Wednesday, November 09, 2005

David Gunn Released!

*** scroll for updates...6:10pm CST, November 9, 2005***

According to this page from Amtrak's site, David Gunn is no longer the President of Amtrak.

Norman Mineta had this predictable response.

Dan Zukowski has more.

Notice that the date on the Amtrak news release is the day after tomorrow. Oversight, or interesting insight?

My first reaction is that Mr. Gunn was the victim of political pressure from Mineta and others who saw things quite differently concerning Amtrak. Amtrak's Board initiated the "release", or at least that is the appearance. So, I am guessing that the Board caved in, because after hearing and reading quotes from Mr. Gunn over the past few years, I think he was proud of what he accomplished up until now, but probably felt he had more to do.

We will have to see now who is selected for the vacant position. If it is someone with a railroad background, we will know that there will be issues once again with Stormin' Norman. But I really doubt that scenario. I bet that the new Amtrak Prexy will be more political than practical, more in-step than out-of-step with the Administration, and will unsuccessfully try to implement Mineta's Amtrak Strategy.

UPDATE: Some more thoughts and reactions are coming in, and it is interesting to see which side of the aisle both supporters and detractors of this move by the Amtrak Board are on. Both Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Trent Lott (R-MS) surprisingly had the same reaction, that of disappointment.

The best summation so far in the press can be found on Bloomberg.

Once you see that Norman Mineta is on the Amtrak Board, along with four Bush appointees, it is easy to interpret their comments, which have to come thru the filter of the Administration's plans for Amtrak. Interestingly enough, the number is far short of the Congressional Mandate for Board Membership, allowing easier lockstep with these plans. Interestingly enough item two, the four of them have combined no more railroad experience than a snipe.

Board Chairman David Laney is quoted as saying that, "Amtrak's future now requires a different type of leader." I translate into something like, maybe, Mineta wants Gunn out.

I believed I noted the problems of the Administration's plans in this posting, which speaks to organizational flaws, as well as this, which speaks to funding issues.

I also have read a few naysayers, notably a gentlemen by the name of Joseph Vranich, who claims to be akin to an early supporter of Amtrak, and who claims to have the support of Anthony Haswell, who was a prime mover in the creation of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. You can google for his site on your own, I will not give him the honor of a link. All I can say is that his outlook is shallow, but one which can add fuel to Mineta's fire.

Mineta has created the situation he wanted. We shall see what he does with it. My guess is that the mess becomes messier.


At 11:50 PM, November 09, 2005, Blogger Joseph Vranich said...

I welcome the Amtrak Board of Director's decision to fire David Gunn. What this agency needs now is a true reform minded person who is willing to make the hard decisions necessary to be competitive. It is time to end the Federal subsidy of Amtrak and the only way to get there is by reevaluating the entire system as it is now. Firing the keepers of the status quo is a good first step.


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