Friday, May 22, 2009


On Sunday buses will return to the Portland Mall after being on 3rd and 4th avenues for almost 2 1/2 years. Many people thought that the move away from the Mall in January 2007 was going to be difficult, but once things were transitioned it turned out to be a decent operating environment. I have a feeling that the return to the Mall will be an even smoother experience, given the care and attention put into its design, and the hard work from those involved to make this a safe and successful opening.

As of this week, more than 1700 individuals have been through training on how the Mall will operate. Operators have been making announcements, and Ride Guides have been on the street informing riders of the service change. Television spots have aired to inform customers of the changes and provided them with safety tips. TriMet and partner-agency staff have been working for months to ensure that the system elements are ready for Sunday.

Here are a few things that are important to know:

* Safety is our highest priority. Be patient and watch for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists who have not gotten used to the new rules of the Mall.

* Operators should contact station management to report issues they experience on the Mall.

* Watch for bulletins next week with updates on issues that arise and adjustments made in the first few days of operating on the Mall.

* Dispatch is ready to respond to incidents through the new "Mall Call" procedure.

* The final elements of Mall construction will continue, even after buses return on Sunday:

o All Mall bus shelters should be installed by the end of August, with high-ridership stops being installed first, beginning in mid-June.

* MAX training on the Mall will resume on Monday, June 1.

Clowns riding in Friday's bus parade

celebrating buses back on the Mall.

For the 60,000 bus riders who pass through downtown each day, this milestone is significant. After 2 1/2 years of relocation, our bus service will once again operate on streets designed for transit. It is important that we celebrate the achievements of our bus system and the hard work that has gone into making this transition successful.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

JAMES STENGER (fired by TRIMET) gives his side of the incident

What Good Is a Union For?

Union politics and the deals made out of view of the public killed my career and my retirement pension.


Jim Stenger

I was a member of the Amalgamated 757 union in good standing for many years. I was a Trimet employee who had earned several performance and driver safety awards. I was on the verge of retirement. But then the world came crashing down on me over false allegations, unsubstantiated half-truths, and a local media that was thirsty for a hot story. The result? I lost my job. I lost my pension. And I lost my career.

What did the 757 do to help me? Nothing! Here’s my story.

Back in 2004, I was having dinner with a friend, Ken West, at Kauai Island Grill in Portland. I had noticed that the restaurant’s staff was acting rude.

In the words of my witness, Ken West, he said, “I was with Jim Stenger the evening that he had a problem with employees at the Hawaiian restaurant. When we were ordering food, we were treated very rudely by a female taking our order. I wanted to leave at that time because she was being unnecessarily rude and discourteous. Jim wanted to stay. While we were waiting for our food, she was walking around us giving us dirty looks for no reason. We received our food, which was below average in quality. While we were eating our food the lady seemed to have a problem with us and began talking to a young male cook. The lady even went outside on the sidewalk in front of the window we were sitting at. She kept looking at us and making faces at us.”

The restaurant’s staff’s behavior was bizarre. Not wanting to cause a stir, we departed the restaurant peaceably. But I really I wondered what we had done to deserve such bad treatment. So, I turned around and attempted to go back inside to find out what the problem was.

When I got to the door, it was either stuck or locked and I couldn’t open it with my hand. I tried once more with my shoulder and foot and still couldn’t get it open. I turned around to leave and then all of a sudden the door opened and an older woman appeared. I turned around talk with her.

“While Jim and the lady were talking the young male cook came outside and started dancing around with his fists up,” said West. “He took a punch at Jim hitting him in the ear. Jim never retaliated in any way. Jim then got in the car again and the restaurant people looked like they were writing down his car license number. We then left,” West stated.

But, within a couple of hours, a policeman knocked on the door of my apartment and arrested me for intimidation, that is, allegedly making a racial comment in the restaurant. This was unbelievable!

As I stated under sworn testimony in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon—a case where the intimidation charge against me was dropped—I testified that, “The incident didn’t happen the way my accusers said it happened. The guy assaulted me because I went to make a complaint about rude treatment that we, my friend and I, encountered at this restaurant, which ensued that the guy came out charging at me, assaulting me, and he hit and he punched me in the left ear. I did not retaliate, other than exchange words, but I did not make a racial comment.”

I have never used a racial word towards anyone. I lived in Hawaii for 20 years. My grandchildren are of Hawaiian descent. Even my girlfriend is Micronesian.

But this is only the beginning of my story. The arresting police officer wouldn’t listen to my side of the story. Then a week after the incident, a Channel 6 story was broadcasted and alleged that I made racial comments at the restaurant. The reported never contacted me for the story. The story was based upon hearsay, not solid, professional reporting. They just threw a story out there to stir up attention to boost their ratings, I guess. My bad luck didn’t stop there. Maxine Bernstein, a writer with The Oregonian, wrote an article about me stating that I was seen around Portland, making threats, and that I was seen back at the restaurant. I wasn’t even in the U.S. when she wrote the story; I was on an overseas visit in Asia.

