Segment 1 Of 2     Next Hearing Segment(2)

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PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at []. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.


U.S. House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Economic Development,

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,

Washington, DC.

    The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:02 a.m. in room 2253, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Wayne Gilchrest (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

    Mr. GILCHREST. The subcommittee will come to order.

    We are going to focus on several areas. One will cover bills proposing naming several Federal Buildings and General Services. A number of our distinguished colleagues are here.
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    Second, we'll review testimony on H.R. 308, Transfer of GSA to Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania.

    I welcome you all here this morning.

    The first witness will be the Honorable Barbara Vucanovich.


    Ms. VUCANOVICH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning to the committee. Thank you for holding this hearing on my bill, H.R. 395, to name the new Federal courthouse currently under construction in Reno, Nevada, after the late Judge Bruce R. Thompson. I can't think of a more deserving Nevadan on whom to bestow this honor.

    Judge Thompson was one of Nevada's most prominent, respected, and beloved men in Nevada law and led a long and highly-distinguished career.

    After graduating from the University of Nevada and Stanford law school, he practiced law with George Springmeyer and the late Mead Dixon for 27 years until 1963. He served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada from 1942 to 1952 and as special master for the U.S. District Court of the District of Nevada from 1952 to 1953.

    Judge Thompson was also president of the Nevada State Bar Association from 1955 to 1956. Following a term a regent to the State Planning Board in 1959, he served as its chairman from 1960 to 1961. In 1963, he was appointed U.S. District Judge by President John Kennedy.
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    Judge Thompson was also a member of the American Bar Association, the American Law Institute, the American Judicature Society—of which he was director in 1959—the Institute of Judicial Administration, and the American College of Trial Lawyers. From 1975 to 1977, he was president of the Ninth Circuit District Judges.

    His outstanding career is coupled by the immense love and respect Judge Thompson earned from his colleagues. In fact, virtually every legal organization in Nevada has unanimously passed a resolution in favor of naming the courthouse after Judge Thompson. They include the State Bar of Nevada, the Washoe County Bar Association, the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, and the Federal Bar Association, among many others.

    In addition, the Nevada State Legislature unanimously passed a similar resolution. To my delight, thousands of my fellow Nevadans have even signed petitions in favor of my bill.

    My efforts to name the Reno courthouse after Judge Thompson are not new. In 1993, I introduced a similar measure, H .R. 3110, that unanimously passed the full House last August, but due to time constraints the Senate was unable to act.

    The entire Nevada Congressional delegation has announced its support for my bill, and our Senators recently introduced similar legislation. We are all hopeful Congress will finally honor Judge Thompson in this most appropriate manner.

    Since construction on the courthouse has been ongoing for nearly a year, the timeliness of passing this legislation is clear. Therefore, I ask for the subcommittee's support to report H.R. 395 to the full committee.
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    Thank you again, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Wise, for holding this hearing. I appreciate it. It is very important that we get this passed.

    Mr. GILCHREST. We thank the gentlelady born in Cramper, New Jersey, but now residing in Nevada.

    Ms. VUCANOVICH. That's right.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much.

    Ms. VUCANOVICH. Thank you. I appreciate it.

    Mr. GILCHREST. The Honorable Mr. Hastings.


    Mr. HASTINGS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection, so ordered.

    Mr. HASTINGS. If the chairman will permit, in the interest of time I will ask unanimous consent to have my written statement read into the record and I'll just make a very brief appeal, Mr. Chairman.
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    I served for 10 of the 23 years that the man I'm seeking to have the Federal Justice building named after with him. It was during that period of time that the building was built.

    James Lawrence King, Mr. Chairman, built the building. When I say that, I say it unequivocally. He is the only Federal judge that I know that actually acted as a contractor. Every day, every night you would find him in the building, every detail of that building.

    There are other worthy individuals, but I can think of none more worthy than Judge King, and that's why I came.

    I have the support of the south Florida delegation, who would have the primary interest. Both republican and democrat have indicated that they have no objection to this.

    I thank you, Mr. Chairman and our ranking Member.

    [Mr. Hastings' prepared statement follows:]

    [Insert here.]

    Mr. GILCHREST. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Hastings.

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    Mr. Traficant.


