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Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Rich Dines: 'The Question Is,
Are We A Port With A City, Or A City With A Port?'

First In-Depth Interview With Dines –
A Controversial Figure Since His Appointment In Mid 2011

By George Economides - Publisher

November 19th, 2013 – Rich Dines is well aware of the criticism about several of his votes and comments he's made since joining the five-member Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners in July 2011. But he isn't fazed: "I'm about the community," he says, and doing what is best for the city overall. A city, he says, he fell in love with in the late 1980s when he moved from nearby San Pedro.

He joined the commission at a time when the port executive director, Richard Steinke, had already announced his retirement, and commissioners were discussing relocating the harbor department staff due to seismic issues with the current headquarters building. Dines calls the decision to replace Steinke as "not very transparent" and vows that, this time around, the selection process for the top post will be transparent. (Steinke was replaced by Christopher Lytle, who resigned – some industry people say forced out – several months ago to become executive director at the Port of Oakland.)

Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Rich Dines pictured on Pier J in the Port of
Long Beach. In the background is the 14,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units)
mega container ship, CMA CGM Corte Real. The ship, built in 2010, is 1,197
feet long. (Photograph by the Business Journal's Thomas McConville)

HCVT - Certified Public Accountants

The decision on a new headquarters evolved into a political football as Dines and fellow Commissioner Doug Drummond (also appointed to the board in July 2011) objected to what appeared to be a consensus to purchase the World Trade Center building on Ocean Boulevard. Their objection, along with one commissioner unable to vote due to a conflict, resulted in a 2-2 vote and a year-long stalemate – with harbor staff caught in the middle.

In the following Q&A with Dines, he also explains what he means when he refers to the "culture at the port;" hence the headline for this article: Is it a port with a city or a city with a port?

The nearly two-hour-long interview was conducted the week of November 4 at the Business Journal offices, and included Assistant Editor Tiffany Rider and Staff Writer Samantha Mehlinger.

LBBJ: We've heard you talk about the culture at the port. What are you referring to?

Dines: I think the culture at the port is that some people believe the port is not part of the city. You may have heard this term: "The sovereign nation of the Port of Long Beach." I've heard that a couple of times. The port is 3,200 acres of waterfront property. Nobody works for the port. You may work at the port, you may work managing the port, but you don't work for the port. The port is run by the harbor department. All paychecks for port staff say the City of Long Beach. . . . I don't completely understand it, but I believe that's what the culture is, that some people believe that they are not part of the city and the city should leave the port alone. I think that causes problems.

LBBJ: Does this "culture" occur at other ports?

Dines: You don't hear that at the Port of Los Angeles. The biggest example of that is, when you look at Port of L.A. fleet vehicles, they'll have the city seal, and it'll say 'City of Los Angeles Harbor Department.' You don't have that in Long Beach. You have the Port of Long Beach logo and the Port of Long Beach seal.

Other ports are so different. For example, Seattle and Tacoma – where they have elected positions – are funded by taxpayer dollars. . . . The Port of Long Beach doesn't run on taxpayer dollars. It's 100 percent revenue, 95 percent of which comes from the tenants. The city does not support the port financially at all.

LBBJ: Before you were appointed commissioner, how did you perceive the operation of the port and the role of harbor commissioner? After all, you were out there daily, as a longshoreman . . .

Dines: I viewed it as I do today. The harbor commission has a role to play as a citizen commission, to be policymakers who are fiduciaries looking out for the best interest of the port. Here is what I believe: When the port does well, everybody does well, neighbors do well, other workers do well, all the other jobs in the city that are related to the port are doing well, and I believe the city does well. So the community benefits from having a thriving port. The port does well, everyone does well.

LBBJ: You've been widely criticized in the media and by groups such as the Pacific Maritime Shipping Association (PMSA). Here are a couple of recent quotes:

First, from International Maritime Journal of Commerce: "Now the selection process for a new leader has become politicized as well. At a recent board meeting, Dines lashed out at his fellow commissioners, saying the process Long Beach used in the past lacked transparency."

