Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.



For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.







Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!






E-mail us here.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 14, 2013 1:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was No love lost. The next post in this blog is Weather alert update. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
TaxVox
Tax.com
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Maukie
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
KGW-TV
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
KOIN
Willamette Week
KATU
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB
Topix.net - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
KPTV
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

Music-Related
The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Seal
Sting
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, January 14, 2013

A grim thought

Whenever we get exasperated with the inept board of directors of Portland's insolvent transit agency, our initial thought is that the board should be elected by the public, rather than appointed by the governor. But in thinking about this over the weekend, it dawned on us that electing the board may not do any good. For example, Portland has an elected public school board, but look at the mess that system is in. Or Metro -- all the electoral machinery in the world probably couldn't put anyone but bobbleheads on that board.

There's no guarantee -- maybe not even any likelihood -- that electing the Tri-Met board would correct any of the agency's many managerial defects. You'd probably get the same level of competence in an elected board that you do in an appointed board. Which ain't much.

Comments (20)

This line of thinking usually provokes ideas about having the private sector run the transit system. The biggest city I know of that does this to the general exclusion of public transit is Manila, with a result that is not exactly the sort of thing that's worth emulating.

I think the best solution is for publics-spirited citizens to hold these public and quasi-public boards accountable, if necessary (as in the case of the Water Bureau) by taking them to court, and for other public-spirited citizens (an example or two leap to mind) to shed light on their goings-on.

Best that can be hoped for with a board like this is to have some appointed by the Governor, others named by varous local officials/jurisdictions -- creates competition, including some productive sniping at each other when it hits the fan. That kind of dynamic resulted in key changes in the DC area WMATA Board, and has resulted in some significant moves towards addressing long neglected safety issues.

"You'd probably get the same level of competence in an elected board that you do in an appointed board. Which ain't much."

Why is that...oh, yeah...6B.

"...and for other public-spirited citizens (an example or two leap to mind) to shed light on their goings-on."

Yes, that does seem to be the best solution to help the electorate (even a very 'tarded one) make more intelligent choices. And it may not seem so, but I am grateful to those one or two examples that leap to mind.

6C.

Always vote. Vox Populi Vox Dei. The solution to the problem you mention is a vote on the annual budget.

Voters don't hold boards accountable. However, one elected executive may be easier to hold accountable than an unaccountable board.

Maybe requiring voter-approval of all revenue rate increases (employer tax and fares) would force efficiency.

Or splitting the TriMet tax between employers and employees so it shows-up on paycheck stubs would get more attention. I suspect most folks don't realize that much of TriMet's funding doesn't come from fares, but from employers.

Unfortunately you are correct but there is accountability in an elected board.

Currently they have zero accountability.

It's can't get worse, look at it like that.

There was a suggestion that Trimet be prohibited from issuing bonds without voter approval. That would at least stop the agency from putting itself into intentional bankruptcy which is what's its doing at the moment.

When corporations are "chartered" they supposedly have to state their intent, their purpose, their method of generating revenue. I don't know the legal structure of TriMet, but providing transportation for the public falls far below being a mechanism for the redistribution of wealth to the construction/real estate speculators. As I've also said about ODOT, "we're not customers, we're cargo." Annoying, distracting cargo that gets in the way of their plans.
And before you accuse me of hyperbole, just call 'em up and see how patronizing they are. An old friend from back east -- a credentialed journalist -- came out for a visit a while back. And tried to get some access for some photos of the skyline and the infrastructure of the trolley and MLR. He was told, "Sure, we'll give you the tour -- leave your camera behind: We'll show you around and provide any photographs you want." Something between a jitney ride at Disneyland and a cultural tour in North Korea.

There are times when I think that a random drawing of lots from a pool of qualified citizens would be the best way to go.

Maybe they should require all TriMet board members to use the system as their primary form of transportation.

There is nothing wrong with a publicly elected TriMet Board. The biggest issue would be getting one elected and not giving the majority on the board away to people that only represent Portland. Getting the putz in the Governor's office to give up some prime political patronage jobs would also be difficult without a fight. Washington and Clackamas Counties would deserve adequate representation, especially since they contribute major sources of TriMet taxes yet often get marginal services.
Bay Area Rapid Transit has had an elected Board for several decades; and it's worked fairly well.
Another obsticle would be getting people other than the usual area political hacks and hangers-on to run for office. A few business people that actually know how to read a balance sheet would be good start.

