SAVE FARELESS SQUARE PROTEST AND PICKET SET FOR WEDNESDAY 9AM NOVEMBER 18 AT PBA
Portland Business Alliance, for years, has pushed sit-lie (since overturned by the courts) and axing or cutting back on Fareless Square to 'eliminate' or 'marginalize' the poor, low-income folks who live and work in downtown Portland. This Wednesday morning 9am protest on Nov. 18 at PBA's Black Box Bldg is intended to be a massive, militant protest against PBA and TriMet's proposed cutbacks (charging for buses) in 'Fareless' Square, starting Jan. 2010.
The first of four protests set for Nov. and Dec. to fight the transit service cuts and proposed gutting of Fareless Square in downtown Portland is set for Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., Nov. 18, at the offices of Portland Business Alliance, 200 SW Market, the Black Box Bldg. Gather outside at foot of escalators. Massive/militant protest activities are planned. Sign-making work group is on Sunday Nov. 15th.
PBA has pushed for years to marginalize/make invisible low-income folks in downtown Portland, first with sit-lie (since outlawed) and now by the proposed charging for buses starting in Jan. 2010 by TriMet in 'Fareless' Square. This protest is the first of four on Wednesdays in November and December to force PBA and TriMet to keep Fareless Square as it is -- a Portland tradition that fights air pollution, global warming, dependence on (imperial wars for) foreign oil -- and preserves access to public transit for seniors, disabled, the poor, students, downtown businesses, etc.
Transit Riders Union has turned in, so far, 1,400 petitions on signatures to the TriMet board of directors, to little effect. So far, only Lynn Lehrback, TriMet board member with the Teamsters, has cast the sole vote on the board to keep Fareless Square intact. TriMet, essentially, is the bureaucratic fiefdom of $250,000 per year TriMet CEO Fred Hansen, whom local elected representatives have told TRU uses 'threats' to keep the local political establishment in line and silent (so far) on cutting Fareless Square.
TriMet's marketing dept. will insist that wishing is doing, that the decision to cut Fareless has been made. Yes, and no. The 'public option' was DOA a short two months ago. Portland City Council, in the first go-round, failed to name a street after Cesar Chavez -- two years later, 39th Ave. is now to be renamed for Cesar. Nothing is written in stone, and this proposed change still has two months before it is implemented.
Public transit belongs to us -- the community. PBA and TriMet's yuppie board (appointed by Oregon's governor -- not elected by voters, something we also are working to change) aren't accountable to anyone. Sam Adams, Portland's green/pro-transit mayor, has been silent on the gutting of Fareless Square, so far. Amanda Fritz won't speak in public against the cuts, now that she is on city council. Randy Leonard says TriMet isn't in the jurisdiction of Portland City Council -- although the city just voted to expand the free high school pass program to all ten Portland district high schools.
TriMet has a $900,000,000 annual budget -- yet their staff says charging for buses in Fareless Square will only generate $800,000. Clearly, TriMet staff have said they have wanted to 86 Fareless Square for years -- since 1989, according to one staffer. So, the 'economy' isn't the real reason. Cutting crime, or the perception of crime, seems to be the main tendency or argument, even though crime has been going down nationally. John Charles, from Cascade Policy Institute, says that Fareless Square cuts is a great idea because, in a libertarian society, everybody should be paying for services -- nothing should be 'free.'
For more details about the Nov. 18 protest and picket at PBA at 200 SW Market at 9am in downtown Portland, contact PSU-PSU/TRU at 503-222-2974.
address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240
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