TriMet struggles in budget battle – Reality Begins to Take Over

TriMet struggles in budget battle

Union fight costly, as Clackamas County opponents slam plans

(news photo)

Nick Fochtman / TRIBUNE PHOTO

Workers prepare the foundations for the Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail Line in South Waterfront. TriMet is struggling with budget problems but agency officials say the project doesn’t significantly affect its bottom line. As TriMet struggles to close a potential $12 million to $17 million funding gap, it is fighting more than just a budget battle. It is facing criticism from liberals, conservatives and just about everyone in between.

OPAL, a grassroots environmental justice organization, has launched Bus Riders Unite, a campaign to protest proposed fare hikes and service reductions.

“The most transit-dependent riders are going to be hurt, including the poor and people of color,” says OPAL Executive Director Jonathan Ostar.

Fiscally conservative Clackamas County activists have launched a ballot measure campaign to block funding for the $1.49 billion Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail line.

“Grassroots opposition to this project is overwhelming,” says Jim Knapp, a co-sponsor of a ballot measure to require a public vote on the county’s $25 million share of the project.

Advocate Michael Levine accuses TriMet of being insensitive to the needs of the disabled by raising fares for its LIFT paratransit service.

“TriMet is raising prices too high for many of them,” says Levine.

And, labor union officials accuse TriMet of unfairly trying to balance its budget on the back of the agency’s workers.

“It’s time for new top management leadership at TriMet. No more excuses,” says Jon Hunt, president of Amalgamated Transit Union 757, which represents the regional transit agency’s rank-and-file employees.

Two TriMets

The situation has prompted TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane to launch of an unprecedented defense of the beleaguered agency.

Speaking to the City Club of Portland on Feb. 24, McFarlane said that when he was named general manager 20 months ago, he inherited an agency inspired by a Dickens novel that he called, “A Tale of Two TriMets.”

One tale, McFarlane said, was that of a world-renowned transit agency with a history of innovative projects that benefit the region and offer transportation alternatives to thousands of people every day who travel by bus and train, reducing sprawl, pollution and rush-hour congestion.

“Whether you ride or not, TriMet keeps us all moving,” McFarlane told the City Club.

The other tale is a transit agency slowly strangling from a prohibitively expensive union contract, declining federal revenue, and a lingering recession that has reduced payroll tax collections, a major portion of TriMet’s budget.

“We currently face a $17 million shortfall, and there is no low-hanging fruit left to pick,” McFarlane said.

Critics say many, if not most, of TriMet’s wounds are self-inflicted. Among other things, they accuse the agency of favoring expensive rail projects over basic bus service, failing to prioritize services to the neediest customers and violating labor laws during the last round of contract negotiations.

Taking the lead

TriMet hasn’t operated in a vacuum, however. Since it was created in 1969 to take over the failing Rose City Transit Co., TriMet has always worked closely with local, state and federal agencies to achieve regional transportation goals. Its partners include the Federal Transit Administration, the state, Metro and all the Portland-area counties and cities. Some or all of them have been involved in planning and funding TriMet’s bus and rail systems.

The joint planning and funding efforts began early. The 1969 Oregon Legislature passed a law allowing the creation of transit districts funded in part with payroll taxes. TriMet soon adopted a 1990 master plan that led to creation of the downtown Transit Mall and dozens of park and ride lots throughout the region.

Then, when public opposition killed the proposed $400 million Mt. Hood Freeway through Southeast Portland in 1973, congressional, state and city leaders convinced the federal government to allow much of the money to be spent on the first light-rail line from Portland to Gresham along the Banfield Freeway.

Regional voters subsequently approved property tax measures to fund a MAX line to Hillsboro, and then one from Vancouver to Clackamas County called the North-South line.

The North-South line ran into trouble when Clark County voters rejected their share of the plan in 1995, invalidating the regional vote. A statewide funding measure for the Oregon portion failed the next year. Milwaukie voters expressed their opposition to the line in 1997 by recalling two City Council members who supported it.

