Friday, July 27, 2007

George W. Bush Library call for submission of bids

George W. Bush Presidential Materials Project, Dallas, TX
General Information

Document Type:
Presolicitation Notice
Solicitation Number: NAMA-07-SEM-0004
Posted Date: Jul 26, 2007
Original Response Date: Sep 24, 2007
Current Response Date: Sep 24, 2007
Original Archive Date:
Current Archive Date:
Classification Code: X -- Lease or rental of facilities
Naics Code: 531190 -- Lessors of Other Real Estate Property

Contracting Office Address
National Archives and Records Administration, NAA, Acquisition Center, 8601 Adelphi Road, Room 3360, College Park, MD, 20740-6001, UNITED STATES

The United States Government announces its intent in procuring the services of a developer for the development of a presidential material records storage facility to be leased by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for its own use. The development must be of sufficient size to accommodate the following requirements:

* This solicitation is for a new single-story, contiguous, turn-key facility (site and building). The Facility is to serve the National Archives and Records Administration?s (NARA?s) needs for the George W. Bush Presidential Materials Project, Dallas, TX .

* The overall size of the Project Site for a new Presidential Library must be at least 60,000 BOMA usable square feet. Of that space, approximately 8,400 square feet must be suitable for office activities and outfitted for general office usage (Class A). The remaining approximately 51,600 square feet must be outfitted for holdings storage (general textual, general non-textual, national security classified, and museum collections), processing areas, and general support spaces.

* The facility is scheduled to be delivered by the October, 1, 2008, for occupancy.

* The Developer must provide all management, supervision, labor, materials, shelving, supplies, and equipment (except as otherwise provided), and must plan, schedule, coordinate and assure effective performance of all construction to meet NARA requirements. The Developer will perform the construction in accordance with the design specifications, drawings, and the provisions of the lease agreement.

* Offer shall 1) be for space located in a quality building of sound and substantial construction as described in the SFO, 2) facility have all the perimeter 100 foot setbacks and building have a potential for efficient layout, 3) be within the square footage range to be considered, and 4) be in compliance with all of the Government?s requirements set forth in the SFO. This can be a new building, or a renovation to an existing building.

* The facility and site must meet all applicable local, county, and state building and fire safety codes, as well as generally meeting the NARA Office of Presidential Libraries, Architectural and Design Standards for Presidential Libraries, Part 3.

* Lease term will be a Base Year (starting October 1, 2008), and Five (5) Option Year (to September 30, 2014) renewals, as operating, full service and below prospectus level.

* The proposed facility and site must lie within 25 miles of the center of intersection of U.S Highway 75 (North Central Expressway) and Lovers Lane, Dallas , TX:

* The Solicitation for Offers (NAMA-07-SEM-0004) will be offered on or about August 24, 2007, and will be due on or about September 24, 2007. The SFO will be available as electronic files at THIS WEBSITE. Additionally, any updates or supplementary, public information will be posted on this website throughout the developer selection process.

All questions about and expressions of interest in this solicitation should be directed to the contact listed below.

Ronald C. Noll
Contracting Officer
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, Room 1150
College Park MD 20740
ph(301) 837-3648
fax (301) 837-3657

Point of Contact
Ronald Noll, Contracting Officer, Phone 301-837-3648, Fax 301-837-3657, Email - Ronald Noll, Contracting Officer, Phone 301-837-3648, Fax 301-837-3657, Email
Place of Performance
Address: DALLAS, TX
Postal Code: 75205

There is a potential upside for researches who applaude and for those who are critical of the adminstration of George W. Bush. Those who support him will have a library nearby. Those who feel this nation has strayed from its path under this administration will have the documentation nearby for utilization in critiques and academic papers about how government should not be done in the USA.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Toll road financing flawed: academic - modelling on which the projects are engineered is to maximise profits to investment banks not benefits to users

Michael West - The Australian - September 27, 2006
AUSTRALIA'S toll road projects, including Sydney's Cross City Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel and the M2, will not survive without continuing government subsidies and are likely to fail anyway, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for billions of dollars in debt, a transport conference will hear today.

Reopening criticisms of toll road financing he first made a year ago, a paper by Sydney academic John Goldberg claims the modelling on which the projects are engineered is to maximise profits to investment banks rather than provide the best possible service for motorists. A copy of the paper - "The fatal flaw in the financing of private road infrastructure in Australia" - obtained by The Australian, says the Cross City Tunnel (CCT), Lane Cove Tunnel (LCT) and M2 (Hills Motorway) projects are "not likely to be able to amortise (pay down) debt by the end of the concession periods".

"The analysis shows that the probability of insolvency is generally very high even if the time value of money is ignored.

"Unless the government has guaranteed the project against failure, equity investors will lose heavily," says the report.

