Burlington Derailed — The Continuing Story

28 August

Have We Struck a Chord?

If you've followed BurlingtonDerailed.com from the beginning, you will notice that we have always included a link to the relevant newspaper article.

We thought it only fair to provide a balance to our opinions. With an easy link to the article you could then form your own opinions.

Apparently, The Hawkeye doesn't take criticism well. All of the web links used to direct you to the paper's stories that have criticized either the City of Burlington or The Hawkeye, have been severed by the paper. So much for free speech. After all, it's their paper and their rules as they see fit.

We understand The Hawkeye for not wanting to be openly criticized. Gosh, they are the judge and jury. Purveyors of right and wrong.

But why not allow open opinion of City government? One of the Hawkeye's trumpet songs!

There's only room in the City's pocket for symbiotic organisms, you feed the mothership or get out.


P.S. A trumpet is only a trumpet when music comes out. Otherwise, it's just a metal tube that emits hot, smelly gas.
13:17:00 - SPIKE - No comments

Kept Their Promise?

The Hawkeye is Still Out To Lunch

Galesburg Set to Enjoy Railroad Hiring Blitz

In an editorial today The Hawkeye brain trust now suggests that the BNSF didn't live up to their promise to keep a maintenance shop in Burlington.

Quite the contrary. BNSF officials gave the City ample notice of their decision to close the West Burlington Shops. Gosh, they even asked to meet with the City.

But Burlington promptly refused to meet with the railroad to see what could be done to mitigate the job loss. All the Burlington Brain Trust wanted to do was sue the railroad.

When will the newspaper get the real story straight?

But when they relocate the Hyatt Regency Oak Brook (located in Oak Brook, IL.) to Galesburg, how can you expect any accurate reporting?
12:32:41 - SPIKE - No comments

26 August

Galesburg Sees The Light

Common Sense Prevails in Galesburg

Knox County Board wants to negotiate.

From today's article in the Galesburg Register mail it seems the folks in Galesburg realize that a lawsuit is not only the last resort, it also may taint the City's future to attract more business.

"Kit Wilcox, president of the GREDA board, said the lawsuit may scare away several big businesses who have shown serious interest in relocating to the county, specifically in the county's enterprise zone.

"We have some concerns if we go forward with this lawsuit; with things it may do to us in the future," he said. "No business looking for the best deal will look for it in an area that takes a business to court."

The Knox County Board was quick to realize that a lawsuit is a last resort measure. Instead of voting to join a lawsuit against Maytag for leaving Galesburg, the Board directed the State Attorney to negotiate a settlement with Maytag.

Too bad Burlington didn't learn that lesson. But when you have the same law firm representing both the City of Burlington and the Chamber/Grow Greater Burlington, how could you believe that you were going to get impartial advice.

So that's today's lesson - negotiate.

16:21:00 - SPIKE - No comments

25 August

We Won't Go

Half of the BNSF West Burlington Shop's Furloughed Workers Won't Go to Galesburg

We hear that half of the railroad workers eligible to be called back to their jobs are deciding not go to Galesburg.

Over 250 workers were furloughed in December, 2002. About 70 have received letters recalling them to work. Less than half have accepted. Others have accepted new jobs, some with other railroads. Some still mistakenly believe in Burlington Mayor Edwards that the jobs will come back.

The most common complaint is they don't want to drive to Galesburg. To protect their very lucrative railroad retirement benefits? And they receive a $75/month travel allowance.

Thousands of railroad workers have commuted to Galesburg for years. That's part of the job. Their work was somewhere else. They knew the value of their job.

What's the matter now?

If you want Spike's opinion, protect that retirement at all costs. You aren't going to get the same deal anywhere else but another railroad.
09:41:00 - SPIKE - No comments

22 August

BNSF Hiring To Start

Galesburg Set To Reap Rewards

In an article from today's Galesburg Register-Mail.

August 22, 2004

of The Register-Mail

GALESBURG - A local state employment official said Friday the railroads are moving into a "very aggressive hiring mode." That appears to be good news for Galesburg.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is having a two-day job fair at the Hyatt Regency Oak Brook, 1909 Spring Road. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 28.

According to the IETC, the BNSF has immediate openings in Cicero and Chicago for 40 conductors, two machinists, two electricians, six intermodal crane operators and two patrolmen.

The patrolmen must be certified in law enforcement, not corrections.

Sal Garza, the manager of the Department of Economic Opportunity's Workforce Development Division, said the railroad industry has plans to add 75,000 to 80,000 new jobs over the next five years.

"Burlington Northern Santa Fe is positioned to hire a good number of those," Garza said.

Steve Forsberg, a spokesman for BNSF, said the railroad has great respect for Galesburg.

"We regard Galesburg and the people who work for us there very, very highly," Forsberg said.

Ads for the job fair say that after a few months of paid training, "you'll have the skills that can earn you more than you think."