Some light-rail critics argue that TriMet should have stopped building MAX lines and concentrated on increasing bus service after that. Congressional, state, regional and local elected officials did not see it that way, however. Working with TriMet, they figured out how to finance the Interstate, Airport and Clackamas Town Center MAX lines without public votes on property tax levies.

Work has already begun on the 7.3-mile Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail line. In recent years, Metro has taken the lead on planning such projects.

McFarlane argues that the MAX projects have not hurt the service of TriMet’s lines. He told the City Club that TriMet has paid less than 5 percent of the cost of each project. The rest has been paid by other governments. And McFarlane also says it costs TriMet far less to move passengers on MAX than by bus.

“This pattern is intentional,” McFarlane told the City Club. “It preserves TriMet’s precious operating resources for bus and rail operations and, in additional to the jobs it creates, we get a highly efficient system with only a minimal investment.”

Many of the critics do not believe MAX provides equal – let alone better – service than buses, however.

“Buses are more flexible. They pick up and deliver people to more places. And when one of them breaks, they don’t strand hundreds of passengers at a time somewhere,” says Ed Zumwalt, a longtime light-rail supporter who is fighting the Portland-to-Milwaukie project.

Critics also say that while TriMet’s annual rail-related debt payments may be relatively small, at least some of the money could be spent in other areas.

Union offers to save

Union officials do not accept McFarlane’s blame for the agency’s budget problems, either. Their contract negotiations are headed for arbitration after the state Employment Relations Board ruled that TriMet’s final offer violated labor laws.

Union officials say that before the negotiations broke down, they submitted an offer to reduce health care costs that was rejected by TriMet, which wanted concessions that the union found unacceptable. Union officials say their offer would save the agency around $3 million a year.

Union officials also say TriMet could save millions by hiring the drivers for its LIFT paratransit system instead of contracting for them. According to the officials, a 2008 audit commissioned by TriMet says the agency would have saved $3.6 million in 2004 by bringing the system in house. They believe the savings would be even greater today, and have asked that TriMet update the audit with current budget figures.

The union officials also say TriMet could save an additional $5 million by reducing the number of management positions to 2006 levels.

Altogether, union officials argue they have proposed and identified at least $11.6 million in cost savings that TriMet management is refusing to act on.

McFarlane says the only answer is for the union to resume negotiations on the next contract, however.

• TriMet’s altered budget plan makes fewer service cuts

TriMet recommended cutting $12 million from next year’s budget in the refined proposal presented to the agency’s board of directors Wednesday morning.

According to TriMet managers, the cuts are necessary for several reasons, including $3 million less in anticipated payroll tax revenue, an estimated $4 million cut in federal transit funds and unresolved contract issues.

The proposed cut is $5 million less than the maximum $17 million that agency officials anticipated. The change occurred after TriMet managers realized that contract negotiations with Amalgamated Transit Union 757 may not be resolved for another year.

Although the unresolved contract issues could cost $10 million, the managers decided to cover only half the cost in next year’s budget. If an additional $5 million is required, that issue will be presented to the board at that time.

The reduction means that TriMet won’t have to cut bus and rail service as much as previously discussed. No weekend bus lines would be eliminated. However, 25 lines would be reconfigured and have trips reduced, saving $1.1 million. Affected lines include routes 6, 8, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 36, 37, 43, 47, 48, 50, 55, 59, 67, 70, 73, 77, 82, 87, 89 and 92.

MAX service would remain the same.

TriMet is still proposing to eliminate all zones and move to a flat fare for the entire service area. The lowest fare would be $2.50. Tickets would be good for two hours in any direction, however, instead of just one way, as originally proposed.

The charges are estimated to generate $6 million in new revenue.

The Free Rail Zone would still be eliminated, meaning that tickets would be required to ride MAX trains downtown and in the Lloyd District. The change is estimated to generate $2.7 million in additional revenue. Free bus service was eliminated from the zone two years ago.