    Mr. TRAFICANT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I'd like to testify on behalf of three bills I have before the committee, and I ask unanimous consent that my written statement be incorporated in the record. I also ask unanimous consent that the statement of Ms. Elizabeth Jones be incorporated in this record.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection, so ordered.

    [Ms. Jones' prepared statement follows:]

    [Insert here.]

    Mr. TRAFICANT. The first bill is H.R. 840, to designate the Federal building and courthouse located on South Evans Street in Greenville, North Carolina, as the Walter B. Jones Federal Building and United States Courthouse.

    One of the great Members of the House with a distinguished career for many years, the former chairman of Merchant Marine and Fisheries, dear friend of mine whose son, Walter, now serves in the United States Congress, with a litany of tremendous successes this panel is completely aware of, dear friend of mine—most fitting that this building be named after Walter Jones.
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    I ask that there be an expeditious determination in that regard.

    Second is H.R. 869 to designate the Federal building and U.S. courthouse located in Youngstown, Ohio, as the Thomas D. Lambros Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

    Judge Lambros recently retired from northeast Ohio, ultimately became the chief judge up in the northern district of Ohio. He was a tremendous person that worked for years on behalf of many people, set up many of the current systems that appear in our Federal Court system. He was appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson and is one of the finest people you will find in our country, and I ask that bill be passed expeditiously.

    Finally I speak on behalf of H.R. 965 that would designated the Federal building located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Place in Louisville, Kentucky, for the former Member for many years from that area and a dear friend of ours and colleague, Romano L. Mazzoli.

    I think we all know Ron's record. I think he stood for and championed the rights of all people. The rights of any individual were as important to him as the collective rights of all.

    These three bills that I present I believe are worthy of your support and I'd ask that you give expeditious consideration. Because of our time restraints, I don't think we have spread across through my testimony probably many of the salient points that were necessary to distinguish these great careers.

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    I appreciate that and ask you to affirm favorably these bills.

    [Mr. Traficant's prepared statements follow:]

    [Insert here.]

    Mr. GILCHREST. It is always an honor, Mr. Traficant.

    Mr. Wise.

    Mr. WISE. Mr. Chairman, if I could just add, having— as you have, Mr. Chairman, I believe, as well—worked with two of the gentlemen, you are right, Jim, in terms of not spreading perhaps on the record that their lives and service—both Walter Jones, who was probably one of the kindest people I knew to a new Member. He was a powerful committee Chair but took every new Member under his wing, as well as Ron Mazzoli, who may be one of the most decent individuals I have ever met. Their testimony and lives also represent them well.

    Mr. TRAFICANT. For sure.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you for your testimony.

    Mr. TRAFICANT. Thank you.

    Mr. GILCHREST. The committee stands in recess for the vote.
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    Mr. GILCHREST. The subcommittee will come to order.

    The first witness we'll hear is the Honorable Mr. Ward from Kentucky. Thank you for coming, Mr. Ward.


    Mr. WARD. Thank you and good morning.

    I appreciate very much the opportunity to be here this morning and join my friend, Mr. Traficant, who earlier testified in support of House Resolution 965, a bill to designate the Federal building in Louisville, Kentucky, as the Romano L. Mazzoli Federal Building.

    As you know, Ron Mazzoli represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky's third District from his election in 1970 until January of this year when I was sworn in as his successor. I am very proud to be a close friend of Ron and to have been an active participant in his campaign over the years. He retired last year.

    Prior to his years in the House, Congressman Mazzoli served in the General Assembly of Kentucky. My District office is the same space that Ron had, and Ron has used that building for his District office space his entire 24 years. Several Executive Branch agencies staffed by many dedicated civil service employees also have office space in the building.
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    The men and women whose work place is the Federal building in Louisville are committed to providing quality service for the people of our community and the entire Commonwealth and the Nation.

    Ron Mazzoli has devoted and continues to devote his life to public service. In fact, he is serving as Chair of the community's task force to work on our base closure issue that we are facing this month.

    It seems only fitting that the building where he spent such a large part of his distinguished Congressional career should bear his name, and I urge members of the subcommittee to approve that.

    I also have with me copies of—and I would like these entered in the record, if I may—copies of resolutions passed by the Kentucky Legislature in 1994 urging the Federal building be named in his honor.

