Time’s a-wastin’.

“Our ports are jammed to capacity,” California’s Governor Schwarzenegger said. “The cargo ships are lined up — waiting. Ports in Washington, Oregon, Texas and Mexico are vying for a chance to take business away from us. California is already on the leading edge of global economy and it’s changing in leaps and bounds. And yet we will let this advantage slip from our fingers if we don’t make the long term investment in our ports, our roads, our schools, our information systems and the other entire infrastructure required to compete in a world that thrives on innovation.”

The advantage has already slipped away, governor. While greedy port officials in the two Southern California ports were scheming to gobble up all Eastbound cargo — by relying on baling wire and bandaids during repeated periods of stress, and while state politicians were dismissing the opportunity to develop dormant California ports, Hutchison was busily making its moves in Mexico, and Maher Terminals, from the faraway U.S. East Coast was cashing in on Californian negligence by developing its own terminal under the auspices of the Prince Rupert Port Authority — in Canada — a locality the governor failed to mention in his statement quoted above.

Brian Maher’s new $ 160 million terminal will be located on the shortest sea-link to Asia and will provide direct and efficient connections to Chicago, Toronto and Memphis. The facility will initially have a capacity of 500,000 TEU and future plans figure to expand the terminal’s capacity to 2 million TEU. The project was made possible by a $ 30 million contribution by the Government of Canada and a $ 30 million commitment by the Province of British Columbia. Maher will be investing up to $ 60 million in terminal operating equipment, and when completed in 2007, the Prince Rupert container terminal project is expected to alleviate congestion significantly on North America’s West Coast, create economic opportunities for Canadian importers and exporters, and act as a catalyst for economic development and expansion across the northwest transportation corridor.
So where does that leave the Golden State? The Land of Fruits and Nuts? It leaves them holding the bag with a $ 222 billion bond proposal, several hundred bickering politicians, an infrastructure that may never get its much-needed upgrading, a giant port complex that may have seen its heyday, and the likelihood of future generations straining to retire the tardy $ 222 billion debt that had no chance of keeping their home state “on the leading edge of global economy”. “A day late and a dollar short”, goes the old adage.

Maybe. There are some new players this year in Southern California and the economic success of the Southland is riding on their shoulders. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Ms. Geraldine Knatz, and Commission Chairman David Freeman are all new at their jobs, and they didn’t get where they are by being nonchalant — “laid-back”, as they like to say out there. If just one of those three officials can be directed to this website, the fur would fly and immediate orders would be issued to take a good long look at the advantages offered by the installation of our systems in the LA/Long Beach container terminals. Otherwise, if rapid development in Canada and Mexico brings down the LA/Long Beach ports, then a lot of local jobs will go down with them. Time’s a -wastin’.