Sündenbock

“Sins goat,” i.e. scapegoat.

08 Mar 2013: In what may be an unusual choice for a sacrificial pawn, peasant or farmer, the controversial German executive Hartmut Mehdorn was named the new manager of the struggling Berlin-Brandenburg airport construction project. At his last gig, he was C.E.O. of Germany’s second-largest airline after Lufthansa but left suddenly, though not before suing the Berlin-Brandenburg airport construction project. In his gig before that he managed Deutsche Bahn for years and years (he finally had to leave that company in 2009 after they were found to be spying on their employees). Mr. Mehdorn is considered undiplomatic by people who don’t like him and a cost cutter by those who do. He doesn’t always manage to cut costs: as Green party members like to point out, another thing Mr. Mehdorn did at Deutsche Bahn was spend a decade pushing the unpopular and also possibly impossibly expensive Stuttgart 21 underground train station expansion project.

Former Frankfurt airport C.E.O. and engineer Wilhelm Bender was supposed to take over the beleaguered Berlin airport construction project and was rumored to have negotiated a per diem of 2500 or 4000 euros, but withdrew his name on 4 Mar 2013, citing contractual disagreements and his concerns about confidentiality.

Update on 21 Oct 2013: Still not finished, the new Berlin airport’s construction costs have been adjusted upward again, now estimated at about 5 billion euros (which would actually be a downward adjustment). No deadline for finishing is apparent. Siemens recently signed a contract to deliver a control system for the new smoke removal system that included 18 months just for programming the software.

Update on 24 Oct 2013: Spiegel.de provided some context on the mutual history of Hartmut Mehdorn and Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit (S.P.D.). Years after his 2009 departure from German Rail, Spiegel wrote, Berliners still suffered from Mr. Mehdorn’s misplaced I.P.O.-preparedness austerity measures as their poorly maintained trains, tracks and other rail equipment struggle to keep running in winter weather. In 2005, Mr. Wowereit apparently forced Mr. Mehdorn to build Deutsche Bahn headquarters in the capital city instead of in Hamburg where Mr. Mehdorn would have had more control, e.g. over port shipping.

The current airport construction site’s technology manager, engineer Horst Amann, who after fighting with Mr. Mehdorn since March 2013 was transferred to head the airport’s utilities subsidiary on 01 Nov 2013, criticized Mr. Mehdorn’s plan to open the new airport in stages, starting with perhaps 10 flights a day to perhaps test things. Mr. Amann said this is purely cosmetic and would interfere with construction.

Update on 20 Feb 2014: Hartmut Mehdorn announced in a letter to employees that the planned partial start of the new Berlin airport this summer will not be feasible.

Update on 28 Feb 2014: There still aren’t PLANS for the airport. One reason this became such a colossal sinkhole is because they started building before they finished designing all the systems. Siemens said it could go ahead and start construction of replacement system/s (not sure which) if only plans were available. Hartmut Mehdorn has already had a falling-out with the new technical manager who replaced Horst Amann; she quit. Pirate Party member Martin Delius said management board chief Hartmut Mehdorn needs a technical manager he can work with, who is allowed some autonomy and who is supported by the supervisory board.

Update on 04 Mar 2014: An analysis of Hartmut Mehdorn’s first year turning the Berlin airport construction project around said, “Other people are always responsible” for the problems that occur on Mr. Mehdorn’s watch.

