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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Portland Quotation of the Year So Far

From the arbitrator in the Tri-Met union contract dispute:

[Via Portland Afoot.]

Comments (10)

Wow. That doesn't pull any punches. Of course acknowledging the elephant doesn't mean herding it out of the room.

I picture fiftenn years from now Trimet is basically just a giant pension fund, running one small bus for seniors to keep up appearances. Ridiculous.

Does any of this get back to the Governor who appoints the board and therefore is ultimately in control of this disaster?

That Elephant is in every room. You either are choking the crap out of your company with health care costs, or going into the poor house without coverage.

And it also demonstrates the key difference between Democrats and Republicans:

Democrats want to meet basic public needs, like Health Care, but have no idea how to pay for it, so they keep the debt bomb ticking.

Republicans don't want to pay for anything except the war machine because they think everybody is here by the grace of God, so just accept your place and deal with it.

John Charles has raised the OPEB/health care for retirees problem with the TriMet board and management for years.

They have sat stoned faced with eyes wide open to the problem to such a level that civil words cannot adequately describe their gross negligence and total disregard for any due diligence.

It's been a stunning era of malfeasance in which no one will ever face any consequences.

In fact things getting much worse.

Right now all of the scoundrels are in a blitz of madness as they feed their agenda ever more brazen and despicable justifications.

Their deceitful obstruction to every voter intervention has them spewing vial condemnations of people wanting to vote.

Against public will and without either local or fed funding truly secured TriMet has deliberately staged rail stock at the PMLR Park Avenue station area, ordered light rail cars, extended construction contracts and pushed forward commitments to
make PMLR appear as any though any scaled back version is no longer possible.

The actions used to advance this shameless project & the names of those who perpetrated it will ultimately go down in infamy.
Just like Trimet's reckless commitment to lavish health care for retirees, PMLR was never really funded or measured for merit.

With no one responsible for anything nothing at all matters.

TriMet and Metro are oblivious to any rational considerations that are not supportive of more of the same.

It all gets back to the fact the idiots in Salem don't know what to do. Salem is controlled by D's and the D's don't dare do anything that their union overlords don't like.

So the entire State is basically petrified.

In somewhat related news, CALPERS (CA version of PERS) reported that they earned 1% on their assets last year. They are shocked that his happened. The PowerPoint slide that they saw 12 months ago said they would earn 8%.

Same PowerPoint slide deck that the guys in Salem are using evidently. PERS board still assumes that they'll make 7% return regards of what reality says. They aren't ready for reality. Can't handle the truth I guess!

And where is the Gov in all of this? Cowering under his bed like a little girl I suppose. Poor guy, he doesn't know what to do. If he makes a decision people will be mad and he doesn't like that.

Does any of this get back to the Governor who appoints the board and therefore is ultimately in control of this disaster?

Ultimately in control should also mean ultimately responsible, as in a ship's captain or a CEO.

The problem is that TriMet's empire building ways is equally unsustainable; and yet that is going unnoticed and allowed to continue at rapid fire speed.

TriMet could declare Chapter 9 to solve its labor issues, but TriMet won't because Chapter 9 will make it virtually impossible to continue to build light rail (which requires the sales of bonds, which a bankruptcy filing would make impossible). While TriMet won a victory on its terms, it's only a matter of time before TriMet cuts into its bone of existence because of its wild spending ways that have nothing to do with labor.

TriMet claimed it had a $17 million shortfall. Just eliminating the unnecessary subsidy to the City of Portland's Streetcar, and eliminating WES, would have taken care of the shortfall - with no other cuts whatsoever.

Cutting TriMet's Marketing, Capital Projects and I.T. Departments would find another $10 million in the budget. Other internal cuts and efficiencies could have found another $20-30 million. Again - this is even without touching labor expense, benefits, insurance. Raising fares to $2.50/two hours, eliminating the freebees (free rail, free streetcar, youthpass) and charging to park in TriMet Park & Ride Lots and garages would have generated likely another $10 million in revenue.

At that point, bring the labor expense down to market level...TriMet would be sitting on a gold mine and able to cut its payroll tax, and use some of its accelerated cash holdings to retire some of its debt (more savings), plus retire its aging 22 year old bus fleet and replace those buses with new, more fuel efficient, more reliable buses, and some higher capacity articulated buses to be used on high-ridership routes (or, use three articulated buses on 20 minute headways to do the work of four 40' buses on 15 minute headways - instant 25% labor savings, and about a 20% fuel savings.)

But...next year TriMet will once again talk about more service cuts, and more fare increases, and like always TriMet will get a free pass as they are the all-knowing, unelected, appointed political shrills of the Governor whose job is apparently to bow down and kiss the a** of the General Manager, rather than to oversee the agency.

This decision was a forgone conclusion. About 15 years ago the laws regarding public interest arbitrations were changed to allow public employers to argue "ability to pay" as a factor in deliberations. It also changed to an all or nothing, "last best offer" standard. No more picking and choosing individual articles in a contract. An arbitrator has to choose one package or the other (as a whole.) The intent was to make parties more reasonable in their negotiations. Mike Tedesco is a pretty sharp guy, I have a hard time believeing he would have advised taking this to arb. ATU has been pretty dense in their handling of this, and has no one to blame but themselves.

Tim seems to be the only one reading this that gets it. It isn't pensions, folks. It's HEALTH CARE, and it isn't jus Tri-Met. Of course they should be letting Medicare cover their over-65 retirees, but beyond that, Tri-Met, the City, Metro, and private sector employees should not be burdened by health insurance costs. A national single-payer health care system is the obvious, simple and effective solution. Medicare for all.

When taking money from Peter to pay Paul you can always count on Paul's support.

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