TriMet management has a track record of making poor decisions time and time again, while operating the largest public transit system in Oregon. In recent years, the Oregon Secretary of State issued a scathing report about TriMet leadership with recommendations to improve management of the agencies transit system. Just when TriMet claimed it had cleaned up its act, another management decision leaves you scratching your head.
Over two months ago, TriMet received information that one of its transit operators had criminal convictions, and that he lied about his name and convictions when he applied for work at TriMet in 1989. It was also reported that in 2006, the operator, Daniel Martin, had been convicted of defrauding the federal government of $78,000 for three years while he was employed by TriMet. TriMet tried to brush off the allegations about Martin’s criminal past claiming it was a “union” dispute and chose to do nothing.
But when the Oregonian and Willamette Week broke stories about Martin’s criminal past, TriMet finally decided to at least appear as though it was doing something, and is why the decision they made, has caused a great deal of controversy. Once again the wisdom of TriMet management’s decision is being questioned. The firestorm began when TriMet management issued Daniel Martin a notice of proposed five (5) day suspension without pay and conditions for continued employment dated June 23, 2015. This is the punishment TriMet deemed adequate for Martin’s lying about his name and felony conviction when he applied for work at TriMet.
TriMet confirms that Daniel Martin lied to Executive Director Shelley Lomax on May 12, 2015 when Martin claimed that he never went by the name of Daniel Overby and that he was not convicted of any sex abuse crime in the 1980’s. TriMet confirms that on May 13, 2015 Martin again lied to Executive Director Lomax when he denied ever going by the name Daniel Overby. On June 18, 2015 however, Martin admitted to Powell Garage Transportation Manager Lyle Pereira that his given name was Daniel Overby and that he changed his name to Daniel Martin in 1993.
Daniel Martin was shown his 1998 TriMet job application and asked why he failed to disclose his real name and why he wrote “no” to the question….have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense other than a traffic violation?. Martin said that not reporting his true name and his felony conviction for Sexual Abuse in the 2nd degree in 1986 was an oversight. Martin claims that he had disclosed his name and conviction to TriMet Director of Transportation Clyde Earl and TriMet Labor Relations Director Mike Savage during the hiring process in 1998 and that Savage told him “This is the last that we will speak about this.” This is why Martin claims he lied to Executive Director Shelley Lomax on May 12 and 13, 2015.
Clyde Earl and Mike Savage left TriMet many years ago. Did TriMet management contact both Earl and Savage to confirm that they knowingly covered up a felony conviction for sexual abuse for a prospective employee, Daniel Martin? Obviously the answer is that no one from TriMet management attempted to confirm the veracity of Martin’s claim. And a question for TriMet management would be “why not?”
Page two – TriMet misguided decision
Powell Garage Manager Lyle Pereira claimed in his notice of proposed five (5) day suspension that because of Martin’s many versions of the truth, it was clear to him that Martin lied and intended to deceive TriMet about his criminal history. Manager Pereira also wrote that because of Martin’s lack of credibility, he seriously questioned whether Martin ever had any conversation with TriMet officials about his convictions during the hiring process in 1998. Manager Pereira also acknowledged that because Martin lied on his TriMet application, it may have prevented him from being hired by TriMet in 1998 because obviously, TriMet would not hire a new employee to be a transit operator who had a felony conviction as an adult for sexual abuse.
Because Martin kept his real name and felony conviction a secret from TriMet, but, because of Martin’s reported 17 years of service and overall job performance, manager Pereira decided to give Martin a three day unpaid suspension and permit a convicted sex offender to continue driving bus for TriMet. Unfortunately, manager Pereira in citing Martin’s 17 year overall job performance, forgot to mention that Martin was convicted in 2006 of defrauding the federal government of $78,000 over three years while employed with TriMet. And of course Martin claimed management was aware of this conviction in 2006, which not surprisingly, TriMet has been unable to find any manager that would admit to Martin’s disclosure.
The problem for TriMet is they have terminated a number of employees dating back to 1989 after determining that the employee made false statements on their application. And one can assume that these employees were terminated for making false statements, most likely much less severe than failing to disclose a felony conviction for sexual abuse. TriMet needs to answer the question, “why were those employees terminated, and what false information did they provide?”. Another problem for TriMet is that now they are setting precedent by permitting a known sex offender to continue driving a bus, not to mention an employee who lied to get hired in 1998, and the same employee convicted for defrauding the federal government as recent as 2006 while employed by TriMet.
So the question begs, has TriMet really learned from repeated bad management decisions for which they were criticized in the recent Oregon Secretary of State report?
(Shirley Block-President ATU 757)