In 2009 I was asked to not only join the Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce (HAIC) but to be on its Board of Directors. I had already attended some of their impressive events and I run my business in the Port of Los Angeles (POLA), so it made good sense to consider this unique opportunity. So I threw my hat in the ring and was fortunate enough to be elected to the 2010 HAIC Board.
The first year on the Board I spent mostly attending the monthly Board and Membership meetings and listening to the many experts from powerful industries such as the railroads, trucking, utilities, and many fellow engineers and scientists. What I learned was how frustrated our HAIC member businesses were in dealing with the ever expanding government regulations and taxation, especially during these difficult times in our country where we need people working again. Listening is one thing, but I knew that I would eventually have to step up and take action.
In 2011 I was nominated and elected to be HAIC’s Secretary/Treasurer. This is an important position since the organization has a fairly large budget, and last year we ran a slight deficit that needed to be eliminated. Our organization has seven major committees: Development; Education/Scholarship/Philanthropy; Government Affairs; Marketing and Communications; Membership; Programs; and Special Events. Every Board member is required to be involved with at least one committee, so I joined two--Government Affairs (GAC) and Membership.
The GAC reviews regulations and legislation affecting the business community, specifically in the South Bay. Of particular interest are air quality, water-borne commerce, land use and port issues. This committee is concerned with pending legislation at the Federal, State and local level that may affect the needs of HAIC members. The GAC meets the last Thursday of every month, alternating our meeting locations between both POLA and the Port of Long Beach (POLB). During these meetings, elected officials, Port officials, and the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA) provide updates to current happenings – mainly legislation and harbor projects.
Every year, the major ports and their support groups (such as the HAIC) hold a two day California Maritime Leadership Symposium (www.maritimesymposium.com) in Sacramento. The HAIC organizes meetings with State Assembly and Senate members during this time. Since I knew this is important for the HAIC to be well represented, I made plans to be there on May 10th and 11th. I was joined by Scott Kurtz (Ninyo & Moore), Jesse Urquidi (P2S), Andy Perez (Union Pacific Railroad), Clay Sandidge (Sandidge Consulting), and Monika Wegener (HAIC).
Our HAIC contingency met with Assemblymembers Jim Silva (R-67 Huntington Beach), Warren Furutani (D-55 Harbor City), and Betsy Butler (D-53 El Segundo) during the first day. We had presented each representative with information packets containing a one-page executive summary of why we were there and what we are supporting/opposing, a white paper from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce on CEQA Strengthening Recommendations, and marketing literature on the HAIC. The overall goal was to bring attention to how important our local ports and harbors are to California and that a better balance is needed between government regulations and business so that our ports can remain competitive. The CEQA strengthen message was a perfect talking point to build that dialog, and I believe this message was well-received by this first group. One could ask why we met with members not representing our ports, but the best answers are we need as many allies as we can get, our ports/harbors affect all of California, and all members vote on legislation that affects us.
Day two started off great, having met with Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma (D-12, San Francisco). Because she represents the Port of San Francisco and is engaged to a newly elected member of the Port Hueneme Harbor Commission, she understands the importance of our ports and the jobs that they create. She requested to come down and speak to our group soon; this program is in the works.
I then met with Senator Bill Emmerson (R-37 Palm Springs), Senator Kevin DeLeon (D-22 Alhambra), Dan Seeman – legislative aide to Senator Fran Pavley (D-23 Port Hueneme), and Ryan Ojakian – legislative aide to Senator Joseph Simitan (D-11 Palo Alto). Overall, our representatives were interested in transportation and jobs – two areas where our ports can help out.
These two days went back very quickly, and I am very glad that I decided to make the trip. I feel more empowered in my work as a business owner having made this trip. I believe that getting anyone to see things your way takes hard work, and my outreach has just begun. I feel honored to have the opportunity to represent the industries of our harbors, and I recommend that if you believe in something that you need to get up and go take care of it.
If you have any further questions about the Harbor Association of Industry and Commerce, then please feel free to email or give me a call.
John M. Cruikshank, PE