Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

World of Business

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

World of Business

Article excerpt

AMTRAK CRITIC RESIGNS FROM OVERSIGHT COUNCIL

A leading critic of Amtrak resigned yesterday from a panel that oversees the national railway, accusing Amtrak officials of stonewalling requests for information on its financial performance.

Joseph Vranich, a former Amtrak spokesman, also alleged the railway is adding "pork-barrel trains to the districts or home towns of politically connected officials."

He resigned from the Amtrak Reform Council, an independent watchdog panel, but directed his complaints at the railway, saying Amtrak "disguises the nature and extent of its losses through bogus accounting methods" and refused to give the council information about the cost of starting new freight services.

In addition, he said Amtrak has not been honest about the fiscal implications of delays in the start of high-speed "Acela Express" service between Boston and Washington, D.C. Originally scheduled to begin at the end of 1999, the service has been delayed until at least August because of design and testing problems.

FTC FILES SUIT AGAINST FAILED TOY RETAILER

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday filed a lawsuit against Toysmart.com, accusing the bankrupt online toy-seller of breaking a promise to customers that it would never share private information about them.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, the FTC said Waltham, Mass.-based Toysmart is violating its own assurances appearing on its Web site that "when you register with toysmart.com, you can rest assured that your information will never be shared with a third party."

Toysmart, which is majority-owned by Walt Disney Co., ceased operations in May and began soliciting bids for its assets, including customer lists and profiles. Internet privacy activists protested, claiming that if the sale of that information were allowed, it could encourage a wave of other failing dot-coms to abandon privacy assurances in return for cash. …

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