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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Ford Pulls an ‘Oldsmobile’ and Cancels Once Popular Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable

Posted by kinchendavid on October 22, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV – The vast profusion (pro-Fusion?) of model names from Ford Motor Co. has me completely con-Fused – Has anybody figured out the reason for naming a car The Five Hundred? – and now the Dearborn, MI-based firm is killing a car that saved it from bankruptcy, the Ford Taurus.

The last Ford Taurus – and its stable mate, the Mercury Sable – will be produced this week at the Ford plant in Hapeville, GA, near Atlanta. Frankly, I thought the company had already quietly canceled the car, with the introduction a few years ago of the Five Hundred, the Freestyle and the Fusion. As I said, the con-Fusion is monumental at FoMoCo, with all those model names!

According to Wikipedia, the “Taurus was ultimately replaced by three cars, each aimed at better covering the markets that the Taurus had competed in: The Ford Five Hundred, a large car; its crossover SUV version, the Ford Freestyle, to replace the Taurus Wagon; and the Ford Fusion, a midsize car closer in size to the Taurus.”

Despite this explanation, I’m still con-Fused! Maybe I should Focus (another Ford model) more!

When the Taurus and Sable were introduced in December 1985 as 1986 models, I was living in car-crazy Los Angeles. With their European-looking styling, I figured the cars would win back some defectors to Audi and Saab and other Euro-Front-drive cars. It worked: Ford sold 7 million Tauruses (Tauri?) and 2 million or so Sables in the production run, a record the company should be proud of. Ford even sold a lot of cars in California, where foreign nameplates are very popular.

I think the beginning of the end was about 10 years ago, with the extreme jellybean redesign of the original substantial-looking1986-1991 first generation cars. The new jellybean look made the cars look smaller than they were, although they were supposedly the same size.

I thought the original design captured the spirit of Volkswagen’s Audi, with fewer reliability problems than the German front-drive machine. With the exception of troublesome transmissions, the Taurus and Sable delivered the goods in a reliable fashion. Craig Hammond, a contributor to this site and a Bluefield, WV radio talk show host, loves his Taurus station wagon, which also had a transmission replacement.

The Associated Press story on the demise of the famous brand name quotes Rhode Island lawyer Frank Ribezzo, who’s selling his third Taurus, a 1997 version, for $950. It’s got 210,000 miles, about what I have on my 1994 Dodge Caravan which I will never sell. Ribezzo knows how to make his cars last: The first two accumulated more than 220,000 miles. He must drive all over the East Coast: Rhode Island is about the size of Greenbrier and Summers counties combined!

How did the Taurus get its name, you ask? Again, according to Wikipedia, “the Taurus was named by Lewis Veraldi (the ‘father’ of the Taurus team concept) and his chief planner, John Risk, each of whose wives were born under the astrological sign of the bull.” It’s the second sign of the Zodiac, for those born between April 20 and May 20.

Just as my Caravan and its stable mate the Plymouth Voyager were milestones for the American car industry when they were introduced by Lee Iacocca (a Libra, born Oct. 15, 1924, who was fired by Ford and went on to save Chrysler from bankruptcy) back in the fall of 1983, so was the Taurus a trendsetter for both Ford and the American auto industry.

It made front-wheel drive cars popular with the masses — even though both GM and Chrysler had been making them for several years prior to the 1985 introduction of the Taurus/Sable line.

So shed a tear for the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable. (And other discontinued brand names like Oldsmobile and Plymouth).

If you want economical, paid-in-full transportation, you might want to follow the example of that Little Rhody lawyer and buy a clean sample of either car. You’ll be free from those pesky monthly payments – and your auto insurance bill will be less because you won’t need collision coverage.

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Posted in Parallel Universe, Transportation | 4 Comments »

GUEST COMMENTARY: Mr. Chertoff: Please Get Your Act Together!

