Commentary

Reparations Resolution FAQ Resolution 2020-13 The Debt: an Argument for Reparation What is the purpose of a reparations program? Why is the ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves) distinction necessary? How will effectiveness be measured? How do we calculate the cost of reparations?

Reparations Resolution FAQ

On Thursday, June 9, 2020, the precinct committee persons (PCPs) of Multnomah Democrats will vote on Resolution 2020-13 The Debt: the Case for Reparations. The resolution’s primary author, Quinton Blanton, provided this FAQ for PCPs to read in advance of the vote.

What is the purpose of a reparations program?

In the book From Here to Equality, Dr. Sandy Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen advance a general definition of reparations as a program of acknowledgement, redress, and closure.

Is it illegal to allocate funds specifically to ADOS?

No. There’s no intrinsic illegality to group specific or race specific policies. Japanese American reparations, for example, were group specific.

How will we be able to tell who is eligible for reparations vs. who is not?

Two criterion can be advanced for eligibility. First, an individual must establish that they have at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the US. Second, an individual must demonstrate that they have self-identified as Black, Negro, or African American on an official document-perhaps making the self-report of their race on the US Census—for at least 12 years before the enactment of programs tied to the funds. This criteria was created by Duke University economist William “Sandy” Darity.

Why is the ADOS distinction necessary?

            ADOS is a necessary distinction because if reparations do in fact gain traction nationally, people who are opposed to reparations could make the argument that Black immigration to the U.S. has increased significantly since the 1980’s, they were never enslaved in the U.S. so why should they be paid reparations? From a legal standpoint, a reparations claim against the federal government must be specific and requires inclusion and exclusion.

How will the effectiveness of a reparations program be measured?

According to Dr. Darity, the goal of a reparations program for ADOS should be to close the racial wealth gap in its entirety. Therefore, it is essential that the mean gap be erased, rather than setting a far less ambitious goal such as closing the ADOS-white median differential. Establishing a monitoring system to evaluate whether the ADOS-white wealth gap disparity is closing will be desirable.

How to calculate the cost of reparations?

There are a variety of strategies for calculating the size of social debt that is owed. Professor Thomas Craemer has calculated the cost of reparations through a stolen labor framework. In today’s dollars, he arrives at an estimate of $14 trillion for the cost of American slavery to the enslaved. The central argument of Dr. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen, which I tend to agree with is that the elimination of the ADOS-white wealth gap should provide the foundation for the magnitude of the debt owed.

Where will the money for reparations come from

 As journalist Matthew Yglesias has proposed, Congress could direct the Federal Reserve to fund ADOS reparations either in part or in total. Given the overnight transfer of $1 trillion of funds from the Federal Reserve to investment banks during the Great Recession and monthly outlays of $45 to $55 billion to conduct “quantitative easing,” there can be no doubt that the Fed has vast capacity to provide the funds required for a properly designed and financed reparations program, particularly if the funds are disbursed over the course of three to five years. The Fed certainly could manage an annual outlay of $1 to $1.5 trillion without any difficulty—and this funding mechanism would not have to affect tax rates for any American. Moreover, the Federal Reserve is a public bank charged with conducting a public responsibility.

Why should I have to pay reparations? My ancestors didn’t own any slaves.

The culpable party is the U.S. government. Often, the federal government further sanctioned racial atrocities by silence and inaction. ADOS reparations are not a matter of personal or individual institutional guilt; ADOS reparations are a matter of national responsibility. Furthermore, The poverty created by slavery and Jim Crow are still in the system, just like the wealth created by slavery and Jim Crow are still in the system.

White ethnics such as the Irish and Italians came here and were discriminated against by the U.S. government, yet they still rose in spite of their handicaps why didn’t ADOS do the same?

It is important to note that in some respects, the Irish were treated worse than Blacks for the most part when they first arrived in the U.S. However, they were eventually absorbed into whiteness due to their willingness to inflict violence against ADOS and by expressing anti-ADOS sentiments. The Democratic Party and early labor unions also eased the assimilation of the Irish into whiteness. Whitness is a social construct that is dynamic. It expands and changes based on its need. I suggest everyone read Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish Became White.

