Thursday, March 25, 2010
Portland City Council Candidate Jason Barbour Resigns from Transit Riders Union
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Friday, March 5, 2010
Contact: Jason Barbour, info (at) electjasonbarbour.com
"Quality, usable, dependable public transportation service, whether provided by bus or rail, is a key component of a good major city," Portland City Council candidate Jason Barbour says. "I believe that continuing my interest in public transit service advocacy and activism as a candidate for public office, as well as a daily public transit rider and Portland Community College student, sends a strong message to TriMet that it should provide Portland, as well as the entire metropolitan area, more service at less cost to riders, not less service at more cost as they propose for September 2010."
With these words, Barbour resigned as a Co-Coordinator of the Transit Riders Union today, effective immediately, citing professional differences between co-coordinators.
He continues his candidacy for Portland City Council.
"We won't have jobs, commerce, educational opportunities, libraries, hospitals, parks, arts, social services, or anything else if citizens cannot reach these destinations in a timely manner," Barbour argues. "Public transit serves as a way for pedestrians to extend their trip range. Public transit is a backup for motorists and bicyclists. Public transit is also the primary mode of transportation for thousands, including myself."
Barbour points to the passage of Ballot Measures 66 and 67 by Oregon voters as proof that the citizens of Oregon are willing to see additional permanent funding for essential services. Barbour believes public transit is an essential service. TriMet says they have 'no choice' but to eliminate service due to falling revenues from traditional sources of funding.
Barbour also hopes his candidacy in Oregon's largest city sends a message to Governor Kulongoski and candidates for the next term, that public transit riders should be appointed to the TriMet Board of Directors. It is currently unknown if any member of the TriMet Board relies on TriMet for daily transportation needs. Barbour ultimately wants to see an elected TriMet Board.
"It is unfortunate that, in the ten months I was involved with the Transit Riders Union, differences of opinion and irrelevant side conversations at meetings have dwindled interest and diluted its message and purpose," Barbour comments.
Barbour has previous successful experience with public transit advocacy and activism as a volunteer with The Committee to Save C-TRAN in 2005. Barbour believes the group was successful in part due to everyone putting aside their differences for one goal: help keep public transit service on the road.
A sampling of irrelevant topics discussed at Transit Riders Union meetings included partisan politics, personal pronouns, structure of nonprofit organizations, and sociological context. All of these were absent from the 2005 Clark County, Washington, effort.
Jason Barbour's campaign website is ElectJasonBarbour.com.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
The Last Hope
March 19, 2010
Washington is out of control. It does as it likes, without restraint. It spends American money and American lives to fight remote wars for which it cannot provide a plausible reason. It determines what our children will be taught, who we can hire and fire, to whom we can sell our houses, whether we can defend ourselves, even what names we can call each other. The feds read our email and track the web sites we visit, make us hop around barefoot in airports at the command of surly unaccountable rentacops. They search us at random in train stations without even a pretense of probable cause. We have no influence over them, no way of resisting.
Except, perhaps, to ignore them.
Washington has learned to insulate itself from interference by the population. Huge impenetrable bureaucracies beyond public control make regulations that amount to laws, spending God knows how much money to do God knows what for the benefit of the interest groups that run the government. These bureaucrats cannot be fired and usually cannot be named. Congress, like the bureaucracies, serves not the United States but the big lobbies. The looters of Wall Street wreck the lives of millions, and get millions in bonuses for doing it instead of the end of a rope.
Further, the federal government simply doesn’t work. It is clogged up, constipated, gridlocked, using antiquated technology to do badly things it ought to do and things it oughtn’t. In large part this is because federal hiring rests on the desires of racist and feminist lobbies instead of suitability for the work to be done. Whole departments—HUD, Education—do much harm and little good. IRS is ruthless, incompetent, and unaccountable, the tax laws burdensome and crafted for the benefit of special interests and of Washington. I can change my address with my bank online in five minutes and know that it has been done; IRS requires a paper form and six to eight weeks to effect the change, and you don’t know whether it has been done. The goons of TSA leer at our daughters with their porno=scanners. The VA can easily take six months to provide a veteran’s records, when it could be done online in five seconds. The Pentagon spends a trillion a year, precious little of which has anything to do with defending America, but can’t defeat a small group of badly outnumbered men armed with rifles and RPGs; the intelligence agencies were unable to warn them of the prospect.
The government doesn’t work. It is broken. It can’t be fixed. It can’t be fixed because only those within it could, and their interest lies in not fixing it.
