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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5418
Location: southeastern USA
Well, they had answers because they got answers.

The emergency fund is not one pot of money, but bits of money from many people that get thrown into the pot when needed. What we are seeing here is a well thought out and executed expression of not only that need, but how it came about and a rational means of solving it at a not unreasonable cost overall, and easily affordable amount from interested donors.

It helps that the need was pretty easily articulated, as was the solution which (despite a bit of a hiccup about its details) was already agreed to by the principals who held the power. The solvers did a great job of communication all along the way, but stayed on site and in touch, directly involved to see it through personally.

If a similar situation happened in my town, I'd get Jason on board and have him run a similar program on line that I could handle locally. I'm a dinosaur, and this needs younger people to deal with the technical stuff of online funding and digital media.

This is the fund - a lot of pockets, not one big one, and good communication and management. It doesn't need a board or a charter, just constant meaningful expression of a workable plan.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:13 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:17 am
Posts: 202
Location: New York
Dave wrote:
The emergency fund is not one pot of money, but bits of money from many people that get thrown into the pot when needed.


Wouldn't that be the definition of crowd-sourced funding?

- an "emergency" was identified

- the situation was investigated. all boxes checked off

- appeal made, campaign launched

- everyone "votes" by throwing in their "bits of money"

- fundraising goal achieved, which is equal to an "approval" by the "board" administrating the "emergency fund." had the campaign not succeeded, that would have equaled a "rejection" and would have required either a reformulated campaign or simply the end of the process.

-otto-

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:21 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:41 pm
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
I must reiterate. The ONLY way a piece of equipment can be saved/restored is if there is an ACTIVE group of folks working to develop and execute a viable plan. It would be folly to fund a project if the plan, from salvage to resurrection and beyond, is not complete AND the people involved are not committed to the plan regardless of expense or time. How much equipment languishes in the back lots of railroad museums because there is no one to sponsor or love it?


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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:24 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1240
Location: Youngstown, OH
One thing about the ELF idea.

Wouldn't it have been nice if there was an ELF and that when the Port Arthur engine became available, the fund could have quietly purchased it and hauled it away without raising the ire of local officials. Making all those public appearances and doing all that fundraising gave the city residents enough time to mount a resistance effort.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:05 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:21 pm
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Location: Danbury, CT
Rick Rowlands wrote:
One thing about the ELF idea.

Wouldn't it have been nice if there was an ELF and that when the Port Arthur engine became available, the fund could have quietly purchased it and hauled it away without raising the ire of local officials. Making all those public appearances and doing all that fundraising gave the city residents enough time to mount a resistance effort.



I don’t think they’d have been able to sneak the 503 out of town without someone sounding the alarm. The proper procedures, no matter how much of a pain, should be followed.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:33 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Rick Rowlands wrote:
One thing about the ELF idea.

Wouldn't it have been nice if there was an ELF and that when the Port Arthur engine became available, the fund could have quietly purchased it and hauled it away without raising the ire of local officials. Making all those public appearances and doing all that fundraising gave the city residents enough time to mount a resistance effort.


Really? You suggest going in and taking responsibility for an artifact in the middle of a Superfund site, that artifact being the source of all the contamination in the first place? The EPA is not going to allow that locomotive to move without asbestos remediation. Once the ELF would have purchased it, the city would have become less than helpful, their response to the EPA from that point on being, "talk to those guys, they own it." Do you envision the ELF having the resources to pay for remediation? To pay for insurance to protect from the potential liability in the event that a windstorm during the remediation process tears the enclosure open and spreads asbestos across half of Port Arthur? Is this fund going to have sufficient resources to then pay to move the locomotive? What happens if the GoFundMe campaign doesn't reach its goals? How do you propose to extract your teat from that wringer?

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:22 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
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Part of the point we all seem to be dancing around is that there are clear models and lessons-learned from this effort that should be codified into a BEST PRACTICE for how to organize, "staff", and conduct an emergency locomotive (or car, or other artifact) save.

It would be nice to have a dedicated rainy-day fund, or even access on an organized basis to other organizations' rainy-day funds, for the purposes of quick or confidential acquisition of endangered assets (not just locomotives). But I would not expect any sort of crowdfunding to set up such a thing to succeed anywhere near as well as this effort for 503 has. We are, I think, much better off with a shadow methodology and easy-to-adapt plans for funding than we would be trying to build up, and then invest, and then administer fairly, any sort of actual investment fund.

A likely very significant reason for the success of the 503 campaign was that notification about it was made, repeatedly, in a great many locations, including private groups only peripherally involving L&A 503. Much of this in fact was done 'virally' by people I had not heard of before the effort got going. If crowdfunding for something like this is as much of a 'numbers game' as it is in other contexts, this has to be a major part ... and a list of the groups and people involved could be made up and kept as a resource or even 'template' for the next time.