White people have never received “handouts” from the government, why should Black people get governmental “handouts”?

Framing reparations as a handout or a one time check rather than a debt is a conservative, right wing talking point that is untrue. A program of reparations is much more than a check. It must include multi-pronged policies and laws, protections, therapy, and training to fill the void of knowledge gaps. Also, white America has in fact recieved numerous handouts from the federal government including 160-acre land grants through the Homstead Act, access to New Deal and Fair Deal programs, the G.I. bill and much more. While white America received these handouts ADOS were denied access to them and were never given their 40-acres, which is partly why the ADOS-white wealth disparity is so vast, entrenched, and unshakeable. The wealth ADOS managed to accumulate in the nineteenth and  twentitieth centuries was far too often plundered via white mob violence, lynching, redlining, and credit discrimination.

Pride flag waved over a blue sky.

Reflections on Pride 2020

By Rachelle Dixon and Eric Delehoy

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a neighborhood gay bay in New York City.  They harassed and brutalized patrons, as they always had.  But this time, patrons had had enough.

Marsha P. Johnson, a Black Trans Woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina Trans Woman, led patrons in resistance, and a resulting riot that lasted six days.  They stood up against the racism and transphobia leveled at them, and the anti-LBGTQ sentiment leveled at their community, so that each of us can now be safe in our own skin, no matter what skin that is.

The next year, the first Pride Parades appeared in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

This year is no different than others.  We understand racism, transphobia, and homophobia continue to impact many lives.  And that’s why we stand with you.  Multnomah County Democrats will continue to fight for your rights to be safe, no matter your identities.  For that reason, we are reaching out to you, to pledge that even though we can’t get together to celebrate with a parade this year, we are with you every step of the way. Pride is about embracing and celebrating difference, about taking a public stand to demand safety and enjoy the freedoms the US Constitution guaranteed for all of us.  Keep being your wonderful selves!  We hope to march alongside you, not just at Pride, but every day ahead.

Juneteenth Freedom Day June 19

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

A message from Rosa Colquitt, PhD, Chair, Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus

Juneteenth, (“June” plus “nineteenth”) sometimes called “Jubilee,” indicating the year of freedom from enslavement, or even more simply “Freedom Day,” is indeed a remarkable story commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States.

It was June 19, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas with official news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. Granger read General Order Number 3 as follows:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

Amazingly, even in an era of slow communication and a nation at war, Granger was very late with important news of freedom – almost two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the Confederacy, at least on paper. In knowing the dehumanization of even one day of enslavement, I’ve looked for any historical explanations for the delay in delivering and enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation. One version of the story of “freedom delayed, freedom denied” was the tale of the messenger who was murdered on the way to Texas with the news. Another is that the official proclamation was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the “free labor” force on their plantations. And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas. Whether all or none of these versions are true, slavery in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

My mind can scarcely imagine the depths of the emotions and the fear of the unknown for the “newly freed” Black men, women and children of Texas. Yet, it is within this historical backdrop of delay, confusion and terror that we have the beginnings of one of the most inspiring grassroots efforts of the post-Civil War period – the transformation of June 19 from a day of new freedom into an annual rite called “Juneteenth.”

Image of Rosa Colquitt, PhD
Rosa Colquitt PhD, Chair of the Black Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon, is co-chair of the Oregon delegation to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Today, more than 154 years later, Juneteenth-centered activities are experiencing phenomenal growth and flourishing within communities and organizations throughout the country. The freedom celebrations highlight the tradition of bringing in guest speakers and the elders of the community to recount historical events of the past. Newer Juneteenth traditions focus on education and self-improvement, along with future community development, while cultivating knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.