Posted by kinchendavid on October 17, 2006

By Rene A. Henry

Every time I fly, I question whether I am as safe as I was before 9/11 because of all of the confusion getting to my seat on the plane. I pray that my flight crew and air traffic controllers know what they are doing better than the security screeners.

Contrary to American Airlines and its slogan, “We know why you fly,” they don’t have a clue why I fly, which is more often than I would like. American and other airlines must insist that Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, implement security procedures that are exactly the same at all airports.

For years we have been taking off our shoes, pulling out our laptop computers and separating all of the metal in our pockets before going through the electronic gates. Transportation Security Administration personnel at some airports want shoes, like computers, in a separate bin for the X-Ray machine. Others do not. If you’re boarding a flight outside of the U.S. you don’t have to remove your shoes. And at some airports, Chertoff’s TSA officials will even insist you remove your belt. The well-meaning, on-site TSA personnel just are not trained to implement uniform procedures and, as a result, there is no consistent policy whatsoever from one airport to another.

Until recently, it was illegal to carry on shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste or any liquids or gels. After many protests, TSA loosened its carry-on ban for toiletries in containers of less than three ounces on some domestic flights.

At least supposedly. I have had no problem going through airport security in the U.S. However, clearing security at Heathrow Airport in London when returning to the U.S., miniatures were confiscated. Again, Chertoff has not made Homeland Security and TSA guidelines universally consistent, if indeed he even has a policy. Don’t always believe what the TSA website says. What really counts is how the policy is implemented when you are trying to board a plane.

The next time you go through an airport security line to board a flight, if you get confused, frustrated or delayed, ask your representatives in Congress to wake up Chertoff and his “Beltway Bureaucrats.”

The carry-on rules get even more complicated for international flights to the U.S. Just ask Russian-American jazz musician Valery Ponomarev who suffered a broken arm when he wanted to carry his trumpet on board an Air India flight from Paris to New York. The 63-year-old Ponomarev, who has lived in the U.S. for 35 years, kept his trumpet with him on a connecting flight before arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

In his protest, the trumpeter obviously blew a couple of sour notes because four of Paris’ finest gendarmes subdued him, broke his arm and held him in detention without treatment for six hours. Ultimately, the U.S. Embassy came to his rescue.

Recently, before flying to and through London, I called and e-mailed American Airlines, British Airways and TSA to get specific information on the size limitations for carry-on, so I would not have to check my camera, laptop, and other personal information as baggage. When I should have had the same answer from all three, I got different measurements from both airlines and no help at all from TSA.

When it comes to security fast tracking for frequent flyers and those flying business or first class, again this varies by airport and airline. As someone who has flown nearly four million miles, I appreciate being able to fast track security. I can do this in Seattle and New York’s JFK, but not in Miami or Washington’s Reagan National Airport. When I ask why, I’ve been told by a TSA officer that it is because the airline does not want to spend the money. When I ask the airline they blame TSA. No one accepts responsibility. The situation is even more confusing in London where you can fast track at Heathrow but not at Gatwick.

The media doesn’t make matters any easier by reporting what they are told and perpetuating the confusion. A good investigative reporter should see firsthand if the process works.

TSA has established levels of threat alert with colors from code red being severe, orange high, yellow elevated, blue guarded and green low. The way Chertoff’s “policy” is being confusingly misimplemented, “Saturday Night Live” parodied it best saying the color codes would be better labeled white, off-white, eggshell, cream and ivory.

Rene A. Henry lives in Seattle, WA is the author of six books, and writes and speaks on various subjects including customer service, public relations and crisis management. He is a native of Charleston, WV.

Posted in Guest Commentaries, Transportation, Travel | Leave a Comment »

GASOLINE SURVEY: Prices Continue to Decline Throughout WV

Posted by kinchendavid on September 17, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV – Gasoline prices in Hinton dropped to $2.39 a gallon on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006, down a dime from last week’s $2.49 a gallon, at Chevron Foodmart in Avis, the nearby Go Mart, as well as the Exxon and Cargo stations.

