February 21, 2008

Transit agency bars Karuk ad

Oregon ACLU files free speech suit against TriMetA decision by the city transit agency to reject an advertisement about saving Klamath River salmon has drawn a free speech lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of conservation groups and a Northern California Indian tribe.

The proposed ad rejected by TriMet shows three salmon blocked by an underwater wall of electrical outlets and says: "Salmon shouldn't run up your electric bill. They should run up the Klamath River."

The ACLU claims TriMet violated the federal and state constitutions by rejecting an ad it says is too political.

"TriMet's job is to transport riders, not to override free speech protections," said Dave Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU's Oregon chapter.
The alleged reason for barring the ad:Mary Fetsch, the transit agency's spokeswoman, said the type of advertising accepted by TriMet is "focused on selling goods and services."

The ACLU said the TriMet committee that rejected the ad wrote did the transit agency did not want its buses or property "to become a public forum for the dissemination, debate, and/or discussion of public issues."
Comment:  Would the agency also bar a power company ad that said something like, "Electricity is good for the environment"? I doubt it.

Many government decisions favor businesses over consumers, communities, or the environment. This is an example of that.

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