What many Americans remember most about Juneteenth is that it is always a joyful celebration of entertaining the masses with parades, musical entertainment, dance, games, and always food — an abundance of wonderfully prepared food. In Portland, Oregon, Juneteenth is combined with “Good in the Hood” for an unforgettable annual community celebration of young and old, family, friends, organizations and business vendors from every corner of the state, along with southwest Washington, and reflects all of our diverse racial and ethnic groups. For sure, no matter how large the gatherings at “Good in the Hood,” I always make my way from vendor to vendor until I have my soul food dinner of corn bread, black-eyed peas, collard greens and bar-b-que, and I always bring my own bottle of red soda water, just in case they don’t have it. One can’t quite celebrate Juneteenth without this original Texas tradition. (And, unless I forget, there’s always a bottle of hot sauce in my purse.)

Among all emancipation celebrations, we are reminded that June 19 falls closest to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those states shadowed by slavery. By choosing to remember the last state in the South that freedom touched, we celebrate the shining “promise of emancipation.” Still, we can never ignore or forget the bloody path America took by delaying freedom and deferring the fulfillment of the simple words in General Granger’s General Order Number 3: “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”

While Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, Juneteenth 2020 is bittersweet. The recent events of 2020, the witnessing of the wrongful deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, is crushing our spirits and reminding us of the stark reality that the fight for racial justice, equality and freedom for BLACK LIVES continues.

Video of Bernie Sanders speaking

On Election Day, Bernie’s Message Still Resonates for Me

Today in Oregon and in Multnomah County we vote in our Primary Election. Most of us have voted by now, but for all who have not yet turned in your ballots remember to drop your ballots off before 8 PM tonight at an official drop off site.

Bernie Sanders inspired many of us to envision a world where all residents could thrive, a world where a living wage and health care for all were the norm. That vision will continue. It is now up to us to come together, more than ever, at the local party level to demand that we the people, working together, take on the powers and money that would keep us from a better world for all.

In his speech announcing the suspension of his campaign and endorsement of Joe Biden, Bernie reflects powerfully upon the the work we are called upon to continue; making a better world and empowering all people.

He also evokes one of my favorite quotes:

It always seems impossible until it is done.

Nelson Mandela

Lurelle Robbins, Chair,

The Democratic Party of Multnomah County

MultDems Support May 2020 Ballot Measure 26-210

Multnomah Democrats support Ballot Measure 260-210

On February 13, the Multnomah County Democratic Party Central Committee unanimously voted to support Resolution 2020-5 Urging Metro to Refer Homeless Services Ballot Initiative. Homelessness in Multnomah County has reached catastrophic proportions. As the late Commissioner Nick Fish aptly noted days before his untimely death, “literally people are screaming at us to do something to address this crisis now!”

That was before the coronavirus, which put an abrupt end to most economic activity. Worse, the virus exacerbated the challenges for those who are already homeless while placing many others at risk of homelessness.

Please support Metro Measure 26-210.  Too many people were homeless in Portland before the coronavirus hit and many more will experience homelessness due to COVID-19.

Fact Check: Walkouts are very unpopular.

Some polling numbers on the Republican Walkout

A screenshot from an opt-in poll on KGW’s phone app is being shared on social media to suggest that Oregonians support the Republican walkout. The idea that a piece of clickbait would be used as a proof point is in itself pretty sad. KGW’s advertisers are the real winners there.

Would you like some real polling data on Oregonian’s opinion of a walkout?

In a way, we Democrats should be appreciative of the Republican walkout. Based on polling done with some actual rigor, this walkout is an extremely unpopular move with their constituents.

  • 74% agree: If elected officials don’t like a bill, they should show up and work to improve the bill or simply vote against it. They should make their voices heard rather than shut down the government.
  • 64% agree: The legislators who walked out were collecting a taxpayer-funded paycheck even when they weren’t showing up for work. Regular people don’t get paid when they don’t go to work, and politicians shouldn’t get paid for skipping work either.
  • 62% agree: During the walkout, the Senate couldn’t hold session and was basically shut down. That means the Senate was idle for ten working days, wasting more than 100 thousand dollars of taxpayer money. That’s simply wrong.
  • 63% agree: Good lawmaking comes from consensus and compromise – but this year a Republican Senator has already said he will not negotiate on a bill he doesn’t like, and all Republicans may walk out again to prevent its passage. This is not how to get things done for Oregonians.

