I feel compelled to clarify some points in the editorial “Hire local? It’s complicated.”
As someone who represents more than 3,000 trade unionists, I am aware of the recession and its effect on construction projects and jobs. We were well aware of the opportunities from the Solid Waste Authority project. I reached out to all three companies that were listed to bid. Two of the companies, Covanta and Wheelabrator, were very receptive to utilization of our local trades. Steve Johnson, the representative of BE&K, a subsidiary of Haliburton, told me in Palm Beach County Commissioner Shelley Vana’s office that the company’s business model is to never use union labor.
Babcock & Wilcox, partnering with BE&K, was rated last in cost-effectiveness and second in construction costs. But when the 20 years of operations and maintenance were factored in, B&W, being the lowest, was selected. Our union made every attempt, through wage and benefit concessions, showcasing our training, safety and productivity — all to no avail. Then we discovered that the wages and per diem offered by the company were indeed higher than ours. At that point, we knew that our fears had been correct. It was not about economics but the ideology of the company.
KBR now states that it employs more than 37 percent local skilled labor and 92 percent local unskilled labor on the SWA project. However, in December 2012, out of 75 cars in the parking lot, 62 had out-of-state license plates. This has to make one wonder: Do all the local workers walk to work? They do not appear to park their vehicles in the project lot.
As to your remarks on St. Lucie County’s hiring policy, it is not to ensure that workers have graduated from a county-certified program but rather from a state-certified program, located in St. Lucie, Martin and/or Indian River counties, using current apprentices. There are union and non-union programs available, which only enhance local hiring, whether union or non-union.
SEAN P. MITCHELL
Editor’s note: Sean Mitchell is business manager for Ironworkers Local 402.
GEO’s ‘gift’ better
The writer of the letter “GEO’s only motive was philanthropy” seems to assume that the gift of $6 million by the GEO Group to Florida Atlantic University requires a reciprocation by FAU of placing GEO’s name on the football stadium. If it truly was a gift, the requirement of naming the stadium for GEO would be unnecessary. If GEO requires reciprocation for the $6 million, it by definition would not be a gift, regardless of motive.
If the university would like to reciprocate with a gift, perhaps it could develop a program for GEO to enhance the education of GEO staff and inmates. Then, everyone concerned could claim moral high ground.
Palm Beach Shores
Carroll’s exit signals
need for ethics reform
The scandal behind Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll’s resignation cannot be blamed on Gov. Rick Scott or the Republican Party of Florida. The Allied Veterans Political Action Committee gave hundreds of thousands to both parties. Hopefully, all will follow the example the governor and the RPOF already set by giving those contributions to charities. This sad episode, however, underscores the need for comprehensive ethics reform.
Special interests and many elected officials of both parties control PACs, Committees of Continuous Existence (CCEs) and Electioneering Communication Organizations (ECOs). As legally separate entities from candidates’ campaigns, they can evade the $500 limits on campaign contributions. Recent abuses of CCEs for extravagant personal expenses were widely reported.
To their credit, the Florida House Speaker and Senate President are pursuing ethics reform bills to outlaw this. Broader reform is needed however, to ensure full transparency that clearly shows ownership of these various PACs, CCEs and ECOs, and their linkages to one another and campaigns. The ideal should also include an absolute lobbying ban on any state official.
Boarding will take
longer with new rule
I fail to see how the Transportation Safety Administration can be so defiant and “stand by plans to allow small knives on planes” despite the backlash from the flight crews.
If the knives are less than 2.36 inches in length and less than a half-inch wide, and must be able to fold up, they are permissible. In the name of being less time-consuming, they are permitting this ridiculous ruling to go forward. Perhaps no one from the TSA has stood in line for a half hour as the TSA employees scrutinize every 2-ounce bottle of shampoo or tube of toothpaste to make sure it meets with their approval. As it is, everyone takes a carry-on, to avoid checking fees, which adds even more time to boarding.
A friend was recently stopped for carrying a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil; this same friend was stopped another time for carrying a banana (his breakfast) in his coat pocket. Sometimes a banana just may be a banana. The flight crews’ concern should carry some clout in this decision. As should the safety of the passengers.
Ryan’s plan punishes
seniors, favors wealthy
I would like to know why U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., feels contempt for America’s seniors. Once again, his budget plan puts an end to traditional Medicare – privatizing the program and leaving seniors on their own to buy insurance.
We can’t afford to let this happen. Medicare would become more expensive while private insurers raked in windfall profits. At the same time, Rep. Ryan’s budget ensures the wealthy would continue to enjoy tax breaks. Rep. Ryan’s budget strategy backfired in the 2012 elections. Are members of Congress ready to take that risk again?
TONI B. ROSENBERG
Fed’s debt purchases
A recent letter writer defended New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s economic strategy, which encourages the government to increase spending that will spur a more rapid recovery. The letter writer submits as evidence of the market’s confidence in the U.S. that the sky has not fallen. Not at $1 trillion, $10 trillion or even our current $17 trillion in national debt.
Our own Federal Reserve has purchased $2.7 trillion of our nation’s debt in the past five years. If the marketplace has so much confidence in the U.S., why is the Fed now purchasing these staggering amounts of U.S. debt? The answer is clear. The marketplace, contrary to the letter-writer’s assertions, has lost considerable confidence in the solvency prospects of the U.S.
If the banks that compose the Federal Reserve continue to invest in public debt, that crowds out available funds to lend to the private sector. Public investment generates only government spending. Too much of that and you’ve got more debt, not a recovery. Investment in the private sector enlarges the overall economy, from which we all benefit. That is what defines a recovery, not how much debt a government can accumulate.
Jackie O personalized
yacht’s powder room
I was delighted with the story “The Honey Fitz is back in business” and the photo of this beautiful yacht.
My friend, Joe Keating bought her from the Navy in 1970 for less than $60,000 when Richard Nixon put her up for sale. He changed her name to The Presidents and docked her behind his motel on Steamboat Road in Greenwich, Conn. I spent many a happy hour aboard her.
Mr. Keating gave himself a 75th birthday party aboard. We sailed north on the Intracoastal Waterway from Fort Lauderdale. Most of the celebrants were of Irish descent and the songs became sadder as the evening progressed. What The Post’s story missed is that the powder room on the main deck was decorated personally (with paint brush) by Jacqueline Kennedy. My son, Craig, served as her first mate on several occasions when the yacht chartered out of the South Street Seaport Museum in New York.
He was thrilled to report that he shook hands with Elizabeth Taylor when she was a guest aboard the yacht. I wish the new owners well.
ROBERT N. GROSBY