat is safe, or she is not. Here is the dismal truth about old boats changed for other uses: they sink. They simply do not make enough money for their own maintenance, no matter what their use. Just look up the Showboat Goldenrod, or the steamboat Julius Wilke in Winona, MN. If the Delta Queen cannot run as she is, she will die.

These are American jobs we are talking about, but let me tell you about the American people this would affect. They are a microcosm of what is good in this country, a dedicated staff of men and women who represent all facets of our society. They are black, white, Hispanic; young and old; male and female; gay and straight, and from every part of the country. We get along—we are friends who share a common goal, and we love what we do! Some of the people who work on this vessel lost everything they had in Hurricane Katrina; the stories passengers tell of those tragic days when many staff had no idea where their family members were, yet continued to provide exemplary service, are heart-rending. Not only that, but some of the small towns up and down the rivers of America depend on us for a boost to their economy. Ask the ladies in Helena, Arkansas, who put on one of the most popular tours we offer. Their town is dying, but they bring it to life with their generosity of spirit, their fine singing, and their popular soul food.

I hope I have convinced you—and Ms. Boyda – that this is a far more complicated issue than Mr. Oberstar would have you believe. Please talk to Rep. Chabot’s office. Go to Save-the-Delta-Queen.org or Steamboats.org for more information. Call me! I expect you to do your research. But please, make sure that you are getting both sides.

I had the pleasure of meeting Rep. Boyda in Washington for her swearing-in a year ago. I would love to show her my boat, and let her see for herself. This is not an ordinary boat—she is an American icon. If Congress does not pass the bill by November, she will lose her Certificate of Inspection, and can never run in a meaningful way again. Please give us a chance to preserve history, as Congress has done for us for the past 40 years.

Sincerely,
Mary Sward Charlton
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 01:07 PM
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AR, I think this one is Delta Queen related so maybe ok. Coming from Northern California, San Francisco I am almost never able to talk politics. I am the only consertive, including my family. Mike
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 01:47 PM
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In this one case, can I please ask everyone to stay on topic rather than discussing CM policy? A lot of people care passionately about this topic and would prefer to discuss Delta Queen.

Below is a video of Oberstar addressing Congress. Note that the example he uses is the Sultana - a Civial War Steamship that was over-crowded with Union soldiers trying to get home (similar to QM in WW2). The boat caught fire, but they didn't have the same roads and fire-fighting water vessels we have today, not to mention fire-retardant materials which all the Delta Queen wood has been treated with.

Oberstar says the Coast Guard said the vessel was unsafe - but they DID still certify it. Basically, they were doing their job in saying "we recognize this is a wooden boat which has been given a Congressional exemption. It does not fit specific Coast Guard rules, but as long as passengers are made aware of what they are sailing upon we will not oppose it" (I don't mean to say the CG said these words, I am paraphrasing). Passengers sign a consent form when boarding that tells them it is an authentic wooden river boat with risks...

Many structures are made of wood - many hotels, etc. The Safety at Sea Act was meant for ships at sea. The only reason Delta Queen was awarded an exemption in the first place is because it is not a sea-going vessel (although it is the only steamboat in history to go through the Panama Canal). It is a River vessel.



Oberstar voted FOR this exemption two year ago. The only thing that has changed is the Union now saying they oppose the operation of the vessel because it is a non-union crew. But the boat has changed hands four times in the last 10 years. It can't make money with a union crew. So the union would rather see it go down than operate.

The union is having a banner year (according to their web site) - they have plenty of work in cargo vessels and docks. But they have never been worthwhile contributors to the cruise industry and probably never will be.

There are posts inour crewmembers forum about this: a lot of NCL workers in Hawaii negotiated for certain salaries. One reason why there was an early mass exodus of crew from the NCL ships in Hawaii was because the union got involved AFTER the hiring started and many of these workers found their salaries drastically reduced and that the union was going to be charging them outrageous dues, and they weren't offering them anything NCL had not already offered.

Crews on cruise ships already get health, dental, room & board without the union's help. NCLA workers didn't want to join the union - but the union forced themselves into the issue just like they are in this one. Why can't they just live and let live?
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 03:09 PM
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I don't believe anything on Fox Noise myself. I would be highly suspect that they have failed to report a "fair and balanced" perspective.

I think the "No politics" policy should be enforced in all cases. Cruise news is A.O.K. but when people are being asked not to vote for a candidate because of one decision, that is over the top and is becoming a political issue rather than cruise news.

Cruisemates needs to be balanced when issues become political. Otherwise there is a perception of political bias, in my humble opinion.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 05:30 PM
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The original post was only addressing a singular issue, Oberstar's position on Delta Queen and that it was contrary to his previous votes. And that he is holding bills in committee rather than letting them see the light of day.

Bringing up the fact that the issue of "fire safety" was his reason, when that has not changed one iota since his previous vote, is not a political discussion about what philosophy is right or wrong, it is about the veracity and accountability of our representatives when their voting record suddenly shifts 180 degrees for "reasons" that turn out to be more like excuses.

We have primaries. You can vote for an alternate democrat in the primary if that is your party of choice and that is fine. This is only about the actions of this representative in this one issue, not about any other political philosophy.
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Old July 23rd, 2008, 05:36 PM
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Inasmuch as this issue is of great concern to especially those who prefer the river cruises as well as cruisers in general, has anyone seen mention of this issue on any other major network other than Fox?

I haven't seen any but maybe I've missed it.

Todd
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Old July 24th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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There have been many newspaper and national magazine articles and some local television reports.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 02:06 PM
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http://www.local12.com/mediacenter/l...video.wkrc.com

Hee is a video from a local Cincinatti television station that mentions their Rep. Steve Chabot having a bill to keep the Delta Queen alive. It is shot in front of the National Steamboat Monument in Cincinnati. They note that his bill is "stuck in committee" but they dont say why or whose committee.

I realize this story is a yawn to some people - but to people who live along the river and care about the river period in U.S. history it is a big deal.

The point is that this nation grew up along its rivers - that is how we pushed west from the original 13 colonies. We didn't have railroads until the second half of the 19th century. The steamboat was an American invention, and this is the last remaining authentic one still cruising.

Europe has dozens of cruise vessels on its rivers. We have but a few, and the last authentic one is about to go away.
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