Member Alert - 1-11-2013

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We received a call today from Kathy at Truck Driving Academy in California. There is a gentleman using the name Michael Diangelo.  He is identifying himself as a representative of Martin Transport.  He is asking for 3 students and is especially in need of one woman. His reason is that he has a female trainer that needs to someone to ride with her.   

He also indicates that he will need 14 drivers by the end of next week. They will be paid $550 for 4 weeks and 33 cents per mile after they complete the 4 weeks. He says he will take students with felonies over 5 years and DUI over 3 years old.

Jo Larson, Recruiting Manager, Martin Transport has been fielding calls all day and assures us this is not the case. They have no one working for them by that name.

Once Mr. Diangelo gets the student, he tells them that they need to send $400 to show they can afford to go out on the road. He assures them he will return the money when they arrive in San Diego where he will put them up at a Motel 6 in San Diego.  The number he is using is a Tennessee Number.   

Thank you Kathy for the Heads up!


Booming Trucking Industry Means Boom in Driver Training

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CORPUS CHRISTI -- There's a good chance most the stuff you use everyday got to you by arriving on a truck.

That's why in this uncertain economy, the trucking industry is booming right now and Del Mar College is staying busy training drivers to hit the road.

Starting a career in the trucking industry is an option many job searchers are considering.

After just one week looking for work, Bill Lowery found there are three main industries in high demand. "Doctors, nurses and truck drivers," he told us.

So, after a coast guard career, followed by government contracting, he's now got a new title; student. "Its been a long time since i've been a student," Lowery said.

After 3 weeks of intense training, the likelihood is, he'll have a job. The oil and gas industry in our area is always searching for drivers.

"A lot of times, students have something lined up before they're even finished," Program Director John Rojas told us.

Although the course is short, it's intense, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Believe it or not, they trusted me to take a crash course and drive the truck with students on board.

"Keep the clutch in as deep as you can and then there it is in 1st," explained Instructor Eduardo Saenz as he directed me step by step.

He wasn't nervous, but I was. I actually drove an 18 wheeler across the parking lot with students observing me from inside the truck. Talk about nerve wracking.

There are 4 students assigned per truck, that way, 3 are observing, while one's actually learning hands-on.

Once I parked the truck, they all clapped. I'm not really sure if the students were clapping because I did well or because they survived the wild ride, but, Lowery is definitely pleased with the class and his potential for work after graduation.

"You've got the refineries, all kinds of possibilities, live stock, so you name it, there's stuff around here to haul," Lowery told us.

Because the business is booming, so is the demand for classes and that's creating yet another job opportunity.

"I'm looking for instructors right now," said Rojas, "all they have to do is have 5 years experience driving."

Classes open about every two weeks and they fill up fast. Retired military are able to use their gi bill to pay 100% of the course if they're eligible. The Texas Workforce Commission will also help fund the course for eligible students. The 3 week class costs $3500. Brand new graduates have the potential to earn $40,000 a year. For more information on Del Mar's Truck and Bus Driver Training Program, click here.



“Cliff” Compromise Allows 50% Write-off of New Equipment

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By Michele Fuetsch, Transport Topics
This story appears in the Jan. 7 print edition of Transport Topics.

Lost amid the hoopla surrounding Congress’ last-minute agreement on avoiding the economic “fiscal cliff” as the new year dawned was a provi¬sion in the deal that could help the trucking industry as it moves to replace aging equipment during 2013.

Under the legislation, which President Obama has signed, fleets will be able to continue to write off half of the cost of equipment purchases on their 2013 tax bills. The existing tax relief pro¬gram expired on Dec. 31.

Relieved truck dealers said renewal of the tax write-offs — known as bonus depreciation could help boost lagging truck sales.

“We’re optimistic that it’s going to help,” said Dave Thompson, president of TEC Equipment Inc., of Portland Ore. TEC sells a mix of heavy and medium-duty, trucks.

