Saturday, January 27, 2007

Transportation Privatization Train Gaining Steam with Latest Nomination

President Bush’s latest appointment greases the legal skids for major privatization of America’s transportation infrastructure. This comes on top of Mary Peters’ approval as Secretary of Transportation last fall. The newest nomination, David James Gribben IV, currently works for a private infrastructure company. DJ will rejoin his old boss, Ms. Peters in his new role as chief legal counsel for the Transportations Department.

But he doesn’t arrive without a full complement of baggage having most recently worked for a foreign company doing transportation infrastructure deals in the U.S. Just last month, DJ spoke at a conference on privatizing public works. “Public Infrastructure: from Crisis to Asset Class” was held Dec. 4-5 in Washington, D.C.

The attendance list was a who’s who of private equity firms. The infamous Carlyle Group even had Robert W. Dove there as a presenter. They started an infrastructure division last spring with Dove as the co-head. He shared a panel with Bush’s newest appointee whose bio in the conference materials states:

D.J. Gribbin
Division Director
Macquarie Holdings, Inc.
New York NY

D.J. Gribbin serves as a Division Director of Macquarie Holdings, Inc. He is responsible for representing Macquarie in Washington, D.C. and assisting with business development in the United States. He joined Macquarie in January of 2006.

Prior to joining Macquarie, Mr. Gribbin served as Chief Counsel for the Federal Highway Administration. As Chief Counsel, he supervised a staff of 50 attorneys, who provided a range of legal services to the Agency. He and his staff worked with state and local government transportation attorneys and other customers to enhance their understanding of Federal laws and procedures relating to highway transportation. Mr. Gribbin’s tenure at FHWA was characterized by a focus on advancing public-private partnerships (PPP). His efforts included creating a PPP task force, writing a report to Congress highlighting the benefits of PPPs, and creation of FHWA’s SEP-15 program. For these efforts, he was presented with ARTBA’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2005.

Prior to joining FHWA, Mr. Gribbin most recently served as the Director of Public Sector Business Development, Koch Industries. In that role, he worked with the governors, legislators and leaders of State highway authorities to develop public-private transportation ventures. In addition, he worked on a policy level with Congress and the Administration to make it easier for states to use innovative financing and contracting techniques when building highways. As Koch’s Director of Government Affairs, he helped manage Koch’s Federal legislative and political efforts.

From February 1994 to September 1997, Mr. Gribbin served as the National Field Director for the Christian Coalition, where he managed a range of activities focused on expanding the grassroots organization. He worked from April 1989 to February 1994 as Legislative Representative for the National Federation of Independent Business, the largest organization representing small business owners. Mr. Gribbin served on Capitol Hill as Legislative Director for Congressman Larry Combest of Texas, with responsibility for a broad range of legislative duties. His responsibilities included serving as a member of the Professional Staff for the House Committee on the District of Columbia, where he drafted amendments and attended hearings with and on behalf of Congressman Combest.

Mr. Gribbin earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a Law Degree from Georgetown University. He is a member of the Virginia Bar.

It’s good that DJ found the latest religions of “free markets” and “privatizing government functions” as the private sector is always more efficient. Unfortunately corruption and multiple layers of contractors post Hurricane Katrina put a pin in those balloons.

In an eerie Kevin Bacon like connection, President Bush nominated DJ’s dad, David James Gribbin III as a member of the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation in April 2002. However, the father only served a year on the Freddie Mac board.

It turns out the son comes with a pedigree. Pop served on the Halliburton Board of Directors. 1996 SEC documents give this description of the father in his new role of managing all of Halliburton’s government management relations.

Mr. Gribbin III, 56, brings a broad range of government experience toHalliburton. From 1979 to 1986, he was Administrative Assistant to Congressman Dick Cheney. Between 1986 and 1989, he held various assignments in the U.S.House of Representatives, including Executive Director for the Republican PolicyCommittee and Chief of Staff for the Republican Whip. From 1989 to 1992, Mr.Gribbin served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs in the U.S. Department of Defense. For the next three years, Mr. Gribbin was Chief ofStaff for Senator Dan Coats (R) of Indiana.

After a brief sabbatical, teaching a seminar on the U.S. Congress at theNaval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, Mr. Gribbin was named Executive Director for the Republican Platform Committee. In this capacity, hesupervised production of the draft document and managed the process at the recently held Republican National Convention in San Diego.

Well the Fourth appears to be a chip off the old block of the Third. Both are political animals who survive on the good will of their carnivorous peers. Let’s trace a few of the lions.

IV served in the same Republican Defense Department as Frank Carlucci, who went on to found The Carlyle Group. Tres went to work for Macquarie which did its own deal with Carlyle when it picked up Taiwan Broadband Communications. Both Carlyle and Macquarie want to make money off privatizing public infrastructure. One of those deals is in rural Texas with the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Macquarie just announced its purchase of American Consolidated Media, a company that owns loads of small rural Texas newspapers, 40 to be exact. Any chance they want to use that media influence to grease the skids for their corporate brother or sister to get a piece of the Bush/Perry pie also known as the Trans-Texas Corridor? The Corridor's Steering Committee even heard from the boys at Goldman Sachs about privatization in their November meeting.

A leading developer of the Texas private roadway is Cintras which just months ago partnered with Macquarie in a 50: 50 deal over an Indiana Toll Road project. (By the way, those 40 newspaper markets line up quite well with both routes of the new Trans-Texas Corridor.)

As they leave Governor Perry’s office, how much will Cintras/Macquarie walk away with? Will they do as well as Carlyle which already did its time on the State of Texas government tit, sucking some $100 million for its Vought Aircraft Industries site in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? After the State tithed $35 million in assistance it proffered a $65 million land deal which reduced Vought’s future tax exposure. The local government kicked in an extra $5.5 million to boot!

Can DJ Gribben the IVth beat Governor Perry’s corporate largesse in his new role with Transportation Department? Will he and Mary Peters be the dynamic duo that shovels American assets on the cheap to the likes of Carlyle, Goldman Sachs, Cintras or Macquarie? I hate to say it but should that be the job President Bush desires, he has assembled the right team…

No comments: