Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Seems like a cunning plan

Step One: Identify a city asset that is neither drains nor produces revenue.
The Public Belt Railroad, created in 1904, was designed to put all the tracks feeding the city’s ports under a single, public entity. The railroad — unique in that it is owned by a city government — owns and is responsible for about 100 miles of track and the Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish.

The agency does not receive any taxpayer money or pay any money to the city. It is funded by revenue from the railroads that use the tracks.
Step Two: To quote Ray Nagin, "sell that sucker" off and put it back into commerce because, according to the Gospel of Aspen, privatization is always better.
Although the letter does not cite a specific price, it says the sale would allow the railroad to have access to money needed for improvements while providing an “immediate and significant cash infusion to invest back into basic city services, as well as ongoing tax revenues on property currently untaxed.”
Step Three: Identify a buyer through the usual transparent and above-the-board public bidding process.
A sale of the railroad likely would need the approval of both the board and the City Council. It also likely would require a public bid process.
Wait.. hold up.  Buyer already identified himself back before Step One even happened. He's pretty well vetted, though. 
The proposal to sell the Public Belt was sparked by interest from Thomas Coleman, a New Orleans businessman who served for four decades as the CEO of International-Matex Tank Terminals, a company — owned by his family until last year — that runs terminals and storage facilities in Louisiana and other states and a rail line in New Jersey.

Coleman is the father of Dathel Georges, who owns The New Orleans Advocate along with her husband, John Georges.
Anyway, Step Four is Profit!

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