""One can expect there will be accelerated opportunities for job creation in clean energy, technology, forest and agriculture activities."

Fact Check: The Arguments Against The Climate Bill SB1530

Now that the Republican Senators have walked off their jobs to deny quorum and prevent the Democratic process from moving forward, social media and press releases are awash with the “reasoning” talking points that they have been provided.

“SB 1530 will bankrupt rural Oregon.”

  • We know that we are one Oregon, but we also know that we are a state of many regions and many needs.
  • SB 1530 includes many changes that will enhance the benefits to rural Oregon and protect rural Oregonians from any disruptions.
  • We are now gradually phasing in any impacts on gasoline prices by region, so that rural residents on the West side of the state won’t see any impacts until 2025 and those east of the Cascades won’t see them at all. 
  • We can include 85% of the state’s gasoline emissions in 2025 without touching the vast majority of the geography of this state.
  • Low- to moderate income residents everywhere will receive a tax credit that will fully offset any increased driving costs.
  • Recognizing that they drive more, residents of rural counties will receive larger tax credits. 
  • There will be full refunds for increases in the cost of fuel used for off-road agricultural and forestry operations.
  • The amended version of SB 1530 simplifies the way the geographic phase-in is done.  For the most part, it will now be done by county, making the administration of the program easier and simpler.  As a result, the Fuels Association has removed its objections.
  • We have modified the way that manufacturers are handled in order to protect rural jobs.  As a result, rural manufacturers (e.g., in the food processing industries) have removed their opposition to the bill.
  • In addition changes to the bill have increased its economic benefits for rural Oregon.
  • Most of the investments of the program are geared to benefit rural Oregon and tribes (making our forests healthier, improving irrigation and weatherizing rural homes).
  • Through its “offsets” provisions, the bill will generate big investments in dairy biodigesters and forestry projects, keeping forests as working forests.
  • Rural Oregon is already benefiting from renewable energy projects (wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal) and is poised to benefit much more with the incentives and training dollars in SB 1530.  Thousands of jobs will be created.
  • Outside analyses (including one done by AOI) have shown that the economic impact of earlier versions of SB 1530 would actually benefit rural and frontier Oregon more than other parts of the state.  SB 1530 makes that even more true.
  • Experience in California, Québec, and the northeastern states (who use cap & trade for their power sector) has not shown economic or employment harm to their rural regions.  On the contrary, investments in the rural parts of California and Québec as a result of their program have benefited those regions in many ways.
  • Finally, rural and frontier Oregonians live in the front lines of climate change (fires, loss of snowcap, drought, rising sea levels, ocean acidification). If Oregon’s actions encourage climate action in other states and slow down the pace of this crisis, they will benefit most of all.

“SB 1530 will hurt low-income Oregonians.”

  • The bill includes MANY protections for low-income Oregonians, whose needs are kept front and center.
  • Low-income natural gas customers will see no rise in their bills.
  • Low- to moderate income residents ($65K for a family of 4) everywhere will receive a tax credit that will fully offset any increased driving costs.
  • Most investments are geared to benefit low-income Oregonians everywhere.
  • Extensive investments in training and retraining for the clean-energy economy will provide new pathways to opportunity for low-income families all over the state.

“SB 1530 exempts government from public records laws.”

  • The program is subject to ALL the usual public records and open meetings laws.
  • Section 32 does protect confidential business information that would be considered “trade secrets”; this is absolutely usual and necessary when government needs to regulate the private sector.
  • This is something that all journalists are used to.

“The emergency clause in SB 1530 is intended to deny the people’s ability to challenge this law.”