The BNSF, in the ad, said that the average pay for railroad positions is $60,000 annually.

"And we provide the most competitive benefits in the industry," the ad reads.

Garza said he has been told the jobs actually range in pay from $60,000 to $100,000 a year.

The jobs now open are in Cicero and Chicago, but Garza said he also has been told there will be openings coming up in Galesburg.

"These are immediate openings," he said. "The Burlington Northern Santa Fe has shared with me they are in a very aggressive hiring mode and there should be additional jobs in the future that should be based out of Galesburg."

Information will be available at the job fair on the following railroad careers: conductor, locomotive engineer, electrician, machinist, welder, suburban operations, track maintenance, signal systems, railroad police, intermodal operations and managerial.

"Because we're going to be hiring such a large number of people over the next several years, it gives any prospective employee a leg up to get into the system," Forsberg said of attending the job fair.

He confirmed projections are that the nation's railroads will hire 80,000 people within the next five to six years.

"The biggest single driver (of this hiring need) is we are seeing the early stages of the retirement wave for the Baby Boomer generation," Forsberg said. "If the economy remains strong, there's a very good chance that number is going to go up."

Forsberg noted these are good-paying union jobs, with good benefits.

While Garza said that "nothing is guaranteed," it appears BNSF is hiring for the long haul. He said these jobs very well could be ones that will last until employees are ready to retire.

"In the age of job uncertainty ... we're actually looking for employees that want to spend a career with the same company," Forsberg agreed.

Garza said the people in the Workforce Investment program who will be taken to the job fair will be ready to talk with company officials.

"We're preparing these folks with a list of questions to ask of potential employers as they move through the job fair," Garza said. "They are going to be able to interact because of these well-thought-out questions."

Garza said some of the jobs "are a bit difficult to fill," something that may serve Galesburg well because of its long railroad heritage. "Hopefully the positive message is there are good quality people here with positive work ethics," Garza said.

Work ethic and the safety record of local railroad employees were both emphasized by BNSF officials in talks with Garza as to why the Galesburg workforce stands so high in the company's estimation.

Employment requirements include English proficiency, being drug-free, high school or GED, being at least 18, having a driver's license and being able to pass a basic physical exam.

Additional information is available at www.BNSF.com, click on Careers. All applications must be submitted by computer. Personal computers will be available at the job fair, along with BNSF personnel to assist with competing the online forms.

"We want to continue to be involved," Garza said. "Again, our hope is this isn't a one-time deal."

15:50:00 - SPIKE - No comments

06 August

BNSF Lawsuit Costs Mount with No End in Sight

So far the Burlington City Attorney has billed $18,992 relating to the lawsuit filed against the BNSF. City Attorney Scott Power said today, “he can't forecast how much the suit will cost the city in the end.”

So let’s see if we can forecast the costs.

If we multiply Power's $3,798 per month average billing for the remaining 15 months until the case is actually scheduled to have a trial date set the City’s residents will spend another $56,970 or a total of $75,962.

Add to that the cost of trial exhibits including Smith Engineering’s survey, travel, depositions, postponements and the effect of the learning curve, multiply that by a conservative factor of 2 for a total of $151,924.

And about that time the BNSF will move the case to the Surface Transportation Board. That will cost a minimum of $250,000 for the specialty attorneys to fight that battle in Washington, DC.

You can understand Power not wanting to forecast the costs. He’s going to make a lot of money. And with no guarantees on the outcome or performance.

Why wouldn't you chase the rainbow?

15:43:00 - SPIKE - No comments

05 August

The Hawkeye Publicly States Mission

Within the same article yesterday Dale Alison, The Hawkeye’s managing editor stated, "Controversy makes for good news copy, but seldom does it generate good public policy,"

It’s surprising to see that the newspaper's management is so willing to publicly flaunt their use of controversy.

Too bad they don't want to constructively contribute to help shape the future of Southeast Iowa.

Or gain any respect from the local residents.

18:00:00 - SPIKE - No comments

Delaney Practices Law............Again

The Hawkeye’s Editor and Lord General of The Realm has now decided to practice law....without a license.

In a story yesterday Steve Delaney defended his newspaper’s editorial from July 31 stating the action of the Lee County Board of Supervisors was “illegal.” The Lee County Board asked for a retraction.

Delaney replied, "What is there to retract? It's still illegal," Delaney said. "It's clearly an attempt to circumvent the spirit of the law."

That statement requires a legal opinion. Steve Delaney is not a member of the Iowa Bar nor licensed to practice law so he is unable determine illegality.

I’ll bet Lee County residents are happy that they didn’t elect The Hawkeye to run their County. And real happy their Supervisors had the common sense to get a legal opinion before acting.

It’s just another shining example of what The Hawkeye says is not necessarily truthful or against the law but rather, a screaming example of pro se representation. The man has a fool for a client.

14:30:00 - SPIKE - No comments