Mon, Oct 27, 2003
FedEx: No Sir, We Don't Like Him
The DOT is defending
one of its own, selected by President Bush to take over the Number
two slot in the department. FedEx is on the attack, lobbying hard
to block the nomination of Kirk Van Tine in the Senate.
The reason? Van Tine was at the forefront of efforts by the
White House, trying to get $32 million in post-9/11 aid back from
the freight company. FedEx isn't playing around, either. The
company has taken its case to the Senate Majority Leader, Bill
Frist (R-TN), who represents the company's home state.
Frist's office did not return calls for comment. Still, another
source close to the matter said there was no indication from
Congress the Senate confirmation process would be held up. In other
words, FedEx may be barking up the wrong tree.
As the DOT general consul, Van Tine left the agency earlier this
year. But when Michael Jackson quit his job as deputy to
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Van Tine was back in the
spotlight, nominated to replace him.
"It's an unfortunate miscalculation on FedEx's part to
personalize a disagreement,'' said John Flaherty, DOT Secretary
Norm Mineta's chief of staff. "Van Tine is a solid guy, a
consummate professional who is hand-in-glove with the secretary.
That's why we want him as his deputy."
FedEx says its
opposition has nothing to do with the dispute over the post-9/11
aid. The carrier says Van Tine simply isn't up to the job because
he lacked broader aviation experience.
The government gave FedEx $101 million shortly after the Sept.
11 attacks as part of the $5 billion cash program approved by
Congress to compensate the industry for lost business when all
flights were banned for three days after the attacks. But DOT later
figured FedEx's losses were more than 30 percent less than the
company had claimed -- $69 million -- and tried to get the
government's money back. That case, along with more than a dozen
others, is still pending.
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