Friday, November 6, 2015

Felleman, Gregoire Win Seattle Commission Seats

By Mark Edward Nero

Environmental consultant and marine biologist Fred Felleman has won the race to replace Bill Bryant on the Port of Seattle Commission, while incumbent Courtney Gregoire also was victorious in the battle for her seat.

Four people were vying for two seats in the Nov. 3 election. Results show Felleman with 56 percent of the vote in the election for the District 2 seat, while his opponent, Marion Yoshino, a former Normandy Park City Council member, received 43 percent.

In the race for the District 2 seat, Gregoire received 85 percent of the vote, compared to her opponent, a perennial candidate who goes by the name Goodspaceguy, who received 15 percent.

This was Gregoire’s second election: she was appointed to the commission in March 2013 and won in the general election that same year.

Felleman, however, has not held public office before. He holds a Masters of Science in Fisheries from the University of Washington and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Michigan.

He campaigned on a platform of creation of well-paying jobs while protecting the working waterfront and the environment, plus spoke in favor of more transparency in the port’s operations.

“Thank you, King County voters, for putting your faith in me to increase the Port’s transparency and ecological integrity,” Felleman said in a message posted on his campaign website after his victory. “I look forward to working with the other Commissioners to that end, while creating good paying jobs in the face of global competition and climate change.”

Maersk Cutting Back on Jobs, Shipbuilding

By Mark Edward Nero

As a response to both the short term and long term market outlook, Maersk Line is implementing a number of cost and efficiency initiatives, including cutting back on shipbuilding and eliminating jobs, the company said Nov. 4

Maersk Line, the world’s largest shipping company, plans to reduce its network capacity and postpone investments in new capacity, while the same time reducing operating costs by escalating already announced plans to, over the next two years, cut at least 4,000 jobs.

The company also stated that it is cutting back on shipbuilding plans that it announced earlier this year: it will now not exercise previously announced options for six 19,630-TEU vessels and two 3,600-TEU feeders and is postponing its decision on eight optional 14,000-TEU vessels.

“We are on a journey to transform Maersk Line,” CEO Søren Skou explained in a prepared statement. “We will make the organization leaner and simpler. We want to improve our customer experience digitally and at the same time work as efficiently as possible.”

The company currently has 23,000 employees globally and says it will eliminate the 4,000 positions through natural attrition and other means.

“We are fewer people today than a year ago. We will be fewer next year and the following year. These decisions are not taken lightly, but they are necessary steps to transform our industry,” Skou said.

Bellingham, Longview Ports Get New Commissioners

By Mark Edward Nero

Commercial fisherman Robert “Bobby” Briscoe has won the election to fill the District 3 seat on the Port of Bellingham Commission, according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office, while businessman Jeff Wilson managed to win 65 percent of the vote in the Nov. 3 race for the District 1 seat on the three-member Port of Longview Commission.

According to the results from the Nov. 2 election posted on the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office website, Briscoe captured 23,841 votes, or 55.4 percent of the vote, while his opponent, Ferndale Mayor Gary Jensen, received 19,178 votes, or 44.5 percent.

Jensen lost the race despite being endorsed by outgoing District 3 commissioner Jim Jorgensen, who has served on the board since 2004.

The District 3 seat covers most of Whatcom County west of Guide Meridian, stretching from northwest Bellingham to the Canadian border.

The port’s commission is a non-partisan, three-member board whose members serve four-year terms. The commission makes decisions about publicly-owned port properties, including marinas, real estate, industrial workspace and a ferry terminal.

The commission is currently overseeing the extensive cleanup and redevelopment of the city’s industrial waterfront.

The election results are scheduled to be certified by the Auditor’s Office Nov. 24, and the term of outgoing Commissioner Jim Jorgensen expires Dec. 31.

Meanwhile in Longview, Wilson won in a landslide: he received 4,308 votes – 65 percent -- to 2,243 votes for his opponent, Tony Filippello. Wilson will replace incumbent Darold Dietz, who chose not to seek re-election.

The Longview commission has also undergone other changes in recent months: Commissioner Lou Johnson resigned last summer and was replaced by Doug Averett, the port’s former terminal operations director.

Downing, Farmer Win Olympia Port Seats

By Mark Edward Nero

Joe Downing and Jerry Farmer have won the Nov. 3 contests for the District 1 and District 3 seats on the Port of Olympia Commission, while incumbent Commission President George Barner Jr. has been ousted, according to results from the Thurston County Auditor.

Downing, who works as a senior financial examiner for the state and is a former member of the port’s citizen advisory committee, captured nearly 58 percent in the battle for District 1, according to the results. Out of a total of 43,454 votes, Downing received 25,178, or 57.9 percent, while his opponent, incumbent commissioner Barner received 18,276 votes, or 42 percent, according to the official results.

The race for District 3, however, was much tighter. Out of a total of 43,254 votes cast, Farmer, a radio station co-owner, managed to win 21,811 votes, or 50.43 percent, while his opponent, EJ Zita, received 21,443 votes, or 49.59 percent, according to the county auditor.

Current District 3 commissioner Michelle Morris was appointed to the seat in June after former commissioner Sue Gunn resigned in April due to health reasons. But Morris, who’s a principal with Olympia-based sustainability and anti-pollution company Sound Resource Management, declined to seek election.

The Port of Olympia Commission, which has three seats, with commissioners each representing a district within Thurston County. Commissioners serve four-year terms.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Newport, Hueneme Awarded Redevelopment Grants

By Mark Edward Nero

The Oxnard Harbor District, which operates the Port of Hueneme, has been awarded $12.3 million by the US Department of Transportation for maritime cargo terminal redevelopment the port said Oct. 30.

