Rep. Don Jones, HD46-Billing

Pitman doesn’t deny that the incident happened, but he said the way he was characterized was wrong. It was never directed as a threat or intended to intimidate, he said. On the contrary, Pitman said he argues that if Metra’s current system does not work, the county will consider other options, such as privatization.

With news of the incident reaching Ostlund, he invited Metra management and staff to attend the next Commissioners’ discussion meeting on August 9, where he referred to Pitman’s comments.

During the meeting, Ostlund expressed frustration that Metra staff were intimidated by threats of harassment and asked Pitman if he was considering privatization. Pitman told Ostlund he wasn’t.

Jones said the moment had caught him off guard; it was not on the agenda, he said.

At this point Jones decided he needed to explore the possibility of privatizing. In late summer, he made two trips to Casper, Wyoming, and Nampa, Idaho, to see their facilities, both state-owned but privately-run.

“No one knew I was going over there,” Jones said.

He wanted someone with him who knew MetraPark, so he reached out to Rick Reed, former president and current member of the MetraPark advisory board. The two saw operations at both sites and Jones remained in awe of what the privatization could do.