The old bonus depreciation program had expired Dec. 31, the same day the Senate passed the new bill. The House approved it the next day, Jan. 1.

President Obama signed the new tax measure on Jan. 3, which was the same day the 113th Con¬gress was sworn in, officially making Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee for the session that will end in January 2015.

Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) remains chair¬woman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee while Jay Rockefeller(D-W.Va) will stay at the helm of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The legislation, called the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, raises taxes on the wealthiest Americans while keeping tax cuts for most households. It also renewed the $1-a-gallon tax credit for biodiesel producers.

“Under this law… companies will continue to see tax credits for the research that they do, the investments they make and the clean energy jobs that they create,” President Obama said during a press conference.

Thompson said sales held steady the last two quarters at TEC dealer¬ships in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington but that “not every¬body was prepared to buy” due to the economic uncertainty.

“Now they might,” Thompson said. “That depreciation will be a bonus; 100% is better but 50% is pretty nice.”

TEC sells Volvo and Mack Trucks as well as Hino and Isuzu medium-duty trucks and GMC light-duty commercial trucks. It also has truck rental and leasing businesses, so, under the new tax bill, Thompson can also deduct 50% of the purchase price of new trucks he buys for that side of his firm.

Normally, depreciation write-offs are stretched over several tax years as a new asset deteriorates with age.

However, to help the manufactur¬ing sector recover from the reces¬sion, a bonus depreciation program was created in 2010. Under it, in the 2011 tax year, equipment buyers could write off 100% of their pur¬chase cost that year.

In 2012, the write-off dropped to 50% of the purchase cost and the program was to expire at the end of that year.

But keeping the 50% write-off is expected to help spur truck sales this year because the tax break “takes some of the sting” out of the higher cost of more fuel-efficient trucks, said Richard Witcher, chairman of American Truck Dealers and CEO of Minuteman Trucks, a light- and medium-duty truck dealership in Walpole, Mass.

“In the last 10 years, we’ve added, without [counting] federal excise tax, as much as $30,000 to the price of a truck for emissions controls,” Witcher said.

Witcher also said increased truck sales in 2013 will boost the economy.

“With every truck that somebody buys, there’s a job at a factory some¬place [and] there’s a job supporting the job at the factory” Witcher said.

At their dealership and service cen¬ter, bonus depreciation has also allowed Witcher and his brother, Bill, to write off capital investments, such as a $1 million truck-painting facility.

For biodiesel producers, continua¬tion of the $1-a-gallon tax credit is a lifeline. The tax credit helps keep the higher cost of biodiesel fuel com¬petitive with regular diesel, backers of the alternative fuel have said.

“This is not an abstract issue,” Anne Steckel, vice president of fed¬eral affairs at the National Biodiesel Board, said in a statement. “In the coming months, because of this decision, we’ll begin to see real eco¬nomic impacts with companies expanding production and hiring new employees.”

The tax bill makes permanent the income tax cuts approved during the Bush presidency for households with incomes of less than $450,000.

Had Congress not acted, the Bush-era tax cuts would have expired this month for all income levels. At the same time, a series of automatic spending cuts were scheduled to have occurred this month as a result of demands that the federal deficit be reduced.

Hence, the term “fiscal cliff” became a metaphor for what some economists said would be a severe double blow to the economy as both personal and government spending declined.

Although Congress and the presi¬dent were able to forge a deal on the tax issues, they could not agree on spending reductions, so they put off action on deficit reduction for at least two months.

This story appears in the Jan. 7 print edition of Transport Topics.


Company Helps Man Transition from the Marines to Trucking

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January 01, 2013 11:45 pm  •  By ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star

When Marine veteran Rowdy Bolinger returned to civilian life, he had trouble finding a good job fit.

That’s when he reached out to the Greek god Proteus. Well, not exactly.

Rather than relying on a mythical being known for his ability to change his form, Bolinger turned to a Lincoln job training company that bears the Proteus name.

