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Cantwell threatens NOAA move

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High Five
Friday, June 25, 2010

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell says that moving the NOAA Pacific fleet to Newport, Ore. is a "waste of taxpayer dollars," and is threatening to withhold funds from the project.

The move is expected to be a huge boost for Newport, and tensions are growing between Cantwell and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

The sharpest -- and most public -- exchange to date came after Cantwell questioned  Commerce Secretary Gary Locke during a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is part of Commerce.

Cantwell referred to an review by the Commerce Department's inspector general that she said validated her belief that Newport's selection was improper and should be nullified.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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Overtaxed Peasant
0 #1 Ship of FoolsOvertaxed Peasant 2010-06-25 18:02:00
Everyone has the right to dream but your perception of NOAA’s future presence in Newport is beyond delusional. You along with rest of the media fail to detail the 175 jobs and whether they are already staffed or not. You are giving many citizens of Newport a false hope and an impression that these are 175 vacant jobs up for grabs.

Most of those jobs are “mobile” as ship’s crews are included; the “officers” are quasi-military NOAA Corps whose stay in Newport will be temporary and a definite career killer. The rest are professional engineers and technicians as well as administrators who are tenured federal employees. Newport will be lucky if there will be 10 to 40 (40 is stretching it) vacancies, providing the majority of the employees decide not to relocate. The government being in a budget-cutting mode, it will likely abolish slots of those who do not come to Newport or transfer the task back east or keep it in Seattle.

Who told Lincoln County that there would be abundance of “welding” jobs once the fleet arrives? All ships have their own engineering department who perform those tasks in house. The ships will be in Newport a maximum ten percent of the year while rest of the time they are underway. Port calls between projects and scientific party rotations are done at more desirable locations that can provide enjoyable liberty for the crew and possess feasible infrastructures including genuine airports and transportation facilities. Those places include San Diego, San Francisco, and Honolulu and yes, even Seattle. Dry-docking will be done elsewhere from Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and San Diego. Those contracts are awarded on a bid basis. The ships electronics and network infrastructure is maintained in house and vendors are either in Puget Sound or out of state.

Since the fleet will be at sea vast majority of the time and given that most of the engineers and technicians are transiting and working at other locations, it appears that restaurants, taverns, and grocery stores will not be getting much new business. Considering that Newport has very little opportunity for working spouses or decent schools, most of the employees coming with their jobs will likely be geo-bachelors who will live part time in Newport, paying minimal taxes while the ship’s crew and NOAA Corps officer pay none because of residency elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how Oregon and Newport will try to recoup the millions spent to lure NOAA to the Oregon Coast while letting it’s infrastructure rot and failure to maintain what they already have without NOAA’s presence. Addition some of the new families will only add to the burden of which Lincoln County and Newport lacks the resources to support.

Newport consists of overpriced mediocre restaurants, inflated beach condos, and atypical cookie cutter chain stores. The homes available to rent or sale were nothing to brag about and certainly a demotion for NOAA employees in pay and quality of life. Many NOAA employees are not fooled by the brochure type information about Newport. Those employees are viewed by Newport hierarchy not as people but mere economic units represented by dollar signs.

NOAA is going to take Oregon and Newport taxpayers for a ride with their future state subsidized and underutilized facility. Newport did get its ship with landing of the NOAA fleet (with state aid of course). Nevertheless, NOAA will make the Newport Port Commission and the rest of politicos associated with Lincoln County look like a crew on a “ship of fools” after the dust is settled. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. In this case, it is.
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Not A Ship Of Fools
0 #2 Not A Ship Of Fools 2010-06-25 22:52:43
Ship Of Fools,

Come on now, sounds like sour grapes to me. If there is not much benefit to having the NOAA fleet stationed in Newport, why is Seattle and Cantwell so upset that they are leaving ?
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Cantwellsawitch
0 #3 Most of what overtaxed peasant says is true but only half of the truthCantwellsawitch 2010-06-25 23:18:11
The people of Newport are not as ignorant as you think. They are well aware that these are not vacant jobs, although some will be since some will not come down from Seattle. We welcome the jobs vacant or not. Your opinion of Newport itself is simply a bad opinion not a fact, many, many others disagree with you. The Port of Newport cannot lose financially since all of its contribution will be repaid by the rent charged. You ignore the contribution that these ships will make to other research facilities that are and will be located in Newport. While major repairs will be handled outside of Newport, some will be handled locally as well as some supply. The benefits to Newport go well beyond the 175 jobs. This is just the beginning. There are other things already in the works that will come to pass in the future because of this relocation. Overtaxed peasant, your opinion epitomizes the old saying that "a little knowledge is dangerous" Your view is narrow and shortsighted and born of the fact there are things going on you simply don't know about. Finally, the Newport "hierarchy", whoever that is, (I assume you meant the people of Newport) does not only view these employees as economic units but rather there is the genuine hope that they will chose to come because the people of Newport view these educated people as positive addition to their community. How Newport handles their arrival will set an example for other communities. Watch and see. No one could have done worse than the way Seattle treated them.
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