We Need to Tell Washington What We Need - Protection
Mexican truckers planning to block border
– By Jami Jones, senior editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007 – The long list of opponents to the cross-border trucking program isn’t exclusively made up of groups and truckers in the United States. Motor carriers in Mexico are waging their own fight to shut down the program. In fact, the Mexican National Truck Drivers Federation is planning to block the border between Mexico and the United States in January 2008 if the program doesn’t come to an end. The threat to block the border was reported in the Mexican newspaper El Financiero. The union of truckers is upset with the Mexican government for allowing U.S. trucks and truckers into their country.
"It is irresponsible of the Mexican Government, of Felipe Calderon, to allow the interests of a powerful 2 percent of people in the Mexican economy to hand Mexican trucking over to the Americans," Elias Dip Rame, president of the Mexican National Truck Drivers Federation, told El Financiero.According to the translated article, the federation has approximately 200,000 members who Dip Rame says will clog the border, effectively shutting down all cross-border traffic. The leader of the Federation cautioned authorities in Mexico to remember the strength of his organization. As an example, Dip Rame pointed out that in early November it was only 100 trucks that blocked the road in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, preventing 3,000 truckers and vehicles from crossing into the United States, according to the El Financiero report.
OIG begins audit of program
The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General initiated an audit of the one-year cross-border "demonstration" project, also referred to as a pilot program, with Mexico. The audit is required by a provision in the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 that was signed into law in July. The specific objectives for the audit will be to determine whether the secretary of transportation has established sufficient mechanisms to determine whether the demonstration project is adversely affecting motor carrier safety, Federal and state monitoring and enforcement activities are sufficient to ensure that participants in the demonstration project are complying with all applicable laws and regulations, and the demonstration project consists of a representative and adequate sample of Mexico-domiciled carriers that are likely to engage in cross-border operations beyond the United States municipalities and commercial zones on the United States-Mexico border.
The inspector must submit an interim report to Congress and to the secretary of transportation six months after the program begins. A final report is also required 60 days after the program is completed. The cross-border program with Mexico began in early September. There are currently 10 Mexico-based motor carriers operating more than 50 trucks in the U.S.
Questions still plague the program
The safety records of some of those trucking companies have been called into question by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association based on information from FMCSA’s own databases.
Monday, Dec. 3, the Association filed a brief in its challenge of the cross-border program with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. In the brief, Rick Craig, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, dissects data from FMCSA’s own SafeStat database, which was collected and analyzed by OOIDA staff and a paralegal at The Cullen Law Firm, OOIDA’s legal counsel.
Safety inspection reports were collected on four of the seven carriers participating in the cross-border program at the time the brief was filed. "My review of those inspection reports revealed patterns of unsafe operations by Mexico-domiciled motor carriers in the border areas of the United States," Craig testified in a declaration filed with the reply brief. Catherine O’Mara, a paralegal with The Cullen Law Firm of Washington, DC, compiled the safety inspection reports on the Mexican motor carriers and a summary of selected SafeStat data, which shines a light on Craig’s assertion.
O’Mara provided a table summarizing total inspections with violations, total violations, driver out-of-service orders, vehicle out-of-service orders, number of power units and the number of violations per vehicle. In the span of one year, Sept. 21, 2006, through Sept. 21, 2007, the four Mexican motor carriers amassed more than 1,700 violations. One of the companies averaged more than 112 violations per truck for the 10 power units in its fleet during that year. "I observe that these motor carriers also received many violations for which an out-of-service order should have been issued, but was not," Craig testified.
Examples included violations related to lighting, suspension, tires and all other driver violations, such as a non-English speaking driver. Craig also noted there were numerous other violations that could have been the basis for an out-of-service order, but the inspection report does not provide enough information to make that determination. Other Examples included violations related to brakes and inspection or repair and maintenance of parts and accessories.
Legal challenge ongoing
OOIDA’s legal challenge of the cross-border program continues in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. The lawsuit filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association challenging the cross-border program is moving forward in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Initially, OOIDA filed its challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The suit also requested an emergency stay of the cross-border program. The DC court denied the request for the stay, but did not rule whatsoever on the merits of the Association’s case.
OOIDA isn’t the only group with a case challenging the cross-border program. The Sierra Club is also challenging the program. That group filed its case in the 9th Circuit in California. Once the DC Circuit ruled on OOIDA’s request for the emergency stay, it assigned the case to a Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation to decide what Court of Appeals would hear the two cases.
Hundreds of safety violations
documented for Mexican rigs
'Clear double standard' subs foreign limits for U.S. laws
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association say they have documented hundreds of safety violations by Mexican trucks rolling on U.S. roads under the Department of Transportation's Mexican truck demonstration project.
"The Department of Transportation is allowing Mexican long-haul rigs to operate in the United States without requiring U.S. rules and regulations to be enforced," Rick Craig, the director of regulatory affairs for the group, told WND in a telephone interview yesterday.
"The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is providing exemptions from U.S. safety rules that the FMCSA claim are covered in a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Mexico," Craig continued.
"It's a clear double standard," he said. "Mexican truck safety regulations are being accepted by the FMCSA as equivalent to U.S. rules, even though the FMCSA refuses to provide any real detail about how or why the decision was made."