Together, Proteus Inc. and a man who served two tours in Iraq worked to get him through four weeks of instruction at JTL Truck Driver Training on Omaha’s western outskirts and earn him a commercial driver’s license.

Now he’s making daily trips back and forth between Iowa City, 270 miles away, and Werner Enterprises across Interstate 80 from the trucking school.

“You live a life and you feel like it has meaning and purpose,” the 36-year-old Bolinger said of his time in the military. “And then you come back home and everything is different.”

Proteus is a long-term, private sector presence in Iowa, but a much more recent addition in Nebraska and in Lincoln. Its federal origins go all the way back to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and his War on Poverty in the 1960s.

Working with federal grant money offered through the Department of Labor and under the National Farm Workers Jobs Program, Proteus' Lincoln staff covered the $4,000 cost of Bolinger’s education as a trucker.

Susan Billups has been a regional director for Proteus at the Lincoln office at Ninth  Street and Pioneers Boulevard since September 2011.

“You have to have worked an agricultural job for the majority of your money for a 12-month period sometime in the last two years,” Billups said in explaining how the farm connection works.

Income guidelines also apply -- less than $11,170 for a single person and $24,240 for a family of four.

“These folks can go from minimum wage jobs to making $35,000, $45,000, $50,000, depending on who they get on with and what they can negotiate for themselves,” she said.

At this point in his life, Bolinger wants to combine trucking with longer-term work toward a business administration degree.

“I was looking for a job that wasn’t so physically demanding that I couldn’t go to school at the same time,” he said.

Ultimately, he would like to get back to what he was doing between two stints in the Marines. That means defense contracting and “moving men, equipment and weapons to and from the Middle East,” he said.

There are about as many possibilities for switching job descriptions as there are jobs, Billups said.

“If someone wants to be an LPN and they work in hog confinement, we will help them do that,” she added.

Migrant farm workers constitute “a second tier” of potential Proteus clients.

“One of the tripping points is that you have to be the head of your own household. So we can’t take an 18-year-old whose mom and dad still claim him on their taxes and enroll him in this program.”

As Bolinger’s situation demonstrates, part of the service Proteus provides is to a population of veterans who may be having trouble with the conversion from military to civilian employment.

For much of the past decade, unemployment rates have trended higher among those coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

David Cook, an instructor at JTL, said many of the 150 to 175 students enrolled there each year have military backgrounds.

“We get a lot of veterans,” he said.

JTL and Proteus have worked together before, he added.

At the same time, he said, the trend in the trucking industry is toward Werner and other major truck carriers hiring new drivers who have had some kind of formal training.

“They don’t want to hire new drivers off the street,” he said.

Long-haul truckers in eastern Nebraska typically start at $38,000 to $42,000 a year, Cook said.

In Nebraska, Proteus is reaching out to veterans and nonveterans alike from Lincoln, as well as from Columbus, Grand Island, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

Part of Bolinger’s frustration in trying to navigate his own way to better employment was in using his G.I. Bill eligibility to pay for the cost of his trucker training.

“I was just having a hard time,” he said. “The G.I. Bill (representatives) didn’t want to pay for school.”

When he turned to Proteus, “it took about a one-half-hour meeting and Kim (of Proteus) was able to get everything she needed to make it happen.”

Bolinger’s experience in returning to civilian employment was that jobs that pay subsistence wages aren’t difficult to find.

“In order to find something satisfying,” he said, “it’s really hard.”



Attention Motor Carriers: Update Your VMT & PU Data

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Did You Know…As a motor carrier, recent Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and Power Unit (PU) data from your Motor Carrier Registration form, known as the MCS-150, are required and must be up to date to properly assess your level of exposure in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) in FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS).

If your VMT data in FMCSA’s database is from 2010 or older, it will not be used in your calculations when the January SMS snapshot is posted at the beginning of February. Instead, the level of exposure will default to average PUs over the previous 18 months which can impact your percentiles in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs. View the SMS Methodology for addition details on BASIC percentile calculations.