Update on 11 Apr 2014: The Berlin airport construction project’s supervisory board [Aufsichtsrat] met today. Hartmut Mehdorn appeared accompanied by a lawyer, who was he said there to instruct the supervisory board about the responsibilities and rights of a board such as itself. “Mehdorn feels he has been pushed around. The supervisory board felt it has been inadequately informed.” ZDF heute journal’s report on the meeting went on to mention that a top airport employee, a construction specialist, sent a 21-page letter to the supervisory board to alert them that, in his opinion,

English translation German original
“[cut off] …in the context of the stagnating progress in the BER project the mood is worsening, including within the FBB company, and would draw your attention to ongoing still-existing and even increasing deficits in company culture, characterized by resistance to advice, increasing hierarchization, resignation and criticismlessness. In internal atmospheres as well, the decision-making process appears at times to be based on gut feelings and mercurial, even for strategic questions. Bad decisions in this atmosphere are not revised but are pushed through ‘decisively’ as evidence of leadership strength. The actions taken awaken the impression that at the moment it’s being determined by operative actionism/’immediatism’ without appropriate internal coordination and expertise, as well as by uncoordinated assignment of internal tasks. This situation continues to be [cut off] by a lack of personnel consequences…” “[cut off] im Kontext des stagnierenden BER-Projektfortschritts auch innerhalb der FBB die Stimmungslage weiter verschlechtert und verweist auf weiter bestehende und sogar zunehmende Defizite in der Unternehmenskultur, gekennzeichnet durch Beratungsresistenz, verstärkte Hierarchisierung, Resignation und Kritiklosigkeit. Auch in der Innenwahrnehmung erscheint die Entscheidungsfindung zuweilen auf Bauchgefühl beruhend und sprunghaft, selbst bei strategischen Fragen, Fehlentscheidungen werden nach dieser Wahrnehmung nicht revidiert sondern als Beleg von Führungsstärke ‘entschieden’ durchgesetzt. Das Handeln erweckt den Eindruck, dass es augenscheinlich durch operativem Aktionismus / ‘Sofortismus’ ohne angemessene interne Abstimmung und Sachkunde sowie die unkoordinierte parallele Erteilung interner Aufträge bestimmt ist. Diese Situation wird durch die weiterhin fehlenden personellen Konsequenzen für die [cut off]”

Mr. Mehdorn responded to the letter by firing its author, effective immediately.

Time: Hartmut Mehdorn estimated they might have an estimate of when construction will be complete at the end of 2014 at the earliest.
Money: Hartmut Mehdorn estimated the project will need another 1.1 billion euros, for a total of 5.4 billion euros.

(ZINNED en bawk.)

Unabhängiger Revisor für die Terrorismusgesetzgebung

The U.K.’s “independent reviewer of terrorism legislation,” who is looking into the police’s invocation of Britain’s “antiterror” laws when they interrogated David Miranda for nine hours without a lawyer after he tried to change planes at Heathrow—a difficult connection airport even when you’re not terrorized by authorities. They confiscated Mr. Miranda’s computer, phone and all other electronic gear.

David Anderson, Q.C., has also been called “U.K. Terror Law Watchdog” in English-language headlines.

(OON ob HENG iggah   reVISor   foor   dee   tare or IZ moose geh ZETZ gay boong.)

Totalüberwachung: Londoner Verhältnisse

“Total surveillance: London conditions.” The U.K. situation.

What the Bavarian state data protection officer mentioned as undesirable in a newspaper interview earlier this month. Even the act of putting cameras in public places, which England has notoriously taken to new levels, creates a social selection process, he said. He did not want a society that produces only conformists.

(Tote OLL über VOCHH oong:   Lun done ah fur HAIL t niss eh.)

Schlichtungsstelle für Flugreisende

“Arbitration board for air passengers.” Created on 03 May 2013 by the Bundesrat to support consumers traveling by air. Starting November 2013, passengers in Germany can contact this office to seek information about passenger rights and financial remuneration from airports and airlines after e.g. delayed connections, missed connections and/or lost luggage. What airlines owe passengers after which screwups is also being defined in regulations.

Update on 01 Nov 2013: German air passengers can now contact the Schlichtungsstelle für den öffentlichen Personenverkehr [German Conciliation Body for Public Transport] to start arbitration proceedings in disputes with airlines. German rail, bus and ship passengers already had this right from that office. Costs for the proceedings will be paid by German transport companies; passengers requiring arbitration in a transport dispute will only have to pay their own costs.

