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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 8, 2010 8:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Turning 180. The next post in this blog is Plaid Pantry guy: New Interstate Bridge could bankrupt both states. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Friday, October 8, 2010

Just how broke is Tri-Met?

Members of Portland's apoplectic transit-hater crowd find their heads spinning this week with the release of the troubled transit agency's latest audited financial statements. These documents confirm what people have been suspecting for months: that Tri-Met's finances have not been well managed, and the whole operation is careening toward disaster.

The most eye-popping revelation is that Tri-Met's unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits is now $816.5 million. That's up from $632.2 million a year ago. And hey, people, that's just to pay the retired employees' medical bills! It doesn't include the liability to pay them their pensions, which adds another $267.3 million in unfunded liabilities to the tally. Cha-ching! You math majors out there can see that the total unfunded pension and retiree health care liability is now approaching $1.1 billion.

And even that mega-number may be low. The actuaries who come up with these figures make all sorts of assumptions in predicting what the future will hold, including how much Tri-Met will earn on investments that it socks away to pay future benefits to these folks, and how much medical care is going to cost going forward. Some of the assumptions made in the current financials seem a bit, shall we say, optimistic. Such as:

Significant actuarial assumptions used in the valuation include a rate of return on the investment of present and future assets of 7.0 percent, an annual cost of living increase of 4.0 percent and annual salary increases of 5.0 percent....

Significant actuarial assumptions used in the valuation include a rate of return on the investment of present and future assets of 8.0 percent, a benefits in payment status annual increase of 3.0 percent, and a 3.0 percent annual rate to determine the normal retirement benefit for active employees....

Significant actuarial assumptions used in the valuation include a discount rate of 4.5%, and health care cost rates trending down from 10% in 2010 to 5% in 2020 for the major medical component, which is representative of the entire plan....

If you finding yourself thinking that you're going to make 7% or 8% on your investments, or that health care rates are going to "trend down," over the next decade, call Amanda Fritz for emergency psychiatric evaluation.

Another item that jumps out of these financials is that Tri-Met is apparently playing the same "interim financing" shell game that Portland uses when it goes out to borrow huge sums of money for "urban renewal" shenanigans. It authorizes "interim" financing of projects early on, before the public has any firm handle on what the project entails. While the jumbo "interim" loans are outstanding -- up to five years these days -- Tri-Met spends all the money. By the time it informs the public that it's going out for the permanent, long-term mortgage, the money's all been spent, the "interim" loan is due any day now, and it's way too late to say no to the long-term bonds.

We also see that Tri-Met is the tenant under several leases of office space out there, paying rent of about $1 million a year. This being Portland, one can only imagine how those properties are selected, and how the rents are set. Past or present proximity to Neil Goldschmidt is no doubt an important factor in that analysis.

In some ways, the timing of the bad money news works well for Tri-Met, which is currently begging voters for a property tax increase, supposedly to fund its current operations. On the other hand, the ugly balance sheet also reflects poorly on the agency's management, which has made some screamingly bad choices with the doomed WES commuter train to Wilsonville and a streetcar to nowhere on Portland's east side, and now proposes to double down with a mystery train to a place called Milwaukie.

Regardless of whether the voters are dumb enough to give the transit district its property tax, Tri-Met appears to have hit a financial iceberg. And its captain, Ted Fred Hansen, left an hour ago on a speed boat. The rest of you, go by streetcar!

Comments (35)

And now they have borrowed another 6 million to study light rail down Barbur, bringing their GANG train to folks there. Though a Dem I am voting for Dudley just so he can clean up these Boards like Tri-Met and the Port.

Whaddya mean broke? They got enough to build that bridge with and expand light-rail.

Vote NO on the TriMet bond. They don't need it.

Jack, like it or not, you are just going to have to vote for Dudley, as he is the only one that can reconfigure the TriMet board who then can appoint a new managment team.


Please consider running for public office in the near future. You are the only voice of sanity in this insane asylum known as Portland.

8% returns are crazy? But Richard Riviere is able to guarantee it for years to come...

I'm certain they can complete Barbur Blvd with savings from the Milwaukie light rail line.

And its captain, Ted Hansen, left an hour ago on a speed boat.

You must mean FRED Hansen.

like it or not, you are just going to have to vote for Dudley, as he is the only one that can reconfigure the TriMet board

John, you just sealed my vote. I don't like Dudley much but the alternative is far worse.

Even the federal Budget Office in it's calculations for ObamaCare has lower rate of return numbers than TriMets 7.0% and 8.0%. And several review agencies of ObamaCare don't predict health care costs "trending down from 10% to 5%". I guess TriMet knows more than they do, or any of us.

There are now a few TriMet board members that are beginning to question "prophecies" of the TriMet establishment. They better start asking more questions, with followup questions; and educate their fellow board members. And they can begin with Milwaukie LightRail, as they have done in that last two board meetings. Better yet, vote for Dudley and maybe the Board can we reconstituted with a majority that has common sense.

OK - this definitely shows gross incompetence but is there a criminal of civil element here that could result in legal sanctions? I am not an attorney, though I sometimes play one for grins. This, however, is well out of the areas of law that I am familiar with.