    I would note that all of the members of the legislative delegation from Louisville, both democrats and republicans, cosponsored these resolutions, so it is truly a bipartisan effort to see this done.

    Thank you again very much for letting me testify.

    [The resolution follows:]

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    [Insert here.]

    Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Ward. I think it is an honorable and worthy thing that you've done here this morning. We all have a great deal of respect for Congressman Mazzoli.


    Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Congressman Ward, I just want to say that I appreciate the fact that you are doing this. I'm in my seventh year in the Congress, and obviously the first six of those were spent serving with Congressman Mazzoli, and I can tell you he was well-respected and well-liked on both sides of the aisle. He spoke out. People knew where he stood. But he always did that in a kind and decent way.

    You know, a lot of us give lip service to reform, but he believed in reform and went ahead and put himself under higher standards than he was forced to because, I believe, he wouldn't accept any PAC contributions and didn't accept any contributions over $100, even when that caused him great political difficulty at times.

    I think he had the admiration of a great many people here. In fact, in my mind he was an ideal Congressman because he didn't seek a lot of publicity or glory for himself. As they say, he was a work horse and not a show horse.

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    I want to say I support this legislation. Thank you very much.

    Mr. WARD. Thank you.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Jim. Does anyone else seek time?

    [No response.]

    Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Ward, thank you very much for testifying this morning.

    Mr. WARD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. GILCHREST. The Honorable Mr. Klink.


    Mr. KLINK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to speak before your committee. My dear friend, Jim Duncan, will be excused if he dozes off because he has heard this testimony before and there is not a whole lot new in this.

    I wish to express my thanks to you and to the members of the committee for scheduling and allowing me to testify on H.R. 308. We call it the Hopewell Township Investment Act of 1995.
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    The purpose of this bill is to promote economic development and to create jobs in Hopewell Township at a site near Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, a town that back in the early 1980s lost 15,000 jobs in the steel industry in one day. It is a very hard-hit, economically depressed town.

    Last year the House approved a similar bill but the Senate adjourned prior to this legislation's passage.

    Specifically, H.R. 308 accomplishes the objective by transferring the site of the former Mine Safety and Health Administration facility to the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development. This is a nonprofit corporation that has the responsibility for spurring economic development and for bringing in new businesses to Beaver County. That portion of my Congressional District in western Pennsylvania is right on the Ohio line west of Pittsburgh.

    The CED has a proven track record of transforming rough- cut properties into economic development diamonds that create jobs and generate tax revenue. CED supports this bill and looks forward to transforming the Hopewell site from an abandoned financial liability into a first-rate asset.

    The corporation has pledged its resources to preparing and repairing the site for new industry once its ownership can change hands.

    The corporation has envisioned two types of development that could occur at this property: either an incubator facility for a variety of new businesses, or a single larger employer such as an engineering firm or a research and development firm.
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    Under this legislation, the site would revert to the Federal Government unless it is converted to an industrial site by the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development.

    Mr. Chairman, I'd like to just give you a brief history of this site.

    Back in the 1960s, more than 125 people worked there manufacturing single-engine aircraft on this property. When the aircraft manufacturer relocated to Georgia, a new manufacturer set in and they made modular homes briefly at this site, employing about 80 people. Back in 1981 the U.S. Department of Labor purchased the nearly 16-acre property for use as a staging ground to respond to mine disasters in the eastern United States. It is very close to the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

    In 1987, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced its plans to consolidate its activities by locating additional operations at the site, and they would create another 200 jobs.

    In anticipation of attracting a larger Federal presence in Beaver County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania spent $225,000 upgrading the site. Once the State and local government invested its resources into upgrading the property, the Mine Safety and Health Administration reversed itself and miraculously, after the support of someone in the Senate to relocate the facility to West Virginia, it moved to West Virginia. So the mirage of 200 new jobs evaporated into the reality of a local economy with even fewer Federal jobs.

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    Additionally, since 1981 when the property was sold to the Federal Government, Beaver County, the local school district, and Hopewell Township have not derived a single cent in property taxes from this property.

    Conservatively, the localities and the schools have lost about $18,000 a year, or over $200,000 to date in unearned tax revenues. When you add that to the infrastructure investments for roads, water, and sewer services, which was $225,000 that they invested, they have really lost out of pocket about $425,000 with this site.