It should be no surprise that once my employer, Trimet, got wind of this incident, I would be called to defend myself. During the investigation, the Trimet station manager never went to the restaurant to take a statement from my accuser. I believe Trimet wanted to fire me and it used the Union to help get rid of me. During a union arbitration hearing, my witness wanted to testify. Then, the worst possible thing happened that could have cleared up this terrible affair: the Union would not let my witness testify. In his own words, my witness, Ken West said: “Later when the transit union had a hearing for Jim, he was out of the country so I attended to tell what I witnessed. I was asked a couple of questions, but not allowed to give any testimony.”

Ultimately, I was given a choice: either resign or file a grievance. I chose the latter. But I knew something was wrong when my shop steward never gave me a heads up when the meetings for the grievance process were coming up. It’s pretty obvious to me now: The executive board members of the union didn’t want to hear any testimony in my defense. Instead of supporting me and helping me solve this problem, the union sided with Trimet and swept the whole matter under the rug. I have requested the transcripts of the union arbitration meeting but they have refused my request.

In the end, I was charged with a misdemeanor, which was thrown out. In the pretrial hearing, I was accused of saying a racial slur. The prosecutor told her side of the story based upon my accuser, who never came to the trial, and I told mine. The judge dropped the charge because there were contradictions in what was actually said on the night of the incident.

This was a “He Said She Said” incident that could not stand up in court.

I paid my union dues for years so the union would come to bat for me when I needed them. But the moral of the story is pretty clear: Union politics and the deals made out of view of the public killed my career and my retirement pension.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Learn the Secrets of the Super-Organized

If you want to get more organized, there are simple habits that you can develop over time that will get you to where you want to be. These are habits that you can apply to your work, your home, your hobbies, your life.

If your life is a mess, start with the first habit, and work your way down. Do it a little at a time, one area of your life at a time, one area of your home or office at a time. Work on a habit for a month or so, then move on to the next one.

  1. Reduce before organizing. The mistake most people make when trying to organize is that it's too complicated. If you have a closet crammed full of stuff, you can buy a bunch of closet organizers, but in the end you'll still have a closet crammed full of stuff. The solution: reduce, eliminate, simplify. If you take your closet full of 100 things and throw out all but the 10 things you love and use, now you don't need a fancy closet organizer.

  2. Write it down now, always. Instead of using your mind as storage for things you need to remember, write it down. Carry a small pocket notebook wherever you go, and write things down immediately. Then you can process the ideas and tasks later into a calendar or to-do list, so you don't forget.

  3. Have one inbox & process. You actually need two inboxes -- one for home and one for work. But many people have many more than that; paper comes to their desk and lands in any number of places, phone messages get placed everywhere, notes to self are posted all over the place. Instead, have one inbox, and put all incoming stuff in there. Then, once a day (or once a week at home if that works better for you), process the inbox to empty.

  4. A place for everything. Related to the above tip is to have a place for each item in your life. Where do your car keys go? You should have one place for them and you'll never lose them again. Where do your pens go? How about your magazines? The same concept applies to information: do you have one place where you put all your information? If not, try a personal wiki -- it's accessible from work and home, and you can create pages for each type of information in your life.

  5. Put it away now. Most people have a habit of putting something on a table or counter top or on their desk with the intention of "putting it away later". Well, this is how things get messy and disorganized. Instead, put it away now -- in its home. It only takes a few seconds, and this one habit will save you a lot of cleaning and sorting and organizing later.

  6. Clean as you go. Closely related to Habit 5, this habit is effective because it's much easier to clean things as you work or as you move through your day than to let them pile up and do a big cleaning session later. So if you're cooking, try to wash your dishes as you use them, and wipe the counter, instead of leaving a huge mess.

  7. Develop routines & systems. If you've gotten everything uncluttered and organized, you might sit back and enjoy the pleasantness of it. Being organized and having a simplified working environment or home is tremendously satisfying. But the problem is that after a little while, things tend to start to get disorganized and cluttered again. You need to develop systems to keep your organization in place. All systems follow the same guidelines -- specific procedures and a routine that is done at a set interval. Once those systems are in place, you need to be vigilant about keeping them going, and then things will stay organized.

Politics, Profits & Pandemic Fear Mongering

Politics, Profits & Pandemic Fear Mongering

by Barbara Loe Fisher

Are you grabbing your face mask, stocking up on food and Tamiflu, locking your doors and keeping your TV tuned to the news to find out just how bad the "swine flu pandemic" really is going to get?

Swine Flu

While Americans are being scared to death, few are noticing how much of their tax money politicians are giving to drug companies and government health officials to grease the skids to create more experimental flu vaccines and drugs and more effective ways to quarantine or force their mass use whenever a "public health emergency" is declared in the future.