Dr Goldberg cites the experience of the Sydney Airport Railway public-private partnership (PPP) project which collapsed in 2000 leaving taxpayers to foot the $800 million bill.

The NSW Government has refused to make public the toll road project documents, except for the CCT, claiming it does not want to breach confidentiality agreements with the operators.

If there is no government guarantee, Dr Goldberg claims superannuation funds and investors might be liable for the debts in the event of collapse as they owned units in the stapled trust structure.

Dr Goldberg's analysis is based on Macquarie Bank's base case model for the M2 project.

Spokespeople for the LCT, Transurban (M2, M7, and City Link in Melbourne) and the CCT rejected Dr Goldberg's thesis yesterday. "We didn't agree with Dr Goldberg last time he made claims like this and we don't agree now," said Transurban's general manager corporate affairs, Mike Roberts.

Some 40 per cent of City Link's revenue and 35 per cent of M2 revenue consists of government subsidies under the infrastructure bond scheme.

Dr Goldberg claimed the traffic forecasts for the CCT had been made to fit in with the investment case for the project.

"Even if the traffic projections were to be met, there would be insufficient cash flow to amortise (pay down) debt and pay equity dividends," says the report.

Last year's paper from Dr Goldberg was rejected by the toll road operators and Macquarie Bank executive Warwick Smith complained to University of Sydney vice-chancellor Gavin Brown demanding that the university dissociate itself from the academic. Professor Brown subsequently issued a press release dissociating the university from Dr Goldberg.
Read more in The Australian

PREMEDITATED MERGER - Controversy erupts over leaser of U.S. toll roads

Foreign firm part of public-private partnerships funding highway network
By Jerome R. Corsi - © 2007 - July 20, 2007
Investment analysts in New York and Australia charge that Macquarie, the Australian conglomerate leasing U.S. toll roads, is a "house of cards" that has made billions by spinning off the highway assets into over-valuated investment trusts controlled by the bank.

Macquarie has been an active participant in the "public-private partnerships" sponsored by Mary Peters when she was head of the Federal Highway Administration.

As documented on the FHWA website, Macquarie recently concluded long-term leasing deals on the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road.

In both projects, Macquarie has partnered with Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A., the Spanish investment consortium also involved in financing and leasing the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The criticism of Macquarie can be traced to a paper published last year by John L. Goldberg, an honorary associate at the School of Architecture, Design Science, and Planning at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Titled "The Fatal Flaw in the Financing of Private Road Infrastructure in Australia," the paper argued equity investors in Macquarie investment trusts are likely to suffer heavy losses by excessive valuations Macquarie makes of financed toll roads that are packaged together to be sold to pension funds and other institutional investors.

Goldberg also argued that government guarantees on Macquarie projects are often buried in the confidential part of toll road "comprehensive development agreements," such that the public taxpayer liability only comes to light when a toll road project fails.

Jim Chanos, a founding principal in the New York investment firm Kynikos Associates, has been equally critical of Macquarie.

Kynikos, founded in 1985, specializes in short-selling the stock of companies the firm believes are overvalued by the financial markets and likely to fall in price. Chanos distinguished himself as one of the most active critics of Enron prior to the company's fall.

In a May 30 radio interview with Australian talk-show host Mark Colvin, Chanos charged that the "Macquarie model" was seriously flawed.

"The bank scours the world buying assets," Chanos told the radio audience, "buying assets, everything from toll roads to bowling alleys and selling them into separate trusts that the bank controls. This generates triple fees for Macquarie Bank: one for the up-front purchase; a second for selling the assets into the trust; then ongoing management and performance fees from the funds."

Chanos charged that the loser in the scheme was the investor.

"If you look at the financial accounts of the trusts," Chanos explained to the Australian talk show, "you'll see that in almost all the cases the companies are using Australian re-valuation accounting which is legal under [Generally Accepted Accounting Practices] in your country to write up the value of the asset annually and put that through operating income and into equity."

Chanos argued that the practice only works in a financial environment in which cheap credit is readily available and valuations for infrastructure projects are generally rising.

"You need a credit environment that looks the other way, or you need a credit environment where the people lending are just lending on reputation or not numbers," Chanos said.

Eventually, he contended, the self-dealing between Macquarie and the Macquarie-controlled funds into which the infrastructure assets are sold is likely to crash.

"All I would tell your listeners," Chanos said in the radio interview, "is simply just go to the trusts, the financial statements, and simply extract out the asset re-valuation number, which is basically management's guess as to how much, what the asset's worth and just see what the cash flow looks like. In many cases, the cash flows are diminished or actually go negative. That's the simple litmus test to the Macquarie model."

Still, Chanos argued that despite the problem in the underlying cash flows, Macquarie makes hefty profits.

"Capital gains alone in the fiscal year 2007, just for flipping these types of assets into the trusts, accounted for half of the pre-tax income of Macquarie Bank," Chanos asserted.