    Mindful of its expense, my legislation returns the property to local control and seeks, in effect, to make the effected localities whole. As you can see, this was a situation where the glass started out half full, the locality poured its resources into topping off the glass, and unfortunately what we ended up with is a glass that is empty and full of holes.

    Currently the site, which I have toured, includes a 44,000 square foot, one story block building. This is a vacant building. It is in disrepair. The property's remoteness serves as an open invitation to vandals. Beyond that, the day we were there it happened to be raining and there were several holes in the roof. It is leaking.

    This building is located very near to the site where flight 427 crashed last September. It was a tremendous loss of life. The FAA and other agencies had approached us, and they were thinking about taking parts of the wreckage to this building since they owned it already. It wasn't even appropriate for that. They couldn't even do it.

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    So the Federal Government really has no use for the building. Last year at the hearing, which again my dear friend Mr. Duncan was at, the GSA testified that they had nothing better for this building than to see it transferred and put back on the rolls and see the municipality made whole. We would hope that could be happening.

    Site development that still needs to be done would require widening and paving of the road that goes to the property, substantial building renovation, the expansion of sewer and water service. Once the corporation takes over the property, they will use local funding to do this. There will be no Federal money for building renovation or for landscaping that is required to repair this building.

    This bill would clear the deck so that Beaver County could use this site to recruit industry, to create jobs, and put the building back on the tax rolls again. This legislation will enable the effected localities, rather than the Federal Government, to determine their own destiny.

    H.R. 308 has the support of the Beaver County Economic Developments Corporation, Beaver County, Hopewell Township in which the building is located.

    Mr. Chairman, with your permission I'd like to enter in the record written testimony in support of my legislation from the CED as well as the county commissioners.

    I would urge your prompt consideration and markup of the bill. I thank you for scheduling the hearing. You've been so kind to give me your time on the floor of the House and other places that we have met, and I am happy to testify before you.
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    Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Klink.

    So there are no hidden environmental problems?

    Mr. KLINK. There does not appear to be at all. It does not appear to be—the area around it—there is a machine shop back behind it. It is almost a quasi-junkyard. There are pieces of things all over. So adjacent properties may have some problems. There does not appear, from any of the inspections we have had or any of the people that we have talked to, to be any environmental problems. They really are not concerned about that. They are willing to take that shot.

    Mr. GILCHREST. I wish you good luck with it. I think this is the kind of thing that should happen more often. If we are going to make communities productive—and I heard you say on the House floor yesterday a comment about the best thing the Federal Government can do for homeless people is to provide them with jobs.

    Mr. KLINK. Yes.

    Mr. GILCHREST. This is one of those, I think, partnerships that we have with local communities to transfer property that we aren't using so that they can put them into productive use.

    Mr. KLINK. I'm in firm agreement with that, Mr. Chairman. If we can create jobs, we can solve a lot of problems, from economic problems to social problems.
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    Mr. GILCHREST. Right.

    Does anybody else—Jim?

    Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you.

    I'll say, Ron, that, as you remember, we had several witnesses here last time. I was trying to think. What was the name of that company that was Pig Something? There was some kind of company that came down with a very unusual name, or maybe I'm thinking of another thing.

    Mr. KLINK. I don't know.

    Mr. DUNCAN. I do remember several witnesses.

    Mr. KLINK. Yes. We had some witnesses.

    Mr. DUNCAN. I can tell you this is good legislation.

    Mr. KLINK. Thank you.

    Mr. DUNCAN. This is something that we should be doing—taking Federal property that is not being used and help to develop some jobs and help an economy grow. I am glad that you are doing this. Thank you very much.
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    Mr. KLINK. Jim, I'll tell you one of the other things that we—we all get frustrated and flustered about the way this Government works sometimes. When they were talking about the fact of using this property for flight 427, the only set of keys that they had for the property to take a look at it were in Atlanta, Georgia, and so we had to get somebody from GSA on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia, to fly into Pittsburgh to open the building up to find out that it wasn't even suitable for that purpose.

    I think that we are doing God's work here, and I thank you for your support.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. LaTourette.