Statewide, the lowest observed price on Sept. 16, 2006 was $2.19 a gallon at Smith Mart in Moundsville, compared to last week’s $2.30 a gallon at Sam’s Club in Vienna, according to http://www.westvirginiagasprices.com. Regular was $2.20 a gallon at Sam’s Club in Vienna on Sept. 16. It was $2.22 at Kroger in Parkersburg, and $2.25 at most other stations in Parkersburg, including BP, Chevron, Exxon, Marathon and 7-11. The lowest observed Huntington price on Sept. 16 was $2.31 at Speedway and Exxon, down from last week’s $2.45 at Chevron; it was $2.33 at Rich Oil across from Camden Park.

In Morgantown, gas was $2.42 at Sheetz, down from last week’s $2.59 at the same station and fully 43 cents below the previous week’s $2.85. In the Bluefield-Princeton area, the price point on Sept. 16 was $2.29 at Go Mart in Green Valley, 20 cents below last week’s $2.49. It was $2.33 at KO in Green Valley, down from last week’s $2.49. The Go Mart station in Sophia, near Beckley, was charging $2.39 on Sept. 16, 2006.

In the Charleston area, the lowest observed price was $2.29 on Sept. 16, 2006, down a dime from last week’s $2.39 a gallon at Citgo in Hurricane, Speedway in Teays Valley, Go Mart and Rich Oil in Jefferson and at Go Mart in St. Albans, according to http://www.charlestongasprices.com. Closer to downtown Charleston, prices on Sept. 16 were a dime higher — $2.39 a gallon – at Speedway and Chevron in South Charleston.

These prices are down drastically from prices as high as $3.19 a gallon six weeks ago.

HERE IS A SITE where you can get up-to-date gasoline prices anywhere in the U.S. by just plugging your Zip Code into a box on the site and hitting “go.” It’s worth a try, but don’t forget where you got the information: Check out our survey every week! Here’s the site:

http://autos.msn.com/everyday/gasstations.aspx?zip=&src=Netx

Posted in Transportation, Travel, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »

GASOLINE SURVEY: Prices Decline Throughout Mountain State

Posted by kinchendavid on September 10, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV   – Gasoline prices in Hinton declined to $2.49 a gallon on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006, from last week’s $2.63 a gallon at Chevron Foodmart in Avis, the nearby Go Mart, as well as the Exxon and Cargo stations.

Statewide, the lowest observed price on Sept. 9, 2006 was $2.30 a gallon at Sam’s Club in Vienna, compared with last week’s $2.46 at Gas N Goods in Harrisville, according to http://www.westvirginiagasprices.com. Regular was $2.32 at Speedway in Belpre, OH, across the river from Parkersburg. It was $2.33 at Speedway in Parkersburg. The lowest observed Huntington price on Sept. 9 was $2.45 at Chevron; it was $2.46 at Marathon and Speedway in Huntington and $2.49 at Rich Oil across from Camden Park. These prices are 20 cents or more per gallon lower than last week.

The Kroger store in Barboursville was charging $2.53 on Sept. 9. In Morgantown, gas was $2.59 at Sheetz, down from last week’s $2.85. It was also $2.59 at Kroger and $2.55 at Exxon in Morgantown. In the Bluefield-Princeton area, the price point on Sept. 9 was $2.49 at KO and Go Mart in Green Valley, down from last week’s $2.65. The Cargo station on Princeton Avenue in Bluefield was charging $2.55 a gallon.

In the Charleston area, the lowest observed price of $2.39 a gallon on Sept. 9 was a dime lower than last week’s $2.49 and prevailed at Go Mart in St. Albans, BP in Spring Hill and Rich Oil in Jefferson, according to http://www.charlestongasprices.com. Central Charleston prices were typically at $2.59 a gallon on Sept. 9 at Exxon and Chevron in central Charleston, down from last week’s $2.64, and down drastically from prices as high as $3.19 five weeks ago.