The only remedy short of armed rebellion is civil disobedience at the level of the states. Clear constitutional justification for refusal to obey Washington lies in the Tenth Amendment:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
A great many states now begin to do a great many things counter to Washington’s wishes. I think it wise to keep resistance within the framework of the Constitution, but the entire question comes down to a blunt truth: No law extends beyond the lawmaker’s power to enforce it. Congress can pass a law against gravitation, but can’t prevent things from falling when released from a height. The federal government made alcohol illegal but, in the face of massive public disregard, couldn’t make it stick.
What happens if, as may happen, California legalizes marijuana—not just for contrived medical purposes, but legalizes it, period? I search in vain for the Marijuana Clause in the Constitution. The feds do not have the manpower to enforce federal laws within California without the help of the police of California. What happens if a state passes a law saying that its citizens cannot be forced to buy health insurance? What can Washington do? It can persecute individuals, but a state, or thirty states, are another thing. The FBI can arrest any one person, but it cannot arrest Wyoming.
Much depends on how sick people really are of the ever-growing thicket of laws, regulation, imposed political correctness, surveillance, and having to live according to the dictates of remote elites with whom they have nothing in common.
At bottom, Washington’s power is economic. The feds rely for control on taxing money from the states and giving some of it back in exchange for obedience. They cannot arrest Wyoming, but they can deny it federal highway funds. This technique provides de facto control over everything from kindergarten to MIT.
Now, if Idaho passes a law (I’m making this up) saying that no restrictions on the ownership of guns will be enforced within the state, Washington might choose discretion over valor and ignore it. Legalizing marijuana, however, or refusing to accept compulsory medical care, would be a direct if not necessarily intentional challenge to the power of the central government. The feds could not afford to let either of these things slide. The danger of the precedent to the grip of the governing classes would be too great. A deadly serious confrontation would ensue.
What could, or would, the federal government do in response to defiance? Send the Marines to occupy Sacramento? Or the FBI to arrest Arnold and the legislature of California?
Or cut off California’s financial water? No bailout for the state’s tottering economy, no more fat subsidies to the universities, and so on?
The question is how ugly might things get. Washington may be able to make the states back down. It may not. The peril for the feds is that it might occur to the states that, while they get their money from Washington, Washington gets its money from the states. The central government depends absolutely on the states, whereas the states would get along swimmingly without the current central government.
How tired are Americans of a dysfunctional, oppressive Washington, unconcerned for its citizens, unaccountable and tending fast toward the totalitarian, that sprawls across the continent like an armed leech of malign intent? That is the question. The first time a populous states says “No,” if such a state ever does, we will get the answer. The United States has been free, prosperous, and reasonably well governed for a long time. It no longer is. Things go downward, within and without.
Nothing lasts, change comes, and things break. We shall see. Give it five years.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Meet Metro's new chief: Service is the key
LIGHT RAIL BLOG
The Arizona Republic
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 11:33 AM
With a wave, a longtime Metro employee ushers me into the agency's inner sanctum and says "Meet the new boss."
Being a gentleman of a certain age, my mind jumps to a Who lyric, and I wonder, "Same as the old boss?"
Not quite. Metro CEO Steve Banta projects a much more hands-on image than the one struck by his predecessor Rick Simonetta. Simonetta was a planner by training and after a long and distinguished career came to Phoenix to build the starter line. His critics accused him of being aloof or overly willing to delegate at times.
Banta's quarter-century-long career
It comes across in his speech.
"I call it the view through the windshield. If we all understand what the operator sees and the mechanic sees every day, then our system will succeed," he says.
Banta understands that providing transit service is a contract with the public, riders and non-riding taxpayers alike. He came from managing operations in Portland, where the 72 percent of the customers could drive but choose not to. Here, about two-thirds of Metro's customers have a car.
"I ask (the) operators: 'Would you pay full fare to use our service?' If the answer is yes, great, keep doing what you're doing. If the answer is no, what can you do to get to yes?"
It's not an abstract question. Banta is leasing a home in Central Phoenix's Willo neighborhood and rides the train to work. He plans to meet with businesses along the track to see if Metro's promises came true. He says managing a transit system is all about the relationship with the community.
"Ultimately you are connecting people to life," Banta says.
He says there are four keys to Metro's success: keeping the system in good repair, providing a good work environment, getting community buy-in and providing top service.
"Now we have to embrace operations. If (someone feels he gets value for the transit ticket, the expansions will market themselves," he says, noting that he's talking with federal officials about downsizing expansions for the first time in his career.
Keeping faith with customers may be challenging in Metro's second year, as the agency and its member cities consider budget cuts and service reductions. Banta describes the scale of cuts this way: "They are unfortunate, not drastic. It's not draconian."