Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, Land Line Now senior correspondent

ROSESto Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., chairman of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security. At a hearing earlier this year, she put then-acting FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling on the hot seat, grilling him on the FMCSA’s “flawed approach in a number of areas.”

Those areas included the 34-hour restart rule and the CSA program. Fischer pledged to introduce legislation that would reform how the FMCSA creates rules and regulations – requiring both more oversight from Congress and more participation from stakeholders such as truckers who would be directly affected by the rules.

If you’ve ever wondered whether the phone calls we constantly ask you to make to your lawmakers do any good, we’re pretty sure this hearing answered that question with a resounding “yes.”

RAZZBERRIES to KATU, a local ABC affiliate out of Portland, Ore., for a recent hatchet job of a story it ran earlier this year about “rogue truckers” – their words, not ours – terrorizing the highways of Oregon. They interviewed a single state police officer for the story who, well, couldn’t seem to keep her own story straight.

Supposedly her father and brother are both truckers, but she goes on to say that truckers are no better on the road than average drivers. A moment later, she says that most drivers are professional and that “90 percent of the time they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

The report also cites some statistics – although it doesn’t even say where they are from – showing that “of the crashes (in 2013) that were truckers’ fault, 21 were due to fatigue.” Trouble is, the majority of crashes involving trucks are not the fault of the truck driver.

In other words, the whole report was based on a single interview with one enforcement officer and some mysterious statistics. Hardly an example of journalistic excellence.

On the other hand, we have to give out some ROSES to WSYX, another ABC affiliate out of Columbus, Ohio, which did a follow-up to one of its own stories about trucks on the road in which the reporter actually rode along with a truck driver to see what it was like.

The report portrayed the driver as safety conscious and consistently aware of his surroundings and other drivers on the road – as most truckers are. He gave the reporter an education on blind spots, braking and the dangers of other vehicles and the way they drive around big trucks.

To give credit where credit is due: It’s good to see a reporter doing some actual reporting without resorting to scare tactics.

ROSES to Con-way Truckload of Joplin, Mo., for signing on with Holy Joe’s Café as the national transportation sponsor. If you’re not familiar with Holy Joe’s, it’s a nonprofit coffeehouse ministry that serves U.S. troops.

The idea is to bring fresh coffee to U.S. military bases where it is then packaged up and shipped to bases overseas. Once there, it is received by the base chaplain, who can then set up an informal, on-site cafe where troops can enjoy the coffee and, if they choose, have a meaningful conversation with the chaplain.

If there’s one thing we at OOIDA know from years of doing the Truckers for Troops program, it’s that troops overseas love their coffee so we’re happy to support any way it is delivered to them.

Speaking of the military, here are some RAZZBERRIES to Christopher Whitman, co-owner of United Logistics of Albany, Ga., and two former workers at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, for scamming the military out of millions of dollars.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the three had a scheme in which Whitman – whose company handled transportation and brokering of loads at the base – would give his co-conspirators bribes of money, rare coins, automobiles, firearms and other items in exchange for surplus items from the Marine Corps inventory. Whitman would then turn around and sell the stolen items for a huge profit – more than $37 million in just less than four years.

They also would shuffle order times around so that deliveries could be marked for “expedited pick-up,” a premium service that obviously got Whitman’s company even more money. LL

 

Got an idea for a ROSE or a RAZZBERRY? Email it to terry_scruton@landlinemag.com. You can also check out the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rosesandrazzberries.