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Salmon Prohibited from Riding Portland Buses?

February 21, 2008

Portland, OR – Two groups that want to save salmon by removing dams on the Klamath River have filed a lawsuit against TriMet, the city bus company of Portland, for refusing to run their advertising. The ACLU of Oregon is representing the Karuk Tribe of California and Friends of the River Foundation, a conservation group. They've been trying to place ads for a Web site on buses, but TriMet says its policy is to avoid becoming "a public forum for issues debates." ACLU of Oregon Executive Director David Fidanque thinks TriMet is restricting freedom of speech.

"By excluding any ad that relates to an issue of public concern, they're making distinctions based on content. We don't think they can do that, either under the Oregon Constitution or the federal Constitution."

The ad depicts three salmon looking at a wall of electrical outlets, with the slogan, "Salmon shouldn't run up your electric bill, they should run up the Klamath River." TriMet has said it doesn't qualify as advertising under its rules. Fidanque says the suit is a last resort after negotiating with TriMet for the past few months.

Fidanque says, while TriMet doesn't allow political ads on buses, other advertising topics run the gamut.

"If you look at the ads displayed on TriMet buses, you will find a lot of stuff there that a lot of people think is controversial, but it's for commercial purposes. All the Karuk Tribe and the Friends of the River want to do is give TriMet some money, to get their message out."

The advertisement, and additional information about the lawsuit, can be viewed online, at www.salmonforsavings.com.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR