Reaction Pro & Con To Cong. Millender-McDonald's Proposed HR 3398 To Create System Of Fed'l Funds Fueling Goods Movement Projects of Nat'l Significance
Neighborhood Activist Confronts Mayor, Asks What Lobbying City Hall, U.S. Conf. of Mayors & Regional Gov't Groups Played In The Proposed Legislation
LB Area Chamber of Commerce Issues "Call To Action" With Suggested Form Letter Supporting the Bill
(Nov. 6, 2003) -- Reaction has been swift -- pro and con -- to a story broken on Nov. 1 by LBReport.com that LB area Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald has proposed legislation (HR3398) that would spend $18 billion over six years to facilitate and fund transportation projects of national significance involving the movement of goods.
At the November 4 Council meeting, LB writer and neighborhood activist Bry Myown publicly confronted city management and the Mayor, asking what lobbying role City Hall either directly -- or through the Port, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Gateway Council of Governments or SCAG -- had played in the proposed legislation.
"I think the public wants...[to] know what lobbying efforts are being undertaken," Ms. Myown said, noting that City Hall had publicly lobbied for other Port-related transportation funding by calling it a matter of "national security" and the public might be concerned "about our communication to you [on 710 expansion issues] being preempted."
Following news of the legislation -- reported first in the LB media by LBReport.com -- Ms. Myown said she was concerned and surprised to learn that a release from Cong. Millender-McDonald's office listed the U.S. Conference of Mayors [in which Mayor O'Neill now plays a leadership role] as a supporter...and confronted O'Neill over her plans to testify before a House Subcommittee on Transportation on Nov. 4 in support of transportation funding.
"I guess what I'm asking, could we and the public have a little more specificity about what lobbying is being done on our behalf and could you share some of that lobbying with us before it occurs," Ms. Myown said.
Mayor O'Neill replied, "The lobbying is for not just Long Beach. The lobbying to the U.S. Conference of Mayors is to make sure that there is money in the transportation bill."
Ms. Myown tried to pursue the point, noting that Millender-McDonald's office had listed the U.S. Conference of Mayors as a supporter of HR3398...but O'Neill did not respond to that point.
Ms. Myown's testimony prompted 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga -- who chairs a Council oversight committee on 710 freeway expansion -- to ask city management to provide a subsequent briefing on HR 3398.
Meanwhile, on November 5, the LB Area Chamber of Commerce weighed in with a "call to action" strongly supporting HR 3398 -- even posting a suggested form letter addressed to Cong. Millender-McDonald, cc'd to Mr. Carl Kemp, City Hall's Manager of Public/Government Affairs.
"Click to download a letter of support on HR 3398," said the Chamber's web site, "fax it to us...and we will do all the work!" The Chamber's proposed letter states:
Dear Congresswoman Millender-McDonald:
I am writing to inform you of my support of HR 3398 - Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance Act.
The I-710 carries approximately 15% of all U.S. waterborne container traffic, and the Gerald Desmond Bridge carries approximately 10% of all U.S. waterborne container traffic. The poor existing traffic conditions on the bridge will be further exacerbated due to continued growth in international trade and regional traffic.
HR 3398 addresses the nation's most pressing transportation and economic needs by allocating additional federal funds for transportation infrastructure projects that contribute to the overall efficiency of the national transportation infrastructure.
HR 3398 is important to the future of the I-710 and the Gerald Desmond Bridge by providing $18 billion over six years to fund critical transportation infrastructure projects - nine billion of which would be a discretionary program for state and local governments to plan and build "Goods Movement" projects, while the remaining $9 billion would be dedicated to funding projects determined to be of "National Economic Significance."
I believe the tremendous growth in international trade will continue to place an increasingly heavy burden on our nation's seaports, trade corridors, highways and rail lines.
It is for these reasons that I join you in supporting HR 3398.
INSERT NAME AND TITLE HERE
HR 3398 proposes to spend $18 billion over six years to facilitate and fund transportation projects of national significance involving the movement of goods. Half of the sum would be dispensed via a grant program to be created to facilitate such projects...and the other half would be given to projects that Congress explicitly designates as "projects of national significance"...which in the initial version of the legislation remain "to be supplied."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, the "Goods Movement Act of 2003" (text in previously hyperlinked article) was introduced on Oct. 29, 2003 and referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee...on which Congresswoman Millender-McDonald (a Democrat whose district includes roughly 80% of LB and stretches through Carson and beyond) serves as senior member.
The bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to establish a "goods movement program," the purposes of which would be:
(A) to facilitate and support multimodal freight transportation initiatives at the State, regional, and local levels in order to improve freight transportation gateways and mitigate congestion in the area of such gateways;
(B) to provide capital funding to address infrastructure and freight operational needs at freight transportation corridors and gateways;
(C) to encourage adoption of new financing strategies to leverage State, local, and private investment in freight transportation gateways; and
(D) to support military mobilization and readiness.
Among its discretionary provisions, the bill would empower the Secretary of Transportation to make grants to "assist State and local governmental authorities in financing...the development of corridors...including protecting rights of way through acquisition, construction of dedicated truck and high occupancy vehicle lanes and other non-vehicular capital improvements that the Secretary may decide would result in mitigating congestion in such corridors."