Portland Pilots Denied Request for Fee Increase by Harbor Commissioners, For Now

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Susan Klopp, Captain Mark Klopp, President of the Portland Pilots, Inc. and their attorney Twain Braden, of Thompson Bowie & Hatch LLC.

It took the Board of Harbor Commissioners over an hour this afternoon to decide and convince the Portland Pilots it did not provide the Commission with enough revenue documentation to grant it the “emergency” fee increase applied for on February 28, 2019 in a letter to Board of Harbor Commissioners from Captain Mark Klopp, President of the Portland Pilots, Inc.. In hushed tones, Klopp tried to convince the Commission they were broke and needed an immediate infusion of money. The February 28, letter says Klopp was seeking an increase from “$7.18 to $8.04 and a minimum fee pilot unit of 150 Pilot Units (P/U).”

Klopp told the Commissioners the loss in the lawsuit with “The Cat” had been a “real blow ” to the Pirates. (The Portland Pilots lost the lawsuit initiated by The Cat, d/b/a Bay Ferries two years ago). “For the last several months we did not have enough money to pay our bills. That’s why an emergency fee is so important,” said Captain David Germand to the Board. Munjoy HIll resident Dan Haley, a retired insurance executive, said: I don’t want to be back in court. It was bad.” Haley was a strong supporter of the Portland Pilots in their quest to raise the fee paid by The Cat.

Dan Haley, an Eastern Promenade Resident, Board Member and Supporter of the Portland Pilots’ Increase for The Cat Was Formerly an Advisor to Governor Paul LePage on Veterans’ Issues.

Chairman Dobbins said no vote could be taken today since no vote can be taken at a workshop on the verbal request for an “emergency” increase by the Pilots. “We need some income numbers – in some sort of accounting format. Attorney Sara Tracy, of Pierce Atwood. She asked Klopp: “is there a risk to the public safety because of a lack of revenue? “”That has to be part of the record,” she cautioned the him. “You need to make that case,” she advised them.

Tracy, a utilities attorney, drafted a “Proposed Process for Review of Pilotage Rate Change Request.” It is a comprehensive, two page document detailing the steps the Commission needs to take to comply with the law – as they did not do previously on “The Cat” matter. It was part of the reason that the Board and Pirates were sued by Bay Ferries LLC and lost the lawsuit earlier this year. The draft calls for more transparency – a concept seemingly foreign to these people as previously witnessed by this blogger.

Another meeting could be held next week by the Board, if the Pilots are able to provide the required documentation to support their verbal claim today and in the past that they have an “emergency” need for an infusion of funds.

For more background information please see these posts herein: November 16, 2017, December 4, 2018, June 29, 2018, January 17, 2018. There are others as well.

As an observation, the city’s mouthpiece, the Portland Press Herald, has ignored the subject. Perhaps the local papers could have written about this lawsuit and spent less time promoting the re-election of Senator Susan Collins (R), for the public good and for the sake of transparency.

The length of the above meeting prevented the second item on the agenda from taking place: The Fore Points Marina at Portland Foreside.