The board already has approved raising LIFT fares to $2.15 in April, and each year after that until they match the other fares, after which they will increase at the same rate.

The first increase will generate an estimated $700,000 in additional revenue.

Other proposals TriMet officials are considering to close the budget gap include reducing support for the Portland Streetcar, internal efficiencies and selling advertising on TriMet’s website.

The agency will have five public forums this month to discuss the new budget proposals. The forums are:

• March 19, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Clackamas Town Center Community Room, Lower Level, 12000 S.E. 82nd Ave., Happy Valley

• March 20, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Beaverton Library Conference Room, 12375 S.W. Fifth St.

• March 21, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Portland Building Auditorium, 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.

• March 22, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Multnomah County East County Health Center, Sharron Kelly A & B, 600 N.E. Eighth St., Gresham

• March 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Multnomah County Library, North Portland Branch, second-floor meeting room, 512 N. Killingsworth St.

For more information, visit the agency’s website: <a href="http://www.trimet.org/choices.

http://www.trimet.org/choices.</p>

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The Tale of 2 Countries

WWII ended with Japan cities being devastated.  What has happened since then, both in Japan and in the USA?

I seem to recall being told that radiation lasts thousands of years. 

HIROSHIMA JAPAN   1945

 


 


 

  We all know that   Hiroshima   and   Nagasaki were destroyed in August 1945 after the explosion of atomic bombs.  However, we know little about the progress made by the people of that land  during the past 65 years.


HIROSHIMA   – 65 YEARS LATER

   
 

 

   

   

   

   

 

   

   

 

 America….. Where unions destroy industries and jobs, while corrupted politicians substitute government welfare for those jobs, inviting wide dependency for hand outs for their “livelihood”.  You have eyes- use them to discern the fallout that always follows elitist, liberal social engineering policy and Union distortion of free markets.  The entire community where unions are allowed to dominate become ghetto’s, driving jobs overseas and bringing the next set of parasites.. corrupt politicians who “help” by creating an entire community that becomes welfare dependent, bring even more despair, crime and social backwardness.

 
DETROIT– 65  YEARS AFTER HIROSHIMA

   
 

   
 

   
 

   
 

 

   
 

   
 

   

What has caused more long term destruction… the  A-bomb, or U. S.  Government welfare programs created to buy the votes of those who want someone to take care of them?

            
Japan  does not have a welfare system.

VERNUCCIO: Labor’s new strategy: Intimidation for dummies – Washington Times

In the past decade, unions have become increasingly desperate to obtain new dues-paying members. An example of how desperate can be found in a 70-plus-page intimidation manual from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which only recently came to light in a pending court case.

The new union tactic is to use pressure on corporate boardrooms as a means of organizing entire companies nationwide rather than recruiting workers on a site-by-site basis; in short, to organize employers rather than employees. To create this pressure, unions attempt to push businesses to the edge of bankruptcy, with little regard for the welfare of employer and employee. They attempt to strong-arm businesses into agreeing to take away the secret ballot for employees in union-organizing elections via card check. They also try to force employers to restrict their own speech on union issues so that workers will not get both sides of the story on unionization. Among the SEIU’s demands is that employers agree to bargain only with it, to the exclusion of all other unions, regardless of what workers want.

SEIU is in federal court defending itself against charges of racketeering and extortion filed by one of its unionizing targets, the catering company Sodexo Inc.Sodexo’s court discovery recently revealed an SEIU “Contract Campaign Manual” on “Pressuring the Employer.” Union pressure is nothing new, but what SEIU recommends is not limited to organizing drives and strikes. Rather, the pressure takes the form of a so-called corporate campaign, whereby the union allies itself with outside third parties to raise intimidation to a new level.

SEIU’s manual details how “outside pressure can involve jeopardizing relationships between the employer and lenders, investors, stockholders, customers, clients, patients, tenants, politicians, or others on whom the employer depends for funds.” The union advises using legal and regulatory pressure to “threaten the employer with costly action by government agencies or the courts.”