An Orange County Register story quoted John McLaurin, president of PMSA, as saying, ". . . our members are concerned about statements made by Commissioner (Rich) Dines that the port 'shouldn't put the tenants as their first priority."'

LBBJ: How do you respond to these criticisms?

Dines: First, let me say this – if you want to say something negative about Commissioner Dines, you hurt the port. You don't hurt me. I'm very thick skinned. I don't take it personal. It does not keep me awake at night. Write whatever you want about me. It doesn't matter. But you don't hurt me. You hurt the port. I wish Mr. McLaurin would figure that out.

When I came on this board, Commissioner [Doug] Drummond and I had no part in the selection process of a new executive director. [We were told], "Here's the five names, and this is the direction we're going in." This is not something that's kept from people at other ports. I know a lot of people operating at other ports. I meet a lot of commissioners and executive directors from other ports. So I think the question should be to them, "What was going on with that process?" For me, it was not very transparent. "Here you go, we're not going to make any changes. This is the direction we're going to go in."

LBBJ: This is when Richard Steinke was executive director?

Dines: Dick had announced his retirement before I was appointed. I think Dick stayed six months longer than he anticipated. But, does it take a year to do an executive director search? That's the question.

Long Beach Harbor Commissioner Rich Dines has been heavily criticized for
several of his comments and votes since his appointment in July 2011.
(Photograph by the Business Journal's Thomas McConville)

LBBJ: Who supplied the names? Where did they come from?

Dines: An ad-hoc committee of [Commissioners] Susan Wise and Thomas Fields. A professional search firm was selected, and Wise and Fields worked directly with the search firm to narrow the list down. I did ask for information on all the candidates after the process, and there appeared to be over 100 applicants.

LBBJ: It's a choice position.

Dines: This is the best job. By far, it's underpaid, and that's something that we have to work on. But this is the best port job in the country.

LBBJ: So were you a part of the vote that decided on the executive director [Chris Lytle]?

Dines: Yes I was. The decision was made in closed session.

LBBJ: So it was a unanimous decision when it came to the public vote, but it sounds like you had reservations.

Dines: I would say this: that the next executive director has to get hired 5-0 as well. Whatever happens behind closed doors needs to stay behind closed doors. I don't think you'll ever see my name as far as being accused of violating the Brown Act. That's just not going to happen.

LBBJ: Speaking of the Brown Act, a year ago we wrote about Tom Fields accusing Doug Drummond of slander for comments made during a closed session. What was your reaction to that?

Dines: I was disappointed. When I raise my hand and I take an oath, I take it very seriously. And if somebody is upset or mad, I think that's fine. People have every right to not be happy when someone makes them upset. However, closed session needs to stay in closed session.

LBBJ: Have you met with each of the major port tenants to get feedback on what the commission should be concentrating on?

Dines: I know them not only by first name but have all their cellphone numbers. We talk on a regular basis. . . . When you look at my support for Middle Harbor, I am a longshoreman, and I am supporting building Middle Harbor. If that's not something that puts me in the fire, I don't know what is. But you've never seen me waver on supporting building the future. . . . I recognize what's hurting productivity, and it's the lack of efficiencies that we have. So how is another commissioner on that board going to come up with an idea of how to create efficiencies in a port when they don't understand the operations of the port. So the tenants do rely very much on . . .

LBBJ: But do you ever hear, "I wish you would do this or I wish you wouldn't have done this?"

Dines: No. I think that there are the tenants that you work with individually, and then there are the people that suggest they are industry spokespeople – such as PMSA, which represents carriers, marine terminal operations, harbor craft (like tugs), and Union Pacific Railroad. They don't represent Target [which ships goods through the port to their area stores], they don't represent the community, they don't represent labor or workers in the city. They are a part of the industry, and they speak for some of the tenants. ITS is not a part of the PMSA . . . Neither is Metro Ports, who has been a tenant of Long Beach for 90 years.