The $2.59 price point was observed at Go Mart in Institute and most stations in Elkview and Big Chimney.

HERE IS A SITE where you can get up-to-date gasoline prices anywhere in the U.S. by just plugging your Zip Code into a box on the site and hitting “go.”  Here’s the site:

http://autos.msn.com/everyday/gasstations.aspx?zip=&src=Netx

Posted in News, Transportation, Travel, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »

GASOLINE SURVEY: Prices Decline in Most of WV

Posted by kinchendavid on August 21, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV  – Gasoline prices in Hinton declined from $2.97 a gallon to $2.89 for regular at Chevron Foodmart in Avis, the nearby Go Mart, as well as the Exxon and Cargo stations on the bypass on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2006.

Statewide, the lowest observed price on Aug. 20, 2006 was $2.65 at the Sam’s Club in Vienna, down from last week’s $2.73 a gallon. In Parkersburg, gas was $2.68 at Speedway and $2.69 at BP and Marathon, according to http://www.westvirginiagasprices.com. Regular was $3.04 at Exxon in Canaan Valley, $3.03 at Chevron in Charles Town and $2.97 at Dairy Mart in Glen Dale. It was $2.95 at Sunoco in Thomas. In the Beckley area, gas was $2.95 at Go Mart in Sophia and $2.95 at Exxon in Crab Orchard. In the Huntington area, on Aug. 20, gas was $2.86 a gallon at Exxon in Barboursville and $2.93 at Citgo in Barboursville. At the Rich Oil station across from Camden Park in Huntington, regular was $2.83. It was $2.89 at BP, Exxon and Marathon in Huntington, down considerably from last week’s range of $3.05 to $3.09.

In the Charleston area, gasoline on Aug. 20, 2006 declined sharply from last week’s statewide of high of regular selling for $3.19 at the Citgo in central Charleston to a more reasonable $2.97, according to http://www.charlestongasprices.com. Regular was $2.89 at Exxon and Chevron in South Charleston and $3 at BP in Charleston. Outlying communities reported much lower prices: $2.74 at BP in Jefferson; $2.74 at Go Mart in Spring Hill; $2.74 at Go Mart in St. Albans and $2.75 at Pilot in Nitro, down from last week’s $2.87.

HERE IS A SITE where you can get up-to-date gasoline prices anywhere in the U.S. by just plugging your Zip Code into a box on the site and hitting “go.”  Here’s the site:

http://autos.msn.com/everyday/gasstations.aspx?zip=&src=Netx

Posted in News, Transportation, Travel, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »

Discrimination or Good Detection? Jackson, Michigan’s Connection to Tri-State Airport Turmoil

Posted by kinchendavid on August 19, 2006

By Tony Rutherford

Huntington News Network Writer

Huntington, WV  — “I hope she is fine. I’m really worried for her. She was all alone there and was not aware she was not supposed to carry cream or gel,” explained Mian Qayyum, the mother of Rima Qayyum, the 28-year-old pregnant woman who was detained at Tri-State Airport.

Rima Qayyum’s mother explained to WLIX News Thursday night, Aug. 17, 2006 that her daughter who holds a psychology degree had been in an abusive relationship and was trying to get home.

“She’s been targeted and humiliated,” said her father, Samia, who alleges that her ethnicity and head dress caused security officials to discriminate.

However, the Transportation Security Administration issued a statement Wednesday praising the action of its two employees when objects in her carry on luggage gave a positive indication for explosives. Later, bomb experts determined that the liquid was not an explosive, but they could not determine its ingredients.

Having been married a year, Rima Qayyum had worked as a middle school substitute teacher in Huntington.

At the time of the interview, Ms. Qayyum was scheduled to fly out of Tri-State Friday afternoon, Aug. 18 but confusion exists as to whether the airline or the FBI would not let her fly. An FBI agent indicated that the woman left via car for her home in Michigan Friday afternoon.

