Jones Act industry dirty tricks sabotage Hawaii poll
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, October 6, 2017
The Pacific Business News, a weekly Honolulu newspaper, published on Friday, October 6, 2017, their editor-in-chief, A Kam Napier’s, weekly column, “Shippers talk back to Hawaii Jones Act poll; protectionism in a nutshell,” reporting that the U.S. domestic maritime industry also known as the Jones Act industry sabotaged their online Jones Act poll opened earlier in the week.
In his column, Napier uses the term “shipper” to refer to water carriers, ship-owners, ship operators, and shipping companies. Typically, the term “shipper” used worldwide and in U.S. law to mean merchant cargo owners, which are the customers of the carriers.
Napier and the newspaper staff discovered that the mainland Jones Act industry organized to skew and ultimately sabotage the online poll by recruiting an abnormal number of votes to be cast overwhelmingly in opposition to any change to the law.
The staff of the newspaper received a telephone call from Seacor Holdings Inc. asking about participation in the poll, which led to more than 2,600 votes for a poll that normally receives several hundred.
Seacor Holdings Inc. is a maritime company operating both Jones Act and foreign flag shipping. Seacor acquired Trailer Bridge Inc. out of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2012 and operates two (2) Ro/Ro trailer-barges and five (5) cellular container barges between Jacksonville (FL) and San Juan (PR). Seacor also owns and operates Seacor Island Lines LLC with foreign flag vessels from South Florida to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Closer to Hawaii, the newspaper identified 74 “no” votes originating from the network of Pasha Hawaii Transport Line LLC. Pasha Hawaii is one of the two major shipping lines operating services between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. They operate a twice a week container service between California and Hawaii and a weekly roll-on / roll-off (Ro/Ro) vehicle service between San Diego and Hawaii.
These companies are significant operators and important members of the business communities in which they operate. This is not the kind of behavior that would be expected from them.
In light of waivers to the Jones Act being made to get relief to Puerto Rico, we asked our readers recently in a Business Pulse poll, “Is now the time to modernize the Jones Act?” Longtime kamaaina know this has been a thorny issue, with the Jones Act protections for American shipbuilders blamed for increasing our cost of living.
You don’t have to be a PBN subscriber to vote in our online polls, though usually that’s who we get. We’re pleased if a given poll gets a hundred or two hundred votes in the few days it’s active on our website.
This particular poll was proceeding normally, getting the usual amount of traffic and trending toward a consensus of yes, it is time to modernize the Jones Act.
Then we got a call from someone named Molly — didn’t give a last name — with Seacor Holdings Inc., a shipping industry holding company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Molly wanted to know what this poll was all about, and what do we use it for and can anyone vote in it?
Boom. As I write this on Wednesday, the poll is up to 2,624 votes — of which 2,441 say no, it is not time to modernize the Jones Act.
Obviously the shipping biz put out the word. I’m able to see the ISP where each vote originated and, given the obvious ballot stuffing going on, thought I’d look up a few of the biggest clusters coming from the same ISP. For example, there are 31 “no” votes from an ISP of 18.104.22.168.
Who is that? Gbrx.com. The Greenbrier Cos. They make rail cars and marine manufacturing, founded in 1919 as Wire Wheel Sales and Service, a “leading steel fabricator in Portland, Oregon," according to its website.
There are 37 “no” votes from 22.214.171.124. Now, I picked that ISP because it was another obvious cluster coming from the same network. Whose network? The Pasha Group. One of the two shipping companies serving Hawaii.
There are 74 “no” votes from 126.96.36.199, an AT&T network in New Jersey, and 111 “no” votes from 188.8.131.52. That’s Level 3 Communications Inc., an internet service provider in Broomfield, Colorado. A lot of the big clusters are the ISPs of Mainland internet providers, I assume the employees of this or that shipping concern logging in to tell Hawaii what to think about this issue.
All very interesting.