Commissioners Call for Public Meeting on “Ilegal” Rate Increase; 11/2/17

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Thomas W. Dobbins, Chair, Board of Harbor Commissioners at the October 12, 2017 Meeting.

Captain Kevin J. Battle, Harbor Master for Portland Harbor.

City Attorney Jenn Thompson Makes a Point at the October 12th Meeting. Thompson Served in an Advisory Capacity, Since the Filing of an Appeal by The Cat Attorneys.

With clarity, transparency, and an unusual lack of ambiguity that belies the past and perhaps signals a serious if only temporary navigational correction,  the Board of Commissioners for the Port of Portland has, in multiple notices,  announced several upcoming public meetings later this week.

This new transparency, albeit temporary,  comes in the wake of an Appeal filed on behalf of  “The Cat,” the ferry that runs daily between Portland and NS.  The lawsuit filed on August 24, 2017 by Harold C. Pachios, Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios,  is against the Board of Commissioners and Portland Pilots, Inc.

The Appeal charges that the Board, at the request of the Portland Pilots, raised the harbor pilot fees it charges to “The Cat,” d/b/a Bay Ferries, Limited, by almost 70% with absolutely no notice of the pending change to  Cat officials.  Had Cat officials known, the company would have been represented at the public hearing to make its case against the unsubstantiated rate hikes requested by Portland Pirates. Inc.

On October 12, 2017, at a public hearing called by the Board,  attorney Pachios called for a a thorough inquiry as to the justification for the 70% rate hikes ok’d by the Board.  Pachios said that the Portland Pilots maintain a monopoly in Portland Harbor and consequently it is incumbent upon the Board to be thorough in its investigation of the rate increase justification.  As Chair Dobbins wanted, Pachios did not propose a rate hike for The Cat, clearly annoying Chair Dobbins.  Rather, the Board rubber stamped its previous approval of the rate increase this spring with no details presented from the Pirates for this proposed hike.

The same day, Justice Lance Walker, signed a Hearing Conference Record in which he stated that:  “Hearings on a new proposed rate increase will be conducted by 11/12/17.  The parties to notify the result at which time the court will schedule a conference of counsel and hearing on the outstanding motions.”   Stay tuned!

Maybe Justice Walker has his own ideas on the lack of process followed by the Harbor Commissioners in the controversy, including the lack of due diligence performed to determine what is an appropriate rate hike.

The multiple notices referred previously call for a workshop and public hearing for Thursday, November 2, 2017 at the city hall in South Portland.  The workshop, set for 5:00 pm.,  is scheduled to last l/2 hour. It’s purpose  is to set the procedures for the public hearing that will follow it.  It is presumed that this workshop is an angry reaction to attorney Pachios refusal at the October 12 meeting to make a proposal for the rate hike on behalf of The Cat his client and rather calling for a thorough procedure to determine the justification for any rate hike.

For more background information, please see posts herein dated:  September 20, 2017, September 28, 2017 and most recently October 12, 2017 on the appeal filed by Bay Ferries, Ltd. against the Board of Commissioners for the Port of Portland and the Portland Pirates, Inc.

(note:  In two separate matters, this blogger was denied copies of documents used in presentations before the Board of Commissioners.  In one instance, this blogger was told by Chair Dobbins that this quasi-state commission functions under different rules from the city of Portland.)