Or we could call it Kinder Morgan Deal is Dead — The Fingerpointing. The NJ has another piece up this AM — Port lease efforts on hold, which has a few more details on this story, but mostly it is additional reaction from some stakeholders. Aaron Nathans gets a key bit wrong — there wasn’t a $200M investment on the table, it was more like $41M. The rest was lease payments to the state. But the more I hear about this, the more I wonder about what we don’t know about this deal. Was this lease payment meant to be funneled back to the Port for the automation upgrades talked about for the warehouses? Who knows. I have attached a copy of the letter so you can see it directly.
It is interesting that they would blame Julius Cephas for all of this. I’m not certain how much negotiating was involved here, but I’m wondering what was being negotiated when it wasn’t clear what KM was even offering overall. Still, Cephas asked a number of questions at a 7 December DSPC meeting that never got addressed by KM or the Board. So what happened to the other ILA Local out there? Were they negotiating too? Demonizing one person in the deal when there were so very many who were against it (and that KM didn’t really talk to) just seems odd and of a piece of this very murky story.
Here is ILA 1694-1 response to this deal going on ice:
Special Thanks to Senator Robert Marshall for Senate Bill #3 and his colleagues.
On March 7, 2012, Kinder Morgan announced ‘suspending’ its interest in the Port of Wilmington. International Longshoreman’s Association, 1694-1 wants to thank everyone in the community for their shared interest in protecting the Port of Wilmington against privatization to Kinder Morgan. Together with the support of the community, environmentalist, churches, bloggers and legislatures, we forged together a diverse coalition of community leaders and concerned citizens to keep the port an economic engine to our local economy. Our fight is not over, we must continue to work with Governor Markell and Alan Levin to develop a strategic plan to continue to make the port viable and sustainable for our future generation and create middle class jobs that help to grow a healthy, strong and local economy. If not for Senate Bill #3, sponsored by Senator Robert Marshall and the state legislatures, this unprecedented achievement would have not been possible.
Julius Cephas, ILA 1694-1 President.
Fighting for working families to live a decent quality of life
In my business we do After Action Reports to assess what we did well, what we did badly and what we need to do to move forward. Here’s what I want to suggest for the Port of Wilmington and the DSPC:
1. Public Teambuilding. This entire business has not sent a good message to Port customers or to Port businesses. Time to remind the world that this Port is important to the future of Delaware. One avenue to this would be to get the Port its Bond Bill request and make sure they have a plan to get its capital funds invested ASAP. Get the Governor and Levin to do a public event with some of the stakeholders to announce/endorse whatever work gets underway.
2. Strategic Planning. Instead of just banging off in a direction, it is crucial to examine what the short-term, medium-term and long-term goals are for this Port and their stakeholders. Come up with a strategy and timeframe to get there and make sure that all of the stakeholders are on board before going off on a wild goose chase.
3. Professionalize the DSPC Board. Think about adding a key stakeholder or two to the Board that aren’t beholden to who is in Dover or (even better) some outside expertise.
4. Address the Structural Weakness. This is something that the ILA guys ought to step up to and proactively address NOW, if they were smart. The port financials show (for FY12) approx $19M in wages/salaries and approx $12M in operating revenues. Previous years aren’t that much better. This is a pretty big red flag and something that can’t continue forever. Increasing operating revenues is certainly an option, and perhaps could be addressed in the Strategic Plan. But make no mistake that this imbalance has to be fixed and it is better to fix it now than wait for a crisis when lots of folks will get hurt.