In response to the article ("Port, cruise lines object to pilot rate increases," The Daily News, Jan. 5): Who gets a raise during a COVID-19 pandemic? The Galveston-Texas City Pilots Association must not understand cruise ship revenue is non-existent. I find it absolutely incredible that a new, increased rate is being considered at this time.

There are no cruises; 2021 is a very challenging year because of COVID-19 restrictions. The whole country is rushing to vaccinate the entire population.

Port Director Rodger Rees and the Wharves Board have been charged with keeping the Port of Galveston in a strong financial condition with no cruise ship revenue. No parking lot money. No employees who depended upon cruise ship activity.

This is a challenging period in Texas.

I'm afraid greed isn't going to help the local Galveston County unemployed who read this newspaper. I oppose this increase and support a decrease in rates due to economic conditions.

Diann McCarthy

Texas City

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(7) comments

Charlotte O'rourke

Clipped from the referenced article:

In a statement, the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce announced it supported pilots’ application for a rate increase and urged the pilots, port and commission to negotiate a fee agreement that is “fair and reasonable to all concerned.”

The Chamber’s statement said the issue was complicated and noted the business group leaders had spent recent days discussing the issue with both Rees and Jim Andrews, director of operations for the Galveston-Texas City Pilots.

I agree it is very poor timing for a pilot rate increase - especially a 17-30% increase when the industry is still reeling and trying to restart operations sometime in 2021.

I’m wondering which rate between that range the Chamber advocacy group considers FAIR and REASONABLE.

Cruise lines - which will be hit at the 30% rate - have moved the start date of cruises back to the end of March and some cruises in Galveston cancelled into April. Employees have lost their jobs and businesses their livelihoods.

The Chamber is an advocacy group for business interests. It’s disappointing the Chamber is endorsing a rate increase before the public process held by the Pilot Commission which hears all sides and not just the side of its paid membership.

I’m disappointed in the Chamber because surely Rodger Rees, the port director, informed you during your discussions of the current economic hardships of recovery and that the Port Board voted against the substantial rate increase proposed by the pilots.

Don Schlessinger

Maybe shippers and the Chamber of Commerce and the local pirates/pilots their appreciation and find other ports to with.

Ron Shelby

Monopolies should NOT be perpetuated.

Don Schlessinger

Our ship pilots have a monopoly blessed by our state government. Go figure!

Mark Stevens

I agree with Ron Shelby that monopolies should not be perpetuated. But the Pilots' arrangement is not the kind of private -- repeat--private and unregulated monopoly that causes harm. The very fact that the Pilots are asking a rate increase shows that they are regulated by a publicly responsible body. And as to the amount of the increase....well, I'm sure that's negotiable, like most things. Galveston should be grateful to the pilots, who possess unique skills and have an excellent record of safe operation in one of the busiest and most constricted waterways in the US.

Charlotte O'rourke

The pilots have a skill and deserve adequate compensation to ensure public safety. Unfortunately, other Texas ports have always had the ability to veto rates proposed or set rates themselves. Galveston was excluded from this right which places them at a competitive disadvantage.

That wouldn’t be a problem if the Galveston Pilot Commissioners did not historically allow 30% jumps in fees which is bad at anytime. During a pandemic it would be very detrimental to restarting business interests.

The rate increase hearing should give more details and show the community the caliber of the current commissioners to be fair or not as the case may be.

Gary Miller

This monopoly has the same right to ask for a rate increase as public service unions and politicians. Asking for an increase is the first step in getting it or having it rejected.

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