Likewise at least tentatively we could have a list, and perhaps a kind of 'calling post', for people like Jason and Nick and Rick who are willing to step up to the plate and coordinate things effectively even before there is compensation or expense payments in place. This was approximated for the wood car kept in the SEPTA facility, which JR May organized the 'save' of, and again it's not the "commitment" that is valuable, but the ability to do immediate or very rapid response to tap into a community of volunteers in order to get a team together.

We are learning a great deal, if we care to look, into both what to say and what not to say in conducting one of these efforts. If nothing else, this should be formalized somewhere in the appropriate section of Becky Morgan's best-practices project.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:05 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1240
Location: Youngstown, OH
Dennis Storzek wrote:
Really? You suggest going in and taking responsibility for an artifact in the middle of a Superfund site, that artifact being the source of all the contamination in the first place?


No I did not suggest that at all. Where is your evidence that the locomotive is a Superfund site?

If you are at all familiar with the timeline of events, Inland Environmental was ready to begin ripping the locomotive apart with a cutting torch and a wrecking ball. Jason and Nick stepped in after the asbestos had been remediated but before the torched had been fired up. If a purchase could have been made at that time, the locomotive could have disappeared (in the same manner that it would have disappeared after being cut up- in semi trucks) before the publicity caused the city to have second thoughts. The delays brought about by the fundraising efforts gave the city council enough time to start throwing monkey wrenches into things and attempt to claw back the locomotive after they themselves approved of the original contract with Inland.

I 100% stand behind my statement that when a transaction is made, it is better to get it removed sooner rather than later.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:18 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 504
Location: Wall, NJ
I was somewhat avoiding this topic, but will respond to one or two comments/ideas.

> The ONLY way a piece of equipment can be saved/restored is if there is an ACTIVE group of folks working to develop and execute a viable plan.

You are missing the point, or perhaps this topic is missing the point. The goal of an ELF should not be to save AND restore an item. It should only be to save it from imminent scrapping or total loss in some way. Pay to get the item to a safe home, to include any remediation needed for movement, and that is it as far as the ELF is concerned.

> How much equipment languishes in the back lots of railroad museums because there is no one to sponsor or love it?

This is not the concern of the ELF unless it there is a threat to scrap the item.

Again, in my view, the public relations mistake made by Jason and Nick was talking about the long term home for the 503 being in Florida. The idea that its leaving Texas probably hurts more to the locals than the idea of it leaving town. I can understand that. That's a live and learn lesson, not a negative on Jason's and Nick's effort. Its a fine line between attracting donations and the local situation.

As to the " the wood car kept in the SEPTA facility" which Overmod mentions, the case there was exactly to save the car and the efforts that went into the work that had been done. Our plan was not to restore the car, only buy it time and to help find it a new home. I have been part of several such efforts over the years (decades). The Hainesport caboose was another more recent example, but in this case our band of brothers are actually restoring it, but in with an eye on it finding a proper home an operational car. Something that looks like a caboose is far easier to find a home for than a rolling chassis of mulch.

So, three points then:

1) An ELF is to save equipment from the torch or dozer. Not to restore the item.
2) An ELF needs bodies on a quick reaction basis to take on the move.
3) An ELF needs some funding to handle the prep work, remediation, and trucking.

Speaking from hands on experience, in looking at ELF money or bodies, bodies are the most important element.

Again, nice job to Jason and Nick in the initial save.

J.R.


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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:57 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 504
Location: Wall, NJ
One other minor point. There seems to be a lot written here on how an ELF organization might handle cash, should it be a stand alone 501c, who would manage it, etc. Those are all very tough questions to answer.

By my experience, and what we have now seen with Jason and Nick, is that a funded and staffed ELF organization is not needed. Again, the goal should be that “simple act of preservation” and no further.

The key behind several recent saves is that a team of people came together and pulled off miracle saves. Cash was not the issue. It was the people. And if you have people, you have funding, especially if the goal is to simply save the item, not restore it. With people comes that “social media footprint” that Jason and Nick have made such good use of in raising cash.

At least twice now I have personally used RyPN to pull together a team of NJ, PA, DE, and I think TN, people to work on a couple of saves. I suspect similar teams of people could be gathered up in similar situations around the country. We did not do this as members of any group. We did not form a 501c. We did not care ultimately where the item went. And when a 501c was needed in a hurry in one case we had our contacts who could make it happen in a pinch. And let’s not forget Mike Pannel and his efforts out west. Or the guys of the Alexander Chapter of the NRHS who have pulled off some amazing saves and restorations. Just two examples of people or groups who quietly make a lot of great saves.

So, I would focus on teams of people, not on the cash. Cash is easy. Getting people is hard. With people comes cash. And no 501c is needed up front in this case. No handling of cash. No personality issues.

