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Lost Hero: The Amtrak David Gunn Firing Hearings

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Uploaded on Mar 23, 2008

In November, 2005, David Gunn, possibly the most experienced, accomplished, and nearly-legendary railroad administrator in America, was fired by Amtrak's board of directors. Congress was outraged, and in hearings before the House passenger rail subcommittee, it became clear that his dismissal was quite likely politically motivated -- "payback" for Congress' refusal to bankrupt the railroad and break it up as the Bush administration desired.

David Gunn had stood his ground against the board and its wish to split up Amtrak, turn over the Northeast Corridor tracks and infrastructure to the control of the states, and "privatize" actual train operations. He explains why all of this was wrong for America. By refusing to quietly submit his resignation at the board's request, and forcing them to fire him in a Washington Capitol Hill spectacle, he may have saved the railroad.

My own personal suspicion, based on extensive investigation in Washington, is that the attempt to break Amtrak into pieces, which seemed to start with secret Amtrak board meetings in early 2005, may have been a reward to 2004 Bush and/or RNC campaign donors who wanted to take over train opertions on the Northeast Corridor as a private business operation. The Northeast Corridor's "money pit" is its infrastructure -- keeping up the tracks and wires and bridges. By handing that burden to the states, actual train operations on the NEC would become very profitable, in that Amtrak already recovers much more than the cost of train operations on the NEC through ticket sales.

Ultimately, the Bush board and the administration plot failed to destroy the company, but an extremely talented and capable man was forced to sacrifice himself through a public firing and House hearings in order to help save it.

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