Commission Meeting Highlights 10/24/13

Unless your calendar is congested, you do not even know how busy I am. At any rate, Here I go, the Oct. 24, 2013 commission meeting was opened in form at approximately 4:00 P. M. (EST) with George Mastics at the helm of the meeting. The call to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance, and the approval of the minutes of the last meeting progressed very quickly into the additions, deletions, presentations, and announcements. The key announcement to be made was of the new and improved Port of Palm Beach website located at .

The consent agenda having been approved. The meeting floor was given to the Port’s Executive Director Manuel Almira. He continued to report that the Port was working with Governor Rick Scott, Congress woman Lowis Frankle, and others to acquire grant monies for our Port’s continuing operations in the black. Among these grants sought with the help of the Port’s legal staff, and the Port’s lobbyist, Richard Penske, are a grant for Tropical Shipping in the amount of roughly $250-275K. The Port is being a good neighbor, (paraphrase of Jean Enright) to Tropical as the Port is currently trying to negotiate a new contract with Tropical. Tropical’s current contract for the MOB, is soon to expire, and they have until November 30th to decide whether they are staying or leaving. In the event they decide to leave, they will have until March 31, 2014 to get out. In the mean time the Port is meeting with other entities and discussing potential contracts for the future.

Executive Director Manuel Almira also reported that the TEU’s (Tone Equivalent Units) YTD were again up as they have been for many months now. The passenger count was shortly down; however, this was most probably due to the Bahamas’s Calibration being in dock last month for upgrading and routine maintenance for a short time. Director Almira also informed the Port’s Commission of the new potential trade routes being studied for the future, And about the progress being made at the Panama Canal and the impact that that may have on our shipping. He also reported about the changing economy of the east, and that it appears that the trade shift is toward South Korea and Vietnam. It appears that the economic environment in these countries is now more favorable than the Chinese sustain. (The last statement is my summation.).

There was discussion of channels and turning basin depths, (ACOE) should have a statement by Dec. 17th, 2013. There was also discussion of security fencing, annex property, easements i.e. natural gas, petroleum, chemical, and FP&L

The highlight of Karen Brandon’s report; I hope I spelled that right, was her report of the decision that was made to extend the sugar boom rather than moving the gantry and the rail system. This is a savings to the Port.

Southern National track will continue to do the rail work and repair of our tracks as this was approved by the Commission.

The dilemma of the alleged code enforcement violation on the MaritimeMuseum continues to unravel. Apparently at the code enforcement hearing on Oct 2, 2013, the Port was released as a defendant and the magistrate court found the museum in violation. The MaritimeMuseum has 30 days from that decision to file a pracipe and notice of appeal. Then they would have 30 days to present their argument to the appellate court assuming that the appellate court finds a foundation for their argument. Then there is the issue of who repays the Port for their Attorney costs that have been imposed due to this alleged violation. I am not a lawyer; however, it has been my experience in the U. S. courts of law that business documents are admissible over objection, the 14thammendment of equal protection of the law still exists, and that if the county did not cite themselves for a violation for their outdoor event, they should not cite the museum. In addition the codification of a special event is cloudy in the Palm Beach County Codes. (This is my opinion).

It is also my opinion with my experiences with my Law Enforcement Degree, that if one attempts to acquire damages for expenses, (Attorney fees) one would have to sue both offending parties, in this case the County and the Maritime Museum, if the Museum is found not to have been in violation, to recover the Port and tax payer’s money for this incident.

The Commission approved the purchase of five new security booths for the protection of us the people, and then the meeting moved to the Island Breese.

The Island Breese is the soon to have been regenerated form of the former Black Diamond gaming vessel. This is a major renovation and worthy of praise. I hope to soon take a tour of the soon to be completed vessel as it is scheduled for sailing by December 31st of this year.

There was little to no comments from the public or the board, and the meeting was then adjourned.

Article by George Black Jr. POPBP.




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