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Old December 13th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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Default Republicans ask Pres. Bush to Save the Delta Queen

CINCINNATI – House Minority Leader John Boehner and Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH), Geoff Davis (R-KY), and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) have sent a letter to President Bush, asking him to issue an Executive Order continuing the Delta Queen’s 40-year exemption from the 1966 Safety of Life at Sea Act.

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing today to respectfully request that you issue an executive order to extend the exemption of the Delta Queen, an American historic steamboat, from certain vessel laws included in the 1966 Safety at Sea Act.

The Delta Queen began her service in 1926, transporting cargo on a Northern California waterways. The Delta Queen served in the United States Navy during World War II, patrolling San Francisco Bay, before being purchased in 1946 by in Cincinnati, Ohio, company. She was then brought to the Midwest, via the Panamá Canal. The Mississippi River and the Ohio River. Since then, she has varied passengers along the Mississippi River and its many tributaries and re-created history to steam boat races at Tall Stacks, a Cincinnati steam boat festival, and the Kentucky Derby Festival. She is the only remaining all wood paddle-wheeled craft that carries passengers and offers overnight cruises. In 1970, the Delta Queen was listed on the national register of historic places. In 1989, the boat was named a national this story landmark.


Because of the Delta Queen's wooden superstructure, certain provisions in the 1966 Safety at Sea Act, intended to enforce safety regulations for oceangoing vessels carrying overnight passengers on American in land waterways, prevent the Delta Queen from operating. However, since 1966, Congress has passed numerous short-term exemptions for the Delta Queen from vessel laws requiring the fire retardant material to be used in the construction of large ships. On November 1, 2008, the last short-term exemption expired.

Despite operating under a bipartisan exemption for 42 years, critics of the boat have forced it into dry dock under the guise of being an unacceptable safety risk due to its advanced age and wooden construction. The Delta Queen has a 24-hour watchman and an extensive sprinkler system as part of its overall safety program. The real reason for allowing the exemption to expire is nothing more than partisan politics that should not be allowed to and the Delta Queen's historic and educational river trips.

The Delta clean is owned by the privately held Majestic America line, which utilizes a private workforce rather than union labor. On October 24, 2008, a Pittsburgh Tribune review columnist wrote, "Big labor is that much closer, in a few days, to effectively sinking the Delta Queen. When powerful unions decide to chart a course, their congressional cabin boys usually are ready to sail and, in this case, aim their guns at genuine Americana."

It would be a tragedy to let a labor dispute end the historic Delta Queen's journey. We strongly urge you to issue an executive order exempting the Delta Queen from the 1966 Safety at Sea Act. We thank you for your attention to this request.

John Boener, Steve Chabot, Jean Schmidt, Geoff Davis

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Delta Queen is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on America’s inland waterways. For that reason she has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, she was inadvertently caught in the technical provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Act—a piece of legislation that was intended to cover ocean-going ships, not riverboats. Recognizing the difference between boats that operate on rivers, within yards of the shore, and ships that sail the high seas, Congress established an exemption for the Delta Queen in 1968. Since then, the exemption has been renewed nine times, in virtually every case by near-unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate. The current exemption expired at midnight on October 31, 2008.



During the 110th Congress, both Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation to continue the exemption, but the bills remain in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (James Oberstar, Chairman) and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (Daniel Inouye, Chairman).



Vicki Webster, leader of the grassroots Save the Delta Queen Campaign, said, “Our supporters are showering the White House with phone calls, letters, faxes, and email messages pleading for the President’s help. He now holds a literally unique and irreplaceable part of our nation’s history in his hands. We are counting on him to keep the Queen alive and plying our rivers, as she has done proudly and safely for 82 years. In the process, besides saving a quintessentially American treasure, he will make a positive impact on our nation’s economy without spending one dime of the taxpayers’ money.”
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Old December 13th, 2008, 09:10 PM
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I hope it's not to late to save this American institution. While this style of cruising is not something that interests me, I was sad to see if go. I hope things can get worked out, for the many who have enjoyed her, and want to cruise her.
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Old December 14th, 2008, 08:25 AM
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Congressman James Oberstar, of Minnesota, is firmly in the pocket of labor union lobyists. He's the one that won't release the exemtion from committee. :evil:
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Old December 14th, 2008, 02:36 PM
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I for one certainly wish the exemption is granted. IMHO this behavior is inexcusable. But I guess it's to be expected when the politicians get hold of it. As has oft been said, "Why would anyone spend millions of dollars to obtain a position that only pays a hundred or so grand a year?" Never have heard but two answers to that one....neither one of which is comforting.