Macquarie Bank has hit back strongly against both critics.

According to newspaper reports in Australia, Macquarie Bank executive Warwick Smith complained to University of Sidney Vice Chancellor Gavin Brown, demanding that the university dissociate itself from Goldberg over his critical research.

In response, Brown issued a statement clarifying that Goldberg is not an employee of the University of Sydney, though he has been given the title of honorary associate by the Faculty of Architecture. In his statement, Brown claimed Goldberg "speaks as an individual and the university accepts no responsibility for his comments which it does not endorse."

In the subsequent controversy that erupted in Australia, Goldberg was featured as a case study in "Silencing Dissent," a book critical of the administration of Prime Minister John Howard, published in Australia by Clive Hamilton, the executive director of a prominent Australian think-tank, and his co-editor Sarah Maddison.

In the book, Hamilton and Maddison charged that the Howard government used strong-arm tactics to challenge the tax status of non-government organizations and ruin the reputations of academics who were critical of governmental policies, including the sale of highway infrastructure leasing rights to private investment concerns in Australia.

Macquarie used a similar personal attack to discredit Chanos following the interview on Australian radio.

In a May 31 statement posted on the Macquarie website, the investment group charged that Chanos, "a hedge fund short-seller of equities," had an economic self-interest in advancing "incorrect claims" that could cause the stock price of Macquarie to fall.

When contacted for comment, Macquarie's New York representative referred WND to the company's online statement, in which Macquarie asserts that all assets acquired by funds controlled by Macquarie are valued directly from the market and subject to the approval of independent directors of the funds.

The published Macquarie response to Chanos also cited a May 25 Bloomberg report which quoted Chanos as saying Kynikos maintains a short position on Macquarie.

Short-selling is a Wall Street practice in which an investor borrows and sells stock the investor does not own, anticipating the stock will go down in value. The short-seller profits by buying shares at a lower price to replace the shares that originally were borrowed and sold at the higher price.

Short-sellers lose money if the price of the stock increases and the cost to purchase shares to replace those borrowed is greater than the price for which the borrowed shares were sold.

Macquarie Infrastructure Group is a separate subsidiary from Macquarie Bank.

The website of Macquarie Infrastructure Group bills the company as "one of the largest private developers of toll roads in the world."

Read more in World Net Daily

Jaime Castillo: Toll road proponents: Motorists can — and should — pay more

Jaime Castillo - San Antonio Express News - 07/22/2007
They say you don't kill the messenger, but can you at least throttle him?
The "him" in this instance is Dye Management Group Inc., which recently completed a draft audit on toll roads for the Texas Transportation Commission.
After taking a look at existing toll rates of 10 to 15 cents a mile in Dallas, Houston and Austin, the firm determined that local toll authorities aren't charging drivers enough.

The logic — a term that should be used loosely — is that motorists can and will pay more, which would bring in more cash for the state's yawning road needs.

"Tolls charged by local authorities are lower than studies indicate that their customers would be willing to pay," the audit reads. "As a result, congestion goals will not be met."

Translation: "If you want to raise funds for other projects, keep jacking up the toll price until drivers cry 'uncle,' and then back it off a penny or two."

As reported by Express-News transportation writer Patrick Driscoll, the audit "mirrors much of what officials have been saying for years."

Hope Andrade, a transportation commission member from San Antonio, told Driscoll:

"It just confirms the emergency situation that we're in. We can no longer support toll rates that are not market value."

If this were part of a political handbook on winning support for toll roads from a skeptical public, charging "market value" — or as much as you can get — on tollways would be relegated to the section titled: "How to lose even more support in 30 seconds or less."

And this isn't the fault of people like Andrade, either. State and federal lawmakers continually saddle transportation officials with a losing poker hand.

In the last 16 years, the state's population — and construction costs — have grown exponentially. Yet, the gas tax — the primary source of highway funding — has been frozen since 1991.

And not only has it remained static in an ever-changing world, state lawmakers can't keep their hands off of it either.

Continuing its long-running budgetary shell game, the Legislature's latest two-year budget will see one-tenth, or $1.6 billion, of the highway fund diverted from building and maintaining roads.

With fiscal constraint apparently off the table, raising the gas tax must be looked at seriously. While difficult with gasoline prices hovering around $3 a gallon, it could be done if the entire state leadership — the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — supported the change.

That way, lawmakers, who already quietly concede that the gas tax is too low, could stick their necks out and not fear being singled out as the pigeons that supported higher taxes.

The alternative is to unnecessarily gouge those who will use toll roads. If the recommendations by Dye Management Group are the guide, toll riders will soon have the privilege of paying the highest tolls possible and paying the 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax.

A recent trip to the car dealer landed me in a shuttle van with several other car-less souls.

