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Excerpt from a 24 column-inch article that begins on the front page of today's edition (Saturday, 9 Apr 2005) of the Amarillo Globe-News:

Dodd amendment threatens Marine One contract
By Dwayne Harnett

Connecticut politicians aren't going gently into that good night regarding Marine One.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Democrat, used a stealthy move on the Senate floor in an attempt to sabotage the $6.1 billion Marine One contract recently awarded by the U.S. Navy to a partnership headed by Lockheed Martin Corp., Bell Helicopter Textron, and Agusta Westland, an Italian aircraft manufacturer.

The contract awarded Jan 28 calls for a fleet of 23 presidential helicopters to be mostly built at Bell's assembly center in Amarillo.

Dodd offered an amendment to the contract that bars companies wishing to build Marine One from doing business with companies based in countries that are state sponsors of terrorism.

The Senate, without much debate and after a perfunctory voice vote, passed Dodd's amendment . . .

. . . Connecticut is home to the losing bidder, Sikorsky Aircraft, while Lockheed, the leader for Team US101, planned to build part of the helicopter at its Oswego plant in upstate New York. . .

Dodd charged that Agusta Westland is considering marketing to Iran. . . The fact that Sikorsky was bailed out of near bankruptcy by Abusta Westland was overlooked by Dodd. . .

. . . The contract with Lockheed Martin, which is based in Bethesda, MD, would mean hundreds of jobs for the company's Oswego operation and as many hired for final assembly in Amarillo. . .

. . . Even if the amendment survives a parliamentary challenge in the Senate, it still has to go before the House and ultimately has to be approved by a House-Senate conference committee before it goes for signature.


I've spent most of the spring here in Amarillo. This is a big issue here, closely tracked by the local media, and talked about in the barbershops and restaurants. Mr. Dodd is making himself into Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of the citizens in the Texas Panhandle.

Every morning and evening on the way to my project here I pass Tiltroter Drive, the main road to the local airport. Bell has a factory there where they build the Osprey. I often see it flying, usually in the evening as I'm headed back to my hotel. It was out tonight.

As always,

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