LBBJ: But PMSA represents most of the major players . . .

Dines: They actually represent them on a West Coast level. So to come in and say, "This is what's best for Long Beach" – wait a minute. There are six major West Coast ports and a bunch of little ones. There are 29 ports on the West Coast. And they want to come in and say what Long Beach needs to do? I am not afraid to question PMSA. What is their role here? Who do they really represent, the individual tenants?

LBBJ: It's a membership-based organization with some 60 members, and these are big companies.

Dines: Do you want me to answer the second question?

LBBJ: What was the second question?

Dines: You asked me about the attack from PMSA about our tenants not being the first priority . . . In my opinion, the absolute first priority of the next executive director is to repair the relationship with the city. And I think we need to stop suggesting there's not a problem here. There's been a problem since 2010 – since Measure D [voter approved, it changed how money transferred from the port to the city is calculated, and it also moved control of harbor oil operations to the city.] It is time to bring the city and the harbor department, which manages the port, closer together.

LBBJ: Do commissioners and city councilmembers ever have a joint meeting?

Dines: No, we don't . . .

LBBJ: Why not? If there this "culture" you talked about, or, as you said, the next executive director needs to bring people together – why not a joint session?

Dines: I don't think the board is a part of the culture. The board are mayoral appointments confirmed by the city council. I look at the board as the bridge.

LBBJ: That's how you look at it, but the people who don't understand how the system works may look at it differently; the board is part of the culture.

Dines: I hope not.

LBBJ: One criticism we hear often is that you get your marching orders from the mayor.

Dines: That's not true.

LBBJ: We're telling you what we hear.

Dines: I know. I read it too. I have tried responding to this, and I will respond to you. Mayor Bob Foster has never directed me on any vote. It just hasn't happened. Harry Saltzgaver [executive editor for Gazette Newspapers and president of the Long Beach Water Commission] called me a couple weeks ago, and he was trying to get the same thing out of me. And I'm like, "Harry, you're a commissioner. Has Bob Foster ever called you and asked you to do anything?" And he's like, "No." And I go, "Well, then why would he ask me?"

Let's go vote by vote where everyone thinks Bob Foster is controlling me. You know Bob Foster very well. . . . So since you know him so well, I probably shouldn't have to respond to that. I would think that you would assume he wouldn't try and do that.

LBBJ: What we're saying is, this is what we're hearing. So it's an opportunity for you to correct the record.

Dines: Mayor Bob Foster never tells me how to vote, never asks me for my vote.

LBBJ: Do you agree that the role of the board is to set policy and that the staff is to carry out the policy?

Dines: Absolutely.

LBBJ: Another criticism we've heard is that boardmembers, including yourself, tell staff what to do.

Dines: It doesn't happen. The perception is that we meddle and micromanage. That comes straight out of John McLaurin's [PMSA] handbook. I would really invite you to come to the port building and walk the six floors. I invite you to ask employees if I try directing them. It's not my role.

LBBJ: Do you think all of the commission members understand that?

Dines: Absolutely. There are two positions, the executive director and deputy executive director, that really answer to the board.

LBBJ: So when you or other commissioners need something, maybe the status of a contract, do you go through the executive director's office? Do you go through your secretary's office? Or do you call a department head?

Dines: The board has a staff. We have a secretary. You can absolutely ask the secretary about a contract, and they say, "I will call down to [the] trade [department]." That being said, if I'm at a luncheon and Rick Cameron, who is the managing director of planning, is there, I may ask, "Hey, Rick, how's everything going on this?" Rick is a senior level management person. But as far as the rank and file, if you will, the workers down there? No. It's inappropriate. The communication lost in that chain is not good for the organization. There is no direction of staff by the commission. That's just not happening.