  • The emergency clause is there because we ARE in a climate emergency and the work on the program must begin immediately.
  • A 2019 opinion from Legislative Counsel makes it clear that the Emergency Clause does nothing to impair the people’s ability to put any piece of legislation on the ballot through the initiative process.
  • The reason we have a Legislature is to work on tough, far-reaching, crucial issues that require extensive research, discussion, debate, and compromise.
  • SB 1530 is a balanced, carefully crafted, highly researched bill, incorporating work that has been going on for years, and including ideas suggested by legislators from both parties.
  • On the ballot, it will be reduced to a series of sound bites and slanted TV ads, funded by tens of millions of special-interest dollars.
  • The people have voted—they voted to send Legislators to Salem to work hard on their behalf. Every one of the Democrats elected in 2018 ran with climate action as one of their main priorities, defeating Republicans who unfortunately took a contrary position. Legislators are doing what they were elected to do. 

“SB 1530 puts all the power in the hands of un-elected bureaucrats.”

  • Amendments will make it clear that the appointed Board’s budget decisions are advisory only.  They will still need to go through our normal Ways and Means process and receive approval from elected legislators.  So will the state agencies implementing the program. That’s how good government should work.

“SB 1530 is not based on settled science,” or “Climate change is natural, not human-caused.”

  • Legislators need to rely on the best science that’s out there.
  • That’s why the Legislature in 2007 created the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, based at OSU, to scan the scientific literature, evaluate its validity, summarize their findings, and report and make recommendations to the Legislature every 2 years.
  • They’ve told us that climate change is real, we’re already feeling its consequences, it can be mitigated, but if we don’t, the future consequences will be catastrophic and hugely expensive for Oregon.
  • SB 1530 is based entirely on their recommendations.

“We shouldn’t be doing this in a short session.”

  • One of the purposes of the short session has always been to continue work on bills that had been thoroughly worked on in the previous session, but didn’t quite make it over the finish line.  The short session is designed to finish up that work.
  • The earlier version of SB 1530 had hundreds of hours of public testimony in Salem and around the state, thousands of pages of written testimony and studies, passed the House after six hours of open debate, and only failed to advance in the Senate because the Republicans walked out.
  •  SB 1530 is the result of many hours of bipartisan discussion since November.
  • Despite this being a short session, we will have more hours of public testimony on this bill than we normally have in a long session, not counting all the hours we’ve already spent hearing from the public on this issue in the past.

“Other countries are the real culprits.  They’re the ones who should be stepping up.”

  • In the absence of national action, states must step up and act together.
  • As legislators, we learn from other states.  What works, what doesn’t.
  • It’s not just about Oregon.  If Oregon acts, other states such as Washington will step up and join us.
  • If we join California, Washington, and British Columbia (both CA and BC already have economy-wide climate programs) in this effort, we will be part of the world’s FIFTH largest economy.  We can make a real difference.

“This bill will make Oregon less competitive.”

Dr. Dallas Burtraw, senior fellow at Resources for the Future and a member of the American Academy of Sciences, was asked to provide an assessment of SB 1530 before amendments were made.  His lengthy assessment concluded with the following:

“When carbon pricing is implemented in 2022, the anticipated emissions reductions will be achieved without any specific impacts that are noticeable to the vast majority of Oregon households and businesses. There should be virtually zero disruptions in employment, but over time one can expect there will be accelerated opportunities for job creation in clean energy, technology, forest and agriculture activities. Oregon’s legislative decision is likely to influence policy outcomes in other states and internationally.”

Tell Oregon Ways and Means that you support the fight against climate change.

Climate Action: Ways and Means meets Monday for the Climate Bill

Join us to move this critical law forward

As we move closer to a landmark climate bill in Oregon, the week ahead is very exciting. All of your letters and testimony have made a difference for cap and invest. Now is the time to have an even bigger presence in Salem. You can be involved. Read on.

  • SB1530 will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee on February 24th at 9 AM, Hearing Room F. Let’s show our strength by filling the hearing room and overflow.
  • The parallel bill, HB 4167 has also been referred to Ways and Means. The hearing date is not set for HB4167.

