March 22nd, 2013 4:10 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Transportation, Legislature, Multnomah County

Lawmaker Proposes Stripping TriMet Authority From Governor

trimetAll Aboard - Aaron Mesh

Everybody wants to fix TriMet, the beleagured transit agency. Currently, Gov. John Kitzhaber is responsible for appointing TriMet's seven-member board. Those board members must live in geographical districts.

Now, State Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) wants to change that governance system. Gorsek is sponsoring House Bill 3316, which expand the board to eleven members and would give each of the three metro area counties—Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas— plus the City of Portland and Metro two nominees each and preserve one nominee for the governor.

The amended bill replaces an earlier draft that proposed forcing Metro to take over TriMet.

Gorsek, a rookie lawmaker, says he means no slight to Kitzhaber.

"I'm not worried about the governor's ability," says Gorsek. "I think he's done some really good appointments. I'm worried about having appointments that are directly responsible to the voters."

But Gorsek says having voters elect the TriMet board would cost too much. "In these times of budget constraints, it was decided that that would probably be too expensive a venture," he says.

Gorsek says he has spoken to Kitzhaber's transportation advisors, and says they haven't voiced opposition to the bill. A hearing on the bill is expected April 15.
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