Sunday, December 4, 2016

The GLBT Juggler of Imaginargy Economic Development

"You are jugglers of imaginary sins."  Martin Luther.  

Frank Patton reminds me of a the Martin Luther quote as he juggles claims of imaginary economic development while . Perhaps Patton is simply running his baler without any twine in it.  He's making a lot of noise, there's a lot churning, but his proposed economic development reasoning is lacking the "twine" that holds his plans together.  Like a hay bale with no twine, a nice tightly bundled business plan unravels and goes everywhere.  Such is the case with Frank and GLBT.

Frank Patton’s response to the Surface Transportation Board continues to follow his pattern of ambiguous answers.  Frank Patton just responded to the third information request of the STB. As with the answers to information requests #1 and #2, Frank Patton’s answers continue to be based on speculation.

This is not the time for GLBT is be ambiguous.
This is the time for GLBT to lay it out on the table.
Patton, provide specific answers to specific questions!

Thousands of families should not have their future being so masked that not even the game of 20 more follow up questions grants any clearer picture of Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s real impact on 11 counties in three states.

1. In GLBT’s latest response we learn that while GLBT wants 15,500 acres of eminent domain for a “railyard”  (wink, wink), GLBT will provide an easement for access to the  “(a)ccommodation of, and access to Heusing Cemetery and Zion Lutheran Church”.

Wow, how generous that GLBT will not seek to use eminent domain to legally steal the cemetery and the Zion Lutheran Church.  GLBT will just develop a “railyard” (industrial park) around it. 

Really?  GLBT intends to take half a township but leave the church and cemetery.  Mind explaining that one further Frank?

2.       GLBT still refers to a potential development of Rockford industrial park once GLBT comes to town. 

Why will this “development” as an industrial park be any more successful than the failure it is now?

As understood, the Rockford “industrial park” property is already serviced by the Illinois Railway (IR) from Rochelle.  Rochelle is indisputably touted as a success by many with its city owned short-line.  Rochelle has done a great job attracting industry, manufacturing, and jobs.  They have actually made their train success into a tourist attraction with their observation deck at the Rochelle Railroad Park.

3.       If Rockford is connected to the success of Rochelle with the IR, why has Rockford been a failure in developing industry? 

Could it be that Rockford is not a good location to develop a manufacturing industry that requires rail service?  Could it be that Rockford in not an ideal location to develop intermodal service, even with potential to develop additional air freight service?

4.       Why would running a parallel railroad from Rochelle to Rockford with GLBT and IR both going from Point A to Point B stimulate any new industrial development?

5.       Why isn’t GLBT seeking eminent domain to force the sale of the IR track?  Why seek to use eminent domain for a new track and an additional bridge when there is already an existing track?

It is likely that GLBT does not want to admit that Rockford is a bad location for industrial development, or rather that Rochelle is a better location for industrial development with both UP and BNSF going through the town as well as having access to Rt 88 and Rt 39.  Rochelle provides truck coverage to Chicagoland and beyond, as it is centrally located. Rockford on the other hand is out of the way, inconvenient and probably too far north.

The proposed GLBT rail is not going to bring success, development, and jobs to Rockford.  The cost of development and transportation to and from Rockford are disadvantages for potential developers. 

The fact that Rockford has an airport is irrelevant.  If air shippers wanted to utilize rail from UP or BNSF from Rochelle, they would have developed such a business plan already.    Patton is using the notion that GLBT could bring development to Rockford as a selling point where no selling point exist. 

Will an air freight company develop a rail freight business in Rockford to complement one another only with a purposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation?  That’s doubtful.  Rail freight to truck is a different industry than air freight to truck.  It would be interesting for those who think air to rail freight transportation could enhance Rockford.  The industry really doesn’t exist. 

6.       If the potential development for Rockford is real, why are air transportation companies like United Parcel, Federal Express, and other shippers silent?

There are no corporations showing excitement about the proposed GLBT.  No one is lining up to develop industries in Rockford or anywhere else.  As much as Frank Patton talks, there is no one backing him up.  As much as Patton wants to claim development will come, without corporations lining up to say they will bring business and jobs to Illinois, we have to face the fact that no potential jobs exist.   

Speculations do not make a feasible action plan. 

It’s the same with Class 1 railroads.  Patton’s latest answers to the Surface Transportation Board questions, are still based on the assumption UP, BNSF, CSX, NS, CP, and CN will use the proposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation rail.  Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern have indicated they will not use GLBT. 

Not a single railroad has stated they will use GLBT. 

Specifically, Burlington Northern SantaFe and CSX have not stated they will use GLBT.  There are no publicly identified customers for Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s toll railroad.  No one publicly supports Frank Patton.  The responses to the Surface Transportation Board by Frank Patton are based on the false presumption that there will be customers. 

7.         Where are GLBT’s proposed Class 1 railroad customers going to come from?

We know the Canadian Pacific buyout of Norfolk Southern is dead.  Does Frank Patton anticipate that the BNSF merger talks with CSX are actually continuing?  Is there something between BNSF and CSX that Frank Patton is privy to but we aren’t? Something that would make the proposed GLBT rail hugely beneficial to either one or the other? 

Have any backroom deals  been made between railroads that Patton is in on. And will profit from? (Are there backroom deals between a couple railroads that Patton is aware about and is instrumental to the marriage?

If the answer is no, if there is no planned merger between BNSF and CSX, then there is no need for the proposed Great Lakes Basin Transportation project.  Yes, a bypass around Chicago would be the ideal link to connect an Eastern continental railroad (like Norfolk Southern or CSX) to a Western continental railroad (like Union Pacific or Burlington Northern Santa Fe) to make a true transcontinental railroad.  

The Surface Transportation Board or the public should not view the silence from BNSF and CSX as a voice of support.  No Class I railroad has come out supporting Frank Patton and Great Lakes Basin Transportation.

Even still, it is curious why some of these companies remain silent.  It almost makes one wonder if there are still merger talks between two West and East railroads. 

Frank Patton needs to stop the ambiguity about who supports his plan and the real potential effects.  It’s time to come out with specific facts about GLBT and recognize speculation for what it is.   If there are really supporters of GLBT, then show us the GLBT community.  Show us the corporations who support GLBT and will build the industrial park in Rockford.  Show us the GLBT supporters in the Class 1 railroad industry.  If Patton is hiding supporters of Great Lakes Basin Transportation in the closet, it’s time to go public with his friends.  If there are Class 1 railroads supporting GLBT because it will benefit a potential merger, that needs to be discussed openly and not in backrooms.    If there are intentions for further development to the 15,500 acre “railyard”, like an oil refiner or a full service intermodal yard, then this needs to be discussed and planned accordingly in the Environmental Impact Study. 

This is not a time for Frank Patton and GLBT to play games with vague ambiguous hypotheticals.  Too many lives, family businesses and homes are at stake for merely game playing.  Speculating with the property and lives from unwilling participants in Frank’s rail adventure should not be allowed.