Todd
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Old December 14th, 2008, 04:26 PM
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This is just another example of the union putting themslevs first - above all else.

I totally understand and agree with fair wages, but to put companies out of business who won't play their game, and for politicians to aid and abet these unions interfering in the free and private enterprise of a company they are not involved with does not seem right to me.

This company can't make money with a union crew, just like the car makers - so why shouldn't the union back off and let them work? It's practically extortion of the company to force it to either pay up or go out of business. And for these senators to be in the union's back pocket - holding the bill in committee so it can't even come to a fair vote, seems like an abuse of power to me. Do we elect officials for the benefit of the few, or to promote what is best for society and the American people?
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Old December 14th, 2008, 06:11 PM
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Paul ..is that a rhetorical

can the current POTUS actually do something about this and if so, how long would it be in effect
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Old December 14th, 2008, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
This is just another example of the union putting themslevs first - above all else.

I totally understand and agree with fair wages, but. . . This company can't make money with a union crew, just like the car makers - so why shouldn't the union back off and let them work?
So now Paul has said, unequivocally, that the UAW should cease to exist. His logic is clear: a company can't exist if it can't make money. . .the car makers can't make money "with a union crew." So the syllogism must end with, "In order for the car makers to make a profit, the UAW must disappear."

Paul really does throw the language around pretty recklessly sometimes. He may "totally understand and agree with fair wages," but he may have a very different idea of what they are than some others.

He asks, essentially, why shouldn't a union shop make concessions anytime a company can't make a go of it. Sometimes, as with the auto industry, that's likely to be necessary because of the force majeure nature of the overall problem.

But, sometimes, just sometimes, companies have crappy business plans, lousy management, abusive labor practices, and/or a product that people aren't interested in. In most of those cases, it's just better for the company to fold and for all the workers--union or not--to go somewhere else.

Over the years labor has played some dirty tricks--management has perpetrated it's share as well. It's not one-sided as Paul implies.

I have nothing against this riverboat, and I'd like to see it preserved if possible. But if it's not a product that people will pay a fair price to buy, well then, I'm sorry about that. In this recession/depression, we all know that consumer travel budgets are taking a big hit.

Meanwhile, I hope Bush spends more of the next 37 days worrying about the car companies than about the boat.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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isn't the parent company trying to sell their Majestic Line ? If the POTUS does grant an exemption and the boat cannot be sold, then what ?

I would suspect that this type of cruising is less price sensitive then the mass cruise lines..Treated my Mom to a paddlewheel cruise down the Mississippi years ago and she still talks about it
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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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Okay AR and Venice, everyone is actually correct but it is certainly not the blanket picture AR that I perceive you painting. What one Union would deem "fair and equitable" wages and benefits another would deem insignificant.

And have you forgotten AR, that when Detroit did come out with more fuel efficient compact cars in the seventies as a result of the first oil crisis, Americans wouldn't buy them; not just because of inferior quality but mainly because THEY JUST DIDN'T WANT THEM!

I remember in, I believe the mid sixties or thereabouts when the US had a fairly viable sized Merchant Marine. About that time if I remember correctly, the longshoremen had wrangled (with a little, ahem..."help" from a certain major "organization") contracts that took everyone to the cleaners and the Merchant Marine decided they wanted their fare share as well so they demanded huge increases. By the way this same "helpful organization" controlled all private garbage collection and every ounce of concrete poured in the city of New York, just to mention two of countless other labor organizations. The President of the Mariner's Union at the time told them that yes, he could get them what they demanded, BUT, he couldn't assure them they'd have the jobs to accompany such a contract. They were a militant bunch and didn't care, they wanted their demands met and those demands were met. You know how many merchant seamen soon lost their livelihood? I guess you now know why there are very few merchant vessels registered in this country, especially passenger ones.

We are in a global market. We must therefore be globally competitive. Actually it really is that simple. Two of the reasons (and the major reasons) the Big three are in such trouble now is neither because of Union costs that are too high nor mismanagement. As a matter of fact while Union costs are too high, they ccould still be quickly brought into line with those wage and benefit packages paid by the other manufacturers with plants in this country that are making money.

It is, rather, in large part a result of their "legacy" costs. The problem orginates from the period beginning in the late fifties when American industry started to supply, as opposed to government entitlements in other countries, excellent retirement systems and health care packages. These wee promoted by the government with tax incentives as a means of keeping down the costs of what we know today as "entitlements" which now have exploded to such an absurd level as to be laughable if they weren't destroying our country. No one, least of all industry, ever realized that these benefit packages would end up costing industry more than their current labor costs and that those retirement costs would skyrocket primarily due to increased longevity on the part of the retirees and just as importantly the concomitant exploding medical costs.