ATU 757 has waged a two decade long battle to have the Tri-Met board (and Lane Transit's board in Eugene) elected as opposed to appointed by the Governor. Now think about that for a moment...

I see one reason why an elected board for TriMet will be more successful than Metro or a school district:

Metro: Most people are not as immediately affected by Metro's decisions - most of what Metro does does not affect the day-to-day lives of us. And when they do, it's fairly high level policy matters, that still have to filter down (and with more public input at each level).

Schools: Most people only care about what's going on in THEIR school (or their children's schools), and the Board really doesn't affect them on a day-to-day level. Sure, spending issues, but not the day-to-day education.

TriMet: TriMet affects a good portion of the public, either directly through being a part of their transportation needs, or affecting their transportation. Transportation is one of the largest parts of government, that affects nearly every person daily. Even if you don't ride TriMet, their decisions affect your ability to drive places. You see their buses and trains every day.

Not only the board needs to be replaced, and preferably by something that is accountable to the public (who, by the way, finances the organization through taxes - and I know you all knew that), but also the entire management structure needs to be reworked from the ground up.

Front line employees receive zero support from their immediate supervisors and managers, who seek only to save face in the eyes of their corresponding higher-ups, and therefore major problems (rotted ties, broken rail, etc.) fester until they become serious issues, when if the higher-ups had listened to the front line to begin with they could have been dealt with with a minimized impact to the public (which the agency serves).

Unfortunately, almost 0% (I know it is some measure higher, but for all intents and purposes it is zero) of the capital budget is paid out for maintenance of current infrastructure. TriMet'll just take further indebtedness to build new infrastructure (to let sit and rot).

What is truly amazing (although off topic) is the fact that the Feds allow TriMet to lie about having the funds to operate their "new start" (a requirement of the grant program), before signing-off on, let alone paying out, on said grant.

The government can't run a business or do anything efficiently. The incentives are always wrong when one is dealing with other people's money. Unless there is something real at stake for the workers, management and even board members, nothing will change. Do you see anyone getting fired for losing money or making a mess out of Tri-Met? Thought so. Until this happens, until there is a some way to run this like a business, it's a lost cause. Same for all government services I'm sorry to say.

Alan's correct and if we could convince the local media that the people who use public transit should be classified as victims, the media could add this issue to it's agenda on championing victims rights.

the "appointed vs. elected" issue is a sideshow. TriMet is now ungovernable -- it's a service monopoly run by a labor cartel. All the incentives are wrong.

The legislature should begin dismantling the agency and create many new smaller ones, run by the communities they serve. In addition, competition from the private sector should be allowed and encouraged.

Denver's Regional Transit District (RTD) has a publicly elected board that didn't stop it from doing ridiculous things like spending $10 billion on light rail and commuter trains.

One good thing that has nothing to do with the board: The Colorado legislature requires RTD to contract out half its bus routes to private operators. The private operators have to pay property and sales taxes that RTD is exempted from for the buses it operates. Yet RTD spends $10.04 per vehicle mile operating each of its buses in revenue service, but pays the private contractors just $5.22 per mile for their buses.

Nationwide, buses that are contracted out cost taxpayers $6.55 per mile compared with $10.68 for buses directly operated by the transit agencies.

There is nothing wrong with an appointed board either, as long as the person making the appointments doesn't view it as a collection of convenient slots to drop campaign financiers into, and opportunity for political patronage.

If there was some form of regimen for confirming the appointees, then the appointees would at least have to have some kind of justification for their appointment to the position beyond gubernatorial favoritism, and have to answer questions that just aren't asked today.

A government monopoly will provide poor service at bloated costs no matter how the board is constituted.

Rather than tweak the board, let's end the monopoly.

If we want to help transit-dependent people get around, give them vouchers and let them choose from competing transit suppliers. Just like we do with food stamps.


Sponsors


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend

The Occasional Book

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: 324
At this date last year: 176
Total run 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


Clicky Web Analytics