LBBJ: During board meetings, you've talked about transparency, that you believe in complete transparency. Are you saying, during your time as commissioner that you haven't seen complete transparency?

Dines: That's correct.

LBBJ: Earlier you cited a lack of transparency in the Lytle appointment to replace Steinke. Is there anything else that has popped up?

Dines: Absolutely.

LBBJ: Any particulars you want to discuss?

Dines: I don't think I can get into particulars because I think people should be protected. Whether they make mistakes or not, I should not be offering criticism of staff members.

LBBJ: Is the commission's top priority the selection of an executive director?

Dines: I absolutely believe that the board should focus on filling our top three positions, not just an executive director. We definitely need to put a chief commercial officer in there, which would be considered the managing director of trade. I don't think your executive director has to be a trade guy. Chris Lytle was a trade guy. When you look around the country, most executive directors have trade experience but they're not your trade director. The executive director is a position in which you can determine what the actual duties and roles of that person are, based on who that person is, and you build around that person. You bring in people to support and complement that person. But it is very important you fill those roles.

LBBJ: You said three top positions. You mentioned two.

Dines: You have the executive director, the deputy executive director – a post that Chris Lytle had that was never filled when he was promoted – and the chief commercial officer. Not to offend the other managing directors, but that is a very important role.

LBBJ: How do you feel your relationship is with your fellow commissioners?

Dines: Unfortunately, it's definitely not as good at it should be. I believe that it started out really bad with the vote two weeks after coming onto the board on the purchase of the World Trade Center. I think since then, there has been a lack of trust amongst boardmembers.

LBBJ: Do you attempt to sit down with one boardmember or another just to chat, to say we need to start over?

Dines: I would meet with Susan Wise on a regular basis when she was president. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of lunchtime discussions between boardmembers right now. With the Brown Act, I'm never talking to two commissioners about anything. The Brown Act is very restricting. If I have an idea and I talk to another commissioner, I can't go to another [third] commissioner. I would be challenged by this a lot because President Wise would get caught off guard if I came up with an idea. She would ask, "Why didn't you tell me?" I can't talk to the board and then bring it forward. You can't build a consensus. That is what I find to be the most challenging . . . it would be very healthy if we could do that. But, when people see three harbor commissioners at a table, they think you're talking business.

LBBJ: As a marine clerk, you're all over the port.

Dines: The Port of L.A. I don't work at the Port of Long Beach. I have not worked in the Port of Long Beach since I took my position. This should actually be cleared up. There was some criticism [so] the city attorney wrote a letter to the FPPC [California Fair Political Practices Commission] on my behalf . . . I initiated that letter. When I came on the board, Dominick Holtzhaus [port attorney] said I couldn't do this, this and this. I said, "What are you talking about? I work under a labor contract. I make the same penny that the person working next to me does. I'm not going home early. I'm not getting extra hours or pay. There is nothing underhanded. There are no backdoor deals here. I don't have any loyalty to an employer because they're a Long Beach employer versus an L.A. employer."

He said that it doesn't matter if there isn't a conflict of interest, it's a perceived conflict of interest. I said, "I don't like these rules." He said, "You can go to the FPPC." I said, "Let's do it." And the FPPC came back and they agreed with him. So I recused myself for a year on certain terminals that I worked at. Then I stopped recusing myself because I have only worked at the Port of L.A. since. You know, it's painful because . . . there are days when, at the Port of L.A., work runs out. I go home. I can take the Long Beach job, but I choose not to. If I worked in Long Beach, then I should be recusing myself. But I can't help anyone if I'm sitting there recusing myself all the time. I'm ineffective as a policymaker. So I am the one who initiated the FPPC letter. And I did it a second time because after I was a longshoreman I worked on the lines bureau. I would go around tying ships up. I worked for a company. I didn't work for the terminal. Someone at the port suggested that since I was tying up ships in Long Beach that I had a conflict and I should be recusing myself.