Call me cynical but not clueless. The bird's eye view I have had for the past 27 years at the National Vaccine Information Center has taught me one thing: the global alliance between Big Pharma and Big Public Health is a prescription for disaster that could extend far beyond a bout with the flu.

The international drama playing out right now before our eyes is an example of how citizens around the world can be easily manipulated by doctors and politicians engaging in fear mongering in the name of disease control to forward agendas that have more to do with ideology, power and corporate profits than health.

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an international call for all nations to do whatever it takes to increase public appetite and demand for annual influenza shots as the main strategy to prepare for an influenza pandemic. In April 2007, the WHO used money donated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to fund the creation of influenza vaccine manufacturing plants in Mexico and other countries one week after the FDA gave Sanofi Pasteur a license to produce an experimental bird flu (H5N1) vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur is just one of many drug companies the U.S. government has given millions of dollars to for the creation of bird flu vaccines.

On February 19, 2009, the FDA's Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) discussed whether to give approval for the testing of experimental bird flu vaccine on American infants. VRBPAC consumer member, also NVIC's Director of Patient Safety Vicky Debold,PhD, warned that testing of an experimental pandemic bird flu vaccine on infants in the absence of a real epidemic and without assurances that unapproved novel oil based (squalene) adjuvants (AS03, MF59) are safe, could pose unacceptable risks in terms of inducing severe immune dysfunction.

On February 27, 2009 it was confirmed that an influenza vaccine maker, Baxter International, had released a mixture of seasonal influenza viruses mixed with unlabeled live bird flu viruses to facilities in Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Slovenia. Baxter, which is waiting for a license to manufacturer bird flu vaccine, explained it was an "accident" and that no harm was done.

On April 23, 2009, the world heard the first news reports about a mysterious pig (H1N1) and bird (H5N1)and human hybrid influenza virus that was making people sick near a Mexican pig farm. By April 30, the WHO had issued a Phase 5 "Alert" warning that the world was facing an imminent pandemic influenza epidemic on the strength of several hundred cases of "swine" flu and less than 10 confirmed deaths.

The pandemic flu panic that has an especially strong grip on people living in Mexico and the U.S., thanks to the governments of both countries declaring a "public health emergency," has been a good thing for pharmaceutical companies in the pandemic flu business.
Wall Street revealed that the pandemic scare sent stock prices soaring for drug companies making anti-viral drugs, rapid flu diagnosis tests and influenza vaccines. Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax, Baxter, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, BioCryst, and Vical are among the drug companies likely to benefit from the world pandemic panic.

In all the chaos that has Americans running to drug stores to buy face masks, closing schools to wipe desks down with rubbing alcohol and avoiding public transportation, there is action being taken behind the scenes by politicians and government health officials to prepare the way for implementation of future quarantine and mass vaccination of citizens with experimental vaccines and drugs that have by- passed normal FDA regulations for demonstrating purity and potency of pharmaceutical products.

A "public health emergency" has become an excuse to grease the skids and rush to market experimental drugs and vaccines that are not subject to product liability in the civil courts.

The mandated, mass use of multiple vaccines has become big business in the last quarter century since the U.S. Congress passed a law in 1986 shielding vaccine makers and doctors from liability for vaccine injuries and deaths and the numbers of vaccines recommended by the federal health officials for American children multiplied from 23 doses of 7 vaccines to 48 doses of 14 vaccines from birth to age six. For older children and adults, there are several dozen more federally recommended or state mandated vaccinations.

All of this liability protection and government vaccine mandating has been a boon for vaccine profit- making and public health agency empire building. In 1986, four drug companies made and sold vaccines in America and, by 2007, after corporate mergers and acquisitions there were six drug company giants making and selling vaccines in the U.S.

Today, there are more drug companies seeking to enter the lucrative multi- billion dollar U.S. vaccine market as financial predictions for global profits from the worldwide vaccine business by 2010 have climbed to more than $20B.

Politicians should not bow to additional pressure from vaccine manufacturers and public health officials to by-pass normal FDA standards in proving safety and efficacy of pandemic flu vaccines and their components for the purpose of rushing them to market in response to the pandemic panic that has been created. The swine flu debacle of 1976 should have taught Congress that lesson.

A rational perspective that reduces pandemic fear and includes common sense advice for staying healthy in every season is being offered by holistic health doctors, such as Joseph Mercola, D.O. and physician Congressman Ron Paul, M.D. The next time you turn on the TV or the radio or search the internet for the latest news on the flu pandemic, take a deep breath and consider all the natural ways to stay healthy and resist influenza or any illness : washing your hands; eating nutritious food; drinking plenty of pure water; getting enough exercise, rest and sunshine, and lowering stress - which includes not walking around filled with fear, anxiety and dread.