It details the use of community groups to “damage an employer’s public image and ties with community leaders and organizations.” SEIU recommends going after company officials personally. Not mincing words, SEIU states, “It may be a violation of blackmail and extortion laws to threaten management officials with release of ‘dirt’ about them if they don’t settle a contract. But there is no law against union members who are angry at their employer deciding to uncover and publicize factual information about individual managers.”

The “dirt” includes charges such as “racism, sexism, exploitation of immigrants or proposals that would take money out of the community for the benefits of distant stockholders.” SEIU recommends “[l]eafleting outside meetings where [targeted managers] are speaking, their homes, or events sponsored by community organizations they are tied to are some ways to make sure their friends, neighbors, and associates are aware of the controversy.”

Putting this into practice, in May SEIU drove 14 busloads of protesters to the quiet suburban home of Bank of America’s deputy general counsel, Greg Baer. Fortune magazine’s Washington bureau chief, Nina Easton, Mr. Baer’s neighbor, reported on the “hordes of invaders” shouting into bullhorns and waving signs. Ms. Easton wrote that “a more apt description of this assemblage would be ‘mob.’ Intimidation was the whole point of this exercise.”

Only Mr. Baer’s teenage son was home. Terrified, he locked himself in the bathroom, pleading with Ms. Easton, “When are they going to leave?”

In some areas, the manual blatantly advises breaking the law, stating, “Union members sometimes must act in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mohatma [sic] Gandhi and disobey laws which are used to enforce injustice against working people.”

How do SEIU and other unions plan to get away with this? With help from the Obama administration. Though their corporate campaigns are not new, they are becoming more prevalent with the help of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In fact, this was the subject of a May 26 hearing by the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee on health, employment, labor and pensions. Chairman Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, noting the acceleration of corporate campaigns, said that the NLRB recently has taken “steps to expand the arsenal of tactics available for a corporate campaign,” including moving to uphold union elections tainted by intimidation because the board said the intimidation was originated by “nonparties,” and removing restrictions on boycotts of neutral employers.

Organized labor is losing members at a rapid rate. In the private sector, union membership stands at less than 7 percent. In attempting to hang onto its money and power, Big Labor has produced some documents that make for interesting reading and, as we may find out at a July 22 hearing in the Sodexo case, for legal fireworks as well.

F. Vincent Vernuccio is labor-policy counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and editor of Workplacechoice.org.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Ads by Stansberry:See his full prediction here

Application of Saul Alinsky tactics.. you know, the sort of methods our President taught while he was “community organizer”.

Obama Agencies Announce Massive Attack on American Job Creators 

Obama Agencies Announce Massive Attack on American Job Creators


June 22nd 2011   ·   0 Comments

Over the last year, the Obama Administration, through its regulatory agencies, has been conducting a quiet war on American business—those enterprises that are the nation’s job creators. Earlier this week, the union extremists in Obama’s Department of Labor and the “independent” National Labor Relations Board (the same agency that may cause 1,000 Boeing employees in South Carolina to lose their jobs) launched an all-out offensive designed to maximize unions’ ability to unionize the 93.1% of America’s private-sector employees who are union free.

The Department of Labor writes its own DISCLOSE Act.

On Monday, using retread and biased psuedo-studies, the Department of Labor issued an expansive 160-page notice for proposed rule-making; request for comments. It is, in sum, a radical overhaul of the reporting requirements for employers who wish to remain union free and the consultants, lawyers, and firms that provide human resources, employee and labor relations services.

Since 1959, under a little known law called the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, labor relations consultants who ‘persuade’ employees in the exercise of their Section Seven Rights (the right to unionize or not) have been required to file financial disclosure statements, as do the employers who hire labor relations consultants.

Now, the Department of Labor wants any person who is contracted to directly or indirectly persuades employees to file be required to file reports. To the union zealots at the Department of Labor, any person, lawyer or firm who trains supervisors on how to lawfully communicate with employees about unions, any company that produces videos, conducts seminars, or vulnerability audits (like employee opinion surveys) would be required to file and disclose their earnings which then become made public.