LBBJ: Was it a fellow commissioner?

Dines: No. It was a staff member. I got word of that, so I went back to the FPPC. The FPPC ruled in my favor, saying National Lines Bureau was my employer.

LBBJ: So you're one and one so far with the FPPC.

Dines: I'm two and zero because I make the sacrifices.

LBBJ: We talked earlier about the new executive director. What kind of a person are you looking for?

Dines: We talked about what the first priority should be. I really believe we should have someone with maritime experience. I never said we shouldn't have someone with maritime experience. I said we shouldn't require them to have worked with an ocean carrier or a marine terminal. I think that we chill the pool if we just say they have to have either worked at Maersk or SSA. You look at successful executive directors around the country and they don't necessarily have carrier or marine terminal operator experience. I want to have a bigger pool. I really would like to have somebody who is a part of this community. It doesn't benefit us if we hire somebody and they want to live in Dana Point.

LBBJ: Is it important that the person have port experience, working for another port?

Dines: I believe they should have port experience. But you know what? Look at Alan Mulally of Ford.

LBBJ: He used to work here at Boeing.

Dines: And Microsoft is trying to steal him away. How many cars did he build before he went to Ford? How about we have a great leader, hopefully somebody who understands this community? I think that has been a challenge of late, getting the city relationship right.

LBBJ: Have any port tenants told you the kind of person they want?

Dines: Absolutely. . . . The tenants say they want someone with a strong business background, someone with a strong financial background, somebody that understands how important ports are.

LBBJ: Let's talk about travel. The city put a lid, a cap, a max, whatever you want to call it, on travel.

Dines: $40,000.

LBBJ: Is that something you support?

Dines: It's not something I want to fight, but I won't say I support it. I think travel is very important. I know I was the least-traveled commissioner. In 18 months I spent $32,000 on travel. I don't think the $40,000 is something that is challenging; however I don't know if it sends the best message.

LBBJ: Where have you traveled since you've been on the commission?

Dines: I've been to Hong Kong twice to visit OOCL. One time all five commissioners were requested to go for the signing of the $4.6 billion lease. I've been to Hainan [an island off China] for the World Shipping Summit. I've been to Shanghai. I'm very focused on emerging markets. So I've been to the AAPA (American Association of Port Authorities) conferences in Guatemala [and other Latin American countries].

LBBJ: Are there always port staff involved?

Dines: I have never traveled without port staff. I demand it. I'm a part-time commissioner. I understand the industry. I understand port operations. That's completely unfair to the other commissioners. I have industry knowledge that they will never have because I work at the port. That being said, I'm not in the role to be answering questions. That's not my job. That's why we have professional staff.

LBBJ: So you agree that the travel is important as long as it is port related and it's with customers or potential customers.

Dines: Absolutely. . . . I just went to Panama with Don Snyder, our director of trade. It was a fabulous trip. We actually got to stand in the mud inside the locks that they're building. This is amazing. Nobody gets to do this kind of stuff. . . . We need to go to Panama. We need to understand what the competition is. I probably have a better understanding of the competition. I live the competition.

LBBJ: Is there a concern among commissioners about losing business because of Panama?

Dines: Are you asking my opinion? Because I can't speak for the other boardmembers.

LBBJ: Yes.

Dines: In my opinion – the cat should come out of the bag – the Port of Long Beach is probably at risk of losing up to 6 percent of its volume, maximum.

LBBJ: How did you arrive at that number?

Dines: East Coast ports have told me what their studies have come up with. . . . When you look at cargo, we are the gateway that really moves a lot more cargo eastbound than stays here. More than half of our cargo is discretionary. It is up for grabs. But there are a lot of players here. The railroads are extremely important in the battle against the Panama Canal. It's how the railroads price their rates from L.A./Long Beach to the Ohio Valley or the Midwest. That is what is going to play against Panama. I will tell you, the challenges they have are huge. They are $750 million over budget. They are a year behind schedule.

