Holiday Message 2009

I received a call from my son a few days ago and he suggested that I say something about the state of charitable organizations in my annual Holiday message. He is engaged in the energy conservation business. His biggest client is the State of Maine. His job is to audit the homes of people who are getting heating oil subsidies from the state, and make improvements to lower the costs.

The charities that help the same people he in contact with are stressed. They haven’t the funds to meet their needs. What’s worse is the fact that those people who would ordinarily be in a position to give, are stressed financially themselves. There appears to be a quiet desperation in many quarters. The charities are frustrated that they can hardly meet the increased demands that are created by these difficult economic times.
The givers are stressed with poor prospects of doing business. At the same time the recipients are more numerous, and in direr need.

Usually there are those of us that pony-up a few bucks. It’s usually not much, and it doesn’t hurt much either. These days that isn’t good enough. In the words of Father Keene, a priest I remember from my teenage years, “give today an amount of money that hurts”.That number is flexible depending on how much each of us is blessed, but we know what it is.

In this season of Chanukah, Christmas and New Year, we think in terms of hope, optimism and new beginnings. It is a time to see the world differently. If you think you are serving your family and your community well, it is probably true. It is also true that we all can do a little bit better. We at LIMBA, will try to do better ourselves.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Ernie Fazio


Bring Maglev Back to Long Island- Op-Ed Newsday Dec 4, 2009

Two hundred-seventy mph was the reading on the digital speed indicator as we swiftly moved from Shanghai to the airport. We were riding the maglev in China.
The maglev — magnetic levitation — is a transportation system that travels on a dedicated guideway and is supported by a magnetic field, moving without mechanical friction. The result is a very quiet, efficient and fast ride.

The Chinese maglev was the product of an effort by Gordon Danby and James Powell while they were both working at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the 1960s. The Germans built the maglev I rode in China, employing the inventors as consultants. A version of the technology has been built in Japan as well, also inspired by the work of Danby and Powell. It is remarkably successful. The Japanese maglev has carried many thousands of passengers, recording its highest speed at 361 mph. Japan is now building a 300-mile link connecting Tokyo and Osaka, to move 100,000 passengers per day at 300 mph.

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan passed a bill in the Senate in the early 訞s that provided $750 million to test and build the first maglev in America. But corresponding legislation was killed in the House of Representatives because of pressure from various special interests, including airlines, truckers and auto

Creating a working American maglev is a matter of national pride. It’s also a matter of not letting an economic opportunity slip through our fingers.  If we don’t manufacture enough of the world’s important technology, we’ll be beholden to the countries that do. In the process we’ll lose the high-skilled,
high-paid jobs that American workers have proved they can do. We can’t afford to lose that segment of our society. We need to create these jobs again. 

America has an extensive rail network. That network and right-of-ways are an incredible resource. We can move freight on that network using maglev, and we can do it inexpensively.

In fact, we could move entire tractor-trailers in aerodynamic envelopes across the country at 300 mph, saving the $3,000 worth of fuel and tolls the truck would otherwise spend. The trip would take less than a day and deliver a refreshed driver on the other end. The trip would be half the cost to the
trucker, and so profitable to the maglev owners that the system could pay for itself within five years.

This would be a more advanced maglev system than the first generation now operating in Japan and China. The price tag for this new system would be a fraction of the cost of those versions. The Chinese maglev floats on a magnetic cushion that has very critical clearances — about ½ inch. Building that system was costly and time consuming.

But Danby and Powell, who founded the company Maglev 2000, have never stopped improving their design. The second generation allows the vehicle to float 4 ½ to 6 inches above a guideway. This system can be built in a factory and shipped by truck to a construction site, and then quickly erected using ordinary cranes.
And the higher clearances allow the vehicle to operate in ice and snowstorms. Danby and Powell have also solved compatibility with existing rail tracks: The  modification is low in cost and allows conventional trains to operate alternately.

Building an American maglev system would take as long as Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, so jobs would be created on a long-term basis.

Private investors may soon have to look no further than Riverhead to see the future. Maglev 2000 has applied for a federal grant to construct a demonstration project on a three-mile track at Calverton. The Transportation Department, set to make its decision by February, can make Long Island the center once again of this exciting technology.

Ernest M. Fazio, director of communications for Maglev 2000, is chairman of Long Island Metro Business Action.

Correction; Danby and Powell were interviewed numerous times by the Germans while they were publishing their research, but were never paid consultants