Friday, March 2, 2012

Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR): Dozens of TSA employees to be retrained or disciplined following a crackdown on lax, improper screening

A TSA management crackdown on lax or improper screening at Newark Liberty International Airport has resulted dozens of agency employees’ being taken off the job for retraining or discipline, according to TSA and union officials.

To pick up the slack, sources say, the agency has had to call in replacement screeners from outside Newark Liberty, a so-called 9/11 airport with a history of high-profile security breaches and leadership problems.

TSA officials have been trying for years to improve Newark’s security screening but its lapses have remained a continuing frustration, and at times an embarrassment, for the agency. The latest effort to improve screening operations began last year under Newark Federal Security Director Donald Drummer, who had replaced Barbara Bonn Powell in April following a scathing internal analysis of the airport’s operations made by Powell’s own managers.

The analysis painted a bleak picture of poor performance and low morale that it blamed largely on inadequate training.

Word of the crackdown surfaced late in January, a month after a baggage screener was observed sending two checked bags to be loaded onto an aircraft without hand-searching them, despite their having raised red flags while being X-rayed. At the time, TSA and union officials said six other screeners had been taken off the job for re-training.

As of this week, however, a TSA and a union source said the number of screeners taken off line for retraining had grown to at least 45. A third source, also with the TSA, put the number at around "two dozen screeners."

Also, sources said, the TSA had brought in at least 15 members of an elite corps of roving TSA employees used to fill gaps around the country. The officials quoted for this story declined to be identified because they were talking about security matters.

"We have 45 officers on administration duty statues and the investigation is still on going," said a TSA supervisor in Newark. "We also, as of Saturday, have 15 officers from the National Deployment Force at our airport."

TSA Administrator John Pistole was at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday to launch the airport’s PreCheck expedited screening program. Asked about the Newark situation, Pistole declined to confirm any specifics, but addressed the crackdown in general terms.

"Anytime there’s an allegation about any type of improper screening or, clearly, misconduct, we takes those allegations seriously," Pistole said. "We initiate an immediate internal investigation to assess those allegations, and then, as appropriate, once our investigation is concluded, we take appropriate disciplinary action, which, if warranted, could lead up to dismissal. And so, without commenting on the specifics, that’s where we are."

Yesterday, an official of the American Federal Employees Association, the screeners’ union, released a statement on behalf of the transportation security officers, or TSO’s, taken off of screening duty at Newark Liberty. "AFGE has been in contact with the officers involved and are aware of the situation at Newark," said the official, Mecca Scott, an AFGE national organizer and former Newark TSA screener. "The TSO’s involved have and will continue to fully cooperate with TSA to fully clear up this matter. In the meantime, TSOs have been reassigned to administrative duties."

Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the TSA, released a statement on the Newark situation yesterday.

"TSA is committed to ensuring the highest level of security for the traveling public. We are also committed to continuing to improve the work environment for our officers," the statement said. "Due to the ongoing investigation it would be premature to comment further at this time."

Obituary: Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS - Aviation Pioneer in Cape May

Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox Jr., DDS

For a detailed look at Ralph's life, visit www.flyusoa.com. To share condolences, please visit www.evoyfuneralhome.com

COX, RALPH WALDO EMERSON JR., DDS - aviation pioneer in Cape May passes away peacefully at age 97 on February 25, 2012. Born December 30, 1914 in Pittsburgh, PA; he attended the University of Pittsburgh and graduated from dental school in 1938. Ralph's dream was to fly aircraft, so he volunteered for the US Army Aviation pilot program. He joined the US Navy and flew anti sub patrols along the US Eastern Seaboard and the coast of Spain.

After Ralph's discharge in 1941, he supported the war effort joining American Overseas Airlines and Pan American which flew Sikorsky S44 flying boats. After the war, Ralph formed his own airline company "Ocean Air Tradeways" based at NAS Wildwood (now Cape May County Airport). Subsequently, the airline name was changed to US Overseas Airlines (USOA) and became an overhaul base and the largest employer in Cape May County. During its operating history, USOA was a major participant in the Berlin Airlift, Korean Airlift, and special airlift from Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the 1950's USOA operated scheduled services to the Philippines, Okinawa, the Far East, San Juan, and the Caribbean. USOA was a major developer and pioneer of low cost coach passenger air service in the US transcontinental market to the islands of Hawaii. In 1964 Ralph opened the Wildwood Canadian Campground near his home in Rio Grande.

In the early 1970's Ralph participated in the US Congressional hearings which lead to the enactment of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 giving birth to the low cost airline service that we have today. Ralph is survived by his two children: Maureen Harris and Ralph Waldo Emerson Cox III; his son-in-law Jeffery Harris; and his three grandchildren: Ian and Andrew Harris and Kelly Cox.

There will be a funeral service at 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Evoy Funeral Home, 3218 Bayshore Rd, North Cape May, NJ 08204; where friends may call from 10:00 to 11:00 AM. Interment will be private.

The family suggests donations in Ralph's memory to the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum, 500 Forrestal Rd, Rio Grande, NJ 08242.
 For a detailed look at Ralph's life, visit www.flyusoa.com. To share condolences, please visit www.evoyfuneralhome.com

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Published in The Press of Atlantic City on March 1, 2012

Free Spring Lecture Series at Historic Cold Spring Village. Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum at the Cape May County Airport (KWWD)


CAPE MAY - Historic Cold Spring Village’s 9th Annual Spring Lecture Series will take place on four consecutive Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. All presentations will be held in the HCSV Welcome Center Museum, with the exception of the kickoff event on March 21, which will be held at Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum at the Cape May Airport. There is no charge for admission to these programs; speakers will be available for book signings and meet and greets afterwards. The Spring Lecture Series is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Featured speakers for 2012 are:

Wed., March 21 - Naval Air Station Atlantic City: Did you know that Atlantic City International Airport began its life during World War II as an important base for naval aircraft protecting Allied shipping from German U-Boats? Dr. Richard Porcelli will discuss his new book, Images of America: Naval Air Station Atlantic City and examine the wartime origins of our region’s most important aviation facility. To be held at the NASW Aviation Museum at the Cape May Airport.

Wed., March 28 - The First Steamship to Cross the Atlantic: For thousands of years, ships plied the seas of the world powered only by sails or oars. With the voyage of the steamship Savannah in 1819, sea travel was forever changed. John Laurence Busch, author of Steam Coffin: Captain Moses Rogers and the Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier, will examine the vital importance of the Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

Wed., April 4 - Civil War and the Ludlam Legacy: In the 1860s, young Jesse Ludlam of Dennisville finds himself orphaned and thrust into the horror of the Civil War. To save his family’s shipyard and to avenge the death of his parents, he must find a way to survive. Author William Watson will discuss his most recent novel, The Ludlam Legacy, the story of a Cape May County teenager in the midst of our nation’s most tragic conflict.

Wed., April 11 - Historical Fun through Children’s Books: Historical fiction is a wonderful tool for getting young people interested in history, and can be fun for adults, too! Award-winning author and artist Trinka Hakes-Noble will explore the uses of history through a discussion of her book, The Scarlet Stockings Spy, the tale of a brave girl in British-occupied Philadelphia who aids George Washington’s army during the American Revolution.

The Village is located at 720 Route 9, three miles north of Victorian Cape May and a mile and a half west of the southern end of the Garden State Parkway. For more information, please contact Jim Stephens, HCSV Deputy Director for Education and Interpretation, at (609) 898-2300, ext. 17, jstephens@hcsv.org or visit www.hcsv.org.