The article “Commissioners turn down joint meeting with wharves board” (The Daily News, Jan. 20) was a shock to anyone that understands that the pilot commission has a duty to ensure fairness in a state mandated pilot monopoly.
The pilot commission postures that it is confused on whether the port really sought a joint meeting and “weren’t sure what positive effects a meeting would have.” On July 24, 2017, at the public port meeting, all seven port trustees directed the interim port director to schedule a meeting with the pilot commission.
So yes, “you” — the pilot commission — have been asked for meetings to discuss important issues and concerns with the port. You were asked for a meeting by the vice chair who was delegated the task by the interim port director. This first request was not reported in the press, and an open record request has not produced who, how or why this request was denied.
You were asked for a meeting by the chairman of the Port of Galveston, and you refused this request by stating the chairman did not act in good faith. In this letter, besides asking for joint meetings and ongoing dialogue to resolve issues, the chair pointed out that the port has no direct control over the state sponsored pilot monopoly (unlike every other Texas port that has direct control).
If the port can’t even schedule a meeting with the commissioners that directly control this pilot monopoly, then the port cannot help itself — much less help its cargo and cruise customers.
Lastly, you were asked for meetings by the mayor and ex officio trustee. You rejected this request by implying the mayor was asking for “backroom meetings” when the fact is, the mayor thought an informal process might help establish a better working relationship. Informal, less than a quorum meetings, without rubber stamping processes are not illegal and can be posted to prevent even the suggestion of impropriety.
How many times and ways must the port ask for a joint meeting, and how long must the port and its customers wait to obtain this meeting? The next pilot commission meeting is in April, and by the time a meeting is finally scheduled — if it occurs — a year will have passed, just to schedule the meeting.
This is simply not acceptable, and this fiasco proves that any proposal to fix this problem should include direct port control of this monopoly — the same control that exists in other Texas ports.
The monopoly exists to protect the community and waterways. You, the pilot commission, know these safety concerns exist as they have been frequently brought to your attention. You should be proactive, and schedule a meeting without the port having to repeatedly beg for joint meetings to address these concerns.
Start doing your job, pilot commission, and schedule joint meetings with the pilots, port and its customers.