This is a great time for more emails and letters to your representatives. Message: Climate change is an emergency. SB1530 (HB4167) is a good start. The cap reduces dangerous pollution. Big polluters will pay their share. The investment in Oregon will go to local communities, benefitting rural Oregon and others hardest hit by climate change.

  • Email to the members of the Ways and Means Committee Click here. You are two clicks away from starting those emails.
  • Email and letters to your Senator and Representative.
    • Please also schedule in-person meetings with them next week.
  • Letters to the editor about the bill.
    • Here’s a link to clear true reporting from the Statesman Journal
    • If you are in a District that walked out last year, please also consider a letter to the editor about the importance of legislators staying at work and doing their job.

Renew Oregon is setting up a meeting room for the week, Monday – Friday 9 – 4:30 next week. Please RSVP to Renew for the dates and times you can attend. Let us know if you can drive or need a ride.

Representatives from MultDems Climate Action Team will deliver cookies and a letter of support for the bill to every Senator and Representative.

Tell Oregon Ways and Means that you support the fight against climate change.

Oregon Ways and Means Committee 2020

On Monday February 24, the Ways and Means committee will hear SB1530, the landmark climate bill for Oregon that will develop clean energy jobs. Send them an email.

Climate change is an emergency. SB1530 (HB4167) is a good start. The cap reduces dangerous pollution. Big polluters will pay their share. The investment in Oregon will go to local communities, benefitting rural Oregon and others hardest hit by climate change.

Position Name and link to OLIS info   District / Community Email link
Co-Chair Senator Betsy Johnson D SD16 Scappose Sen.BetsyJohnson@oregonlegislature.gov
Co-Chair Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward D SD17 NWPDX/Bvtn Sen.ElizabethSteinerHayward@oregonlegislature.gov
Co-Chair Representative Dan Rayfield D HD16 Corvallis rep.danrayfield@oregonlegislature.gov 
Co-Vice Chair Senator Fred Girod R SD9 Stayton Sen.FredGirod@oregonlegislature.gov
Co-Vice Chair Representative David Gomberg D SD10 Central Coast Rep.DavidGomberg@oregonlegislature.gov
Co-Vice Chair Representative Greg Smith R HD57 Umatilla Morrow rep.gregsmith@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Lee Beyer D SD6 Springfield Sen.LeeBeyer@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Denyc Boles R SD10  Salem Sen.DenycBoles@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Lew Frederick D SD22 Portland Sen.LewFrederick@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Bill Hansell R SD29 Athena Sen.BillHansell@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Dallas Heard R SD1 Roseburg sen.dallasheard@oregonlegislature.gov ​
Member Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson D SD25 Gresham Sen.LaurieMonnesAnderson@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Arnie Roblan D SD5 Coos Bay Sen.ArnieRoblan@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Chuck Thomsen R SD26 Hood River Sen.ChuckThomsen@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Senator Rob Wagner D SD19 Lake Oswego Sen.RobWagner@oregonlegislature.gov
Member House Republican Leader Christine Drazan R HD 39 Canby Rep.ChristineDrazan@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Representative Paul Holvey D HD08 Eugene Rep.PaulHolvey@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Representative Susan McLain D HD29 Hillsboro rep.susanmclain@oregonlegislature.gov
Member Representative Rob Nosse D HD42 Portland Rep.RobNosse@oregonlegislature.gov 
Member Representative Carla Piluso D HD50 Gresham rep.carlapiluso@oregonlegislature.gov 
Member Representative Duane Stark R HD4 Grants Pass rep.duanestark@oregonlegislature.gov
Flyer with MultDems logo and colors: Transform TriMet - Buy Electric Buses. Dates of meetings

Call to Action: Tell TriMet, Tell Metro No New Diesel Buses

Greta Thunberg said, “Act as if your house is on fire – because it is.” This is an emergency!

TL;dr What is Happening?

