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TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads

by TChris

Some regulatory agencies view their mission as "serving" a regulated industry rather than policing it. Cozy relationships between regulators and the regulated invite abuse. Agencies should help businesses understand and obey the law, but Darin Kosmak, the Texas official who safeguards rail crossings, "served" the railroads in a way that betrayed his responsibility to Texas motorists.

At the behest of the rail industry, Mr. Kosmak on about 100 occasions over the last 11 years signed sworn statements about warning signs at railroad crossings, according to court testimony. The affidavits were mostly drafted by the rail industry, which then used them in case after case as a critical defense against claims that unsafe crossings had caused deaths and serious injury, court records show.

Kosmak now admits that he didn't know whether the affidavits were true when he signed them. But hey, why bother reading an accident report or visiting the scene? The railroad conducted an investigation and it wouldn't lie, would it? The railroads disclaim responsibility for the 5,000 victims of crossing accidents in the last 20 years, so why read their affidavits with a skeptical eye?

Kosmak testified that many in the rail industry "would consider me their friend." No doubt they would. Kosmak is the kind of friendly regulator who cares more about his future in the regulated indistry than the public he's charged with protecting

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  • Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 03:25:20 PM EST
    Nice.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:18:32 PM EST
    These were sworn affidavits under penalty of perjury, then he has committed perjury and exposed third parties to unnecessary danger if a cursory execution of his job would have led to safer crossings. Send him to jail if he committed perjury. Especially if we are talking about multiple counts of perjury that impact public safety.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:28:13 PM EST
    I'm sure this guy will wind up serving time as soon as they finish charging the soldiers who killed prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#4)
    by nolo on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 04:58:27 PM EST
    What's particularly noxious about this is that the railroads already enjoy special protection from liability for flattening people at railroad crossings under federal law. You'd be amazed how insulated from accountability the railroads are.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#5)
    by pigwiggle on Sat Mar 26, 2005 at 08:53:07 PM EST
    “Some regulatory agencies view their mission as "serving" a regulated industry rather than policing it.” Regulation works; works for the industries we try to regulate. They spend millions to game the system and the consumer looses. Wise up folks, industry loves regulation; we are letting the coyote into the henhouse.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 01:06:34 AM EST
    Come on Obey the law? our so government hasn't Obey the law with our borders or jobs and our human and civil rights why would big busiess obey the laws of a nation that has a government of "drug dealers and murders" the fact is Railroads have been in bed with government for over 140 years and this story is politically interesting but old as the hills of texas. but it is bush country and anything can happen, after all business is the business of our non government, and i do mean with any-one for any reason.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#7)
    by wishful on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 04:44:41 AM EST
    Is there some cabinet post or something to which Bush can appoint this scumbag uncharged criminal? If not, he has the power to create one. If you don't think so, see "Bush has the power to declare and conduct pre-emptive war". He created a cushy position for Cheney's straight daughter in the State Dept. I think she oversees contracts for the Middle East or something. Haliburton must be pleased. How much of our hard-earned tax dollars are going directly in her pocket? Nice how we consistently pay people to screw us. We can't even get the concept of whoring right around here. Usually the screwee is paid, not the other way around. We're idiots. We give them all our money, and they say things like, "If you think the trust fund that you have been paying in to and continue to do so as we speak, is real, it is not. It is worthless IOUs." Or, "We have to cut Medicaid and Higher Education funding support and food stamps--doncha know the wealthy need that money? LOOK! Over there! Terri Schiavo! You are all chumps. Now give me your money, your first born for my war, and bend over. NOW!" Why do we stand for this?

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#8)
    by soccerdad on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 06:12:24 AM EST
    Pig, very clever way of spinning the regulation argument, completely wrong, but clever. So now that Bush has let industry write the regulations and screw the people, are you proposing the end of regulation so the corps don't have to spend the millions?

