Podcast: Go inside TriMet board meeting taken over by protestors

You’ve read the recap. You’ve browsed the photo gallery. You’ve watched the TikTok video. Now, in our latest podcast episode, you can hear a blow-by-blow account of that unruly TriMet board meeting last week.

I captured audio and interviewed protestors as they rallied against the fare hike and then made their presence felt at the meeting. Their chants, yells, and sign-holding was so threatening and frustrating to board members that they took the meeting into a private room — only to have the protestors mass outside and bang on the walls.

In this episode, you’ll hear how it all went down. Thanks for listening!


Full episode transcript here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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John
John
1 year ago

This was an interesting listen. This kind of confrontational meeting/protest makes a lot of people uncomfortable, most would rather people stay quiet and not make a fuss, so seeing (hearing) this protest rubs them the wrong way.

Regardless of opinions on that, hearing that completely disingenuous drivel from Gonzales was just so frustrating to me. He uses the same nonsense rhetorical trick people try to play when any sort of change or improvement is suggested ever. His argument is of the form “currently Trimet needs the fare money, therefore being against fares is just unrealistic.” As well as “even though fares are a small part of the budget, we’ve leaned so heavily on other funding that we just have to raise fares”. (to be clear, these are not direct quotes, they’re summaries)

Both of these are patently absurd and disingenuous. Everybody knows that Trimet needs the money that they currently get from fares (plus more). This is well understood. When people say they don’t want a fare hike they obviously mean the money needs to come from somewhere else. Second, the very fact that fares represent a small part of the budget is actually proof that we don’t need them at all. There isn’t some magical balance in the universe that says whatever transit we fund, X% of its budget needs to come from fares. We can (should) get the funding by taxes because a well functioning highly effective transit system is actually a public good even for people who don’t use it.

This is entirely distinct from any arguments that say we need fares to keep the riff raff out or give people some “skin in the game” for some reason. You can make that argument (and I disagree), but that’s not what Gonzales was saying in his hollow speech.

Gregory Radinsky
Gregory Radinsky
1 year ago
Reply to  John

You do realize that Portland population is shrinking, tourism is down, livability is reching new lows, and our costs are going up (homelessness impacts, crime impacts, etc). People with money and the ability to leave Portland are leaving. Yet taxes should pay for low fare transit? We don’t have the money! Let me guess. You want to raise taxes only on the rich so we can lower the fares? Or you want to get the money from the police department becuaes Portland is so orderly and safe we don’t need a police force?

Sorry I’m not buying this “magical” nonsense any longer.
Let get back to PRAGMATIC progressivism in Portland. This “rainbows and unicorns” stuff ain’t working any longer.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago

I find it disturbing that a taxpayer funded group (OPAL) uses such tactics. I’m of the opinion we need to stop public finding of these groups. If they can raise private money that’s fine but taxpayers shouldn’t be supporting these tactics.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

Sorry meant public funding not finding.

Jolyn J.
Jolyn J.
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

I concur. The public financing in Portland and Multnomah County of so many questionable non profit groups (without end goals, performance metrics, financial disclosure and most alamringly no limitation on the lobbying of government officials) has led to the nonprofits having outsized influence on our civic life here in Portland and Multnomah County.
If it’s a vital service then the goverment should supply it and not attempt to “outsource” it with limited oversight and control. Taxpayers deserve better than the current situation,

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Jolyn J.

I am trying to follow your line of thought here. What non-profits do you feel have undue influence? I want to know what kind of how are you imagine they have, and why do you think they’re publicly funded?

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

Look no further than the annual report of OPAL as just one example. Voters would be shocked to learn where their money is going.

https://www.opalpdx.org/annual_report

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

I read the whole thing. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be shocked about. It seems fine. Page 4 has government grants totalling just over $24,000. That works out to about 4 cents of subsidy per year for Portland resident. I truly don’t understand why you expect me to be shocked or outraged by spending 4 cents a year on an environmental justice org.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

What tactics do you feel Protesters should use? Just raise money, and keep quiet?

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

How about rational dialogue and reasoned arguments in place of screaming insults and pounding on walls at a public meeting?

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

You think rational dialogue would be an effective effective protest tactic? Hm. Interesting.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

The tactics of disruption were not effective either, as it turns out. And memory of this approach will make it harder to work collaboratively when the next difficult issue arises.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

I’ll keep that argument in mind the next time rational dialogue doesn’t work.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  John

Good. You need to think long term, not go bananas of you don’t get you way.

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

I don’t understand the distinction you’re making about OPAL and any other non-profit. They all do political work, that’s their job. That’s all all of them do.

I would agree maybe we shouldn’t have government in the business of giving funds to any non-profits at all. That would be fine with me. Anything we want our government to do we could just have the government do directly if needed. It would give better accountability, etc. Non-profits are just a way to launder government money into unaccountable third parties in my opinion.

But that’s for all non-profits. If you think some non-profits are ok, I don’t see how you can make a distinction for OPAL. You just don’t agree with them, but of course others do.

Pierre Lathau
Pierre Lathau
1 year ago
Reply to  John

I would agree maybe we shouldn’t have government in the business of giving funds to any non-profits at all. 

This part of your comment should be a “Comment of the Week!”

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  John

No distinction about OPAL. 100% agree with you that local government (city of Portland and Multnomah County) need to get OUT of the business of funding ALL nonprofits. They don’t have the bandwidth to vet them and ensure they meet performance expectations and wisely use taxpayer money.