Congratulations, TriMet. You have succeeded in shutting down Lane Jensen. Hope you're proud of yourselves.
We all know he's had it out for you since the beginning. We all know how much of a racket he makes when he senses a problem or disconnect somewhere in the agency. And we know he's never afraid to speak what his heart feels.
But he has also proven to be one of the most influential naysayers in this little story. While other people are comfortable sitting on their derrières and writing about things they have no intention of doing anything about (with all due respect, I have been you sometimes), Lane has been out in the field trying to make a positive impact. He's been looking out for your future during times when some of you have been making that future look pretty bleak.
Now, it's been almost a month since Lane's second arrest, one that had no valid reason, one in which Lane was not even read his Miranda rights. Fortunately for Mr. Jensen, he has people around him who support him and who are not afraid to tell him to his face when he needs to make changes. These changes, if you haven't noticed, have included the deletion of his Portland Transit Lane blog (see here if you don't believe me), the changing of his Twitter handle to no longer reflect his TriMet connection, and the deletion of his podcast. While he still is involved with TriMet-related things (considering, like me, it's a hobby of his), his web presence is all but gone.
I know I may sound a bit extreme here, but I have valid reasons. First, Lane is one of my best friends, and I get really, really miffed when people mess with my friends. Second, TriMet top management has given me no good reason to trust them. It's hard thinking that there are no alterior motives when everything you have ever done screams alterior motives. Third, my friends on the blogging side are in agreement on the injustice here. I even had one bus operator tell me all about the injustices here before I even had the opportunity to give my opinion. Finally, there are so many details that just don't make sense if one is trying to explain that these actions have been just. Below is a partial list:
- Lane was arrested by both Portland Police and Transit Police officers on both arrests.
- On the first arrest, they seized his phone and his laptop. The text messages were sent on his phone. What did his laptop have anything to do with it?
- They arrested him the second time because he called a TriMet employee names on his podcast (the one who had him first arrested). It was not explicitly made clear to him that this was not allowed, and it still doesn't look like that was really not allowed. And his comments were in regard to a public press release, aimed at whoever wrote it, not specifically the person who filed the charges.
- On the second arrest, he was never read his Miranda rights. ("You have the right to remain silent..." Or should it be, "You don't have the right to not remain silent?")
- The repercussions of his second arrest virtually silenced Lane's voice. The most vocal critic of TriMet is virtually silenced. What are the odds of that?
- His bail was set at $46,500. The bail for the man who assaulted the Line 4 operator in St. John's was set at $10,000. What do we value more: operator safety or not annoying TriMet managers? (Somebody ought to ask them that. Oh wait...somebody already tried.)
You see, when there are too many details pointing to the same conclusion, it's hard not to come to said conclusion. Even if TriMet issued a press release stating that they are not trying to silence a TriMet critic, I still wouldn't believe them and I'm sure few others would. (They would probably just blame the whole thing on the Union contract anyway.) The way for TriMet to prove that they are being honest here is to drop the case. This would make it clear that they respect the voices of criticism that have been speaking. But I don't expect them to drop the case at all. It's hard to accept criticism when you're always right.
So, to conclude, this act of shutting Lane up has only enraged the already ticked-off riders and bloggers, and has lowered the level of trust even further. It's like going out and claiming your own coffin from will-call. I want to see that TriMet's future is a bright one. At this point, it sure ain't looking very good.