Hats off to Joe Szabo's appointment as the New Administrator for the FRA, once again President Barrack Obama has picked a solid railroaders' choice. I met Joe Szabo only once in my life and it was at a local union meeting. Something struck a chord with this guy, and I liked what he had to say.
Now that Joe's moved up to a top dog position, maybe FRA enforcement will be directed towards the Carriers' and their foibles as opposed to the forever din of The FRA/NTSB for ever blaming agreement error for all the woes of railroad mishap. Perhaps, with Joe Szabo real change can take place in the FRA. Especially where railroader safety and the future of TEY employees.
It's just a suggestion, let's get the FRA to take a stand on one PTC that will be adapted for all railroads on the continent, one standard of signalling,one standard of radio dispatching, one standard of EOT's (ie,many eot's owned by NS will not work with other carriers HEU's.) I other words, we need a Joe Szabo to return to basics, and formulate basic operating standards across the system and not leave it up to the Carriers' discretion.
Joe Szabo I hope and wish you the best of luck, and may the Holy Spirit keep you vigilant in your tasks, and in your own success. And, maybe one of you professional writers take on a full spread story highlighting Joe Szabo, maybe an in-depth interview with qoutes and promises that Joe Szabo can prescribe.
Mr. Swidergal: I don't know whether I agree with you or not on Joe Szabo. I might agree, but you have provided only buzz-words and no substance. I don't think CSX, for example, would agree with you that FRA fails to look at carriers when it comes to safety enforcement. And, when it comes to PTC, within days of the legislation mandating its installation the Class 1 carriers reached agreement on protocols for interoperability which will make PTC usable on all railroads. I, too, wish Joe Szabo success. But remember, please, that as FRA Administrator who only can enforce the laws and regulations that exist. And, as FRA Administrator, he is charged with serving all Americans, not with being labor's FRA Administrator.
Mr Kaufman: I'm not seeking whether you agree or not. But this is the first time that an Administrator (FRA) has been brought up from the trenches. That alone is cause for celebration, and if you we're paying attention in past archives I have gone out and stated to Mr. Szabo about serving with honor and not giving into what seems to be commonplace within our political appointments (corruption).
As far as interoperability yes,I read that somewhere too, but here's a chance to take signalling and communications,and RCO and all of the state-of-the-art bells and whistles to a new alltime high for safety, for everyone,including the general public. And, Joe Szabo's the guy who can be effective and get it done by creating standards and interoperability within the industry.
And,as far as the csx goes if they were anything like the Class1 that they wanna' be they would have policed themselves the way the other Class1's do. In other words their own hierarchy allowed for the problems that arose from the FRA stepping in, but that's only 1 in seven Class1's that drew that kinda' fire. And, now a days they seem to be doing better.
Now as far as enforcing the laws that already exist fine, but here too with Mr.Szabo's experience would you agree that if the regs aren't working properly that thru his guidance and expertise Congress would be willing to change it if it's broke coming from Mr. Szabo instead of simply relying on the words from the Carriers'.
By bringing in a Joe Szabo is like to me anyway like bringing in a real workin' stiff railroader instead of just some book learned political hack that knows about railroading because he had a toy layout when he was a kid.
By the way Mr Kaufman any more articles coming forth on your byline?
Mr. Swidergal: As I believe it is the obligation of the communicator to in fact communicate, this exchange is my fault. I didn't mean my post to be as hostile as you apparently saw it. As I said, my failure, not yours. Taking last things first, all of my writing is done under my by-line, including use of my name at this blogsite. I write regularly in Argus Media's Rail Business report, The Journal of Commerce, and Progressive Railroading's principal competitor. In short, I write for money, none but a blockhead ever did otherwise.
I realize you don't care whether I agree with you or not, nor should you. I simply was saying I don't know from your original post whether I agree or not - no value judgment. When I want to be hostile, I think I write well enough that readers will know that was my intent. I'm not nearly as cynical as you (although my friends would dispute that) and do not see the "corruption" that you do. I have written in one of my columns pretty much what I posted here. I do not expect Joe Szabo to be a blatantly pro-labor FRA administrator, just as I would hope that an administrator from the management side would not be blatantly pro-carrier. Neither philosophy really serves FRA or the railroad industry well. I assume until proven otherwise that Joe Szabo will be an honorable public servant. If he turns out not to be then that will be on Congress as much as it will be on him, as Congress confirmed his appointment.
Joe Szabo may be everything you say he is (I hope so, for the sake of all involved in railroading), but he only can deal with those things where federal law give him authority to do so. Perhaps it would be good to tie all C&S together along with PTC and RCO. I do not claim to be a C&S expert. I also am not persuaded that there is a problem that calls for all that tying together. Again, the Administrator will deal with those things that he can and not necessarily all the things that the rail constituency might like him to. I haven't noticed the unions being bashful when it comes to seeking safety legislation from Congress.
