GOV. JOHN Hickenlooper has appointed former 3rd District Congressman Ray Kogovsek of Pueblo to a 19-member task force to review a proposal by Pinnacol Assurance to privatize.
Pinnacol is a quasi-state agency created by the Legislature to be the insurer of last resort for providing workers compensation payments. With more than half of the workers compensation policies in the state, it's a money-maker, having assets of $2 billion.
Mr. Kogovsek said he wants to be involved on the task force because he has been "concerned about Pinnacol's operation for the past few years. They seem to have been a pretty arrogant operation."
That's a bit of understatement. In 2009, top Pinnacol officials went on a lavish golf trip to Pebble Beach, Calif. When a Denver television station caught wind of the trip, it sought the financial details of the junket through the state's open records law.
The documents showed that the trip cost more than $300,000, had at least $20,000 in liquor expenses and one meal that cost more than $19,000. Pinnacol paid for spa treatments for the partiers and relatives, plus the agency paid for gifts to the board members.
Among the Pinnacol fat cats who took part in the trip were Chief Executive Officer Ken Ross, Board President Gary Johnson, Board Member Ryan Hettich and - of all people - Board Ethics Chairwoman Debra Lovejoy. Some ethics.
The money that goes to Pinnacol is paid by businesses statewide. It's meant to indemnify those firms when an employee is injured on the job.
Mr. Kogovsek says he plans to look at Pinnacol's privatization plan with an open mind. "Hopefully we as a task force can come up with the correct solution," he said. "I think it's time to bring this thing to some sort of sensible conclusion for the ratepayers and the people of Colorado."
And it's the ratepayers whose interest should be guarded closely. Would the Pinnacol officials be able to go wining and dining like they did in 2009 if they were out of any state control?