While there were some important decisions taken by the Metro Board in June, the usual discourse and argument was largely missing, so I was completely non-motivated to write this month's column. However, knowing that there are at least a few people who do read it, I'm belatedly throwing together this list of the three notable decisions, followed by a comment or two ...
- A report on the Los Angeles City Council's motion for Metro to put the "condo canyon" segment back into the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit lanes project was received and filed, with Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Mark Ridley-Thomas and Director Mel Wilson abstaining. Abstaining on a receive and file? Not only unheard of, but totally meaningless.
- The matter of former Metrolink CEO David Solow buying out Metro's share of his Orange County residence, which was supposedly tossed out the door without Board approval in April, returned by way of a "special Board agenda" and was finally approved, with Supervisors Antonovich and Gloria Molina voting against the settlement and Ridley-Thomas abstaining. The smartest of the bunch was Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, who left the room during the discussion and didn't come back to vote.
- Remember when Ridley-Thomas singlehandedly killed a proposal to exercise an option with North American Bus Industries (NABI) to acquire 100 additional 45-foot buses, claiming that not going out for a new bid was "fostering an anti-competitive environment"? Well, it turns out that exercising that option is the only way to prevent losing $34 million in state grant money for high-capacity clean-fuel buses. And so the proposal returned, Ridley-Thomas was persuaded to keep his mouth shut lest he get the blame for losing the grant funding, and it was finally passed. If only he'd done that back in November ...
I will close by congratulating John Roberts, who was announced at the Operations Committee meeting as the permanent executive director for transportation at Metro. I've known John for many years, including his long stay at Division 15 in Sun Valley, and he is well-versed in all areas of bus operations and maintenance; to have him heading up the largest department at Metro is one of the best moves the agency has made in revamping the system.
The Board, as has been the case for all but three of the years it has been in existence, will not hold its usual cycle of committee meetings and Board meeting in August. For that reason, the July Board meeting has been moved ahead one week, so please take note of that if you choose to attend.
Next Metro Board Committee Meetings: Wednesday and Thursday, July 20 and 21
Next Metro Board Meeting: Thursday, August 4