Posts Tagged ‘Martin Oberman’

Oberman Named STB Chair

January 23, 2021

Martin Oberman has been designated by President Joseph Biden to serve as chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Under federal law, the STB chairman is to be a member of the political party holding the White House.

Oberman, a Chicago attorney, joined the STB as a Democratic member on Jan. 22, 2019, and has served as vice chair since Jan. 6, 2020. His term will expire on Jan. 31, 2023.

Oberman has served as a Chicago alderman, a member of the board of commuter railroad Metra, and as a member of the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

He will replace Ann Begeman, a Republican member whose term expired on Dec. 31, but who is eligible to remain on the Board in holdover status until the end of this year.

However, her position could be replaced at any time by the Biden administration.

Miller Doesn’t Want Another STB Term

March 6, 2019

Deb Miller has withdrawn her name from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Miller, a Democrat from Kansas, could have been appointed to a second term.

She was originally appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April 2014 to fill a seat vacated by Frank Mulvey, also a Democrat.

That term ended Dec. 31, 2017, but under federal law Miller was allowed to continue for another year as a holdover appointee.

It is not clear who President Trump might nominate to fill the open Democratic seat on the STB.

Although the STB was authorized in 2015 to have five members that has yet to occur.

Two seats were vacant for three years until the Senate this past January confirmed the appointments of Patrick J. Fuchs, a Republican; and Martin J. Oberman, a Democrat.

Oberman was named to replace former STB Chairman Dan Elliott, a Democrat, who stepped down in late 2017.

The STB now has two Republicans, including Chairman Ann Begeman, who is serving a second term.

Two seats are vacant and by law the party controlling the White House may only have a majority on the boarding. The two vacant seats must be split between a Republican and a Democrat.

The Trump administration has nominated Republican Michelle A. Schultz to one of those seats, but her nomination is on hold pending the naming of another Democrat.

As chair of the STB, Begeman controls the agency’s docket and she has put on hold several rulemaking cases until the board has its full five members.

Some pending rules have been delayed for years.

Senate OKs 2 STB Commissioners

January 4, 2019

Two appointees to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board were confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday. Approved were Patrick Fuchs and Martin Oberman.

Fuchs has been a senior professional staff member working on surface transportation and maritime issues for the Senate Commerce Committee and also served as a policy analyst and Presidential Management Fellow at the Office of Management and Budget.

He will serve a five-year term as an STB commissioner.

Oberman is the former chairman of Metra and a Chicago attorney. He formerly served as a Chicago alderman.

He joined Metra’s board in September 2013 and was elected chairman in 2014. He held that position until October 2017.

Oberman will serve the remainder of a five-year term that expires Dec. 31, 2023.

Senate Committee Hears from Amtrak Board Nominee

July 30, 2018

A nominee for a seat on the Amtrak board of directors was described as a lifelong “train freak” during a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.

The label was placed on Rick A. Dearborn by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, who chaired most of the two-hour hearing.

During the hearing, Dearborn said Amtrak needs to make its long-distance trains more attractive but did not say that he supports government funding of them.

“Amtrak trains should be on time, clean, competitive, and a good option for travelers,” Dearborn said. “Long distance service is a critical part of the national passenger rail system. I am committed to it.”

“I get the impression that Amtrak is being reduced, not built, because it’s requiring taxpayer dollars,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, told Dearborn. “Do you think taxpayer dollars are necessary to keep Amtrak going?”

“I can’t predict whether or not Amtrak could operate without financial assistance,” Dearborn said. “I would hope that if we focus on creating a good product, then revenues will rise and the dependency on federal dollars would be less.”

“If you had a choice between lowering operating losses and shutting down a long-distance line, what would you choose?” asked U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada.

“I hope I’m never faced with that decision,” Dearborn replied.

Dearborn also zeroed in on safety, saying it must be the passenger carrier’s highest priority.

Dearborn expressed optimism that Amtrak will meet the Dec. 31 deadline set by federal law to install positive train control.

In his opening statement Dearborn said he has a collection of O Scale models that includes 75 locomotives and 300 pieces of rolling stock.

He has worked for six senators since the mid-1970s, including 12 years as chief of staff for former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama

Dearborn was executive director of President Donald Trump’s transition team and White House deputy chief of staff until he resigned in March.

Also speaking to the committee was Martin J. Oberman, former chairman of Chicago’s Metra rail system, who has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

He said he was studying such issues facing the STB as the long-standing struggle between carriers and shippers over “captive switching,” and the board’s work on streamlining rate disputes.

“My four years at Metra required my total immersion and continuous education in the railroad industry,” Oberman said. “I quickly learned that all aspects of our national rail system are fundamentally interconnected and the rail system is central to the national economy.”

Oberman pledged to take a “fresh look” at those and other issues. “Honoring precedent and not changing systems that aren’t broken are important values,” he said. “It also critical to be willing to question practices if they appear to be archaic and ineffective in meeting the changing needs of consumers and businesses, or keeping pace with technological changes in the global economy.”

Oberman said he favors negotiation over litigation as a means to resolve issues within the railroad industry.

“As a trial lawyer for 49 years, I know litigation is the worst way to settle a dispute,” Oberman said.

Oberman Nominated for STB Seat

July 7, 2018

Martin Oberman has been nominated to serve as a Democratic member of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

The White House announced the nomination on Thursday on its website.

Oberman is a former chairman of Chicago commuter railroad Metra.

Subject to being confirmed by the Senate, Oberman will fill the remainder of a five-year term expiring Dec. 31, 2023.

That seat was voluntarily vacated in 2017 by former Chairman Dan Elliott.

Oberman was among at least eight Democrats who were being considered for the last vacancy on the five-member regulatory board

He received strong support from the Rail Customer Coalition, an association of trade groups representing major freight rail users.

The 73-year-old Oberman is an attorney who served on the Chicago City Council before being named by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in September 2013 to a seat on the Metra board of directors.

Oberman was elected chairman in 2014, serving until last October.

He also serves on the board of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and is a past general counsel to the Illinois Racing Board.

Oberman graduated from Yale University and earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin.

Two Republicans, Patrick Fuchs and Michelle Schultz, are awaiting Senate confirmation for STB seats but have been approved by a Senator committee.

The STB currently has two members Republican Ann Begeman, who serves as STB chair, and Democrat Deb Miller.