Today, over ATU 757’s strong objections, TriMet’s Board of Directors officially appointed Doug Kelsey, current Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s next General Manager. For more information about the sham hiring process and the problems with Doug Kelsey (not to mention TriMet’s propaganda about the hire), check out the coverage below:
ATU 757: “TriMet Chooses Broken Status Quo with General Manager Finalist”
Portland Tribune: “TriMet postpones new general manager decision”
TriMet News: “TriMet Board of Directors chooses COO Doug Kelsey as agency’s next General Manager”
Vice President Jon Hunt spoke to the Board today to share his concerns about what Doug Kelsey represents – you can find his remarks below:
“Good morning, members of the Board. For the record, my name is Jonathan Hunt, Vice President of ATU Local 757, and I’m here today to speak on behalf of the 3,000-plus frontline TriMet employees who move this region. I want to start by simply reiterating our core demand: do not appoint Doug Kelsey as the next General Manager of this agency.
Selecting Doug Kelsey to lead TriMet would be a clear choice for the broken status quo. In fact, as we’ve learned more about Mr. Kelsey’s vision for transit in this region, our opposition to his selection has only grown.
In a meeting with community advocates two weeks ago, Doug shared his vision for transit and his role in it. He said, and I quote, “I focus on real estate and IT.” Funny – I thought we were talking about running a transit agency here. He described a vision for security on transit that sounds a whole lot like a police state. He talked about his excitement that TriMet could partner with Uber and Lyft, even as these companies clog our roads with private vehicles. And he couldn’t contain his glee as he talked about automating his workforce out of existence. This is part and parcel of what we’ve come to expect; over the last few years, TriMet has demonstrated its absolute lack of vision for transit in our region, especially when it comes to increasing ridership. Community groups like OPAL and Bus Riders Unite, not to mention the union representing your frontline workers, have pushed you time and time again to do better, and you’ve responded by cutting us out of the loop. We demand democracy, not top-down corporate bureaucracy
Workers and riders know that transit is not working in this region. We have seen no material improvements in safety even as TriMet fritters away public dollars on a militarized approach to security. Our bus & MAX operators are being punched, kicked, spit on, verbally harassed, and otherwise assaulted every day. Ridership is falling even as Portland’s population is booming, to the point where as many folks commute by bike during rush hour as do ride the bus. And this company has become so overinvested in light-rail projects – and the dollars that generates for management’s property developer buddies – that our bus system is suffering.
But maybe we’re being unfair. After all, Doug doesn’t appear to know a whole lot about what’s actually happening at TriMet. Just a month ago, we sat in front of you to share our concerns about issues like LIFT operators being denied bathroom breaks, a lack of preventive maintenance on MAX vehicles, and sick operators being stranded on the side of the road due to the company’s policy of denying those operators road relief. Mr. Kelsey all but called President Shirley Block a liar in that meeting, which was especially brazen given that TriMet was forced to stop denying road relief to ill operators just two days later after a media firestorm. And in last month’s Board meeting, he admitted he’s never read the 2012 Secretary of State audit of TriMet’s operations.
So, as Chief Operating Officer, Doug Kelsey has shown that he’s absolutely ignorant about the company’s actual operations. And now you want to give him a promotion, which I can only describe as yet another case of a mediocre manager progressively failing upward. The fact that this Board is prepared to name Doug Kelsey as the next General Manager is the best evidence that this Board itself needs reform, which is why we’re going to continue to call on the Oregon Legislature to meaningfully address transit governance in this region.
On behalf of the workers who make transit possible, I urge you to take this opportunity to do the right thing. Heed the community in front of you today, reject Doug Kelsey, and start this process over again in an authentically transparent way. Thank you for your time.”