Virginia Port Authority will not privatize most of its port operations

Source: Associated Press, March 26, 2013

The Virginia Port Authority on Tuesday rejected two offers worth billions of dollars to privatize the operations of the state’s coastal terminals, choosing to keep and restructure the port’s current operator instead….The board’s decision makes it the second time in five years the state has opted not to privatize its port operations, rejecting three offers in 2009….
Pro ports privatization group accused of campaign finance violation
Source: Michael Welles Shapiro, Daily Press, April 3, 2013
A group that produced robocalls promoting the now-sunk port privatization efforts was accused of campaign finance violations by a watchdog group in Washington for election-season TV ads in Ohio. Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, or CREW, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commissions against the group, Checks and Balances for Economic Growth, a tax-exempt 501(c)(4)…CREW’s complaint says both ads were meant to influence an election and because CBEG’s spending went way beyond a $10,000 limit for such communications it triggered a federal requirement that the group report its expenditures to the FEC.

Pro-privatization robocall blasts ports executive
Source: Michael Welles Shapiro, Daily Press, February 6, 2013

A robocall aiming to convince listeners to support a privatization of Virginia’s ports began circulating as early as Monday. In addition to advocating for a management change at the state-run terminals, the script blasts an outgoing top port executive, calling him overpaid.

The call – which according to its script is authorized by Checks and Balances for Economic Growth – comes almost two months before the Virginia Port Authority board is scheduled to make a key determination about whether to accept a proposal from APM Terminals or a consortium led by JPMorgan IIF Acquisitions LLC. And it comes as state lawmakers are considering intervening to delay that decision. …

…It also seems to suggest that a privatization would mean the end of a unionized workforce at the port, which is a fallacy. Federal rules and a East Coast-wide long-term labor contract ensure union jobs in container shipping, and neither private proposer has said their bids would change in any way the hiring of union dockworkers….

State releases proposals on port privatization
Source: Alex Bridges,, August 23, 2012

Three vie for port privatization
Source: Matthew Ward, Suffolk News Herald, August 15, 2012

Virginia has received two alternative proposals to APM’s unsolicited bid to take over the state’s port operations, Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has stated. In an email, Connaughton also said that the state does not plan to publicly name the alternative bidders, or detail their proposals, until an Aug. 22 briefing to the Virginia Port Authority Board. Meanwhile, the Virginia Maritime Association, representing over 400 companies connected to the shipping industry, has expressed concern that privatizing the port could result in a damaging monopoly….

..According to the resolution, the association is also concerned that a private company could divert trade from Virginia to other ports “for its own financial benefit, regardless of the impact it would have on the Port of Virginia and the economy of the Commonwealth.”…

…Under its proposal, APM, a subsidiary of Danish shipping giant Maersk, would pay state and local taxes and fund capital improvements at the terminals, including a major expansion of APM Terminals Virginia, ownership of which the company would also turn over to the state. The deal is worth up to an estimated $3.9 billion to the state over 48 years….

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