If we're smart, and I hope we are, [we should be] focusing on emerging markets, specifically Latin America . . . If we focus on building trade with Latin America, we'll win cargo. . . . We have free trade agreements with Chile, Peru, Colombia – which has east and west coast ports – we have CAFTA [Central American Free Trade Agreement]. We need to get one with Brazil. Cargo can come through that way too. . . . We import a lot of steel from Brazil. We do a lot of trade right now with the canal. With the new expanded canal, the opportunity is this: we might lose 5, 6 percent, but if we're smart we could gain 10 percent.

LBBJ: When you say lose, you're talking about ships that, instead of stopping in Long Beach, would continue going through the canal to get to the Gulf Coast or East Coast?

Dines: Not necessarily. The ships won't go through the canal. They will go to Panama. Panama is really focused on transshipment. It will unload and go onto a train to go across, or unload onto a feeder, a smaller vessel, and go across.

LBBJ: That's less expensive for the shippers than to come to Long Beach or L.A. and put them on a train?

Dines: That's the next big study. As soon as I get through all of these other things, the next big study is the value of cargo. So what does the average container hold in cargo? Is it $100,000? Is it $250,000? We don't bring in containers of iPhones to the Port of Long Beach. Those fly into LAX. But when you look at the value of cargo, you have high-value cargo, you have low-value cargo and then you have seasonal cargo. The all-water route takes a week longer. However, if I am shipping Christmas goods in July, then it doesn't matter. I have the week, so I can save the money and go through the canal. If it is a consumer product that needs to hit the shelf at Best Buy, then I'm coming into L.A./Long Beach. We really need to focus on determining what the value of cargo is. Containers shouldn't be just painted rectangular cans. Containers should allow us to understand what is inside them. And when we find the value of that, it's not necessarily based on the dollar amount but value to the community and jobs.

LBBJ: Let's shift gears and talk about the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Earlier this year the commission nixed the port's annual membership to the chamber.

Dines: The chairman's circle.

LBBJ: Around $30,000 or so. But you did approve a $20,000 expenditure with the Los Angeles Chamber. What was the thinking on this?

Dines: The change in sponsorship policy is not about the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The change is about giving sponsorships and donations to organizations that use their political action committees (PACs) and spend money on local elections.

LBBJ: But the chamber PAC is separate from the chamber of commerce.

Dines: This is for the city attorney. It may be separate . . .

LBBJ: They can't mix the money.

Dines: Believe me, I've been in union politics for 15 years. I know. Listen, the L.A. Chamber is not taking a position on anything in Long Beach. They are not endorsing candidates. They are not opposing candidates.

LBBJ: We're a little confused. The L.A. Chamber does take a position on issues, county issues, statewide issues, yet you give them $20,000.

Dines: This [policy] is for local elections.

LBBJ: The chamber has always supported the port and has an annual salute to the port where the executive director is the keynote speaker. Are you still going to support that?

Dines: The State of the Port probably could be run by the port.

LBBJ: But it's a chamber event, the chamber launched it. Why would you not let them continue it?

Dines: Do you know that the port was spending $5,000 to attend that?

LBBJ: Probably a sponsorship fee.

Dines: A sponsorship fee to your own event?

LBBJ: A chamber event.

Dines: This is a sponsorship fee of $5,000 to an organization that makes endorsements or opposes candidates. Is it salute or is it a fundraiser? As the board changes, the board can change the guidelines. It's a sponsorship policy that I'm sure can be changed. But that is correct. The sponsorship policy prohibits giving sponsorships or donations to organizations that make endorsements or oppose candidates.

LBBJ: You don't have an axe to grind with the chamber?

Dines: No.

LBBJ: Let's talk about the interim port headquarters.

Dines: Looking forward to moving in real soon.