The söp’s charming and helpful English page stated,

“A traveller can get help with a complaint about delays and missed connections, train and plane cancellations, damaged or lost luggage, faulty information, tickets and reservations, and/or bad service. The main task of the söp is the out-of-court settlement of individual disputes between travellers and the transport companies. Within this, söp also helps to strengthen the customer satisfaction with the transport company. […]”

“The söp follows a service and practical approach, as intermodal (‘verkehrsträgerübergreifende’) settlement scheme. It is common for travellers to use more than one form of transport (e.g., train to plane), which can take up a lot of time in a dispute by investigating the whole chain of transport, including the responsible contracted partners. With the söp the consumer does not have to deal with the question of responsibility and can, independent from the transport of choice, just deal with one contact person at söp (one-face-to-the-customer-approach).”

(SCHLICHH toongz shtell ah   foor   FLOOG rye zen dah.)

Bausoll

Though this word looks like it might mean “obligation to build” it’s actually a “construction targets” document describing precisely what has to be done in a construction project, documents apparently neglected in three prestige enterprises recently gone awry in Germany: the Elbphilharmonie riverfront concert hall in Hamburg, the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport, and the expansion of the Stuttgart train station underground (“Stuttgart 21”). ZDF heute journal reported part of the systemic problem is that responsible parties include politicians, absent in 15 to 20 years when the project finishes, who absolutely want to build the shiny thing and construction firms that absolutely want to obtain the building contracts without, apparently, feeling constrained to submit realistic bids. Also, planners’ fees apparently are a percentage of the project’s ultimate cost?

(BOW zollll.)

Flughafen-Untersuchungsausschuss

“Committee Investigating the Airport.” Berlin’s state parliament has created a committee to look into the billions of unbudgeted euros and months if not years of delays incurred in the construction of its new airport. The committee chair is Martin Delius (German Pirate Party), the first Pirate Party member ever to chair a parliamentary committee in Germany.

ZDF said Martin Delius (28) has meticulously prepared for this job, even swotting up on police interrogation techniques. He also created Wikileaks-type websites for airport workers to submit information to anonymously. ZDF briefly flashed an image of a book in Delius’s office by Oliver Wenzlaff called Piratenkommunikation: Was die Eliten in Politik und Wirtschaft von den Piraten lernen können [“Pirate communication: What the political and economic elites can learn from pirates”]. Berlin’s ruling SPD party said it wants to follow this GPP example of good transparency. The Greens said they want to do better than the stated Pirate goal of finding out what happened, by finding out what happened and then firing people and bringing lawsuits. The investigation is to last approximately one year, so results will be published in October 2013, presumably.

(FLEW g hoff en   OON ter ZOO kungs ow! ss SHOOSS.)

Brandschutzanlage

“Fire protection system,” fire safety system. The most expensive failure at Berlin’s new airport, blamed for over a trillion euros in unplanned costs and delays of more than a year. It seems the Willy Brandt airport’s architects decided traditional smoke extraction systems, in the form of vents and fans hung under the airport’s ceilings, where smoke actually rises to, would put too many ugly ducts in view. They decided to run the smoke extraction system under the airport’s flooring, necessitating extra-powerful fans and kilometers of conduits for the extra cabling required. But apparently construction proceeded too rapidly while these design decisions were being taken, and communication with the construction side was poor, because the in-floor smoke extraction system was built without conduits for all its cables. The airport’s floors are now being torn up to create these. A new top manager has been brought in, with experience from large projects at Frankfurt/Main airport. He says things are going to work out fine.

A similar jaw-dropping story happened when the well-known Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe high-speed train station was built.

(BROND shoots on log eh.)

Planfeststellungsverfahren

“Plan determination process.” People living near Berlin’s new Willy Brandt Airport are trying get a court order to change the proposed landing paths, by petitioning for a new Planfeststellungsverfahren.

(Plon FEST shtell oongz fer FAR en.)

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