The association has filed a lawsuit against the DOT and FMCSA in San Francisco, challenging that the Mexican trucks the government is allowing into the U.S. under the DOT demonstration project are unsafe when tested by U.S. safety rules and regulations.
Catherine O'Mara, a paralegal at the Cullen Law Firm which is representing OOIDA, has provided the court with documentation of her research on safety violations by the Mexican trucks.She searched the FMCSA database looking for all safety violations cited for four of the Mexican trucking companies currently in the DOT test for the year preceding the start of the demonstration project on Sept. 21, 2007.
The largest number of safety violations, 1,123 in total, was found for Trinity Industries De Mexico S de R L de CV.Among the safety violations listed on the FMCSA database for the four carriers were multiple infractions for inoperative or defective brakes, faulty suspension, defective systems to secure loads, defective lighting devices, tension bars cracked and/or broken, axle positioning parts defective or missing, tires with less than adequate tread depth, various parts and accessories needing repair, inoperable required lamps including headlights and tail lights, wheel fasteners loose and/or missing, and defective power steering systems.
Other violations in the OOIDA database included drivers who were not licensed for the type of vehicle being operated. .
"Our search of the FMCSA records indicates the FMCSA should know the Mexican trucking companies in their test have unsafe safety inspection records according to U.S. standards," Craig told WND.
The FMCSA is also accepting the Mexican commercial driver's license, or CDL, as equivalent to the U.S. CDL," he added, "even though Mexico has no CDL database that is reliable. There is no way, for instance, to track driving violations in Mexico that Mexican drivers are cited for."
The legal brief filed by the Cullen Law Firm objects to the FMCSA argument that Mexican regulations will provide the same level of safety as compliance that orresponds with U.S. safety regulations.
Under FMCSA's own admission there is no drug or alcohol testing facility in the entire country that is certified," Craig pointed out. "The current FMCSA plan is for Mexican drivers to send drug and alcohol testing specimens to a U.S. certified testing facility, even though there is no reliable way to determine who the specimen came from in Mexico."
The brief contends the safety violations noted for the Mexican truck should have prompted out-of-service orders.
The brief also points out that the terms of NAFTA had specified the border would be open to the extent that Mexico-domiciled carriers are willing and able to abide by the same laws and regulations as are applicable to U.S.-domiciled motor carriers.
On Nov. 14, the House of Representatives passed the DOT Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bill by an overwhelming bi-paritsan 270-147 vote.
WND reported at the time Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., offered an amendment to the DOT Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bill to block DOT funding for the Mexican trucks, which passed by a voice vote.
WND also reported Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, successfully offered in the Senate an amendment comparable to DeFazio's.
The House bill emerging from the conference committee included language to de-fund the DOT Mexican trucking demonstration project.
The Senate version of the DOT Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bill also contains the language which emerged from the conference committee to de-fund the DOT Mexican trucking project.
President Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk with these provisions in place.
Reprinted with Permission 12/05/2007
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DOT response on cross-border program no surprise
Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 – In the on-going legal battle about the cross-border trucking program, the latest filing by the U.S. DOT attempting to defend the program falls short, according to officials at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.In it’s response to arguments filed by OOIDA and the Sierra Club, the DOT claims that OOIDA’s petition in the legal challenge has no standing.
In addition to claiming the Association should be able to bring the suit, the DOT claims that arguments by OOIDA that the cross-border program will have a negative impact on highway safety is merely "speculation." In its defense of the program, the DOT repeatedly leaned on statistics from inspections on Mexican trucks that had previously crossed the border only to deliver and pick up within border zones. Yet, the numbers were not presented in the legal argument.
"It’s pretty much what we expected," said Rick Craig, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs. "Despite significant issues raised by Congress, ourselves and other credible organizations, they seem to have a ‘We are the government so we are right’ mentality.".
"The government disputes and denies our arguments without any solid claims of their own. Their responses simply don’t hold water," Craig said.
OOIDA’s legal challenge was combined with a similar lawsuit contesting the program filed by the Sierra Club. The case was put on an expedited court schedule, which essentially means the case will move much faster than a typical legal challenge.
The next step in the case following DOT’s response is for OOIDA to file a response to that response. That filing is due Dec. 3. After that, attorneys for all the parties will present oral arguments. Those arguments have not been scheduled by the court.
Webmaster, Trucker, Announces Bid for US Senate
Daniel Essek, the Webmaster of this site, also a Trucker and OOIDA member is pleased to announce the commencement of his campaign for United States Senator from Kentucky in November 2008.
Mr. Essek, an Independant Candidate, is running as A Candidate for The People and is currently seeking volunteers, and funds for his campaign. His stands are for National Security, Fiscal Responsibility, and Efficiency in Government. His plans are, the completion of securing the border, and supports the positioning of the military to assist the Border Patrol. Also, he will not vote for a deficit budget, and will look for ways to balance the national budget. Mr. Essek also believes we should close any and all agencies which are unproductive, unneeded, or otherwise inefficient.
Mr. Essek also knows the need to pay the national debt, curb spending, and otherwise be a servant to the people. Mr. Essek plans to carefully consider the viability of current programs, eliminate wasteful and unneeded programs and expand efficient and worthwhile programs. Mr. Essek also promises to do all he can to provide NASA with a mandate of establishing a base upon the face of the Moon.
Contributions and Correspondance can be sent to Committee to Elect Daniel Essek for United States Senate From Kentucky, PO Box 182, Jellico, TN 37762
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