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Charlotte O'rourke

How can anyone support current legislation that Galveston County Ports have less rights than other Texas Ports?

Galveston County Ports are PROHIBITED from controlling the state mandated pilot monopoly while other Texas ports have been GIVEN this control.

How is this seen as fair?

Since our port is being treated differently and the Pilot commission rules impact a port’s ability to grow and compete for business, why aren’t ALL community leaders lobbying to fix this problem instead of setting up roadblocks.

Safety should be our first priority, but appropriate training appears to be below acceptable standards as other Port Pilots move cargo and passengers in the fog.

In addition, our port channel should not be compared to the Houston ship channel. Galveston’s port has always had an advantage because of its close and easy access to open water and yes at one time, we had highly trained and competent pilots that could move ships in the fog. Fog happened but it was not a serious ongoing and prolonged concern.

Ferry pilots CONTINUALLY move passengers and cars in the fog .... when the port’s pilots are unable to move ships which according to the port pilots is safety related. The Coast Guard is not closing the port .... the Gal-Tex pilots are.

How about the Pilot Commission evaluating and then mandating more Pilot training and some clear written work rules until the unfair legislative issues and lack of any control over the monopoly can be addressed?

Charlotte O'rourke

Sec. 67.017. DUTIES. The board shall:
(1) recommend to the governor the number of pilots necessary to provide adequate pilot services for each Galveston County port;
(2) accept applications for pilot licenses and certificates and determine whether each applicant meets the qualifications for a pilot;
(3) provide names of all qualified applicants for certificates to each pilot association office of Galveston County;
(4) submit to the governor the names of persons who have qualified under this chapter to be appointed as branch pilots;
(5) establish pilotage rates;
(6) approve any changes of the locations for pilot stations;
(7) establish times during which pilot services will be available;
(8) hear and determine complaints relating to the conduct of pilots;
(9) make recommendations to the governor concerning any pilot whose license or certificate should not be renewed or should be revoked;
(10) adopt rules and issue orders to pilots and vessels when necessary to secure efficient pilot services;
(11) institute investigations or hearings or both to consider casualties, accidents, or other actions that violate this chapter;
(12) provide penalties to be imposed on a person who is not a pilot for a Galveston County port and who pilots a vessel into or out of the port; and
(13) approve a training program for deputy branch pilots.

Ron Shelby

Maybe its time to remove the local Pilot Board monopoly and create a State of Texas Board of Maritime pilots similar to the Oregon Board. That might solve a whole lot of these issues. Here's the link to the Oregon Board's page: http://www.puc.state.or.us/BMP/Pages/about_us.aspx

Charlotte O'rourke

Short term solutions

1. Lobby for a more diverse pilot commission by appointing individuals with knowledge in the maritime and shipping industry.
2. Collect and analyze raw data on fog delays (number and length of delays since 2000 to date, ship delayed, pilot, response time, level of experience & training data, weather conditions and visibility rating, other contributing factors, etc. to understand and resolve customer complaints.
3. Explain to Pilot Commissioners the financial and reputation impacts of numerous fog delays and large rate increases on port businesses.
4. Ongoing joint meetings to ensure pilot commission does not exist in a bubble.

Long term solution

1. Have discussions with all interested parties.
2. Determine best solution based on input.
3. Lobby our representatives for change to ensure ability of our Ports to effectively compete and have some say over decisions impacting Galveston County ports and private businesses.

This will not be an easy fix, but it needs to be resolved for Galveston’s port to successfully grow.

Just my opinion and appreciate the website post. It showed a diverse group making important decisions. .... I will be following this issue as the debate continues on and hope this port board can resolve the issue of no direct control over pilot rates when past boards have failed.

Charlotte O'rourke

Would like to add two others

Short term
1). Obtain work rules put into place in the last decade for visibility and safe movements in fog referenced by pilots in GDN article
2). Find out how other pilots -ferry and branch pilots - are moving safely in similar fog conditions and institute appropriate training.

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