LBBJ: We were wondering if the commission received an itemized list detailing what work was going to be done before it started? We keep hearing, when watching commission meetings, "Who authorized this work to be done?" With the carpets and the granite, those questions keep coming up. When you, for instance, approved the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) upgrades, did anybody explain to you exactly what that entailed?

Dines: How about a lack of transparency? I never got an itemized list. I have walked through the building several times. Before the restrooms were gutted, they were beautiful. That building was close to move-in status when we acquired it. It is a very nice building. I talked to people who worked there. Read my quote to Mike Conway [city liaison] about the utility closest. Those utility closets were something that we could have built separate ADA bathrooms in. I made that suggestion to a high-level staff member who was there, to not rip out the bathrooms and build new bathrooms. The next time I went there, my heart did sink. I was just like, "Are you kidding me?"

LBBJ: So you had that discussion . . .

Dines: Not at the board level. That was a conversation I had with a senior staff member to not rip out the bathrooms.

LBBJ: Do you have second thoughts about going with the airport building?

Dines: No. No second thoughts. The airport building to me has always been the one. I don't know if it shows, but I really care about the people there [who work for the harbor department]. . . . I know they don't feel comfortable in that [current headquarters] building. . . . So the urgency to get them out is more important than bickering among boardmembers. Honestly, do I believe we need to spend $16 million? No. Not on a $14 million building. . . . But no, there hasn't been an itemized list and I'll be honest, I ask for stuff all the time. I ask for a cost-benefit analysis. It doesn't come. I ask for a comprehensive report on all dredging projects including costs associated with them. I never got a cost association. It was never given. I still haven't got it.

LBBJ: Do you support the port's eventual new headquarters being part of a new civic center?

Dines: I want to look at that. I support the port being downtown in a new building.

LBBJ: Regarding the Gerald Desmond Bridge project. We understand that there was one test well that was done to estimate the oilfield relocation costs. They estimated it at $400,000. It ended up being $2 million per well, and, in two cases, one was $4.4 million and one was $7 million. Do you think that maybe one test well wasn't enough, or should there have been more work to determine a cost beforehand?

Dines: I can't go back and point fingers and put blame on people. I have consistently asked that we do a better job of engineering, when we work on a project and lay it out. Drill more holes if you're going to have problems. It's hard going back. We can't change anything. That doesn't change the commitment to whether we would have built the bridge or not. But it definitely is restricting other projects from being built. . . . We're all in and we're going to build this bridge. I just hope that we don't leverage the next 20 years of revenue doing it. We are at $417 million into the bridge now.

LBBJ: The money you commissioners deal with is mind boggling.

Dines: We have a billion-dollar budget. We take in $1 million a day and spend $2.5 million a day.

LBBJ: Really?

Dines: Yes. That's what we're doing this year. . . . The bridge was $114 million in port funds. Now it's $417 million. When Middle Harbor was passed in April of 2009, it was projected to be a $750 million project. Now staff says, well, we always knew it was $1 billion. Really? I wish you would have told me. The lease negotiations are based on $1 billion. We're at $1.314 billion.

LBBJ: This has been a long interview. We appreciate your time. Is there anything else you would like to say?

Dines: If I can leave you with this: I am so very pro-business. I live on the success of the port. The Port of L.A. has to be successful too. I have one of those great jobs that is directly related to the ports' success. So I support business. I think what you read is there are certain groups who do not like me. Talk to the tenants. Go have lunch with LBCT or TTI or Hanjin. See if I fight for them hard enough. See if I understand their issues. I think I've come forward with some very good ideas since I've been on the commission, including the idea of relocating chassis off dock [to improve efficiencies], that helps LBCT and Middle Harbor more than any other terminal down there. This is something that is happening nationwide. I'll be honest. This is something that was very unpopular. The board didn't even want to move on this. This sat in the back room for six months. When it comes to being a harbor commissioner and understanding the port, I have expertise. I really do understand this stuff.