You can see and hear the interview with the woman’s parents by going to http://www.wilx.com and going to their “Coverage on Demand.” Or go to: http://www.wilx.com/news/headlines/3597131.html for a written story.

Posted in News, Transportation, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »

GUEST COMMENTARY/NEWS ANALYSIS: UK Aircraft Terror Plot: Airport Security Evaluation in U.S.

Posted by kinchendavid on August 10, 2006

By  Jim Kouri

 

Federal intelligence agencies have reported that in the past, terrorists have considered using general aviation aircraft (all aviation other than commercial and military) for terrorist acts, and that the September 11th terrorists learned to fly at general aviation flight schools.

The events unfolding in the United Kingdom with regard to a large-scale terrorist threat to airline security, including the possible use of liquid explosives, reveals the need to constantly review security within the aviation sector.

The questions many security experts now ask include:

(1) What actions has the federal   government taken to identify and assess threats to, and vulnerabilities of, general aviation; and communicate that information to stakeholders?

(2) What steps has the federal government taken to strengthen general aviation security, and what, if any, challenges does the government face; and

(3) What steps have non-federal stakeholders taken to enhance the security of general aviation?

The federal and state governments and general aviation industry all play a role in securing general aviation operations. While the federal government provides guidance, enforces regulatory requirements, and   provides some funding, the bulk of the responsibility for assessing and enhancing security falls on airport operators.

Although Transportation Security Administration has issued a limited threat assessment of general aviation, and the FBI identified that terrorists have considered using general aviation to conduct attacks, a systematic assessment of threats has not been conducted. In
addition, to assess airport vulnerabilities, TSA plans to issue a self-assessment tool for airport operators’ use, but it does not plan to conduct on-site vulnerability assessments at all general aviation airports due to the cost and vastness of the general aviation network.

Instead, TSA intends to use a systematic and analytical risk management process, which is considered a best practice, to assess the threats and vulnerabilities of general aviation. However, TSA has not yet developed an implementation plan for its risk management efforts.

TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration have taken steps to address security risks to general aviation through regulation and guidance, but still face challenges in their efforts to further enhance security. For example, TSA has promulgated regulations requiring
background checks of foreign candidates for U.S. flight training schools and has issued security guidelines for general aviation airports. However, investigators found limitations in the process used to conduct compliance inspections of flight training programs.

In addition, FAA, in coordination with TSA and other federal agencies, has implemented airspace restrictions over certain landmarks and special events. However, FAA has not established written policies or procedures for reviewing and revalidating the need for flight restrictions that limit access to airspace for indefinite periods of time and could negatively
affect the general aviation industry.

Non-federal general aviation stakeholders have partnered with the federal government and have individually taken steps to enhance general aviation security. For example, industry associations developed best practices and recommendations for securing general aviation, and have partnered with TSA to develop security initiatives such as the Airport Watch Program, similar to a neighborhood watch program. Some state governments have also provided funding for enhancing security at general aviation airports, and many airport operators GAO surveyed took steps to enhance security such as installing fencing and increasing police patrols.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), along with other federal agencies, state governments, and the general aviation industry, plays a role in securing general aviation operations.

While the federal government provides guidance on threats and vulnerabilities, enforces regulatory requirements, and provides some funding assistance, because
of competing needs of commercial aviation security funding and the vastness and diversity of the general aviation network, the bulk of the responsibility for assessing and enhancing security falls on airport operators.

This public/private partnership has been strengthened following the terrorist attacks of September 11, in part, through the teaming of TSA and general aviation industry associations by means of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which, among other things, helped develop security guidelines for general aviation airports based on industry’s best practices.

Sources: Transportation Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, American Society for Industrial Security, National Security Institute, National Association of Chiefs of Police

             * * *

 

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. Kouri has appeared as on-air commentator for more than 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.  His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.U.S.