Jack, Nonny, anyone who is a lawyer, got answers?

Just how broke is Tri-Met? Is that some kind of a challenge?

Tri-Met is so broke they're building a light-rail to bankruptcy court.

Tri-Met is so broke that if you buy a monthly pass, they'll pick you up at your house.

Tri-Met is so broke they want to charge an extra fare for your erogenous zones.

Switching from biodiesel to CNG buses would reduce emissions by over 50% and save about $1.70 less per gallon equivalent (more than 50% fuel cost savings)

Or electric buses....

Why isn't this in discussion? Trimet runs B5 anyway, it's not really bio-anything but nobody is on it?

Conversion would cost dramatically less than a light rail or streetcar project and be more effective, more useful and more utilized by people who don't drive.

And guys, don't vote for dudley for this reason, just get involved in your community. Its hard to govern from the depths of those he even pretending to deal with Portland's issues?

I can't wait for the day when every dime of our tax money goes to pay for benefits to FORMER government workers retired in Baja or somewhere.

We won't have to wait long.

The PERS actuaries use an 8% earnings assumption. I don't think Tri-Met's 7% is so outrageous.

Kai, they are both "outrageous".

Snards:I can't wait for the day when every dime of our tax money goes to pay for benefits to FORMER government workers retired in Baja or somewhere. .

Yes, can visualize Sam, Randy and the rest on a veranda, an island somewhere sipping margaritas and laughing about how they well they did here to enjoy such retirements.

Tri-Met is so broke they're riding C-TRAN buses to work.

Tri-Met is so broke they have downgraded the Free Rail Zone to the Free Walking Zone.

Tri-Met is so broke they renamed the Green Line "Future Site of the Phil Knight Expressway."

Tri-Met is so broke they hired twelve additional staffers to figure out how to solve their financial problems.

Tri-Met is so broke they're now Bi-Met.

Tri-Met is so broke they're reserving the rearmost seats for the working girls and their customers on the 72 line.




Tri Met's so broke that to rub two nickels together, they have to float a bond.

Tri-Met is so broke, now they are charging for all carry-on luggage.
(a bag of groceries will be $25.00)

Tri-Met is so broke they're building a light-rail to bankruptcy court.

LOL! Great lines, Bill! Just look at what you've started. ;-)

TriMet is so broke, now you have to sit through a 30-second ad before the doors open at your stop.

TriMet is so broke, their executives and supervisor SUV's don't have leather or satellite radio!

Tri-Met is so broke that the drivers will be passing the hat at the half-way points of each route in each direction, but only if you are a bus rider.

Tri-Met is so broke they are negotiating with the union to make drivers pay for the privilege of working for a "green" employer.

Btw the Colorado legislature passed a law that required Denver regional Transit agency to contract our a part of the work, These days, from what I have read, about 50% of the service is contracted out and the savings is about 25% on operating costs.

I'll let y'all do the research but someone might mention it to their local leg person.

Sorry about the "Ted" Hansen reference. But in a way it's funny. Let's call him Ted from now on!

I like your phrase, "a mystery train to a place called Milwaukie."

Like voting for Dudley will get you anything better.

"If voting ever changed anything, it'd be illegal."

Its not about hating transit but more of the way it's operated. If the riders paid for the capital outlay and 100% of the operating costs I would be all for public transportation. However, when they only pay 19% of the operating cost, not including paying any of the unfunded liability as you just pointed out, it clearly is not fair. I wonder what a ride really costs verses what the rider pays? If the rider had to pay the full cost would he/she find it a good value? It's all a shell game to promote government and union jobs to keep voting for the democrat machine. This all reminds me of the games they played when I lived in Chicago.

Ya we are in deep doo doo here, too bad us drivers had nothing to do with with creating this mess, now we are in the same boat as the riders, screwed!

Yup, that unfunded liability is interesting, numbers numbers numbers, they just keep coming.

How bout the unfunded liability of THIS little government program. I figured us Trimet workers will catch up to it in about $999,500,000,000!

That could be any day now the way things are going.

Tax money is tax money ya know!

Ya, and I agree Fred looks like a Ted, actually a Teddy bear, its was a great disguise wasn't it?

TriMet never tells the truth

Fringe beneifts went up $27 Million & TriMet made $27 Million in cuts.

In one year, 09-10 Trimet has a $27 million increase in cost of fringe benefits.
They publicly blame the economy and make $27 million in cuts?

How do they blame the economy when their

Total operating and nonoperating revenues rose 6.5%

Easy they, lie.

Trimet increased both rider fare rates and the payroll tax rates - while cutting services. Now they want even more through a property tax levy. I'm voting no. Kill the beast.

My mother used to sing a little ditty in response to family requests for one thing or another: "When the tax return comes!"

Of course it was a joke; the tax return couldn't begin to cover all of our needs.

People exercised this wishful thinking with Obama and Now I see normally rational people doing the same thing with Dudley.

I don't recall hearing that Tri-Met reform is at the top of his agenda or, indeed, if he will have the power to make any significant change in that agency during a first term other than to appoint his own cronies or donors to available board positions.

I'm not a Kitz fan but Dudley does not walk on water.


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to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
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Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
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Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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