He did have some very good ideas including the ones highlighted below
In his General Manager’s report this morning, Fred Hansen mentioned
to his board that TriMet had been given the Golden Fleece award recently
by an unnamed organization (Common Sense Oregon) in recognition of
having the most expensive health care costs of any transit district in
the nation.(which was NOT true btw) He claimed that the radio ads related to the award were
inaccurate and misleading, and that TriMet is justified in spending
heavily for health care because the work is difficult and physically
Apparently it was misleading because TriMet does not spend $1,932 per
month on health insurance for all current and retired workers as
implied by the ads; just some workers.
Technically, he’s correct. As TriMet
pointed out in a legislative debate last May, the weighted average cost
for family coverage using the PPO or HMO alternatives is “only” $1,761
per month. What a bargain for taxpayers!
After Mr. Hansen’s report, TriMet board member Lynn Lehrbach said he
was “proud” to receive the Golden Fleece award because TriMet workers
should get the best coverage possible. In fact, he noted, they get the
kind of health care coverage that we should all get.
While I understand his desire to open the vault to employees, by his
line of thinking, there is no amount that would be too high for
taxpayers to bear in order to provide Cadillac coverage. If the monthly
premiums went up to $4,000 for TM workers, that would be just fine and
we should all just pay.
I’ve read the TriMet audited financial statements. The cost of fringe
benefits (including post-employment obligations) has risen from 61% of
wages in 2001 to 118% of wages in 2008. The cost of unfunded pension
liabilities for union workers went up from 17% of annual payroll in 1983
to 162% of payroll in 2008. These trends can’t continue without
substantial cuts in service.
The governor appoints all 7 TriMet board members. Someone on the
governor’s staff might want to get engaged before the agency hits that
iceberg. It’s pretty visible these days.