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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Spandex vendetta

The flap over the blogging Tri-Met bus driver who appeared on camera for his blog while he was driving has made a bit of a splash in the local, and even national, media. Al Margulies, who relentlessly heckles the management of the transit agency on his entertaining blog, apparently was long ago ordered to stop filming while he's driving. But now they're hassling him for allowing himself to be recorded by others, which as best we can tell has not previously been forbidden. Now it surely will be.

An interesting fact: According to KGW, the complainant against Margulies is a guy named Marcus Griffith, a resident of the 'Couv and a "correspondent" for the Bike Portland blog. Described at one point as a Clark College student, the 29-year-old Griffith also reportedly had time a few years ago to file a complaint against a downtown security officer for ordering him to move along instead of sitting on a sidewalk eating a burrito. He was reportedly the victim of a hit-and-run while biking near the college in the 'Couv two winters ago, and he was unhappy about the way the police treated him there, too. And he's currently working on getting nude bicycling legalized up that way.

There's no evidence that anyone who actually rides Margulies's bus is unhappy with his conduct.

I won't defend a driver's right to appear on camera for his blog while on duty -- it's definitely not the best practice -- but if I had to choose between Margulies and Griffith to help me get somewhere safely, I know which one I'd choose. And unlike the local TV stations, I'm not too terribly interested in a blogger flame war, no matter how far one side or the other wants to take it.

But for those who can't resist the petty drama: According to a readily available smart phone background check application, someone by the name of Marcus Griffith from the 'Couv did get cited in Multnomah County on May 15, 2006 for alleged criminal "nonpayment of fare." Food for thought.

Comments (28)

I think Marcus needs to get a "real job". But he is probably so obnoxious that he can't even qualify for 'would you like fries with that?' employment.
Does he still live in his parent's basement? age 29!

Perhaps it's distractions like this that cause accidents with Tri-Met drivers so often.

How can you be so critical whenever a bus has a fender bender (and/or kills three people) but think that this is okay?


The veteran driver has a spotless record.

How's yours?

TriMet has a $50 million per year liability that they are paying NOTHING towards.

It's off books, has grown to nearly a BILLION in total liability and the TriMet board approves another budget without one cent or drop of concern aimed at it.

But at least they're dealing with big bad Al.

Let's talk about unsafe..... last night after sunset but still barely light out, I am driving up the ramp off Barbur to B-H Hwy./Capitol Hwy. There is a nimrod on a bicycle... no helmet, no lights, weaving madly up the hill because in one hand is the cell phone that he's yapping on. Now, that I worry about... a lot more than someone who drives for a living getting filmed while he talks and drives.

I'm shocked that the news media around here doesn't do any investigation about Al M. They were reporting that it was Al M that was doing the video recording as he drove. Whats wrong with that, TriMet does that all the time making training videos.

And of course, they never followed up on who his nemesis, Marcus Griffith, is all about.

Setting a precedent that says a bus driver can't allow him or herself to be recorded would have a chilling effect on the other side of the coin.

Let's say you observe a bus driver doing something illegal or unsafe. Let's say you whip out your i-phone and record it, then pass it on to TriMet or the cops or the media. So are you in trouble for recording bad behavior? Aren't the cops already trying to claim they shouldn't be recorded or photographed by citizens? How's that working for you?

Nuttery and tomfoolery.

Hey, if this was NJ, there would already be a law against being videorecorded while on the job.

I can't wait to see the first lawsuit brought against him for allowing himself to be filmed.

"Is it true, Mr. Margulies, that you continued to drive the bus, all the while allowing yourself to be filmed?"


My record is spotless as well... in other news, the price of tea in China is $1.34/lb.

What's that got to do with anything?

My point is that there is so much outrage over how poorly Tri-Met drivers supposedly drive, blog posts (or entire blogs) devoted to every ran red light, etc, but it's perfectly okay for this guy to use his bus seat as a filmed forum while he's not only on the job, but driving passengers?

At best, it's unprofessional as hell, at worst, it's dangerous. Why not let drivers talk on cell phones with hands free devices while driving? It amounts to the same thing doesn't it?

Somebody filmed me a couple of times while in service, I used the clips in some of my films.

It was no big deal, I acted the way I always acted, no difference at all. I was talking to someone, which I do all day long.

This was a tempest in a teapot, no story here at all.

It really was a flame war, those guys at bike portland got pissed at me, most likely for making fun of them and they decided to "get me". One of the accusations was truly libelous. At least Griffith stuck to his original premise and didn't resort to libel, I give the guy that much.

What I can't believe is what a big deal it turned out to be!

I don't know anything about lawsuits for allowing myself to be filmed, never heard of such a thing and I follow all the national international bus news.

I've been preoccupied with all this nonsense till tonight and have finally gotten back to checking out my favorite blogs, such as Bojack.

Thanks for the background Jack, your usual superior investigatory genius at work!

If your interested in my story on this you can watch my version of the KGW interview, completely unedited.

I know the reporter was surprised that I filmed the whole interview and then placed it on the internet. Something that possible never has been done before?

Margulies is defensive and unprofessional. He creates his own problems. Forever the drama queen.

Here's my thoughts. What's the big deal? I mean, the guy hooks up a digital camera to some angle, drives and that's it? And whoever said that they do that at TriMet is right, they even showed examples at the May Board Meeting. It really makes me irritated at the media, who jump a driver they deem bad but never accept articles about good bus drivers. I have an article for them if they ever change their minds.

