Friday, December 27, 2013

Tom Horton weighs in on the demise of Portland Transit Lane

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#TRIMET WARS: Lane Jensen of Portland Transit Lane, perhaps this community's most vocal transit rider advocate, is once again under siege by TriMet's unaccountable rogue bureaucrats. Neil McFarlane, Randy Steadman, and Roberta Altstadt are acting as despots with taxing authority and a dedicated police force - right here in America! They claim their semi-private transit company, TriMet, "Respects your civil rights," on bulletins posted inside every TriMet vehicle. Yet, one case that would contradict this claim is that of Lane Jensen. Recently, Jensen took to his blog to decry the company's lack of security and safety in light of yet another passenger shooting on transit property, this in the midst of several violent attacks on the drivers who carry them. He used a clever smart phone app to robo-dial Altstadt's company-published phone number. Well known for his tenacity, she wasn't going to answer his calls anyway. Instead, she arranged for TriMet's Transit Police to arrest him at his workplace. Remember, these administrators answer to no one. They are hired by a Board of Directors that is not elected by voters in the community, but rather appointed by the State Governor in Salem. Transit Police, a dedicated group of sworn law enforcement officers, arrested Jensen, confiscated his property, jailed him, and filed charges against him in Circuit Court. All for reporting the news and for engaging in some good old-fashioned investigative journalism. Yesterday, they did it again. Jensen had merely mentioned Altstadt's name on his podcast, and subsequently found himself clapped in irons, jailed, and charged with violating his, "No Contact Order." Did he attempt to call her while on the air? No. Did he attempt to contact her at all? No, he said after posting bond with the help of another transit blogger and rider advocate friend. So, when does simply speaking the name of a supposed public employee constitute unlawful contact? Mr. Jensen, TriMet clearly does not, "Respect Your Civil Rights," and I seriously doubt that they respect their riders or their drivers civil rights as well. They don't have to! After all, they're a multi-billion dollar entity with statutory taxing authority, federal grants, and absolutely no accountability to the voters whatsoever. Sorry, TriMet is NOT an agency of either local or state government. Go ahead and ask them, "Is TriMet an agency of state government?" On second thought, you'd better not. Just the same, thanks for doing what you do to advocate for riders and drivers.

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