March editorial: This STB angle is going too far

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
commentary

For more or for less. Geometry was indeed the less of me.

I have always been pretty good with numbers, so math and algebra were not much of a challenge for me in school as long as I put my mind to it. Then geometry hit, and along with it came perhaps the worst teacher in Naperville School District 203 history.

He was the monotone of all monotones. Every day he would stand up by his blackboard and would Bueller us to death. (You know the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, that has the teacher with the famous line: Bueller? Bueller?). The only thing I retained from this teacher’s lectures was “For more or for less, blah, blah, blah.”

My failings with obtuse angles and parallelograms forced me into mathematic retirement. My guidance counselor, knowing my strength was in English, accepted my declaration. Of course, this was the same guidance counselor whose only guidance that stuck with me was, “Do you know taller people have a better chance of winning interviews?” Instead of the likes of physics, my focus was on essay writing.

However, even I know using sudden force at the right angle can inhibit an instant result … but most likely not the desired result. What I am talking about is demanding someone’s attention with a jab on the back. Some people prefer to take a dead-on shot at the shoulder blades, with their hands at a 45° angle. The result is a downward, jolting thrust. When I was a kid I preferred hitting the shoulders into a 45° angle, with more force focused on one side. It is not as jarring, thus not quite as intimidating. It’s more like a, “hey, I’m talking to you so pay attention.”

KVCN and the Colorado Pacific Railroad have issued a blow that says more like, “let’s get it on.” The group recently purchased the 122-mile Towner Line located in Colorado’s Eastern Plains, and was coming in hot on a deal involving the abandoned Tennessee Pass rail line. The two tracks together would make KVCN/Colorado Pacific a more reputable freight carrier in the region. The group has even come out and said that BNSF and Union Pacific need a legitimate competitor. A $10 million offer was made to purchase the Tennessee Pass rail line, but owner Union Pacific declined the deal. And, yes, KVCN/Colorado Pacific are ready to invest in maintenance for the line.

In late February KVCN and Colorado Pacific approached the Surface Transportation Board. KVCN and Colorado Pacific want the STB to step into the fray in an attempt to work something out. Union Pacific has no interest in forcing another meeting, and apparently is running to other potential buyers. KVCN and Colorado Pacific are demanding to know the other bidder, or bidders.

Does the federal government really want to get involved? It would be one thing if this purchase would result in some sort of monopoly. I am pretty sure Union Pacific sees the speed KVCN and Colorado Pacific are picking up behind its back, and refuses to take the cheap shot. Union Pacific owns the line, and can do what it pleases. If the STB wants to interfere, then it might have a long legal fight on its hands. As for the demand to see the other bidders, what does that really matter? Is KVCN/Colorado Pacific trying to call Union Pacific’s bluff? Maybe, but if Union Pacific is being straight it can really accept any bid it wants, whether it’s more or less.

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