Everyone, I mean everyone, is up in arms about skyrocketing medical costs in this country. Why then isn't someone doing something about it? When did you last read of anyone demanding that everything from doctors to pharmaceutical companies to hospitals to medical suppliers find ways to reduce their costs?

A while back the Congress voted to cut back the imbursement rates made to physicians made by Medicare. When physicians balked at being face with reduced income and threatened to pull out of Medicare, instead of making the profession bite the bullet as everyone else is expected to do, the subsequent Congress quickly reversed the vote!!!!!! While the Congress is demanding everyone draw in their horns, God forbid the medical profession should ever be required to do so.

Did anyone watch the video a year or two ago of testimony in front of Congress wherein a man needed open heart surgery, didn't have insurance but had some money and was willing to pay for the surgery until the hospital administrator (at Duke I believe it was) told him it would cost something like 50 grand down for the hospital and 50 grand down for the surgeon and following the surgery the other 50 grand to the hospital and the other 50 grand to the surgeon would have to be immediately repaid. When the couple asked why they couldn't pay the same fees that insurance companies paid for the identical procedures (a fraction of what they were quoted) they were informed....are you sitting down?... that there were no procedures in place to do something such as that!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You know what they did? They went to one of the finest heart hospitals in the world in India. It has all the latest equipment. Every nurse in the hospital was an RN. The Cardiologist was world renown. The man had the bypass surgery while his wife stayed in a hotel for two weeks. The enitre process, airfare there and back, her hotel, surgery and all ancillary hospital and medical expenses including the surgeons fee, I mean the entire ball of wax soup to nuts (you're not going to believe this but you can look it up if you wish), cost the couple (in toto remember) I believe WELL UNDER TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!!!! (If I remember correctly, it was a little over 6 grand!!!).

Why is the Medical profession such a sacred cow? Why doesn't the government demand reform there? Do you also know that the American Taxpayer subsidizes the development costs to the tune of millions of dollars of some of the drugs that Americans have to turn around and pay an arm and a leg for because the Pharmaceutical companies have to "recover their development costs?"

And while yes there are both mismanaged companies and Unions that still call for ridiculously high wage and benefit packages, there are as important problems in other areas as well and healthcare is but one. While it's currently popular to bash business (and often with good reason) you'd better not lose sight of the fact that it was business and free market enterprise that gave this country the most powerful economy on earth.

Just some food for thought.

If a President can pardon a multimillionaire who not only bilked the government of millions of dollars but was convicted of felonies that guaranteed him decades in a Federal Prison but who skipped the country before sentencing (conveniently after that millionaire's ex-wife made an enormous six figure political donation to that ex President, then I see absolutely no reason why this President can't grant this request regardless of whomever purchases the Delta Queen. That part of the equation is totally superflous.

Todd
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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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good morning Todd
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:16 AM
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And a marvelous good morning to you as well, Venice.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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Is it in the TOS that political discourse is only allowed if started by the Grand Poobah of Cruisemates?
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Old December 15th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Doug,

Don't know how our Grand Poobah feels, but as for yours truly, I'm an equal opportunity instigator ..... to which Venice will most assuredly attest!

Todd
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Old December 15th, 2008, 07:45 PM
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would have never crossed my mind my friend
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:48 PM
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Actually, many good points by Todd. You have to remember though, that when the UAW was negotiating for all those health benefits, it wasn't necessary for auto workers in many other car-making countries to do the same thing, because their governments already had very adequate health care systems that didn't put this burden on employers. Very important distinction.

But, you're absolutely right about the legacy problem, which can't be fixed by a pay cut to current workers.

You know, it's also true that part of being a lousy manager is often that you are a lousy negotiator. Good negotiators understand that real success means aligning the interests of both sides, and it almost always can be done. Successful negotiating is never a zero sum game, but that's how so many people, on both sides of the ball, treat it. Bottom line: all these contracts, provisions, legacies, work rules, etc., were agreed to by both sides and memorialized in a contract. It's not like they dropped suddenly out of the sky and blindsided management.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 01:52 AM
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many of the Delta Queen's employees live in NO and have been with the DQ for a long time, because they love her, but they have been thru so much both with the company and dealing with post Katrina..many small business vendors and suppliers are based in NO...

I hope the POTUS does grant the executive order and a buyer is found to both preserve the DQ and save jobs and remove this issue from the political arena for the near future (hopefully)
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