The grant, given through the federal National Infrastructure Investments program, provides funding to improve the intermodal infrastructure at the Port of Hueneme, including the deepening of two berths, the strengthening of a wharf, modernizing cargo handling infrastructure, and extending on-dock rail.

The completed project is expected to extend the useful life of the wharf up to 30 years, allow vessels with 36-foot drafts to serve the port, and also stimulate subsequent investment from private terminal operators. “In all my years in government I’ve not seen a more important step forward, a step full of promise for our community’s economic future, Harbor Commission Vice President Manuel Lopez said.

The Port of Hueneme’s grant was one of 39 awards totaling $500 million in funding to be made in the current round of investments, and one of only three for West Coast ports. The Port of San Diego was awarded $10 million toward the $22 million revamp of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, and Oregon’s Port of Newport received $2 million, with the funds earmarked to help build an international deep-water marine terminal with intermodal (marine/river/highway) access.

The Port of Newport project consists of the creation of several acres of usable terminal surface to provide businesses a viable location for receiving or preparing loads for international or domestic shipment.

In addition to the port grants, the 60-year-old Mukilteo Multimodal Ferry Terminal in Washington was awarded a $10 million grant to help pay for a $100 million project to replace the current aging and seismically deficient terminal and relocate a new, integrated, multimodal facility east to a vacant brownfield.

The new terminal is expected to improve operations and multimodal connections and safety, as well as restore community access to the waterfront.

Study: Cruise Industry Sees Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

Global demand for cruise ship voyages reached 22 million passengers in 2014, up 68 percent from 13 million passengers in 2004, according to a new study from Cruise Lines International Association.

Since 2013, demand for cruising grew 3.4 percent, from 21.3 million passengers, according to the independent study, which was commissioned by the cruise association and conducted by Business Research and Economic Advisors.

The cruise association’s 2014 Economic Impact Analysis states that total contributions of the cruise industry to the global economy reached $119.9 billion in 2014, up from $117 billion the previous year.

The amount includes supporting 939,232 full-time equivalent employees earning $39.3 billion in income. Direct expenditures generated by cruise lines, passengers and crews totaled $55.8 billion, according to the study.

“The cruise industry is truly a global and dynamic industry,” acting CLIA CEO Cindy D’Aoust said. “We’ve enjoyed progressive growth over the last 30 years.”

Additionally, cruise lines, their passengers and crew spent a record $21 billion in the U.S. in 2014, up 16 percent since 2010 and representing a new peak in U.S. cruise industry expenditures, according to the same study.

The Economic Impact Analysis states that total contributions of the global cruise industry to the U.S. economy reached a record $46.09 billion in 2014, up 4.5 percent from the previous year, with the amount including generation of 373,738 U.S. jobs paying over $19 billion in wages and salaries.

POSD Awarded $10 Million Grant

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of San Diego has been awarded $10 million by the US Department of Transportation for proposed maritime cargo terminal redevelopment through the federal National Infrastructure Investments program. US Department of Transportation Deputy Maritime Administrator Michael J. Rodriguez formally presented the funding to the Port of San Diego at an Oct. 30 event at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

The funding is expected to help the port modernize the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in order to meet the growing demand for cargo capacity and goods movement in the region. The terminal modernization is expected to improve efficiency for port users, providing operational space for multiple shippers.

Proposed improvements include removing obsolete transit sheds and constructing new, open laydown area for temporary equipment storage with on-dock rail improvements. The removal of transit sheds is expected to improve the safety of oversized cargo movements by creating adequate space to handle modern cargos, and reduce environmental impacts by reducing intra-terminal truck trips.

The federal grant program, known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants, supports transportation projects expected to have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region.

The grant makes up nearly half of the $22 million project cost.

“This important grant from the federal government shows that maritime capacity matters to our nation,” Port of San Diego Chairman Dan Malcolm said. “We are deeply appreciative of the US Department of Transportation’s investment in San Diego maritime cargo operations and its recognition that those operations are critical to our region’s economy and national security.”

“This is a great day, and I want to thank the US Department of Transportation for this award,” Port of San Diego President & CEO Randa Coniglio said during the funding presentation. “When we invest in port facilities, we are investing in the economic future of the San Diego region.”

Port of Port Angeles Head Stepping Down

By Mark Edward Nero

After being in the position for just two years, Ken O’Hollaren is stepping down as executive director of the Port of Port Angeles, he announced Oct. 26.

At the end of the Port Commission’s most recent meeting, O’Hollaren said he will be leaving the helm on Dec. 31. Being closer to his grandkids and an opportunity in the private sector were given as his reasons for leaving.

O’Hollaren, who retired at the Port of Longview at the end of 2012 after a 32-year career, was brought on to be the Port of Port Angeles’ interim executive director in July 2013. His hiring came about after the sudden resignation of Jeff Robb in June 2013, with health issues cited as the reason.

At the time of his hiring at Port Angeles, O’Hollaren still lived in Longview, which is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Port Angeles. He said he and his wife, Denise, plan to make their new home in Clark County, Washington in 2016.

“Ken’s leadership, his dedication to our mission and his unwavering passion for doing what is right helped set the stage for our next level of success, Port Commission President Jim Hallett said. “Ken brought a sense of perspective that allowed our staff and commission to work collaboratively on addressing today’s issues and preparing for tomorrow’s opportunities.

The Commission has said it will take some time to develop a plan for hiring a new executive director and will share the plan with the public in the weeks ahead. The port’s current deputy director, Karen Goschen will serve as the interim executive director during the transition period.

“It’s been a privilege to serve the port as executive director, and particularly to work alongside an exceptionally capable staff,” O’Hollaren said. “My successor will have the good fortune of having that same privilege.”