    Mr. LATOURETTE. I don't have anything.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Ms. Brown.

    Ms. BROWN. No.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Klink.

    Mr. KLINK. Thank you.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Hutchinson.

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    Mr. HUTCHINSON. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Duncan, and members of the subcommittee.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Good morning.

    Mr. HUTCHINSON. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to testify on my legislation to name the Federal building in Fort Smith, Arkansas in honor of Judge Isaac C. Parker.

    Judge Parker is a legendary figure in Arkansas and the surrounding States. He was a soldier, he was a Congressman, he was a lawyer and a judge. His accomplishments were many

    In 1875, after his retirement from Congress, President Grant appointed Isaac Parker as the chief justice of the Utah Territory; however, at the request of the President, Parker resigned to accept appointment as judge for the United States Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

    The court had fallen into disrepute because of the actions of Parker's predecessor, Judge William Story. Under threat of impeachment, Story departed and the President appointed Parker asking him to, ''stay a year or two in Fort Smith and get things straightened out.''
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    Judge Parker's court had jurisdiction over the western half of the State of Arkansas and over what is now the entire State of Oklahoma, which at that time was called Indian Territory.

    When he assumed office Judge Parker dedicated himself to the reestablishment of the court as a power in the land. It was a court of no vacations except sundayS and Christmas. Sessions often started at 7:30 in the morning, ran until noon, and then from 1:30 until 6:00, and occasional sessions far into the night.

    The court calendar tells the story. During his service the court disposed of a grand total of 13,500 cases of which 12,000 were criminal. Of the 12,000 criminal charges, 8,600 resulted in convictions, either by jury trials or guilty pleas.

    Judge Parker is best known for his reputation as the ''hanging judge.'' He unquestionably sentenced more men to the gallows than any other jurist in United States history. His nickname is particularly interesting in light of reports that Parker himself did not believe in capital punishment but his nickname was ''Hanging Judge Parker.'' But he did believe in the law, and is quoted as having said, ''I've never hanged a man. It is the law that has done it.''

    Off the bench, Judge Parker was known as a humorous and friendly man. His colleagues said of him that he was one of the finest men that ever lived, whose friendships were eternal and whose character was noble. He was devoted to his family and respected by all as a man of incorruptible integrity. He gave freely to charity and was intensely interested in education. He served as the president of the school board at Fort Smith for several years.
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    The year or two that President Grant requested him to stay in Fort Smith stretched out to 21, until his death in November of 1896. He had accomplished the goal of the President, as well as his own—to restore respect to the court and the law of the land, and to safeguard the citizens of his jurisdiction from the lawlessness that often pervaded the western frontier.

    Judge Parker is buried in the national cemetery in Forth Smith near the court that he so faithfully served for over two decades.

    Perhaps nothing illustrates the legacy of Hanging Judge Parker more than the request of the citizens of Fort Smith, almost 100 years later, to name the Federal building in their city in his honor.

    Mr. Chairman, my legislation is supported by a broad cross-section of the people of Fort Smith, and I would encourage its enactment.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Tim, that was a great story.

    Mr. HUTCHINSON. Maybe it will add a little bit of interest to your day.

    Mr. GILCHREST. It certainly did. I don't know if this is a sign of our times, but it started off sounding like Jimmy Stewart and ended up sounding more like Clint Eastwood.
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    Mr. HUTCHINSON. I'll take either one.

    Mr. GILCHREST. We certainly will move this legislation along. What I would like—if we can have a copy of your testimony, I'll share it with my son. He is a big western buff.

    Mr. HUTCHINSON. I'd be delighted.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Duncan.

    Mr. DUNCAN. No questions.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Ms. Brown.

    Ms. BROWN. No, sir.

    Mr. GILCHREST. Tim, thank you very much.

    Mr. Engel is unable to make the hearing this morning, but we will insert his testimony into the record and move the legislation along.

    [Mr. Engel's prepared statement follows:]

    [Insert here.]
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    Mr. GILCHREST. We have postponed the markup until tomorrow. I believe it is about 1:30 for the markup.

    We thank everybody for attending the hearing this morning. I think it ended on a positive note. This hearing is adjourned.

    [Whereupon, at 10:57 a.m. the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]

    [Insert here.]

Next Hearing Segment(2)