                      

Posted in Guest Commentaries, Transportation, Travel | Leave a Comment »

GASOLINE SURVEY: $3 Plus Gasoline Prevails in Most of WV

Posted by kinchendavid on August 7, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV   – Gasoline prices in Hinton rose from $2.99 to $3.05 at Chevron Foodmart in Avis, the nearby Go Mart, as well as the Exxon and Cargo stations on the bypass on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006.

Statewide, the lowest observed price on Aug. 6, 2006 was $2.83 a gallon at the Wal-Mart in New Martinsville. The highest outside of Charleston was $3.19 at Rich Oil in Elkins, according to http://www.westvirginiagasprices.com. Regular was $2.93 at Mobil in Wheeling; $2.91 at Flying J in Catlettsburg, KY; $2.94 at Exxon and Speedway in Vienna and $3.15 at Citgo in Logan on Aug. 6, 2006. Regular was $3.15 at Chevron in Huntington; $3.14 at Kroger on Harper Road in Beckley and $3.05 at Cargo and Go Mart in Bluefield, as well as KO in nearby Green Valley.

In the Charleston area, gasoline on Aug. 6, 2006 continued last week’s statewide high with regular selling for $3.19 at the Citgo in central Charleston, according to http://www.charlestongasprices.com. Most other stations in Charleston, Kanawha City and South Charleston had regular for $3.15 on Aug. 6, up from last week’s $3.09, at Chevron, Go Mart, Speedway and Exxon. Regular was $2.96, up from last week’s $2.93, at Rich Oil in Jefferson on Aug. 6. It was $3.17 at BP in Hurricane; $3.05 at Exxon in Cross Lanes; and $2.96 at Go Mart in Cross Lanes – the same as last week.

HERE IS A SITE where you can get up-to-date gasoline prices anywhere in the U.S. by just plugging your Zip Code into a box on the site and hitting “go.” It’s worth a try, especially with the heavy summer traveling season now in full swing, but don’t forget where you got the information: Check out our survey every week! Here’s the site:

http://autos.msn.com/everyday/gasstations.aspx?zip=&src=Netx

Posted in Transportation, Travel, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »

GASOLINE SURVEY: $3 Plus Gasoline Prevails in WV Capital Area, Eastern Panhandle, Huntington

Posted by kinchendavid on July 24, 2006

By David M. Kinchen

Hinton, WV   – Gasoline prices in Hinton stayed at $2.89 a gallon at Chevron Foodmart in Avis, the nearby Go Mart, as well as the Exxon Pit Row on the bypass on Sunday, July 23, 2006.

Statewide, the lowest observed price on July 23, 2006 was $2.81 a gallon at the Speedway in Ceredo and the Chevron and Certified stations in Kenova. Across the line in Catlettsburg, KY, regular was $2.71 at Flying J., according to http://www.westvirginiagasprices.com. Huntington’s lowest price on July 23 was $2.87 at Rich Oil across from Camden Park on Route 60; higher prices in Huntington were at Marathon at $3.09 a gallon – the same price as the Exxon in Barboursville. Beckley on July 23 posted $2.99 a gallon gasoline at Exxon, Chevron and Kroger. Regular was $2.85 at Sunoco in Moorefield, $2.88 at Speedway in Parkersburg; $3.19 at Marathon in Phillipi and $2.89 at Citgo in Thomas.

In the Charleston area, gasoline on July 23, 2006 was $2.88 at Pilot in Nitro and $2.89 at Rich Oil in Jefferson, according to http://www.charlestongasprices.com. It was $2.89 at Go Mart in both St. Albans and Institute and $2.89 at Speedway and Go Mart in Cross Lanes on July 23. The default price in Charleston, as well as South Charleston and Kanawha City, on July 23 was $3.09 a gallon at Exxon in central Charleston and most other stations in Charleston, South Charleston and Kanawha City. This is 20 cents a gallon higher than the $2.89 a gallon that prevailed in early July.

