Line One
Roses & Razzberries

By Terry Scruton, Land Line Now senior correspondent

ROSES to one newspaper article that did get it right. It was written by Dan Hanson, a fleet manager from Belle Plaine, MN, and appeared in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune.

The piece was headlined "That trucker you just flipped off? Let me tell you his story."

And what a story it was. Dan eloquently explained the things that truck drivers face every day, using what appeared to be a fictitious driver whose sister had just died and who wasn't going to be able to make the funeral.

But the gut punch came at the end when Dan revealed that the whole thing was true and had happened to one of his drivers.

Dan, your story got the attention – and the gratitude– of drivers across the country. And we'd like to add our gratitude for telling a story that we hear every day but that seldom reaches the audience of the mainstream media.

RAZZBERRIES to a proposal that, while still a long way from being a law, would charge trucks a new toll for every mile they travel.

It was authored by Jack Schenendorf, former chief of staff for the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, now working as a lobbyist. It calls for charging a user fee that requires all vehicles to pay by the mile.

The system would use transponders to track users on a controlled-access interstate system, then charge them based on how many miles they travel.

And because they travel many more miles than most cars, truckers would naturally be paying a lot more on top of the taxes and fees that they already pay.

The proposal was titled Modernizing U.S. Surface Transportation System: Inaction Must Not Be an Option. We agree that inaction would be bad, but what good is action if it takes us in the wrong direction?

RAZZBERRIES to Marlon Danner, the owner of two Minnesota-based trucking companies who recently pleaded guilty to defrauding 27 truck drivers out of more than $120,000.

This guy contracted with drivers as part of a construction project in Minnesota involving federal dollars, meaning he had to pay the drivers a certain rate. He underpaid them and pocketed the difference.

When an investigation found him out, he was ordered to repay the money to the drivers, which he did. Only instead of letting them keep it, he "began a campaign to obtain return of the … settlement funds from the drivers," without informing the DOT.

So this guy stole money, was ordered to pay it back, then stole it right back again after paying it back. This guy chose the wrong career. He ought to run for Congress.

Trucker Jason Fletcher of Indianapolis sends some ROSES to the border patrol at the crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Raymond, Montana.

Jason hauls tires to IRL races in Canada during racing season. When he returned after a week in Canada in late July, the border patrol officer – he didn't get the man's name – treated him with "respect that is seldom seen at the border let alone in this industry."

After running Jason through the required check, the man said, "Jason, you have a great day, a safe trip, and welcome home." Jason said that made his day.

It just goes to show that even a simple act of common courtesy can go a long way toward lifting someone's spirits. Especially in an industry where truck drivers don't often receive much courtesy at all.

RAZZBERRIES to Paul Carpenter, a columnist with The Morning Call, a newspaper out of Allentown, PA, for a column he wrote bashing the trucking industry for doing damage to America's roads and not paying its fair share.

The opinion piece was so riddled with factual errors and inaccuracies that it's a wonder it ever made it past the editor. Carpenter calls truck drivers "bullies and road hogs" and uses outdated information to argue that truckers should be paying more taxes.

Let's see, HVUT, IRP, IFTA, ad valorem, state taxes, federal taxes. Yep, those darn truckers just don't pay enough. Let's set this straight once and for all: Truckers pay plenty. The problem is that the people who collect that money don't do a very good job of spending it in the right places. By the way, Carpenter wrote a follow-up column acknowledging that truckers were upset with his first piece, but he basically said "oh well" and held his position.

As for Mr. Carpenter's column, it seems his newspaper isn't doing a very good job of spending its money in the right places, either. They either need one more editor or one less columnist. LL