Update your MCS-150 now with 2011 VMT/PU information or shortly after January 1, 2013 with your 2012 data to ensure that FMCSA is using the most accurate data available to calculate your percentiles. Visit to update your MCS-150 information. Under the “Existing Registration Updates” section, choose the first option - “I need to update my USDOT number registration information or file my biennial update.”

PLEASE NOTE: The SMS website is updated monthly, so your MCS-150 changes will not be reflected on that site until the next monthly update. You can find the schedule of SMS updates at MCS-150 updates show up faster on SAFER and the FMCSA Portal websites.

Thank You,
CSA Web Team
U.S. DOT/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration


DOT Leaders’ Plans for Future Not Expected to Be Settled Until Early 2013

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By Michele Fuetsch
Staff Reporter, Transport Topics

The future leadership of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is not expected to be settled until early 2013, according to officials with the agencies.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a speech to the Peoria Rotary Club in Illinois on Dec. 7 that he and President Obama will not discuss his future until the new year, the Peoria Journal Star reported.

When asked for further comment by TRANSPORT Topics, LaHood spokesman Justin Nisly said: “I don’t have anything to share beyond what the secretary has said publicly.”
LaHood said he and the president talked about the future “shortly after” the election and “will continue to-talk after the first of the year, and we’ll see where it takes us,” the Journal Star reported.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro did not respond to requests for comment about her future plans.

However, FMCSA Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott said in an e-mail to TT that Ferro and “other appointees at U.S. DOT serve at the pleasure of the president, and will speak with Secretary LaHood about second-term plans in the coming weeks.”

Ferro was nominated by Obama in 2009. She had been president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association and previously ran the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.

She became the fourth permanent administrator of the truck-safety agency, which was officially established in 2000.

Ferro succeeded John Hill, who departed as part of the transition between the Bush and Obama administrations. Rose McMurray, FMCSA’s chief safety officer, served as acting administrator in the interim.

Before the president selected LaHood as DOT secretary in 2009, he was the congressman from Peoria for 14 years. He is currently the only Republican in Obama’s cabinet.

LaHood first brought up the issue of his tenure in October 2011, when he said he planned to leave the cabinet to go into the private sector and would not be serving in a second Obama administration.

In recent months, LaHood appeared to be backtracking, as when he told reporters ‘on Sept. 19 that he didn’t know “if I’ve -ever had a better job.”

At that time, he said he planned to talk to Obama after the election about his future as secretary.

Source: Transport Topics


Chairmanship of Prestigious Appropriations Committee

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With the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye on Monday, the leadership atop the Senate (Pro Tempore) as well as the Chairmanship of the highly influential Appropriations Committee were vacated and had to be filled.  Conventional wisdom early in the week was that Sen. Patrick Leahy would ascend to both the number three position in succession to the President and would also give up his gavel as presiding Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to take over the committee with jurisdiction over all federal spending.  This would have a cascading effect which would provide Senator Diane Feinstein with the ability to give up her current Chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee to take the vacated Judiciary slot, leaving the Intelligence Committee Chair open to Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
So much for conventional wisdom…
Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Leahy announced that he would not seek the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, and would remain Judiciary Chair in the 113th Congress as that committee attempts to tackle high profile issues including gun control and immigration.  This announcement immediately stymied the potential changes for Senators Feinstein and Mikulski, and left open the leadership on Approps to the next most senior member – Tom Harkin.
But in a surprising, and highly important announcement, Sen. Harkin expressed his desire to pass up the Full Appropriations Committee Chairmanship, in order to maintain his position as the head of the HELP Committee and the Subcommittee Appropriations Chairmanship responsible for Labor, HHS, and Education funding.  As noted from the quote below, Sen. Harkin's reasons for passing up the position include his desire to continue to pursue education reform.
Ultimately this decision provided an opportunity for Senator Mikulski to ascend to the top slot on Appropriations, becoming the first woman to lead the Committee.
It should be apparent the implications of the decision Senator Harkin made to pass up this highly coveted position…