OREGONIAN COVERS UP FOR TRIMET RICK VAN BEVEREN AND AND TOM HUGHES
In the past two weeks, since TriMet announced that it is putting a $125,000,000 tax measure on the November ballot to buy 150 new buses for senior and disabled riders (which Transit Riders Union supports), there has been little/no coverage of the connections between the TriMet board president, Rick Van Beveren, Portland Tribune president Steve Clark (recently appointed by Oregon's govenor, in secret, to the unelected TriMet board of directors), the Portland Business Alliance (which successfully pushed earlier in 2010 to gut Fareless Square), and the Tom Hughes campaign to be Metro President (also in the November election).
The Oregonian (and other mainstream media) has had a good deal of coverage of TriMet's proposed $125,000,000 tax on the ballot in the November election for 150 new buses for seniors and disabled riders, which Transit Riders Union supports. However, the Oregonian, so far, has had less (no) coverage of the connection between TriMet board president Rick Van Beveren, the Tom Hughes for Metro president campaign, and the pro-transit Reedville Cafe Boycott.
Transit Riders Union has picketed Portland Business Alliance to protest PBA Vice President Bernie Bottomly's successful push to get Fareless Square eliminated (Jan. 2010). Bottomly's sister, Theresa Bottomly, is listed as #4 at the Oregonian, on the Oregonian masthead. The Oregonian supported cutting Fareless Square.
Metro has the legal authority, under ORS, to 'take over' the TriMet board. Metro, unlike the TriMet board, is elected by voters. However, both Rick Van Beveren, owner of the Reedville Cafe in Hillsboro, and Tom Hughes (endorsed by the Oregonian and by the Tribune in the May primary for Metro president) -- both oppose having the TriMet board of directers elected by the people. In addition, Hughes is a supporter of the CRC bridge proposal, while the progressive, green candidate for Metro president, Bob Stacey, is a CRC critic.
The Portland Business Alliance, in addition, in July, donated $5,000 to the Tom Hughes campaign.
Transit Riders Union supports pickets, rallies, direct action, protests and boycotts to both elect the TriMet board and to stop the fare hikes and the cuts (in Sept., this month) to 60 bus routes. Transit Riders Union presented the unelected TriMet board 1,400 petition signatures against fare hikes and service cuts, but the board voted 6-1 for the cuts and fare hikes, regardless. As the IWW says, 'direct action gets the goods.'
The Bus Riders Union in LA this summer has been picketing the mayor's mansion (Anthony Villagorosa) against fare hikes and service cuts by MTA in LA. Two BRU organizers also were arrested doing civil disobedience (150 people were at the protest) at an MTA board meeting this year, as well.
TriMet has said that NONE of the $125,000,000 tax measure in November, if approved by voters, will be used to rescind either the fare hikes nor the bus service cuts. TriMet says the five cents fare hike will collect $1.5 million, and that will be used to help make up an alleged $27,000,000 budget gap -- but that leaves $25.5 million still to make up!
According to Willamette Week, TriMet has a $2.5 billion budget, counting capital projects. (One reporter for the Oregonian who talked to transit organisers recently wrote, in the paper, that Libertarians who oppose light rail are off the mark, and radicals (on the Left) who allege TriMet has plenty of money -- simply don't get that TriMet is strapped for cash, etc. This Oregonian also said 'there is no conspiracy, Portland's a small town' -- yet, the Oregonian has yet to write a single story about the Van Beveren-Tom Hughes-Portland Business Alliance-Tribune-Oregonian axis, 'conspiracy' or not).
Transit Riders Union has initiated the Reedville Cafe Boycott to Elect the TriMet Board and Stop the Cuts & Fare Hikes. As this campaign goes forward, we will see if the unelected TriMet board can be pressured to stop the service cuts and fare hikes. Beyond the short term, having Metro (which is elected) take over TriMet, under ORS, is one option, or, organizing an initiative petition for the Oregon ballot to require the TriMet board to be elected by the people is another option.
By not having the TriMet board elected, TriMet is 'invisible' with no face. Just another bureaucracy in a bad economy. Neil McFarlane, the new TriMet General Manager, says transit riders need to be 'patient' and just wait for the economy to get better. However, as Paul Krugman and others have noted, so long as the Republicans and Obama continue to 'wait' for the private sector/free market to 'get better' it may be years (5 years? 10 years?) before [or even if] unemployment goes down.
Wall Street, of course, under Obama, had a 47% increse in profits in one year. The billionaires (Pete Peterson?) who support the Republicans can make their profits without full employment. Workers, transit riders, tenants, et al. -- are simply 'marginal' parts of a free market economy, or economic 'collateral damage.'
Rick Van Beveren has said that "it is unfortunate" that transit activists (in WWeek) have decided to make transit "personal" by targeting his Reedville Cafe. But every time one of the 60 bus routes is cut or cut back and fares go up, that is personal for transit riders, many of whom are seniors, disabled, low income, communities of color, workers and students who depend on transit to get around. The last unelected TriMet board president, George Passadore (regional Wells Fargo president), was on the TriMet board for 13 years -- and ignored transit rider protests during that time -- but then abruptly quit the board, in the face of those protests.
The Reedville Cafe is a specific, local target -- we can vote with our dollars, even if it is "illegal" for us to vote (for now) to elect the TriMet board. In the past, groups besides transit riders were 'banned' from being able to vote: women (Jane Addams got arrested for voting when she was the 'wrong' gender, in Chicago) or African-Americans in the South before the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
At a recent TriMet board meeting, the unelected TriMet board president, Van Beveren, did confirm to transit rider organizers that he did, indeed, host the May primary victory party for [pro-CRC, anti-democratic] Metro president candidate, Tom Hughes.
Just say no to PBA, the Oregonian and the Tribune: Boycott Reedville Cafe, elect the TriMet board, and stop the cuts and fare hikes!