My complaints were neither filed out of anger nor part of a blog war. Mr. Margulies (who does have a 'perfect' driving record at Trimet) posted a few vidoes that were eye-brow raising. The potentail distracted videos have gotten the most attention, but Mr. Margulies also reocred and posted video's filmed inside a Trimet bathroom (2 of them, including one of a women's bathroom), numerous videos of him mocking fellow Trimet employeess during his work shift, one video in which he improperly accuses a female Trimet passenger with a walker of faking her disability and abusing the bus lift service, and one video where he films himself stating he just wintessed another driver to something illegal, but want tell the audience what.

One does not need anger or a grudge to be concerned about Mr. Margulies video recording habits. It is my understanding that Trimet is addessing the many issues internally.

Unless anyone here wants to defend Margulies filming inside a women's rest room?

Hey, Marcus, was that really you getting busted for fare evasion?

What I'm most interested in is any connection between the Marcus Griffith making this claim, and the Marcus Griffith fired from the C-Tran Citizens Advisory Committee in April 2010, and the Marcus Griffith expelled from Clark College.

More details required on these accusations that he filmed in a women's restroom. Have you, Marcus, ever been in some of the TriMet breakrooms? Not all of them have separate, designated facilities for women in men - in some breakrooms, there's a small room with a toilet that's a single-person-use bathroom. If that's what you meant as Al being in a women's restroom, as long as Al was in there when no women were, then IDGAF.

Only in Portland: turf wars between mass transit operators and cyclo-nazis.

This is a copy of the letter Al was sent, aye?

I am starting the process for issuing a Citizen Initiated Citationagainst you for driving with an electronics device in your hand.Thanks for posting the video of you doing it! It so much easier to prove with the video. Thanks for making my job easier :-)If Tri-Met could fire an off-duty driver for using racial slurs at a restaurant, I'm sure you can be fired for saying a women's best career option is whoring, even if you were off-duty. Thanks for posting that video too! Its almost unfair how easy you are making
it.I should buy you a beer for all the trouble you are saving
everyone. You post incriminating videos, your full name, email and
even show your house address.
Go ahead and take the videos down if you want. They have been savedto disc already.
Thanks for making so easy to nail you for being a dumbass.

Now, that sounds more than a bit personal to me.

My record is spotless as well... in other news, the price of tea in China is $1.34/lb.

What's that got to do with anything?

And you drive all day, every workday? That's what it has to do with, Dan.

Have you ever actually ridden a bus? If so, what makes you believe the behavior is unprofessional? Most good drivers routinely chat with the paying customers (unlike light rail, riders actually have to pay to ride a bus).

At best, it's unprofessional as hell, at worst, it's dangerous. Why not let drivers talk on cell phones with hands free devices while driving? It amounts to the same thing doesn't it?

Apparently, you'd like to see the bus re-designed such that the driver is situated in an isolated compartment, where interactions with passengers can't distract? Oh, that'd be really safe. As we've seen in at least a couple of light rail incidents involving young children.

Cameron Johnson:

That email you posted above is not from me, nor are any of the other emails Al posted on his website. It seems Margulies has more than a few critics. It is curious that Margulies chose not to post the emails I exchanged with him my but has posted other accusations from other parties.

To the best of my knowledge, no member of the general public has viewed the actual concerns I filed with Trimet. Each concern dealt with concise incidents that was documented by Margulies own' camera.

To support the "reasonable concern" assertion, I offer that soon after (like with 24hours) I voiced my concerns, Trimet had stated it was changing its policies and Margulies started to remove hundreds of his videos. Those actions were taken prior to the infamous Friday news coverage. Remember, the news coverage was about Trimet changing its rules in response to the complaints. Therefore, the media coverage could not have influenced Trimet's decision that occurred prior to the coverage.

As for Trimet's response, I do not work for Trimet and obviously have nothing to do with their decision making process. However, Trimet viewed the verifiable content of my complaint as sufficient to modify its rules.

Even Margulies himself realized certain specific videos in question crossed a line and sought to remedy the issue by removing numerous videos posted over the last three years

If Trimet, Margulies and myself all three agree the videos referenced in the actual complaints crossed a line, than why are some many people not privy to the actual complaint upset with Trimet's or my actions actions?

If you wish to voice your support for Margulies, and by all means do so. His 14 year safety record is worth commendation. I suggest you take the moment to write a commendation for him at

Again, evidence and logic should guide one's actions.

Oh Marcus,

can't we all just get along?

Nobody was upset about any of this stuff till I started engaging at

It was all posted publicly and many a viewer got a good laugh at these videos, which is what many of them were intended to do.

I'm not gonna debate you Marcus, your accusations speak for themselves.

The only thing that surprises me is that anyone actually cares about any of this trivial nonsense!

Oh I forgot, one further thing Marcus, I think we should consider ourselves on a first name basis, so you can call me "Al".

Have a good day Marcus!

Marcus, did you really get yourself expelled from Clark College with your smart mouth? Wow.

Why on earth is such a big deal being made of this? I agree with Al, Marcus's accusations speck for themselves, which is likely why Trimet dismissed them.. oh wait, Trimet abruptly changed its rules and investigating... Looks like Marcus' camp was onto something.

oh wait, Trimet abruptly changed its rules and investigating... Looks like Marcus' camp was onto something.

Now this is the part I don't quite understand.
Trimet followed everything I was doing!

It also appears that Marcus went after this guy who was just selling BICYCLES!

Yeah, I'm not trying to start crap. Just don't want Al to get in trouble.

Selling "stolen" bikes seems to be the point of that issue.


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