Among those that would be caught up in this bureaucratic quagmire could be PR firms who provide PR services, websites, or videos to counter union corporate campaigns, video production companies, firms that produce websites, or other multi-media presentations, human resource firms that institute or facilitate round table meetings or design personnel policies or practices for positive employee relations, law firms or associations who offer seminars on remaining union free, as well as polling firms that conduct employee satisfaction surveys [see page 147].

As strange as it may seem for President Obama’s Department of Labor to classify and require individuals and companies who measure or recommend help make improvements in the workplace to file as and disclose their fees, it is nothing more than an effort to enable unions access to company expenditures while making it more difficult to obtain labor and employee relations services.

Like the intent behind the proposed DISCLOSE Act, unions want to be able to shut down free speech for employers to make it easier to target them.

Before the Department of Labor’s rule-making proposal is goes into effect, the public can submit comments online at http://www.regulations.gov. The deadline for comments is Aug. 22. If you are opposed to this union assault on America’s job creators, you can not only make your comments known with the Department of Labor, you can also contact your representatives in Congress.

National Labor Relations Board Continues Terrorizing Business

More than a year since the delusionally-dubbed Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check) dies an ignominious and deserved death, the union-controlled National Labor Relations Board announced on Tuesday that it is seeking comments on its proposed rule making to make it easier to unionize companies.

The rule change the NLRB is proposing to change is to turn union representation elections into “quickie elections”—from the current 38 to42-day elections that occur now to elections that take place in as little as 10 to 21 days. In his dissent, lone Republican NLRB member Brian Hayes noted:

…[B]y administrative fiat in lieu of Congressional action, the Board will impose organized labor’s much sought-after “quickie election” option, a procedure under which elections will be held in 10 to 21 days from the filing of the petition.  Make no mistake, the principal purpose for this radical manipulation of our election process is to minimize, or rather, to effectively eviscerate an employer’s legitimate opportunity to express its views about collective bargaining.

As unions currently win nearly 70% of NLRB elections, an expedited (or “quickie”) election process is expected to increase the union win rate substantially. Former NLRB member Peter Kirsanow explains:

Make absolutely no mistake: That’s not enough time for even the largest and most sophisticated employers to counter what the union has been telling employees while organizing them for the last 6–8 months.

In addition to “quickie elections,” the union extremists controlling the National Labor Relations Board are also proposing that unions be given names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses of eligible voters within two days once an election has been set up. [Currently, unions are only given eligible voters’ names and addresses seven days after an election is set up.]

Moreover, the employer would be forced to provide to produce a preliminary voter list, including names, work location, shift, and classification, by the opening of the pre-election hearing.  The NLRB also proposes limiting parties’ (read: employers’) right to appeal cases.

Like the Department of Labor’s announced assault, the NLRB is also seeking public comment on its rules.

According to Labor Relations Today:

The Board invites comments on its proposed rulemaking in two ways. First, the Board is holding a public hearing scheduled for July 18 and possibly July 19. Second, it is providing a 60-day period for written comments, with 14 days for replies, that may be submitted electronically though Regulations.gov or by mail to the Board’s Washington D.C. headquarters.

Regardless whether you’re an employer or an employee, you have a stake in this.

As we’ve witnessed in Wisconsin and elsewhere, unions are desperately trying to cling to their power and using the government to do so.  Take the time to contact your representative in Congress.

You can also contact the House Education & Workforce Committee here.

_________________

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

Cross-posted.

