Power Failures

New Englanders were just reminded by Noel that this year’s Hurricane Season isn’t over yet. Power failures, uprooted trees and coastal flooding are being dealt with once again, and many, many fences have been turned into kindling wood.

It was quick and it was wet, but the usual calm after the storm now prevails. Power has been restored, power saws and sump pumps can be heard in many neighborhoods, and fence mending is now underway.

Yes, fence mending. In no time at all proper repairs will be made and Noel will be quickly forgotten. There’s a storm out west, however, that’s been brewing for years and years, and fence mending may never take place in the affected communities. Health, wealth and egos make up the eye of this particular storm, and when, and if, the center of this storm ever passes, the damage left in its wake may be impossible to repair. There will be no loss of power, however.

In bygone years the Los Angeles basin was known as “the Bay of Smoke” by Native Americans, and until recently, inhabitants were concerned about air pollution and the unhealthful effect it had upon local communities. Even school closings now and then would result when conditions were deemed to be too risky for youngsters.

But that was before intermodal containers came upon the scene. Intermodal containers, you see, are a source of money and power for many along the “supply chain”, and it seemed in the beginning that the waterfront in San Pedro would be an ideal location for container terminals. And so it was. The LA/Long Beach port complex has since become the largest such port complex on the continent, and those enriched by the ports’ successes want more of the same. Power begets power.

We mentioned “health, wealth and egos” up above in the reversed order of importance. It’s really “egos, wealth and health”. Common sense counts for nothing. The only sane voices being raised in the ongoing confrontations out there are being ignored or shouted down by those whose only concern is the next election, or the next lush contract or the next promotion. Power is what counts. Whatever the solution may be … and it had better guarantee the promised annual increase in container volumes … the taxpayer/consumer will shoulder the financial burden. Port officials are on record as stating that $ 7.8 billion in infrastructure upgrades are necessary and that they are willing to pay $ 267 million, or 3.3 percent of the total cost. [Aren’t they the sports?] You-know-who will pay for the rest. [And didn’t the ports get their $ 267 million from you-know-who?]

During the veiled threats and the pushing and shoving taking place in debates about the clean trucks program at the LA/Long Beach port complex, one of the powerful and well-paid officials had this to say: “I think we all agreed that the worst outcome of all would have us in the courtroom. I hope that at the end of the day, we’ll all be happy, or at least equally unhappy.”

[Noel left no hard feelings but animosities caused by the storm out west will never subside.]