Wednesday, July 25, 2012
So, you'll never guess what happened to me today. Beth DeHamel, the Executive Finance Director of TriMet, aka the number two person in charge, actually attacked my credibility and integrity on the way out of the meeting.
It went down something like this. Note that I'm not going to use the exact phrases being said because I don't remember them all word for word, just very specific points of conversation. I'm not going to put words in anyone's mouth just to make me look good. Besides, the last thing I want to do is give her room to justify herself. And considering this happened in a public place (in fact, in front of and involving other people) there is certainly nothing wrong with me posting it here. Although knowing TriMet's policies, they'll certainly have an excuse to use.
Meeting is over, I'm glad it's done, I'm looking forward to getting out of there. Ms. DeHamel calmly walks over, I politely if not somewhat tersely say "Hello."
She asks if I've read the budget message.
I read through the short version of the budget, where it talks about what they're going to do in FY13 with a lovely little page or two about how wrong OPAL is and how smart TriMet is. But she says 'budget message', not 'budget' so I ask "Can you tell me what exactly that is?"
Immediately she jumps to the conclusion that I did not read the budget when I did, we all at OPAL did and we talked about it. She says that I was either wrong or lying about various things I said in my speech, and as if disappointed says that such lies hurts 'my credibility' and that I should let Jon or Jared speak about it so I don't lower their credibility. She says that she has spent hundreds of hours (that may just be a teensy bit of an overexaggeration, don't you think? 100 hours is five seasons of an average TV show, do you mean to tell me you've spent that much time in the span of seven months talking with Jon and Jared about the budget?) talking with them and that maybe they don't know anything after all. She offers to meet up with me on the ninth and 'talk about it' (as if she's just a stern teacher lecturing her student) and I tell her I'll think about it.
Then we both leave, I meet up with OPAL, we group up outside and talk to a guy who wants to be a member of OPAL. Then guess who buts in talking to Jared, our super smart legal guy? Beth DeHamel. I don't catch much of it this time (not my convo) so I just stand around backing him up like us OPAL members do. But it's about me. And then she mentions me. It goes on for a little longer, then eventually she leaves. Then we leave.
Now first off, let me just say that I am not offended. For one, this is just a beautiful, classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Like, if you are the lady in charge of the budgetary process of TriMet, I am not very impressed. There is nothing that neon-signs 'bullshit' than the fiscal processes of TriMet.
In fact, I'm more or less star-struck. Honored, even. The fact that the number two person in charge of TriMet would really pull me over- twice!- to tell me that my credibility was lowered by lies and that I lowered the credibility of OPAL (RIGHT IN FRONT OF OPAL, MAY I ADD) with those lies. Like, I was kind of giddy when I left the building; ask anyone from OPAL who was with me. I was dancing on benches and shit. I am really, really getting to these people. I'm annoying and offending them and hurting their feelings. Imagine that. Hurting TriMet's feelings.
Although, I'm not so sure TriMet should be proud of their Number Two executive. To go up to a bus rider and falsely tell them that they're full of shit when they're so clearly not, that's not a very nice way of representing your agency, is it? I can't go up to Neil McFarlane and tell him to go suck donkey dick or something of the sort when I'm wearing an OPAL T-shirt, because that would be really discrediting OPAL, who prefers to take a more pacifistic approach to TriMet. I'd say DeHamel was discrediting TriMet, but what is there to credit right now? In an agency where a bus driver gets fired off a false story and yet the general manager gets to screw over all his drivers and riders daily, I'd say DeHamel is a saint.
And honestly, what was there much to lie about? I simply did a synopsis on what the General Manager had done to his riders and drivers, straight out of the newspaper, and accused the board of not caring enough to stop him. I even finished with a nice little statement of people power and how they're the ones that truly care. Furthermore, this speech was worked on and approved by Jon Ostar, a chairperson and founder of OPAL. In fact, he helped me re-write my speech because what I did want to say was way too hateful and spiteful to give to TriMet on their behalf.
I kind of wish I had stuck with the original now. Not because I worry I really am lowering OPAL's credibility (which I don't and certainly don't want to, which is why I'm toning it down.) Because I'd love to see just how offended Miss DeHamel would be if I said this. LET ME CLARIFY, THIS IS NOT ON BEHALF OF OPAL. THIS IS ME AND ONLY ME. And I can see why they wouldn't want me blaring this to the board.
"Frankly, I believe you the board are all disgracing the organizations and places you are coming from. You are absolutely useless, because you are no longer any sort of unique presence in the room. Any backbone in the board has left with Lehrbach, and now you are simply here to shut down the public and submit to anything Macfarlane says, when if you were in our situation you’d certainly protest against it. The only time I ever hear any of you speak is if you take personal offense to anything we say." (Lolirony) "Let me tell you this, board members. I am very offended by the lack of care you take with us, the canned lies and responses you feed us and the wrongful actions you let Macfarlane get away with even though you are the only ones who stop him.
As far as I am concerned you condone and support every lie he tells, every wrongdoing he commits and every action he takes against his own people. You are against the public... "
I think several TriMet members would shit holes in their pants if I had told them this in my outside voice.
And you know what? I say that because I am fed up. I'm fed up with TriMet's management and their lack of transparency and accountability, and the fact that they really don't seem to care because they have the power. But what I'm really upset about was exactly what I talked to Ms. DeHamel about when I ended the conversation between us.
"I am really disappointed that the only time those of you with power at TriMet ever bother to speak with a rider is when you are personally offended."
And I'll say this. I'm pretty offended too, Ms. DeHamel.