I did some more experimenting with a co-worker today and it looks like the problem lies with the ports on the server machine (i.e. where I am running startup.sh from). Here is what happened:
One of my co-workers copied my entire tomcat tree to his home directory. When he did so and restarted the tomcat server (after I shut mine down), he received an error message in his log file saying that it couldn't bind to port 8080 because it was already in use. This message did *not* exist in my own log file though, even though everything should be exactly the same (since he copied my directory tree over). Weird!
He then changed the port used in the server.xml file to 8084 and was able to bring up the server (first on his machine, then on mine) and connect to it via his browser. I was then able to connect to his server myself. Success!
BUT ... then he shut his server down and I went to bring it up myself. BZZT! I got the same weird stack trace errors that I posted yesterday, and when I try to access the server from my browser, I get a blank page.
I spoke to one of our Unix admins and we did a fair amount of snooping around my machine. It seems like the ports in question are being used, but we can't figure out what process is using them. Also the stack trace was saying that port 8005 was being used, which is odd because we did not reference that and I am not running any other web apps on my Unix box (except for Netscape so I can read the tomcat doc files which are in html).
Just now I tried port 8082 (in my server.xml) and got the same stack trace messages that I posted yesterday, without any mention of port 8005.
My Unix Admin thinks that it looks like tomcat is somehow starting twice (or thinks it is) and the port gets locked up as a result. I am wondering if somehow my login has an issue with properly accessing ports since my co-worker had no problems while I did.
I just tried port 8082 now, but had no luck with that either - same obscure stack traces in my log file that I posted yesterday.
Rebooting is an option, but (besides having to restart close to 100 xterms, sigh) it seems like there is some deeper issue which would just reoccur. Is there some config variable that affects how Unix apps access a machine's ports?
Also see this search which my Unix Admin did for tomcat server issues: http://groups.google.com/groups/search?hl=en&q=tomcat+port+conflict+server.xml&qt_s=Search