TRANSIT RIDERS UNION PICKETS PORTLAND BUSINESS ALLIANCE WED DEC 30TH 9 AM
Portland Business Alliance first tried sit-lie, and failed. Now, with TriMet, PBA has been pushing to gut, and eventually, axe, Fareless Square -- which may violate ADA as well as attack the poor, homeless, seniors, disabled (and small businesses downtown!). Transit Riders Union and other activists are picketing PBA a second time to help save Fareless Square, along with other strategies and tactics, this winter.
On Wednesday, Dec. 30th, at 9 a.m., transit activists, anti-oil war activists, clean air advocates, anti-global warming organizers, and others, are picketing (bring you own picket signs, but we will have some, as well!) Portland Business Alliance over PBA's ongoing push to cut and gut TriMet's Fareless Square. So far, only Lynn Lehrbach, on the TriMet board, has voted with the 1,400 transit riders who turned in petitions against cutting Fareless Square, to the unelected TriMet board, to save Fareless Square and fight other transit service cuts (TriMet is cutting both bus and MAX service, even as they keep building more light rail and streetcar lines, prioritizing capital projects from Obama stimulus money over providing bus service to workers, unemployed, students, seniors and the poor).
Bernie Bottomly, PBA rep, testified at a recent TriMet board meeting, about why cutting Fareless Square is a great idea. PBA was at the forefront of the effort to criminalize sit-lie, which failed this year and was struck down by the courts.
PBA's office downtown is at the Black Box Building, 200 SW Market -- meet outside at 9am Wed morning Dec. 30th, in front of the escalators.
One protester at the last picket brought a sign, "PBA Persecutes the Poor." Picketers are encouraged to make and bring their own signs, but we will have our picket signs, as well, at the protest.
The LA Bus Riders Union was able, with ten minutes to go, to get a federal judge stop a proposed fare hike by the MTA. When TriMet starts to charge for buses in Fareless Square in a little over a week, on Sunday, Jan. 3, protesters plan to get on the buses in downtown Portland, and tell drivers, "Fareless" and refuse to pay, preferably in small (or larger!!) groups, explaining that Fareless Square belongs to people in Portland, not Fred Hansen, the $250,0000 per year TriMet Gen Mgr. who also has a part-time consulting job in Adelaide, Australia.
Transit Riders Union organizers (including Jason Barbour, a candidate who has already filed to run against Nick Fish on Portland City Council) have met with the Oregonian Editorial Board, and with Hank Stern (this week), News Editor of Willamette Week, re the protest campaign to Save Fareless Square. TRU organizers have also been talking to activist attorneys in Portland about getting an injunction from a judge, like the one Bus Riders Union got in LA, to stop the proposed fare hike by charging for buses in Fareless Square starting Jan. 3, 2010.
In addition, TRU organizers plan to start an initiative campaign to have the TriMet board elected, and be accountable to 'pro-ecology' Portland area voters -- currently, the TriMet board is appointed by Oregon's governor, and not accountable to anyone. The 13-year TriMet board president, George Passadore, was regional president of Wells Fargo Bank. Wells Fargo made $6 billion in profits in the first six months of 2009, despite our being in the worst recession since the Depression. Passadore also has (according to the Portland Tribune) a 'classic car collection (shades of Jay Leno) that he keeps 'next to his party room' at his estate.
TriMet is a $900,000,000 per year transit agency; one estimate states that only $800,000 will be raised by charging for buses in Fareless Square. John Charles, with the Cascade Policy Institute, testifying, like PBA's Bottomly, for cutting Fareless Square, says 'that everyone should have to pay' and that Fareless Square should be abolished altogether.
TRU organizers have also been talking with business owners in Fareless Square. So far, both Chris Yarrow (Monkey and the Rat owner) and Michael Powell (Powell's Books owner) say that they both quit membership in PBA. Organizers asked Powell (who just had an op-ed in the Oregonian about credit card practices by banks) to donate $2,000 to help print 6,000 Save Fareless Square bumper stickers that we can put up around town, but especially in Fareless Square. Powell gave organizers his cell phone number and has called in three times, so far, but has yet to make a donation to print the bumper stickers. Micheal Powell is also chair of the Portland Streetcar, which, so far, will still be free (with MAX) in what looks to become 'Fareless Finger' starting in January (or the 'Hitler-Hansen Free Zone') in January.
Just say no to TriMet and PBA's war on the poor -- Save Fareless Square!
address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240
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