As I have found first hand on several such saves, RyPN, much as it is today, was the tool that brought the teams together, augmented by social media.

Keep it simple. Use RyPN as a resource. It might be nice to have a coordinator, someone to make sure the word is out, who would post on RyPN and other platforms, perhaps touch base with those who have a knack for such saves.

J.R.


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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:39 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1240
Location: Youngstown, OH
A nonprofit structure is absolutely essential in saves such as this, because as it stands now Jason is on the hook for whatever income tax is due for that $67,000. Had there been a nonprofit which could have done the fundraising on his behalf, the project would get all 67K. Assuming a 15% tax rate, about 10 grand of what we raised goes to the IRS. 10 grand is an awful steep price to pay for not having an umbrella nonprofit to manage fundraising drives.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 504
Location: Wall, NJ
According to the gofundme page, “GoFundMe will not report your donations as income at the end of the year, or issue any tax documents.” So, there is no 1099 as a result of the campaign. Further, "donations made to GoFundMe campaigns are usually considered to be "personal gifts" which, for the most part, aren’t taxed as income."

Where a non-profit would help is that those who are making a donation can then actually write it off on their own taxes. Personally I tend to help out not because I can save a buck on my taxes, but because its a good cause.

I would still suggest Jason talk to a decent accountant, but I don't see off hand where he would have to pay taxes on the money raised. If there are some tax issues, if he covers all the expenses of the acqusition and move of the engine, he can then donate the engine to the 501c and write it off, probably covering any taxes he may have had to pay. Lots of options and such here.

Hopefully we'll agree to disagree on the need for a 501c for an ELF effort.

J.R.


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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:40 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2221
Location: Northern Illinois
JR May wrote:

Again, in my view, the public relations mistake made by Jason and Nick was talking about the long term home for the 503 being in Florida. The idea that its leaving Texas probably hurts more to the locals than the idea of it leaving town. I can understand that. That's a live and learn lesson, not a negative on Jason's and Nick's effort. Its a fine line between attracting donations and the local situation.
J.R.


I also have been leery of commenting in this discussion because it can easily be misconstrued as criticism of the on going effort to save the 503, which it is not, and not intended to be. However, the current situation with the 503 does present an example of what can go wrong.

In my opinion, the problem that evolved in the 503 effort has nothing to do with where the engine might go; that could well be a problem in the future, after the public council meeting, but it has not been the problem up to this point The problem so far is simply about money.

The use of the very public GoFundMe campaign means that everyone can see the total amount of money available, and each player quickly decides they want it all, never mind that even more money will be needed to pay for the move. If I recall this correctly, the price Inland wanted for the locomotive was $35k, until they found out that $65k had been raised, then that became the new price. Then, the city council found out that Inland was going to get $65k for the engine, and they decided that maybe they hadn't sold the engine to Inland after all, because THEY want the $65k, and given the situation, I can't say that I blame them.

The real problem is using GoFundMe as the source of funds, not that I see any way around it. But in any negotiation, the last thing you want to do is state the true amount you are willing to pay up front, because the other party will immediately counter with that amount, then dig in their heels, knowing you are willing to pay it. Jason's biggest problem now, as I see it, is he does succeed in buying the engine, then fails to raise the funds for the move. Now what does he do?

In light of this, Mr. Rowlands' comment makes sense; the ideal situation would have been for an autonomous benefactor to swoop in and buy the engine while the price was still $35k, and in that respect a standing ELF would have been helpful, but I have no faith that any preservation organization would actually be able to sit on a pot of money for any amount of time. They'd spend it all "saving" a series of insignificant basket cases, and when something worthwhile came along, they'd be broke and have to go the exact same route, with a public fund raising campaign.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:07 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
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Location: Youngstown, OH
Dennis Storzek wrote:
If I recall this correctly, the price Inland wanted for the locomotive was $35k, until they found out that $65k had been raised, then that became the new price.


That is news to me! The price has always been $35,000.

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 Post subject: Re: Should There Be an Emergency Locomotive Fund?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1240
Location: Youngstown, OH
Dennis Storzek wrote:
I have no faith that any preservation organization would actually be able to sit on a pot of money for any amount of time. They'd spend it all "saving" a series of insignificant basket cases, and when something worthwhile came along, they'd be broke and have to go the exact same route, with a public fund raising campaign.


Yes that is THE big problem. Which is why I proposed something that would only be used for large steam locomotives. Widening the umbrella to the point where every caboose, passenger car and saddle tanker is eligible for funding would quickly deplete the fund and lave us all unable to respond when a 4-8-4 for example is threatened. People individually or in groups can raise the money to save a small piece of equipment, the difficulty comes when we are attempting to purchase and move one of the big ones.

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