Garden City resident and Garden City Life columnist, now syndicated in all 18 Anton Community Newspapers, Bob McMillan, was the guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce's Annual Kickoff Luncheon at the Garden City Hotel this week.
The often controversial McMillan shares his conservative take on world and local issues weekly on the editorial pages of Anton Newspapers in a column entitled An Opinion By Robert R. McMillan. This week he discussed before the Chamber of Commerce a subject which appears frequently in his columns -- the treaty-mandated transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama from the United States to take place on Dec. 31 of this year.
McMillan has written such things on the subject in his column as, "As the end of this year gets closer, more people ask me questions about what will happen to the Panama Canal when it is transferred to Panama. While that is a significant question for American shipping interests, there are several other issues which can be of equal or greater importance to the United States."
He cites the following example, "As the military leaves, Panama has to come to grips with the physical properties being turned over. The record to date has not been good. Many of the structures have become jungle vine infested ruins. Efforts to bring new businesses in to take over the buildings has not been as successful as the Panamanians had hoped. And the involvement of the Chinese in taking over decaying ports at each end of the canal have not ever been on the Clinton administration's radar scope. They have been asleep."
McMillan has also argued, "As for canal operations after Dec. 31, it appears that an old friend of mine from Panama, JJ Vallarino, may become chairman of Panama's Canal Authority. If that is the case, the canal will start the new millennium on a positive note. JJ is an effective and honest businessman who would provide no nonsense leadership to the Panamanian stewardship of the canal." Although he acknowledges the operation will face challenges from factors like "Colombian guerrillas seeking sanctuary in Panama" and "the ultra nationalist PRD party, the political home of former dictator Manuel Noriega."
The partner in the law firm McMillan, Rather, Bennett and Rigano, P.C. was once the chairman of the Panama Canal Commission's Board of Directors. McMillan was first named to the commission in 1989 by then President George Bush and was elected chairman in 1993. He presided over the board of directors until October of 1994. (His position on the Commission followed an unsuccessful run in 1988 for the United States Senate.)
He was employed by Avon Products Inc. for 16 years, serving as a corporate officer for 10 of those years. He is founder and chairman of the Long Island Housing Partnership, Inc. He currently hosts WLIW-21's program Face-Off.
Also during the luncheon, reports were given on Village and business activities, a raffle prize was given thanks to the donation by Maxwell's (formerly 660 West), and Anthony Giampaolo of G-Paul Commuications was announced to be the winner of the 60-second commercial.