TRAVELING TIP from yours truly, a dedicated Amtrak customer. Next time take the train and save a bundle. My roundtrip ticket to Chicago from Hinton for a just concluded vacation trip was $96. I calculate that gasoline alone for one way to Chicago would be about that! Add in tolls and other expenses and you can understand why the Cardinal was full all the way there and back. In Chicago, where a special blend is required by the feds, expect to pay $3.60 and up for gasoline.

HERE IS A SITE where you can get up-to-date gasoline prices anywhere in the U.S. by just plugging your Zip Code into a box on the site and hitting “go.” It’s worth a try, especially with the heavy summer traveling season now in full swing, but don’t forget where you got the information: Check out our survey every week! Here’s the site:

http://autos.msn.com/everyday/gasstations.aspx?zip=&src=Netx

Posted in Transportation, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Thanks to Byrd, Murray for Saving Amtrak Call Center Jobs

Posted by kinchendavid on July 20, 2006

By David M. Kinchen

Hinton, WVI’d like to take a teeny bit credit for it – by publicizing the proposed outsourcing of Amtrak call center jobs – but the real credit belongs to Sens. Robert C. Byrd, D-WV and Patty Murray, D-WA, who secured Senate Appropriations Committee approval Thursday, July 20, 2006 for legislation that will prevent America’s national railroad from outsourcing jobs to foreign countries.

Check out the posting on this site, but the bottom line is that the great employees I’ve personally — well, telephonically – encountered when ordering Amtrak tickets will continue to have their jobs. These jobs may not mean much to people in $1,000 suits and Gucci loafers suitable for K Street in Washington, but they pay the rent or mortgage and help maintain a standard of living in one of the most economically unequal countries in the world. Yes, folks, we’re right up there with China and Mexico in the gap between the rich and the rest of us.

Everyone familiar with the situation knows that if it weren’t for Byrd – and other pro-Amtrak senators like Patty Murray – our heavily used railway system would be gone, dead, kaput, finito. I can vouch for the heavily used portion of that remark since I’ve just returned from a vacation trip to Chicago where Amtrak got me there and back, of course. The Cardinal was packed in both directions. While in Chicago, I also used the north line of Metra, one of the best commuter rail lines in the world. I also took buses and cabs. So give me the Al Gore Saving the Environment Medal!

Seriously, folks, I’m proud to have Robert C. Byrd represent me. Here are excerpts from the press release, which are repeated in the posting on this site:

“Amtrak’s senior management recently informed Byrd and Murray that the railroad’s Board of Directors, all appointed by the Bush Administration, planned to invite private vendors to take over major parts of its national reservation system, including vendors based overseas.

“Senator Murray and I have worked for years to keep Amtrak running in the face of budget cuts that would have halted service across the country. Then we learn that our national railroad intends to allow the jobs of hard-working Americans — jobs that are paid for with taxpayer dollars — to be shipped overseas. We could not stand by and let that happen,” Byrd said.

“I’m pleased that we’re sending a clear message to Amtrak that it should not send American jobs overseas,” Murray said. “As I work to ensure Amtrak’s future, I want to make sure that it benefits not just our passengers but also our working families and communities.”

Byrd is the leading Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Murray is the leading Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee.

“I recognize that Amtrak needs to cut costs where it can. But I cannot support a policy that allows Amtrak to ship jobs overseas, simply because some foreign vendors pay their employees close to nothing. They do not give them health care benefits. They do not pay them the kind of wages that keep food on the table in places like Riverside, CA, and Philadelphia, PA, where jobs would be lost,” Byrd said. “These jobs belong in America, and this legislation will ensure that they stay here.”

With committee approval, the transportation bill next comes before the full Senate for action.

You know the saying “women and children first?” It should be American men, women and children first when it comes to preserving our jobs. A little less (OK, a lot less) pay for executives and a lot more for the men and women who do the real work in  this country.

 

 

Posted in Parallel Universe, Transportation, Travel, West Virginia | Leave a Comment »