Richard Hanna is the representative for my Congressional district – the 24th – in Central New York. I helped put him there by voting for him and advocating for others to vote for him. Why, you might ask? The answer is twofold. The primary reason I wanted Mr. Hanna to win that particular election was the dismal job performance of his predecessor, Mike Arcuri. It’s unfortunate that the job performance of Mr. Arcuri was so bad that I would replace him with whomever came along. Luckily, on a secondary note, I had been told by others in the business community in Central New York that Mr. Hanna was an upstanding business man and would represent us well. Over a year after he went to Washington, however, I find myself casting around for signs that Mr. Hanna remembers us in Central New York or is listening to our concerns.
How does this relate to the Maritime Administration or shipping? Well, Richard Hanna is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – the very committee that might be able to produce legislation to support the U.S. Merchant Marine and possibly even prod David Matsuda and MARAD into action.
Like many others around the country, I occasionally feel compelled to sit down and express my opinions to my Congressional representative and Senators. It’s not that they make it easy – actually publishing their email addresses would apparently be risky, so I wind up filling out the contact form on three different websites for Mr. Hanna, Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand. Thankfully, cut and paste does make the body of the message easy to duplicate.
The last time I contacted my Mr. Hanna and my Senators was to discuss Somali Piracy and the effects that ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) was having on vessel’s anti-piracy preparations. Naively, I assumed that such a weighty subject with the particulars mentioned might get some attention. Sadly, the response received from Senator Schumer was a canned email thanking me for my interest in the matter and assuring me that he was working diligently. Mr. Hanna (or a staffer, I suspect) responded with an email that explained in the most general manner the problems associated with piracy and also assured me that Mr. Hanna was working very hard. Senator Gillibrand has yet to respond to any of my contacts. Ever. I assume she is working hard.
David Matsuda and the Maritime Administration have no agenda – literally and figuratively. There is no calendar of events available on their website, nor have they been able to generate a comprehensive maritime strategy for the U.S. Our Congressional representatives and Senators are virtually incommunicado or at the very least disinterested in the concerns of their constituents. Where is the leadership? What’s the plan? There are opportunities to be had in the maritime industry, but our leaders need to step up and LEAD.