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    Councilwoman Reyes Uranga Travels To Rio On Port-Related Trip

    (July 13, 2005) -- has learned that 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga was absent from the July 12 City Council meeting because she is in Rio de Janeiro, attending an event sponsored by the American Association of Port Authorities and Brazilian Association of Ports and Waterways entitled "Latin American Congress of Ports."

    Ray Pok, chief of staff to Councilwoman Reyes Uranga tells that the Councilwoman's spouse, LBCC Community College Trustee Roberto Uranga is also in Rio for the trip. Mr. Pok said it's his understanding that the trip is being paid for by the Port of LB. has learned that at least one member of LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners is also attending the event in Rio. A spokesperson for the Port of LB was unavailable this afternoon (July 13) but is promised details tomorrow (July 14).

    Mr. Pok noted that Councilwoman Reyes Uranga is on record as having previously criticized Port trips in which non-elected Harbor officialdom effectively conducts city business without the oversight or presence of elected LB officials.

    Mr. Pok says the Latin American Coordinator for the American Association of Port Authorities asked that the invitation be forwarded to Councilwoman Reyes Uranga Mr. Pok added that it's his understanding that the invitation was also extended to LB Vice Mayor Jackie Kell and LB Councilwoman Rae Gabelich (and they declined).

    The invitation, which contains text also available on the event's website (front page screen capture below) states:

    Brazil trip July 13/05

    The Brazilian Association of Port Authorities and Waterways (ABEPH) and the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) present the XIV Latin American Congress of Ports 2005, which will be held at Hotel Gloria, one of the most traditional and glamorous of the city of Rio de Janeiro, from July 12-15, 2005.

    This is an important initiative taken between both associations in order to discuss technological innovations and reformulation proposals by the means of exchange information and experiences among professionals of the portuary and waterway sectors.

    Thatīs our way of envisioning the upcoming future, a reason why the XIV Latin American Congress of Ports will happen for the first time in Brazil. In resume, these are some of the most important and relevant issues to be approached during the conference:

    • Safety
    • Dredging
    • Environment
    • City/Port
    • Mercosur
    • Waterways
    • Transhipment Ports
    • Feeder Ports Cabotage
    • Automation, Taxation and Customs

    Additionally, Representatives and High Administration Personnel of the main ports of North, Central and South America (including the Brazilian Port Authorities), Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa will act as Moderators, Presenters and Speakers.

    It is important to add that Simultaneous Translation will be provided during all lectures and that each registered participant will receive a Certificate of Attendance after the end of the Congress. Finally, we strongly recommend Accompanying Persons to check out our very Special Program destined to them.

    In 2004, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga joined Harbor Commissioners James Hankla and Mario Cordero for a 2004 visit to a Boston-area Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility. (The Councilwoman was scheduled to be in DC during the same period.) During their Boston area LNG-related visit, Hankla, Cordero and Reyes Uranga met with the LNG facility operator and local Coast Guard officials but (unlike an April 2005 visit to the area by LB fire and police officials) didn't meet with local elected officials or first responders. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, (a former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the post now held by LB Mayor O'Neill) has tried unsuccessfully to close the LNG facility as a post-9/11 security risk.

    In May 2003, shortly before Commissioners Hankla and Cordero took office, the Port of LB entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a Mitsubishi subsidiary that seeks to build and operate an 80+ million gallon LNG facility in the Port of LB roughly two miles from downtown. The Port's MOU facilitates the firm's pursuit of approval for the facility by other agencies but does not commit the Port to approve it. The Port entered into the MOU without seeking concurrence from the LB City Council...which under the current LB City Charter is not required.

    In a May 2005 Council action, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga made a motion (carried 5-4) to continue a companion City Hall MOU with the LNG project applicant (also entered into in 2003) relating to the possibility of a future connecting gas pipeline from the LNG site and natural gas costs for City Hall's utility.)

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