The shuttle van driver, exasperated by a 15-minute wait to go a couple of miles on U.S. 281 North, said to no one in particular:

"This almost makes you want to see toll roads."

To which, a homeowner who lives near the intersection of 281 and Bulverde Road blurted out:

"I don't care what they do as long as they do something soon."

With that kind of captive — and infuriated — audience, state and local transportation officials are banking that they will get their way eventually.

But it still doesn't make it right.

Read Jaime Castillo's column in the San Antonio Express News on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Failures at oil refineries raise gas prices - A third of USA refineries reported fires, power failures, leaks, spills and other disruptions this year

By Jad Mouawad - THE NEW YORK TIMES - Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oil refineries across America have had a record number of fires, power failures, leaks, spills and breakdowns this year, causing dozens to shut down temporarily or trim production. The disruptions are helping drive gasoline prices to highs not seen since last summer's records.

These mechanical breakdowns, which one analyst likened to an "invisible hurricane," have created a bottleneck in domestic energy supplies, helping push up gasoline prices 50 cents this year to well above $3 a gallon. A third of the country's 150 refineries have reported disruptions to their operations since the beginning of the year, a record, according to analysts.

There have been blazes at refineries in Texas, Louisiana, Indiana and California, some of them caused by lightning strikes. Plants have suffered power losses that disrupted operations; a midsize refinery in Kansas was flooded by torrential rains last month.

American refiners are running roughly 5 percent below their normal levels at this time of the year.

"You have a system that is taxed to the limit," said Adam Robinson, an energy research analyst at Lehman Brothers. "This is what happens when spare capacity is eroded."

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted the nation's energy lifeline almost two years ago, oil companies delayed maintenance on many of their plants to make up for lost supplies and take advantage of the high prices. But, analysts say, they are now paying a price for deferring repairs.

As a whole, refining disruptions have been considerably higher than in previous years: They averaged 1.5 million barrels a day in the first quarter, compared with 700,000 to 900,000 barrels a day from 2001 to 2005. In the days after the hurricanes, refiners were forced to briefly halt as many as 5 million barrels of production.

In 2006, when refiners were still reeling from the impact of the hurricanes, disruptions in the first quarter averaged 1.35 million barrels a day.

Many factors have led to the rise in gas prices, including disruptions in oil supplies from places such as Nigeria and Norway. But analysts say the refining bottleneck in North America has been one of the main drivers of higher energy prices this year.

The refining crunch has pushed wholesale gasoline prices up 35 percent this year. It has also contributed to a 23 percent gain for crude oil prices in the same period. Oil futures in New York closed at $75.57 a barrel on Friday.

Some critics have theorized on Internet blogs that the squeeze on gasoline and other refined products points to a deliberate effort by oil companies to bolster profits by keeping supplies tight. But experts point out that the companies have little incentive right now to hold back on fuel supplies.

"Every refinery would like to run as much crude as possible, but they simply can't," said David Greely, senior energy economist at Goldman Sachs. "These are more complex systems. There are more chances for things to go wrong. And when things go wrong, they tend to back up the system."

Meanwhile, refiners have been scrambling to meet a raft of environmental regulations, phase out toxic additives, add ethanol to the fuel mix and introduce new ultra-low sulfur standards for gasoline and diesel. Industry insiders attribute much of the fragility of refining operations to the difficulty of making these cleaner fuels, which they were not originally designed to do.

This year's problems have raised alarms about the safety of refining operations, especially after an accident at a BP refinery in Texas two years ago that killed 15 workers. The A third of the country's refineries have reported fires, power failures, leaks, spills and other disruptions this year the Federal Chemical Safety Board issued a critical report blaming a broken safety culture at BP. But the board's chairwoman, Carolyn Merritt, said there was a pattern in many other refinery incidents that the board had investigated.

"There is a lack of investments in modern equipment," Merritt said. "The overwhelming preponderance is that if you have inadequate engineering and equipment, poor process safety management and poor staffing, you're set up for a catastrophe."

Merritt, who was appointed by President Bush and will retire after her five-year term ends in August, also singled out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which she said does not conduct enough inspections. "There is no enforcement," she said.

OSHA defended its record and said it inspected almost 500 refineries from 1994 to 2004. The agency said it would inspect all refineries under its jurisdiction in the next two years.

Meanwhile, demand has been rising relentlessly, providing little respite to the nation's aging energy infrastructure. Even as consumers complain loudly about high prices, they show no signs of scaling back. Gasoline consumption reached 9.66 million barrels a day in the first week of July, the second-highest level on record.

"The cushion that used to be available five to seven years ago for these unplanned perturbations is no longer there," said Jeet Bindra, Chevron's president of global refining. "When a refinery has a hiccup, there are consequences on supplies."
Read more in the Austin American Statesman

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