The rest of your comment appears to be an attempt to be insulting. So be it. You now come across like every malcontent railroader who is convinced that no one in management deserves to be. Sorry, but my belief system says otherwise. That includes your comments about CSX, by the way.
A thought or two about FRA Administrators of the past. I go back to A. Scheffer Lang, who was the first FRA Administrator when FRA was created. Schef, who died a few years ago, had a very varied background. He was on the faculty at MIT, at one time was the youngest division engineer of a Class 1, and was FRA Administrator. He did time at AAR and at the U. of Minnesota. A truth teller at all times, I don't think even James Swidergal would accuse him of having been a hack or corrupt or a management toady (my word, not James').
Then came Reg Whitman, John Ingram, Asaph Hall, John Reilly, John Sullivan, Jolene Molitoris, and a few who even I cannot recall. Ingram and Whitman came from management backgrounds in the industry. The others came off Capital Hill where they had been staff members to various members of Congress, or from a state agency. All had some political connection, just as Joe Szabo does - you don't get presidential appointments in Washington just on your brains or good looks. Some were reasonably successfull, depending on how you define the term. Others were eminently forgettable. James is right; Szabo is the first Administrator to come from the ranks of organized labor. I hope no one holds that against him.
Larry,Larry,Larry, what gives? I honor your achievements as an author you ass-u-me otherwise. a) I can give a rats' ass if you think that anytime anyone disagrees with you we are on the attack. As far as I am concerned you are a well versed writer of sorts, and get paid to do so,Greattttttttt!
But being that professional doesn't give you total rein on this site or for that matter any other site, and I haven't seen anywhere on this site where The Great Larry Kaufman, is appointed Moderator or Censure,or King of the world of Opinion.
Back off,in other words take a chill pill, I haven't assumed that you were attacking me or vice a verse a.
And for a pro writer it behooves me why any topic conversed here always ends with Larry Kaufman swaying away from the facts or the topic at hand and compelling myself and others to have to waste time and words defending not our thought or contribution,or statement in the moment, but defending unwanton rhetoric by the Great Larry Kaufman.
The topic: Joe Szabo
He hasn't done anything but get appointed, hurrah!
Looking for comment on anything that may lie in his future
And if your wish is to release your venting on me than I accept it with a grain of salt, as far as being a malcontent railroader you are to willing and ready to accuse the wrong guy.
Unlike you, I don't get paid for what I state. I love the railroad,in all of its guises. Administration,management,agreement-non-agreement,etc. All of it. But because I don't get paid to sway my opinion I actually have an opinion, (unlike those who do get paid to write things for national publication,and have to be careful of what they say so as to not lose revenue for saying the wrong thing). And if that opinion stings some so be it, if it stings and it opens eyes and ears and moves mountains than so be it.
IT'S ONLY MY OPINION
Gee, James, did I say something that offended you? I thought I made it clear that any miscommunications was mine, not yours. Your inability to accept that with any grace whatsoever says far more about you than about me.
Let's deal with Joe Szabo first. I don't know the gentleman. I have run across him professionally in his role with UTU. To the best of my knowledge he always has represented the interests of his union's membership. I know nothing negative about him, and I'm fully prepared to have him be the most successful FRA Administrator in the 42 years the FRA has existed. I'm not sure anyone can achieve that status because the position has relatively little real authority. The Administrator, whomever he, she, or it may be, spends a lot of time with the FRA General Counsel who helps by clarifying what authority the Administrator has under the law. You seem not to understand the process. I've been there and I do, so no apology to you for this brief lesson in pragmatism and civics. Believe it or not, I do wish Joe Szabo all success because the railroads, companies and employees, will benefit if he is successful. Not to hard to figure, is it?
As for my role on this site, perhaps you are the one who should chill. I've never made any claims to any status here, either in public or privately to the PR editors and site monitors. Yes, I am highly opinionated. You and others are free to "play in the game" if you choose or simply to ignore me. I assure you, James, my feelings won't be hurt either way. If I wanted to be insulting, I might even point out that you need a new dictionary; your spelling and grammar leave something to be desired. But that would be churlish of me, so I won't.
You say you have an opinion. Great. Next time, try to have an opinion based on facts. Your opinion might be worth more then. One thing you don't seem to understand is that FRA is little more than an agency charged with enforcing the several safety laws passed by Congress over the years. FRA also administers the RIFF program and channels the money that Amtrak gets. All worthwhile activities, but not particularly significant when it comes to making national policy.
Finally, and I'm sure you and everyone else will be glad I've reached that point, you will just have to take my word for it that I've never written anything in any way just for a paycheck. My name is on my work. I find your comments to be insulting, but then I consider the source. Have a nice day.
Peace brother! Peace!