TriMet, the local transit operator, is planning to buy 159 diesel buses. In the face of a climate emergency, putting 159 polluting buses with a lifespan of 16 years each is just not acceptable.

What to do: Testify or Email for Clean Air and Climate Action

  • February 20th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR
  • February 26th 9:00 a.m. Public Forum section of TriMet Board’s agenda. 121 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR
  • February 27th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR

Submit testimony to Metro Council through this online form. If you submit by 10 am the day of the meeting, it will be in the minutes.

Send an email to boardtestimony@trimet.org.

Make Way for Electric Buses

Last fall, TriMet authorized a diesel bus buy of 159 buses over a 5 year purchase contract.

That’s 159 NEW DIESEL Buses, each with a lifetime of up to 16 years, on our roads – adding more CO2 to the planet’s atmosphere, and spewing more unhealthy diesel fumes into our already historically stressed neighborhoods.

We need to STOP this ‘Business as Usual’ NEW DIESEL bus buy! It is unacceptable!

Tell TriMet, Tell Metro – Clean Air! No NEW DIESEL Buses

Why are we going to the Metro Council? Metro has a fiduciary role in receiving Federa thel tax revenue spent on our transportation infrastructure.

TriMet gets funding from Metro and the State of Oregon.

Governor Brown appoints the TriMet Board. Metro Councilors are elected by the public.

Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Tell TriMet, Tell Metro – Clean Air! No NEW DIESEL BUSES.

On February 4, 2020 500 Oregon Health leaders from the Oregon Public Health Association (OPHA) declared that Climate Change is a Public Health emergency.

Their policy recommendations include meeting and strengthening Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, and rapidly transitioning to renewable energy and zero-carbon emissions transportation systems.

Tell TriMet, Tell Metro – Clean Air! No NEW DIESEL BUSES. Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Historically underserved communities require equitable transit service – they do not need dangerously increased levels of pollution in their neighborhoods. An Equity lens places the first electric buses available on the Division Transit Project route.

We must STOP the Diesel Bus buy! No More Business as Usual, No NEW Diesel Buses! Electrify the Fleet!

There are two upcoming Metro Council meetings and a TriMet Board meeting in the next two weeks where we need to come together and take action and to shine a bright light on this bad decision. Provide testimony or come and support those who do. Can’t attend? Write to the TriMet Board, write to the Metro Council.

Do you or does someone you know take the bus? Live near a busline? Breathe the air? Do you or someone you know have asthma? Do you or someone you know work in a social justice, or healthcare field? Forward this to your friends or friendly organizations who might distribute to their members. THANK-YOU for your participation and involvement!

Debbie Gordon and Tracy Farwell, co-leads Natural Resources Protection and Recovery Work Group, aka the Multdems Climate Action Team

The attachments include:

TriMet FAQ and Call to Action

Call to Action on the backside of the TriMet FAQ sheet:

Clean Air! No More New Diesel Buses Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Greta Thunberg said, “Act as if your house is on fire – because it is.” This is an emergency!

Buying New Diesel Buses is going backwards. You can’t say your goal is to reduce emissions on the one hand and buy diesel buses which will produce emissions for 16 years on the other.

No more business as usual! We must put our resources into electrifying the fleet NOW!

Join Us to Take Action

Multnomah Democrats, led by the Climate Action Team

  1. Demand that TriMet’s regional peer authority, the publicly-elected Oregon Metro Council, acknowledge the call to action from the Oregon Public Health Association.

The TriMet management resolution for the 159 diesel bus buy (2019 Resolution -78) omitted public health criteria from any Source Evaluation Committee criteria or its weighted scoring.

  1. Reverse the $200M TriMet Board authorization for 159 New Diesel buses since it dismissed any consideration of Portland’s ongoing diesel public health threats. Moreover, regional transit operations that consume fossil fuels clearly constitute Portland public infrastructure and expanding the diesel fleet contradicts the court supported Portland ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.
  2. Develop a formal Zero Emissions Fleet Transition Program, prioritize and secure funding (include in bond on the November ballot) and establish a program management office to get this job done on an emergency basis. TriMet can execute the program under close supervision.
  3. Require first electric buses on the Division Transit Project, relieving already stressed communities.

