Deke's Note: We are ready to cast our ballots as the United States gears up for Election 2020. While most have made up their minds about who they are voting for, there are also local and state measures to be considered. Here's my take on one of them.
The Portland Metro council's big push for billions more tax dollars, Measure 26-218, is probably the most important being considered here. If passed, anywhere from $3-5 billion will pass from employees/employers to this great buck-sucking drain.
This measure lists several traffic corridors which scream for drastic improvement. However, 26-218 does not guarantee much of what is promised will be completed. Plus, Metro will have the power of yet another tax, and we ALL know they never go down, just up where the sun could never shine. What is its thinly-veiled main objective? The local transit agency's pipe dream to create another light rail line from Downtown to Tualatin's high-end shopping mall.
Truth: the growth projected for the West to Southwest corridor in the metro area will likely add hundreds of thousands more to our population. However, Portland as it continues its love affair with obnoxious BMW/Honda/Hyrbrid has not shown great interest in transit, particularly the MAX Orange Line to Milwaukie five years ago.
As a transit operator whose route has paralleled the Orange Line a few miles before splitting off in different directions, my bus was usually packed to capacity while the light rail cars were mostly empty. Light rail is convenient for some, but hasn't risen to ridership projections. Its cost has far outweighed the many touted advantages. Where our agency said there would be great potential for new businesses along the route, there are virtually none. Vast tracts of land along the route remain undeveloped. Rents along the route initially increased dramatically, especially at its end point in Milwaukie. While its construction provided thousands of jobs during an economic crisis, the promised benefits have not materialized. It's likely the same old song for Ye Auld Purple Line.
Given the COVID-19 Pandemic has gutted our once-somewhat-vibrant local economy, adding yet another burden to one of the most-taxed areas in the nation is a BAD idea. Especially given transit's historic insulting rise against its frontline workers. It stinks worse than the skunk that skulks around my property at night, tail raised in threat if I give him grief.
A similarly-sad correlation exists between transit workers and Portland transit management. Given its failure to support abused frontline workers, why would this city reward its Capital Projects division with yet another eau de conneries? On a council's say-so, which has done nothing to champion our struggle, while demanding those we transport finance yet another boondoggle?
My neighbors are not that trusting at the moment. Many have lost their jobs in a service-based economy. Businesses have closed permanently, leaving thousands of people scrambling to afford their next family meal while the rich keep... you know the drill.
Our contract negotiations have ended in a stalemate; they are now headed to binding arbitration. We have no legal right to call a strike in face of the horrible working conditions we endure. Transit management has insisted on cramming a long list of "takeaways" down our already-sore throats. Our Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 demands our agency put up or STFU after publicly labeling us "Heroes" and "Essential Front Line Workers". Our backsides are raw from all their expressed "love".
|We ain't that dumb, Jethro.|
- We receive no hazard pay, not even during pandemics, blizzards, ice storms or choking smoke from the massive Oregon/Washington/California wildfires.
- To date, we're at an unofficial number of 150 "attacks" on local transit workers for 2020. Many of these have come from our insisting passengers wear masks or simply adhere to the Code of Conduct. If we're complained about when confronting a maskhole, we face discipline which could include suspension or worse. Management lamely "insists" we be respected, but if some dirt-encrusted miscreant spits in my face around the largely-useless "barrier" and I righteously misplace his nose with a knuckle sandwich, my next meal would come from a charity serving the unemployed.
- Management encourages front line workers to snitch on fellow brothers and sisters seen not wearing masks. Hey, when my nose itches, I need a drink or (God forbid) have to sneeze, the mask comes OFF. Temporarily of course. We are required to wear face masks 100% while on-duty/in uniform. For many, this is for 12-16 hours every day. So when a maskhole boards and we call them on their failure to mask, even though signs on the bus proclaim "MASK REQUIRED", our jobs are threatened rather than our well-being supported.
- Over the last several tax hikes, traffic signals still run on antiquated algorithms, stopping traffic when there's no need? There is still no consistent metro-wide standard, with different rules throughout Portlandia. I have been running late probably hundreds of hours while stopped at yet another red light, with no cross traffic to be seen. The amount of diesel wasted due to Metro's failure to "improve" traffic no matter how many billions it raises, borders on criminal negligence.
- Oregon's car registration, license/title fees, gas/property/transit/every other tax imaginable, and numerous other fees have gone UP while very little has been done to alleviate our traffic woes. Oh sure, Metro will tout this or that "improvement", but we're still waiting for Interstate 5 to boast more than a few lanes through the middle of a major Northwest metropolis. "Metro" has failed so far; what makes us think another tax increase will negate its consistent failure rate?
- Our northern neighbors refuse to pony up for a new span across the Columbia River, while they abuse our roadways with abandon and take advantage of no Oregon sales tax. I believe tolls on the bridges would reverse their refusal to pay a fair share of repairing the roads they nominally use for free.
- The worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu threatens the entire world economy, including our own. Those brave, dedicated small business owners who have scrambled to keep their employees working should have to pay even more while barely holding on? This tax would punish their noble efforts to keep their employees working instead of rewarding their devotion in this disastrous economy.
If transit in Portland stands to gain from a new tax, you can bet the union worker will not. Therefore, I will vote NO on Measure 26-218. I urge you to check the same box. There are not enough arguments in favor which merit the time to read them.
Politicians breed taxes; worker bees pay them.
You can fool us on occasion, but not this time.