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What does it take for American’s to realize the Obama agenda? He and his cohorts are extremists who are filled with a deep seated desire to take from private hands the fruits of their labor, using the police power of the STATE as the mob. Who and what is next? Read the Communist manifesto to understand the spirit that drives these people. Elimination of private property, free enterprise, and individual freedom is the clear target in all of the Obama “executive orders”. http://oragenda21.wordpress.com

NLRB Comes to Big Labor’s Defense | The Foundry

It’s hard to imagine Uncle Sam telling Walt Disney where to make movies or McDonald’s how many hamburgers to make, but if you take a look at the case of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) versus Boeing, you’ll see that the federal government is trying to do just that: dictate where and how private industry may do business. And it’s doing so to bolster one of President Barack Obama’s favorite special interests—labor unions.

To catch you up on the story, Boeing Corporation decided to build a new assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina, in order to produce the 787 Dreamliner. The NLRB (which is responsible investigating unfair labor practices) got wind of the decision and last month filed a complaint against Boeing, alleging that the company decided to build the plant in South Carolina out of retaliation for union strikes at its Washington state facilities. Nevermind that Boeing actually added 2,000 jobs in Washington on this particular project.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state, meaning that Boeing can hire non-union workers. For fans of big labor (like President Obama and his allies), right-to-work states are a threat to unions’ dominance. (It’s worth noting that the NLRB today is composed of four members, three of whom are Obama appointees.)

The NLRB’s intentions, then, could be easily inferred. It is doing all it can to help unions at the expense of right-to-work states, corporations and at the end of the day, American workers. But in this case, we have even more than inference.

The Washington Examiner reports that a leaked NLRB memo “makes clear that President Obama and the radical labor advocates he put on it are embarked on a calculated campaign to make unionized firms even harder to manage.” The memo, which was obtained by the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and James Sherk, “shows that the board seeks to elevate union officials to equal partners with executives in corporate boardrooms of all unionized firms.” The Examiner continues:

The memo instructs NLRB regional operatives to flag all cases in which unionized firms made relocation decisions without submitting detailed economic justifications to their unions. The board plans “case-by-case” reviews, followed by prosecutions of selected cases. The intended consequence is that all major business decisions will become subject to approval by unions.

Remarkably, the NLRB has attempted to deny that it’s telling Boeing how to make basic business decisions, despite all evidence to the contrary. In an interview with The Street, NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said:

We are not telling Boeing they can’t build planes in South Carolina,” Cleeland clarified, in an interview. “We are talking about one specific piece of work: three planes a month. If they keep those three planes a month in Washington, there is no problem.” Beyond the ten planes, she said, Boeing could build whatever it wants in South Carolina.

So Boeing can make some planes, but not the planes the NLRB says it can’t make? That still sounds like the federal government dictating private business decisions, doesn’t it? However the NLRB wants to parse words or spin the story, it remains that its actions fly smack in the face of the rule of law. Simply put, the federal government does not have the legal authority to tell a company where it can expand its business. Sherk and von Spakovsky warn:

The NLRB’s decision to issue a complaint represents an unbridled, unauthorized, and unlawful expansion of the regulatory power of an executive agency. If allowed to stand, its actions threaten business investment and job creation as well as the employment of both unionized and nonunion workers.

Borrowing a page from the union intimidation playbook, the NLRB’s general counsel released a statement earlier this month warning Boeing not to “litigate this case in the media and public arena.” It is clear to the NLRB that its actions against Boeing would be unpopular nationally—and especially in South Carolina—so they do not desire attention or transparency. But as in most cases, when an agency like the NLRB wants the media to ignore a story, more media scrutiny is likely required.

Millions of Americans continue to suffer unemployment. Yet as businesses try to get back on their feet, the union-dominated NLRB is expanding its reach to win short-term gain for its big labor special interest allies at the economy’s expense. As the NLRB hurts businesses, job creation suffers right along with it. It’s time for Congress to take action to prevent the NLRB from inflicting even more damage on America’s economy.

Quick Hits:

So where does Government’s intrusion into private enterprise end? Seems Obama administration considers it’s time to subject private industry to the political aims of his administration- Pro Marxist at it’s core, this is only the beginning of what he and his administration hope to do in the private sector. Destruction of the engine that creates jobs and prosperity is the result of all Socialist endeavors.. and this is incredibly destructive.