I pay little attention to AM radio nowadays. My audio library of spoken words—gathered mostly from American and European sources—is much more informative. However, while in the car last week, I heard the July 26 4pm news read by Terry Schintz on CKNW. One item seemed out of place because it was not a news report, it was an apologia for David Hahn, the generously paid CEO of BC Ferries.
CKNW’s Terry Schintz:
BC Ferries boss David Hahn making no apologies for his wealthy pension plan and overall compensation. …Hahn says the BC Ferries Board made it clear when he was brought in it wanted a private sector approach to cleaning up the fleet.
It’s probably, umm, a lot more than most people would like to see me being paid – and the other, ah, key members of the team – but, on the other hand, the results, ah, speak for themself.
Hahn says people are starting to forget about the never ending ferry line-ups from years gone by...
The audio clip of Hahn used on NW’s prime 4 o’clock news was taken from Bill Good’s talk show earlier that day. There Skipper Hahn got the usual deferential—or is that reverential—treatment.
NW might defend softball treatment by talk show commentators but there is no place for it within the newscasts. Where was the balance, the rest of the story about Hahn’s remuneration? Should not his self-serving remark have been accompanied by information that he earns eight times the amount of the Washington State Ferry CEO and even more than the top executives of international shipping and ferry operator Stena Line.
Of course, Hahn’s statement that the Board (a self-perpetuating one which elects its own members) wanted a “private sector approach” is meaningless. Sure, the worst examples of private sector business allow executives to loot treasuries almost at will but authentic, respected private enterprises manage assets for the long term benefit of the owners.
In the private sector that I know, non-owner executives are paid according to levels typical in similar businesses. There is no excuse for the extravagance of BC Ferries senior management.
Besides, Mr. Hahn, the results do not speak for themselves.
The German built ferries have been and remain problematic, less efficient and usable than the BC built Spirit Class ships. Recently, we learned the $20 million BC Ferries is offering as subsidy to the billionaire owners of Washington Marine Group is a requirement of the Harper Government established during negotiations over duties imposed when the German-built ferries were imported. WMG already scored millions by selling three fast cat ferries to Abu Dhabi. (Wow. Friends sure take care of friends in this world.)
Customer satisfaction remains low, fares are punishingly high, rising well above the inflation rate. Since 2003, rates have increased as much as 80 per cent on some routes. Service sometimes is below minimum safety standards. For example, on the Powell River-Comox run, a patron recently complained in a letter to the Powell River Peak newspaper after finding that ship elevator service was unavailable for an aging relative, She said,
When it comes to the safety factor, exactly what arrangements are made to help those who are struggling to climb the stairs? Will they be assisted in case of an emergency?
The answer is no. Executive salaries and pensions are more important than elevators and customer service staff.