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#9)
    by pigwiggle on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 07:11:44 AM EST
    “So now that Bush has let industry write the regulations and screw the people,…” Industry has almost always, with a few notable exceptions, written it’s own regulation. Some well-meaning politician sees a need for some measure of safety or uniform standard and creates a regulatory body, which is promptly bought by the industry. Many regulations have little practical purpose other than to prevent competition. “are you proposing the end of regulation so the corps don't have to spend the millions?” Not exactly. In this example, the RR company may be negligent in failing to provided warning that their trains will cross a roadway. I think the best solution would be for victims of the negligence to take the company to a civil court, and further I don’t see why criminal charges couldn’t be brought. So, you might say, the regulations and subsequent fines are meant to keep folks from becoming victims. In this example the regulations are meaningless, as they are never enforced. What victims need is a legal remedy. What victims often get are companies hiding behind the regulations they helped write. How often do you think a company, corporation, or corporate stockholders are found criminally or civilly liable for negligence when they have followed by the letter the regulations (regulation they wrote) set out by the government?

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#10)
    by soccerdad on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:02:12 AM EST
    Industry has almost always, with a few notable exceptions, written it’s own regulation.
    patently false, they have always commented on it, now they actually right it, to imply that everything is the same is disingenuous at best. So you propose a legal remedy, meanwhile the Bush administration tries to limit awards, squeeze them on both ends. Saying the regulations weren't ienforced anyway, is of course a dumb argument. So, now your solution is to do away with regulations (because they have been subverted) and have the people get their justice in the courts where thanks to Bush the punishements will end up looking like parking tickets to the corps. have you looked up neoliberal economic theory yet,

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 08:06:43 AM EST
    Unless you're from Texas, or perhaps Louisiana, this one seems hard to fathom. As a Texan, what surprises me is he got in trouble; that gal from Amarillo did some fancy lawyering! This is the same state where, when Democrat Ann Richards launched our prison building boom, we magically chose a company to supply the concrete owned by the since-retired Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Just how Texas government too often does bidness, regardless of party, sadly enough. It's a particularly grotesque example, though. Wanna bet the regulator has a consulting gig with the railroads in his future, instead of prison?

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 09:49:41 AM EST
    My God it looks like we all understand what "our"non government really is. Thank you wishful and pigwiggle. But remember for evil to win, all you got to do is look away. keep an eye on bush and business it will be attacking us all soon, and this attack will be on our Regulation of all parts of our lost nation, and this will play for Bin Laden to do his evil with the help of Bush and business. in other words we don't need any more rules here do we? but the rule of one guy, just like saddam.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 10:25:12 AM EST
    I think it's time to reach a consensus about corruption and that it has no party affilliation.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#14)
    by pigwiggle on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 02:47:35 PM EST
    “So you propose a legal remedy, meanwhile the Bush administration tries to limit awards, squeeze them on both ends.” I’m not in favor of award caps; and of course, it only makes the problem worse. “Saying the regulations weren't ienforced anyway, is of course a dumb argument.” Well, perhaps, but is it any more stupid than calling for more legislation that will ultimately be ignored? Legislation that we pay for and will likely favor the target industry. “So, now your solution is to do away with regulations (because they have been subverted) and have the people get their justice in the courts where thanks to Bush the punishements” As you point out the problem is more than the impotence of regulation. Like I said before I’m not in favor of caps of any kind. “have you looked up neoliberal economic theory yet,” I’m familiar with liberal or classical liberal economic theory ; it seems so-called neoliberal economic theory is little different. Free markets, free minds.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#15)
    by cp on Sun Mar 27, 2005 at 05:48:19 PM EST
    TL, this surprises you because? this is SOP for industry regulation in this country, especially the railroads. they've enjoyed special status since at least the 1870's, when they were granted huge swaths of land as "right-of-ways" all across the country, to encourage them to extend their tracks from the east coast to the west coast. this was in an effort to encourage westward migration and expansion. whether it be good, bad or indifferent, it is a policy that has true bipartisan support, on both federal and state levels. as the country went through it's own great industrial revolution, the other industries took note. when the time came, they followed the pattern set by the railroads: get your own people in the government that would seek to regulate you. it was the only way to be sure.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 06:04:22 AM EST
    In my eyes, the problem is corruption, not regulation. Now whether it is even possible to rid our gov't of corruption is a good question. The pessimist in me says no, as long as there is bueracracy there is corruption. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

    Re: TX Regulator Lies to Help Railroads (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Mar 28, 2005 at 11:32:22 AM EST
    Pigwiggle: Your argument is tempting but I have to agree with kdog that
    the problem is corruption, not regulation
    I'm thinking of the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire earlier last century, PW. Assuming you are the NY legislator responsible for protecting folks from this ever happening, I'm very curious about what remedy (if any) you would propose.