Take ACTION Tell Metro Council, Tell TriMet – NO NEW Diesel Buses

Come Testify and/or support others who do!

February 20th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR

February 26th 9:00 a.m. Public Forum section of TriMet Board’s agenda. 121 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR

February 27th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR

Presenting Testimony

  • Come early to sign up.
  • Bring 10 copies of your testimony. 2-3 minutes max.
  • Read your comments/letter and leave Board and Council Members copies for the public record.

Can’t attend? Write emails and submit online comments for the TriMet Board and Metro Council, which will be part of the public record:

Subject: Clean Air! No More New Diesel Buses

Body of email:

  • State your support for no new Diesel Buses, and for a plan for a Zero-Emissions Fleet ASAP!
  • Say who you are and why you care about cleaner air and stopping carbon emissions. “I am (a parent, grandparent, high school student…..) and I (have a child with asthma….am very concerned about climate change, want Oregon to lead on climate actions, etc.)
  • Ask for a response.
  • Sign with your name and location (city and zip code).

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions about TriMet Diesel vs. Electric Buses

What is the size of TriMet’s fleet of buses?

The TriMet fleet is made up of 694 buses (10 electric), and diesel consumption is 6+ million gallons annually. TriMet plans to have 900 buses by 2040.

Why is TriMet Acquiring New Diesel Buses?

They say it is for normal replacement and for extending services. TriMet authorized a diesel bus buy of 159 buses over a 5 year purchase contract.* (A diesel bus purchased in 2024 would have a life of up to 16 years on the road.)

Didn’t the City of Portland ban new fossil fuel infrastructure?

Yes. December 18th, 2019, the Portland City Council voted to re-adopt a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Do we need more buses in East Portland?

Yes. The first 31 diesel buses are targeted for the Division Transit Project. An Equity lens requires both better, increased service to those historically underserved AND public health consideration.

Are there Non-Diesel Alternatives?

Yes. Seattle has committed to transitioning their fleet to battery electric buses, while still operating the legacy electric trolley buses. New York’s MTA is retiring all diesel buses, transitioning to an electric fleet. California has mandated electric buses.

Why is Diesel Bad? Why should I care if TriMet buys 159 New Diesel buses?

The transport sector (40% of Portland’s carbon pollution) is the fastest growing contributor to climate emissions that contribute to global warming. Diesel produces long-lived carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, short-lived black carbon, and ground level ozone – all producing very unhealthy air, with increased levels of asthma and other breathing disorders.

What do the Scientists and Health Professionals say?

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Special Report 15 (SR15) states that it is too dangerous to reduce carbon emissions any less than 45% in ten years’ time. On Feb. 4th 500 Oregon Health leaders from the Oregon Public Health Association declared that Climate Change is a Public Health emergency. Their policy recommendations include meeting and strengthening Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, transitioning to renewable energy and to zero-carbon emissions transportation systems. **

What is TriMet Doing About the Transition to Clean Fuels?

TriMet is duplicating the same kind of clean fuel evaluation other transit operators have already completed. TriMet’s few electric buses are being evaluated.

Has the TriMet Set a Target Date for Retiring the Diesel Fleet?

Their commitment is for zero diesel buses in 2040, not zero emissions.

What is the relationship between TriMet and Metro?

Metro has a fiduciary role in receiving Federal tax revenue to be expended on transportation infrastructure. TriMet gets funding from Metro and the State of Oregon.

Clean Air! No More New Diesel Buses Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Greta Thunberg said, “Act as if your house is on fire – because it is.” This is an emergency!

Buying New Diesel Buses is going backwards. You can’t say your goal is to reduce emissions on the one hand and buy diesel buses which will produce emissions for 16 years on the other. No more business as usual! We must put our resources into electrifying the fleet NOW!